GIVING AWAY MY DAUGHTER
This last weekend I, along with my wife, gave my daughter away in marriage. Actually it was entirely at my daughter’s request and I wouldn’t have done it otherwise. My wife and I have prayed for her since she was born that the Lord would provide the man for her to marry or at least make her content with His will, whatever God wanted. I confess I thought she would get married, it was obvious she wanted to be married, and there were times I worried too much about it and had to decide to trust God about His decision for her. In God’s providence so it has come about. I am thankful.
Several people have asked me over this last week, “How do you feel?” Some wondered if it would be hard for me to stand up there and give the short homily the couple requested, or would I cry as I walked her down the aisle? There was so much curiosity about (or noisiness into) my emotional state; though it did force me to reflect on what my emotions actually were and was I indeed showing them or not?
I began to wonder if I should feel guilty for not feeling something tangible or identifiable about the whole event. It took me a bit to remember something about myself, and that is that I am a person who often doesn’t know how to feel about things, or isn’t exactly sure how he is feeling at especially significant moments. I have had this problem with grief in losing people I love, or the birth of my children, or even acknowledging or coming to grips with my fears. When my kids were born women were all over the room gushing and asking how I felt and my reaction was that I had just met this person and didn’t even really know them yet.
I kind of feel that way about my son-in-law. He seems like a great guy, I know nothing bad about him, and my daughter evidently likes him. I don’t know him real well as of yet, and I am hoping to come to love him and have deep and positive feelings about him. I don’t know if I would be over the moon about anybody driving off with my daughter, but I am happy he will be paying her bills in the future. Not exuberant, just satisfied and relieved.
Now, about my daughter, and I only have one of them, along with three sons. She is the youngest of our family and the last one to be married. If you were to ask if she was spoiled I would say, “I certainly hope so since we tried so hard.” She occupies a singular space in our family, an intense interest and friend of my wife (and most of the women of her family), the one most to be protected and for whom to be provided.
Yet, we found out early we could not do it, not adequately and not completely. God took that away from me as her father when I stood helpless watching her go into a seizure. All my man strength, all my education, all my readiness to do violence to an enemy, whatever money or connections I had meant nothing to what her own brain was doing to her. The seizures would never stop until we got her to the emergency room so they could treat her. As she began to grow up it affected her learning and so it would erase all her reading ability. Her dyslexia meant our local Christian school could not help her.
Helplessness in the face of something attacking your child forces you into an emotional displacement; is my emotion anger, is it guilt, is it shame, is it sorrow? I was certainly terrified. I had a sister with a brain lesion and I couldn’t help her either. My daughter was beautiful, almost as if in fulfillment of a prophecy as we named her after one of the three most beautiful women in the world, one of the daughters of Job. So all of us in our family became even more protective of her, knowing where she was at all times, and who she might be with, and thinking of her needs.
Before our eyes God showed us that the good results in her life would not be our fault, not to our glory, nor due to our efforts. Doctors and medicine helped, good schools, teachers, and her own mother’s home schooling all helped, but it was the Lord’s mercy and grace that healed her and made her well.
It was grace that gave her grit so that she worked hard, really hard, and pushed herself so that she now approaches finishing her Master’s degree. It was grace that made her smart, and grace that made her kind, caring for others, delighting in children, concerned for and about the needs of others, intolerant of injustice and racial bigotry, and full of appreciation for things true and beautiful. Her graciousness to intellectually interact with me is one of the great benefits to me in knowing her as an adult.
So, I don’t know how to feel about it all. I think you can tell at least one thing, I am immensely proud and pleased with her. I count her as a profound friend, and someone who grew into that relationship with me. Since the time, it seems long ago when I realized that I could not protect her, I had to turn her over to the Lord. I had to consciously trust Him with my daughter’s life. That means I don’t feel that I have lost her, but I do feel a pretty consistent amazement that God keeps giving her life, and blessings, and His faithfulness to watch over her. With all that, I feel pretty good.