The last 6 weeks have been full, to say the least, for the Woods family…resulting in many things I would have loved to have written about, but alas, clearly didn’t.
When I say full, I mean, we bought a house, packed up the part of our lives that wasn’t already boxed up from our move 8 months ago, moved those boxes into our new home, and proceeded to unpack our lives. All the while, Ezra started kindergarten, I moved offices at church, and our college age ministry launched as The Return (more about that later).
But this has been another summer of weddings…I’ve had the privilege of officiating 3 weddings in the last 2 months for 3 couples I care for deeply. This weekend in particular, I had the joy of marrying Jonathan and Taylor Stef. As one of their campus ministers while at the University of Illinois, it was an honor to serve them in this way and it was incredibly cool to see so many other former students of mine there that have impacted me so much.
But because of all the pre-marital counseling that Crystal and I do with couples, along with the actual weddings themselves…the kids have gotten pretty familiar with the order of things – long drive, check into the hotel, “practice” the wedding, eat, sleep in the hotel, continental breakfast, swim, get gussied up fit to kill, do wedding, eat cake, party like its 1999 and head home.
Calla, who already believes herself to be a princess, has become a bride stalker…every wedding, she is pursuant of the bride (“princess”) everywhere she goes…its rather creepy/adorable. But Calla is in love with the idea of getting married (Ezra is in love with being “the ring boy” but only because he saw one get a big present). She talks about it constantly, as if my emotions are not fragile enough after Ezra starting kindergarten…for the love, she turns 3 in 2 weeks. I know she is just pretending, but I’m not ready to imagine her getting married. It’s already hard enough to not feel like time is just flying way too fast. I just want to stick with our tea parties for right now…
But throughout each couple’s counseling leading up to the actual wedding day, I spend a lot of time trying to explain the significance of all the elements of a wedding ceremony. I want them to not just know what they are signing up for, but why this is such a big deal and how it should be treated as such. One of those elements is what I call “the hand-off”…that moment when the father of the bride passes his daughter’s arm into the groom’s and steps back. That moment that symbolically expresses through a simple action that the dad is cool with his baby girl running to another man for her protection and care from this point on. That moment of trust. That moment of confidence.
With every wedding I officiate, I work with dads that may or may not keep their composure…some might mask it with humor or a macho man approach, but I suspect each one is about to crumble inside. I can’t even imagine what it feels like to bring your precious little girl down the aisle to hand her over to another man…even if you love the young man she has chosen.
I can’t help but think of someday doing the same thing for my baby girl…trusting a young man to care for her, protect her, love her and cherish her.
My clock is ticking. I only have so much time with her to shape an expectation of what a good, Godly husband should be like…only a small window to teach her what kind of man she should give her heart to.
Calla is counting on me to show her the kind of man she should fall in love with.
So for now, she runs to me, depends on me, watches for me. And I’m going to make the most of it.