I remember like it was yesterday. We were expecting our second child and this time we didn't know if it was a boy or a girl. I had a boy, and that was awesome, every dad's dream is to have a son to play ball with, teach to run a drill, and how to be a man. This time, though, I wanted a girl.
Up until the day of her birth I had prayed; prayed for a daughter. I had seen the relationships between daddies and daughters and knew it to be something special. I wanted that too. When she was born I watched intently, praying in my spirit, "please be a girl, please be a girl, please be a girl!"
When she arrived I cried. I was completely overwhelmed, not just because I had a daughter, but because God has answered my prayer. From that day forward I began to pray for the man who would one day be her husband.
I prayed that he would love the Lord with all his heart; even more than he loved her. I prayed that he would be strong, but not so strong that he was afraid to cry, afraid to feel. I prayed that he would be fun, but not immature because sometimes life brings more gravity than we wish. I prayed he would pursue the heart of God first, then hers.
I prayed she would love him, but not more than she loved the Lord. I prayed she would be strong enough to be herself and know her worth, but Godly enough to know he is provided as her lead. I prayed she would cherish most things about him and lovingly accept the rest, working on their sanctification together.
But, if I were honest, the thing I prayed most was that she wouldn't forget the first man in her life. I prayed she would run through life like Pheobe from Friends, but always look back to see me cheering her on as she blasted away into whatever thing had grabbed her attention that day. I prayed she would always come to me when she needed a hug or be reassured, but realized along the way this was the wrong prayer. Sure, I'll always be there for her, but my prayer has changed. My prayer has turned to ask God to teach him to be her stay, her protector, her guide. I pray he will shepherd her soul and die to himself daily as he serves her in the love only God can give.
This past weekend my little girl was engaged to be married. Early on I tried not to like her suitor, but I failed. I tried to scare him off, but he kept coming back. When they went to prom the first time I asked some of the elders of our church to call him and let him know they took seriously the shepherding of her soul and the protection of her heart. He went anyway.
He's a lot like me in some respects, different in others. All in all, I can't think of a better-suited man to which I would want to transfer the shepherding of my daughter's heart. Not that she isn't capable of handling herself, she's more "adulty" than I am! But God's design is for a man to leave his father and mother and cleave to his wife. That means she, too, is to leave her father and mother and cleave to him.
My greatest dread in her rearing was the day when I would no longer be able to be there with her to protect her, to guard her heart, and fend off anything that might hurt her. As time has passed, God has taught me I need not be afraid. Our greatest fear is often letting go of our kids into a world where we cannot protect them, but our greatest act of faith is trusting God whether they are protected or not.
I've always guarded her heart, her soul, and her future, but now it's his turn. His turn to carry the mantle of shepherding the heart of a young lady towards the wonder and blessing of following Jesus. Together.
When she was born, I cried. When we took her to college, I cried. I mean I ugly cried all the way home from Arlington, Tammy had to drive. When she left for school the first weekend home, I cried. The night he told me he was proposing, I cried. When I saw a picture of her dress today, I cried. I didn't cry because I was sad, I cried because a piece of my soul would soon be missing. Soon I would take that part of my soul and hand to another man to cherish, to shepherd, to protect, and to love. I cried because I had prayed for this man, and God heard me. I cried because I had prayed for this young lady, and God heard me. I cried because, well, let's face it, I cry at everything.
To my future son in law, I say this, "Pursue her heart, but pursue His first." I will be entrusting you with one of my most cherished possessions, a most glorious gift of God. I have always wondered if she would be OK; if she would find someone I could trust. For you, I have prayed, and God has answered.
I love you both.