Our daughter, Katie, got married this weekend. From the very second she was born, her mom and I always wondered if her wedding day would conjure up some bittersweet moments. We figured we’d get sorrowfully choked up watching our one and only child cleave from her parents and unite as one with her brand-new husband.
Sadly, no longer would I be the main man in her life. Even though I loved her first, there was a new sheriff in town. Maybe I’m biased, but I think wedding days are especially difficult for dads with daughters.
Emotions ran high as I saw my little girl in her wedding dress. While standing in an alcove off to the side, my mind played through a kaleidoscope of images of her being born. Immediately after delivery, Katie had trouble breathing. The doctors thought there might be something wrong with her heart. That’s every parent’s nightmare.
I remember the ecstasy of finally bringing her home from the hospital for the first time. Then, as the years flew by, teaching her how to swim, dropping her off at school, and taking her to Space Camp. There were also those god-awful piano recitals, suicidal toboggan rides down Stonewall Hill, and endless treks on our adventure vacations around the globe.
How could it have possibly gone by so quickly? How did she grow up so fast? Why didn’t I savor those precious moments more? I’d say that’s every parent’s lament.
Suddenly, the big moment was upon us. It was as peculiar as it was poignant taking Katie’s hand, walking her down the aisle, and proudly giving her away. As the wedding officiant, it was even more surreal leading the couple through the ceremonial vows proclaiming them as husband and wife. How many other dads get that honor?
Please God, don’t let me mess it up.
To begin the ceremony, I talked about how marriage is more than a legal contract between two people. It’s a holy covenant that God designed between a man and a woman to reflect the relationship between his son, Jesus, and his beloved bride, the church. As such, there are oaths and vows and sacred promises made to one another. There are signs and symbols and ceremony involved in the process. I emphasized to the bride and groom that there was much more to it than just my signature on a page.
Moving forward, I then gave Katie and CJ what I thought was the secret to a successful marriage relationship. The secret is twenty-five percent. Let me explain.
Everyone has heard that marriage is a fifty-fifty proposition, that the husband and wife are equals. But I’m telling you right now that it’s not enough for the couple to meet each other halfway. Fifty percent simply is not adequate. You have to put in that additional twenty-five percent. If both parties go seventy-five percent toward each other, chances are excellent that the marriage will overflow with grace, mercy, forgiveness, and the unconditional love that God desires for it.
And then occasionally when the sh*t hits the fan, one of the partners might just have to suck it up and go one hundred percent of the way.
I’m confident that Katie understands that already. She and I have been through the fire. We’ve battled through some horrific trials together in dealing with Kanisa’s life-altering mental health issues. I couldn’t have survived without my precious daughter. I can’t adequately express how thankful and proud I am of her for always being there for me. We’re as close as a father and daughter could possibly be to each other. And now I’m giving her away.
As the couple exchanged rings and I pronounced them husband and wife, I was struck by the sanctity of the moment. Strangely, there wasn’t a trace of sadness coursing through my mind or heart at all. Rather, the only emotion I felt was a pure sense of joy watching Katie and CJ embark on a lifelong covenental journey together. Kanisa and I weren’t losing a daughter after all. God was blessing us with a pat on the back.
Katie and CJ—on the biggest day of your young lives, I’m the happiest man on the face of the earth.