With three sons and no daughters I will never be the father of the bride. Thank God for small blessings. I don’t think I could handle it. It was tough enough being the father of the groom. But then as a pastor and the one who performed the wedding of my eldest son and his fiance recently, I have a somewhat unique perspective on weddings. It was hard enough getting through the ceremony with my son standing before me, pledging his eternal love to his bride. I Can’t imagine keeping it together if I had a daughter. Fathers of daughters are letting go of their little girl, all grown up now, and entrusting her to a young man one only hopes will take care of her half as well as he tried to do. There is a palpable emotional uncertainty felt by the father of the bride that most dads do not embrace well. It is so real there is a whole movie and literary genre on the subject the struggles of fathers of the bride.
One movie you may never see is that which focuses on the father of the groom. Yet, the emotions and relational themes are no less real. They just don’t make for good comedy or relational tension. Far from feeling emotionally uncertain and facing the reality of your daughter now looking to another as her primary source of encouragement, support, and love, as father of the groom I had a very different perspective. As my son stood before me, committing his life to the one he loved, I did get a teary eyed, I think it was a piece of dirt, one in each eye. I also had something stuck in my throat that made it hard to speak for a moment, but I am certain I just swallowed wrong. What I did feel was a deep sense of joy. Not the jump up and down, exuberant, yahoo, kind of joy. Rather it was a deep, satisfying, misty-eyed, kind of joy that something eternally significant has come to pass. It’s the joy of seeing a squealing child, running and jumping into the embrace a parent returning home from war. It’s the joy of seeing a long forgotten hero honored with dignity and respect. It is the blessing of knowing that what you have striven for over the years, raising your son to take his place as a man, one who will give his life to serve his bride, lead her, protect her, sacrifice for her, love her, pray with and for her, has finally come to pass.
As the father of the groom, I was not letting go in the way a father of the bride does when he releases his baby’s hand and entrusts it to another. Rather, I was watching as my son took that hand, as I always hoped and prayed he would. I was watching him take a step into manhood that was part of the goal his mother and I have had for him and his two brothers since the days they were born. I watched as he took on the mantle of responsibility that God intended him to have, to lead his beloved as they serve Christ and their neighbors together. As I led him in his vows to his bride, I watched as he looked into her eyes, got a bit choked up himself, and promised to be the man God desired him to be, for her sake and His glory.
I will always be his father. He will always be my son. But now he is also someones husband and because of that we share another bond as men, one that I am deeply blessed to experience. I am blessed to see what a wonderful and perfect choice he made in a bride, blessed to see him love her as I know Christ would have him. I am blessed to have declared that he and his bride were now united in Christ. I was even blessed to let him know that he could kiss his bride and embrace her for the first time as his wife.
Blessed, joyful, satisfied. They all come as a result of seeing your son transformed over the years and yet in the blink of an eye, transformed into more than you could have ever hoped and dreamed, yet in some way, exactly what you always hoped and dreamed for, a man who loves Jesus and now has a lifelong partner to join him in that love.