By Don Waller
Father of the Bride
Ten years ago, I wrote an article entitled, “A Father’s Voice.” The article was an account of the importance of a father in the life of his daughter. Fast-forward to today and that 13-year-old little girl is now engaged to be married on October 6, 2018. Writing this article brings a flood of emotions and at times I am fighting back the tears as I write how my little girl has become a woman and now plans to take the next big step in life toward marriage.
Over the years, we have shared so many special times. Small accomplishments like learning to ride her bike at “Camp What-a-Family” that we attended through our church at Lake Forest Ranch (Rich Malone has been the Director there forever.) Another special trip was our first family mission trip to Homestead, Florida, in 2002 and she was at the tender age of 7. Sweet memories were made while helping with Vacation Bible School in a Haitian church there. The most wonderful day for me was watching her trusting in Jesus as her Savior as an 8-year-old and being baptized. Watching her grow up and become the woman she is today has been amazing. More amazing is knowing that her Heavenly Father played a vital role in her development of becoming that woman.
On March 25, 2018, I received a text from her boyfriend, Matt, who has been pursuing my daughter, Anne Overton, for over three years while in college. Matt has earned my respect due to the way he has treated my daughter with gentleness, patience, love, and respect. Asking for my permission to marry my Anne Overton was just another sign that this young man “has what it takes.” My heart leaped when I read his text: Mr. Don, is there a time Friday when I could come by your office or meet up with you somewhere to talk? I knew that this was the big moment for him and I was excited to make this happen. See, as a parent, I began praying for my daughter’s spouse long before they even thought about marriage. Growing up with three older brothers, my Mom would always say to us “I have been praying for your wives even when you were still babies.” I wanted to do the same!
Genesis 2:18 says, “God said, it is not good for a man to be alone, I will make for him a suitable helpmate.” Marriage was God’s design from the beginning and as a Licensed Professional Counselor, I see firsthand the struggles marriages face today. On March 27, I celebrated 25 years of marriage that have brought me so much joy and fulfillment. Our marriage has encouraged me to grow and become the man that I am today—I could not have done it without her. Even though I have made many mistakes along the way, my wife has lovingly forgiven me. Mistakes are part of the process of becoming the man God desires us to be.
One of the keys to success is to understand God’s original design—the two-become-one partnership. But it’s way more than that. Being best friends, helpmates, and learning how to love unconditionally is so important and the only way this happens is when you are willing to surrender to God each day. Matt and Anne Overton will need patience and unconditional love to have success in marriage.
Modeling this type of relationship to our daughter helps frame the marriage she could have and the kind of man she wanted to marry. Pastor Tommy Nelson said it this way, “Run toward God and as you are seeking Him, look around and see if there is someone else running toward God, too. Then ask them if they want to run with you?” Seeking God first is key! Your expectations are then based on God’s design of putting others first before yourself. Matt and Anne Overton have both been demonstrating this by serving God and others through their local church and CRU, Campus Crusade for Christ, which helped them mature spiritually. God answers prayers.
If you are wondering about the title of my article and thought about the movie Father of the Bride, well, you were right. Yes, I cry every time I watch it and now even more.
Don Waller is part of the counseling team at Summit Counseling of Jackson. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or 601.949.1949.