Weddings evoke a tremendous array of emotions: pride, joy, relief, fear, gratitude, hope, regret, sadness.
And a sense of unreality. Of numbness.
How did this happen so quickly? I remember when she was born. I don’t feel old enough to be the mother or grandmother.
A month ago our first grandchild got married. Due to COVID it was primarily a family wedding (with bridesmaids and groomsmen) held at our little farm in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Plans had to be changed many times because of the virus but in the end they got married! Which is really all that matters –right?
Yes, but . . .
We want the wedding all to be “just right” for them! So it’s easy to stress over the details. Years ago, our twin daughters got married six weeks apart. They had big weddings. There were so many logistics. As I planned and prayed for these events God gently reminded me:
Susan, you are not primarily planning an event but building a family, and relationships are more important than details.”
I wrote this down and put it on my fridge to be a constant reminder to me!
No matter how well you plan, something will go wrong.
There will be surprises. When Allison, our eldest, got married, it was a huge wedding in our newly completed sanctuary. During the processional hymn as she was coming down the aisle, our new organ got stuck on a note and blasted out for almost 60 seconds. When it finally stopped everyone roared with laughter! Tension melted and everyone relaxed! Today, it’s one of our funniest memories of her wedding.
We’ve married all five of our own children and now our first grandchild. In the process, we’ve learned a few things:
* Allow others to respond differently.
Each of us is a unique individual and often we don’t know how we will respond when our child marries. Some will weep, others will be dry-eyed. Neither is better. Neither is wrong. We are merely different. And men and women are really different.
We had a lot of crying at Callie’s wedding. Mostly there were tears of awe but also tears from her dad as he gave away his only daughter. Tears from my husband who performed the ceremony. Beautiful tears that signaled a releasing of this child and a new beginning for all.
* Recognize that our role changes when our child marries.
Before our child marries, their relationship with us is right up there at the top of our priorities. But now our priority must shift: their relationship to each other becomes the first priority. This means we will need to pull back in advice, control, expectations. They are each other’s “go-to” person, not mom or dad. We have to let go emotionally in order to enable them to leave cleave and become one flesh in a healthy way.
* Pray for future generations.
Even though we are released in some responsibilities as our kids marry, we take on others. We take on the privilege of praying in a more fervent and specific manner. The Old Testament is full of prayers for future generations. (Isaiah 59:21). We too have been given this charge. We need to pray down our generations to come.
Some of the things we can pray include:
For the newlyweds: to seek Christ as a couple, to pray together, to find a church, to find a few close couples with whom they can grow in Christ, for wisdom in the marketplace, for their colleagues, for protection from evil, for their future children.
Do not be discouraged if your kids are not interested in spiritual things or if they have walked away from the faith. Our God will hear your prayers. He loves to redeem. It make take longer than you’d like, but He is at work even if you can’t see it right now. The scriptures are full of stories of redemption. Pray for God to send believers, whom they admire, into their lives–others who will influence them. Ask God to make their hearts soft towards Him. And remember Luke’s words, “For nothing is impossible for God.” (Luke 1:37)
For your future descendants. I pray regularly for our family’s line — that all would come to know Jesus and serve Him, that not one would be lost but all would be courageous in proclaiming Him until He comes again. I pray for my grandchildren’s future mates (as I did for my own children) — that they would come to know Christ at an early age, that God would keep them pure and give them believing friends and mentors. I pray for those future in-laws that God would give them wisdom as they raise their kids. If it is not God’s will for them to marry, I ask that my descendants would be fulfilled in His unique calling for them.
Three things I pray for my kids and grands and future kids: Conviction (of the truth of God’s word as their authority and a desire and discipline to spend daily time in it.) Courage to proclaim God’s word in a hostile culture. Character to live authentic lives with complete integrity and humility, not equivocating to the latest social whims.
Back to our wedding!
So Callie and Ryan are married. We are still treasuring the sweet memories: My husband slipping in to pray with the groom and groomsmen before the ceremony only to find them already on their knees praying for Ryan. Callie’s numerous young cousins witnessing a Christ-centered wedding (this raises the bar for them!). Allison and Will’s friends who could not attend due to the virus, surprising the newlyweds at the bottom of the drive as they left with banners, sparklers, cheers, and yes a few tears. This group of close friends helped raised these kids! So many sweet memories to collect and store up.
Their small farm wedding was not the plan, but it turned out to be the best. The virus did not have its way. Instead, as Paul reminds us, “God causes all things to work for the good for those who are called according to His purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
Thanks be to God.
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