“Dad, I just want you to know how much I love you,” I shared as I burst into tears. My dad and I were riding alone together in the car the afternoon before our wedding rehearsal.
I was so excited to be getting married to Grant, but I also had been holding in so much emotion. There had just been so much change in my life that had happened so quickly and there was much more change to come.
In barely over a year, I had moved officially away from home, started dating Grant, moved back home for the summer to plan our wedding, and was now preparing to marry Grant and move to Japan.
It was a lot. And as wonderful as it was, at times it was hard.
I’m not typically a person that embraces change readily. Once the change has occurred and I’m on the other side of it, I’m great. But it’s the transition part that I’ve always struggled with.
And this was by far the hardest transition of my life. I was getting married and moving very far away from home with a guy that I had only spent around twenty days with in person.
I didn’t have any doubts. Grant’s character and love for me had been proven and I knew that God had brought him into my life. God couldn’t have made that any clearer.
But in a way, I felt like I was saying good-bye to a part of my life that I would never get back again.
I would always be my dad’s daughter, but it wouldn’t be quite the same.
Grant was about to become my husband and replace many of the roles that my father had filled in my life.
The funny thing was, I couldn’t believe it was actually happening. For a long time, I wasn’t sure any guy would ever make it through my dad’s screening process. My dad was so firm when it came to guys that had wanted to date me.
I still remember my “utter devastation” when I was fifteen years old and my dad told the young man who wanted to pursue me (but was moving away) that he could only call me once a month.
Call me once a month? How could he be so unloving? I had thought to myself. When my dad set those guidelines for that “relationship,” I knew even in my immature fifteen year-old head that the relationship would never last.
But my dad knew something that I didn’t: I was too young to get entangled in a serious dating relationship.
When I was in college, I had the freedom to go on dates and spend time with different Christian guys. But in the back of my mind I would always think, “What would my dad think of this guy?” or “Could this guy talk theology with my dad? Or politics or finances with my brothers?”
I didn’t want to marry a clone of my dad or brothers, but I wanted to marry a guy who sure was a lot like them.
They had set a standard of character that I needed my future husband to meet.
But while I often thought that the high standard and strict rules that my dad had set for me were frustrating; now that Grant was in my life, I realized how good they really were.
Because that’s what a loving father does – a loving father protects his children. And that’s what our heavenly Father does for us. Sometimes God’s standards from His word seem hard. And following Him isn’t always easy, but it’s always for our good.
As we follow His will for our lives and pursue Him with all of our hearts, we find a deep, satisfying joy that nothing else could ever give us.
One time in high school, when I was upset about a relationship that didn’t work out, my mom told me something that I have never forgotten. She told me that if God “meant it to be,” that I didn’t have to force the circumstances, but that one day God would bring that guy back into my life.
Trusting the simple truth that God is in control and sovereign over the circumstances in our lives, keeps us as Christians from wondering constantly about all the “what ifs?”
What if I had married my high school sweetheart? Or, what if I hadn’t married my high school sweetheart? What if I had gone to college? What if I had only been at the right place at the right time . . .maybe then I wouldn’t be single? Or, if I hadn’t been at the right place at the right time, maybe I wouldn’t have married this person?
I’m so thankful that when we walk with the Lord, we don’t have to live in a world of “what ifs?” Whatever mistakes we may have made in the past, or wrongdoings that were made against us, we can say with Joseph from the Old Testament, “God meant it for good.”
So, as I sat next to my dad that day in the car, I was so thankful. I was thankful that because of his protection, I was now marrying someone truly amazing.
Grant Castleberry was my new standard.
“GraceAnna,” my dad replied with tears in his eyes, “I love you too. You are going to do great.”
I took a deep breath. My dad was telling me the words I needed to hear to have the emotional strength to take this new and unknown step in my life.
My whole life he had protected me until the right guy came along, and now he was about to give me away.
To be continued…