We have talked before about our children leaving home and the family decreasing in size and the sadness of that moment. For a big, close family, it can be a sort-of death experience for both mum and dad, but I have some good news for you. Out of death comes life.
The greatest selling book of all time say,
“For this reason a man shall leave his mother and father and be joined to his wife, so they are no longer two but one”.
For two to become one, first two must die. This is the conundrum of love. The furnace of love must first melt two selfs to produce the unselfish nature of one. This is the high cost of love and this is what marriage is all about.
You see when a man and woman do a lot of joining, pretty soon they start to hear the patter of little feet. But even at the wedding ceremony itself, the joining produces a multiplication.
Only a few weeks ago our second son married. Not only did I get a beautiful daughter-in-law but our family suddenly got related to another wonderful family. Our family has increased in size four times now with four of our children married and each time we have not only welcomed a new daughter-in-law and one son-in-law but we get the privilege of being officially related to a whole new family: a family with a father-in-law, mother-in-law, new brothers and new sisters for my children and eventually a harvest of grandchildren. We now have five grandchildren and we have only just begun. This is truly a joyous time and I can honestly say that every family we have married into is fantastic, each in their own unique way.
While helping clean up after the last wedding I began to ponder on how amazing each of the families our children married into is. So I asked my wife the question, “Why is it so?” Of course the answer is simple: good children look for good spouses and good children, generally speaking, come from good families. How can you guarantee that you will marry into a good family? Simple again: love your own children. Teach them goodness by your own good example in word and deed and the rest tends to look after itself.
I am simply in awe of my new daughter-in-law’s father, an amazing man, head and shoulders above myself. As a policeman Keith has seen the worst – he once arrested a man who had killed a woman and was in the act of necrophilia – but somehow has preserved his own personal best and his own integrity.
Keith started doing the laundry and cooking for his working wife over 30 years ago. Unfortunately my selfish genes were far too strong for anything like that to happen. Although I have improved at supporting my wife over the years, there is no way I could compare to Keith. As I listened to Keith’s speech at the wedding I was deeply moved by his practical faith and loving devotion to his family.
As in most wedding speeches, Keith began at the bride’s birth:
“After I cut the cord a nurse wiped her down and handed her to me whilst they attended to her mother. As with our first child, I walked to a far corner of the room. It had a panoramic night time view of Wollongong’s Northern Suburbs . . . There I held her in my arms and prayed over her and thanked god for giving us a perfect little girl. I then symbolically gave her back to Him”.
How I wish I could say that I had the presence of mind to do the same at my children’s births. I know I cried and I am pretty sure I prayed but I did not have the spiritual foresight to do what Keith did. In many ways it explains everything! Both a mother’s and a father’s prayers are very powerful. Never forget to talk to the ‘father of lights’ about your children. The one who knows the end from the beginning, the alpha and the omega, is only too willing to oblige.
My son’s wedding speech was also moving. This short excerpt says it all:
“Mum and Dad, I just want to thank you for being such great parents and leading me in life and teaching me to honour God from a young age and how to have a relationship with him. This has probably been the most important lesson you have taught me. I know that it is something that is going to be the backbone of our relationship.
Dad, I have watched you love Mum and it is the most inspiring thing. Mum, I have watched you love dad, look after us, and raise a family of four crazy boys and one princess and still come out the other side sane!! How did you do it?”
I must admit I agree with my thirty-one year old son; my wife is pretty amazing.
Perhaps this portion of the bridesmaid’s speech to the couple is applicable to every married man and woman:
“Separately you guys are two very special remarkable people, but together you are complete. As you sit side by side through this roller coaster of life, remember to scream at the peaks, hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loops and enjoy every twist and turn that life has to offer, for the ride is much better now that you share it together.”
The only constant in families is change. Embrace the change and find the joy in it along with the challenge. Never be afraid to get help from the ‘Father of lights in whom there is no shadow of turning’. There is no perfect father on this earth, but we do have a heavenly father who loves us in spite of our weakness and preponderance for wrong. That’ s why we must do the same for our own children in spite of their weaknesses.
For those of us who have made the ultimate commitment of love between a man and a woman and publically pledged ourselves by the giving and receiving of rings in marriage, “remember to scream at the peaks, hold hands through the dips, laugh through the loops and enjoy every twist and turn that life has to offer, for the ride is much better now that you share it together”.
Yours for the giving and receiving of rings