“Do all that is good for her. Have compassion on her and always hasten to do that which will gladden her heart.” Excerpt from Orthodox wedding ceremony
I was honored to be able to perform a wedding ceremony yesterday for two of my very close friends and it happened again. It always happens after weddings. Weddings just have a way of doing that to me.
I won’t go so far as to say I cry or anything like that, but every time I attend a wedding ceremony – especially when it’s a couple that I feel close to – I feel different afterwards. I don’t leave the same way I came. I leave with a renewed sense of appreciation at what God has given me in my wife Marianne and a rejuvenated desire to be the best husband I can be to her.
Why? Maybe it’s because I see something that other wedding attendees don’t always get to see. Most people sit in the pews and face front – focusing their attention on the bride and groom. But I sit in the front and often face out – so I can see the people in the seats as well.
Who always sits in the first row during a wedding ceremony? Who is most prominently displayed?
THE PARENTS! MOM AND DAD – or should I say – your new IN-LAWS!
ASIDE: I like to make sure guys are prepared for their wedding day so I always tell them this: “Imagine that your wedding day is like a movie. Who is the main star?” They always say “The bride.” Correct!
And then I ask “Ok, so who do you think is the co-star?” They usually answer “uhhh….me?”
“NOPE! It’s the mother of the bride!” I say. “You’re supporting cast at best!”
Back to my point. You go to a wedding and you see a happy bride and a happy groom and that’s all. Everyone is smiling and everyone is happy. But I see mom and dad sitting in the front row – happy as can be – but also feeling something that I don’t think I fully even understand. Having my own kids has helped me understand this a bit, but I still think I’m at least 20 years away from fully getting this (Michael is 7 and Lizzie is 5 so I got time).
Their happiness is mixed with sadness in a way. Their son/daughter is all grown up and they are letting go of him/her to the care of another person. It can’t be easy. There is an incredible amount of trust that must be there for that parent to let go of his/her child. But the parent rejoices to let go because they know that the one who is receiving their child will – as the prayer says - “Do all that is good for her. Have compassion on her and always hasten to do that which will gladden her heart.”
Who is my father-in-law? Marianne’s dad?
Yes, technically he is, but I don’t worry too much about him. He is the most laid-back, easy-going guy in the world. He used to call me Mark for the first 2 or 3 months that I was dating his daughter. So no issues there.
But that’s not who I think of when I think of my real father-in-law. I think of my wife’s heavenly Father – who loves His dear child Marianne so much more than I can imagine. She is His precious little baby and she’ll always be His baby, no matter how grown up she might be.
And He gladly handed His baby over to my care more than 11 years ago and He asked me to take care of her as He did…to do all that is good for her…to have compassion on her…to always hasten to do that which will gladden her heart.
My wife is the beloved daughter of a King in heaven. When I mistreat her, I know that I will answer to her Father. When I am selfish with her, I know that her Father won’t be happy. When I think about my own happiness instead of hers, I can almost hear her Father’s voice saying “That’s my daughter!”
Married people, listen carefully. Your spouse is the child of the King of the universe. Your spouse is not some randomly chosen person that you decided to marry and live with. Your spouse is not some evil person who you can’t deal with. Your spouse is the child of God and was delivered to you by GOD HIMSELF!
Your spouse’s earthly parents might not know or even care about how you treat their child, but I guarantee that there is someone else who does!
For discussion: how would your marriage change if you viewed God as your Father-in-law?