The past few weeks have been an emotional rollercoaster for me. My daughter got married on September 29th, and then just two weeks later she and her new husband moved out of our home into their new apartment.
I’m not going to lie, I cried the day after each of these events. The tears were a combination of sorrow, joy, and pride. I was sorrowful because she is no longer my baby girl. I was joyful because she is so very happy with her new husband and in her new home. I was proud because she is the fruit of the love, hard work, and prayer that my wife and I poured into her life to make her into the wonderful woman that she is today.
At her wedding, I delivered the obligatory father-of-the-bride speech/toast. Rather than try to please the crowd him humor or pull at heartstrings (including my own) by pouring over old memories, I decided to give her some advice. What follows is what I said to her. I hope it meant as much to her as it did to me. I hope that you, too, will find meaning in these words.
Meagan, I can hardly believe you got married today. It seems like only yesterday that your mother told me we were going to have a second child. Very early on in her pregnancy, your mother intuited that she was going to have a girl, and we were delighted when, on your birthday, her intuition proved accurate. Ever since that day and time, Monday, November 15th, 1993, at 11:48 a.m., at Bethesda Naval Hospital, you have been my precious little girl.
I remember carrying you over the threshold into little house in Virginia. I remember your first little crush on the neighbor boy, Nathan. I remember you crawling up into my lap to cuddle and fall asleep after a long day. I remember your first day of Kindergarten, Junior High, High School, and college. I remember when you graduated high school and college. I remember the first time you drove by yourself, and the first time you exercised your right to vote. I remember your first job. I remember your first real boyfriend. Indeed, he’s sitting right next to you today. I remember, right around this time last year, Drake asking my permission to propose to you. I remember watching him do it. I remember crying during both of these latter two events.
Yes, I have a lot of memories of your first 24 (almost 25) years of life. Over these years, I have tried to be a godly father to you. I know there have been times when you have thought I failed you at this task. I also know there have been times when I actually did fail you. I can only hope and pray that I have not been a complete failure. I suppose, as the old saying goes, only time will tell.
Despite my failures, whether real or perceived, it is my sincere prayer that I have been a good father to you. I furthermore pray that, overall, I have been a positive influence on you over these past 24 years. Believe me, I have tried each day to be the father you want and, more importantly, the father you need. Throughout your life, I have gained some wisdom (believe it or not), albeit limited. So, on your wedding day, I want to share with you some of the limited wisdom I have gleaned. It is my sincere hope and prayer that you will not only listen to my words, but will honestly ponder the content.
Today, indeed just minutes ago, the law defines you as a spouse. But the law cannot make you a wife. More importantly, it cannot make you a godly wife. Godlike character transcends titles. Indeed, many female spouses never become true, godly wives.
So, what does it mean to be a godly wife? To be quite honest, having never been one myself, my knowledge is somewhat limited. Still, I would like to share with you some of the more important characteristics that I believe define a “godly wife.” I am sure there are many people who may disagree with the characteristics I describe. That’s okay. I am not looking to please them. My goal is to honor God by teaching you what is right.
First and foremost, a godly wife truly loves God. A godly wife understands that she is nothing apart from God. A godly wife recognizes her need for a savior, and asks Jesus Christ to forgive her of her sins. A godly wife spends her life trying to emulate the character of Christ. She studies God’s Word, both alone and collectively with other believers, and especially with her husband.
A godly wife remains sexually pure until she is married. She does not succumb to the pressures that any man may place on her to betray her purity. A godly wife understands that sexual purity is a precious gift, and that it is only relinquished after she is married.
A godly wife chooses to love her husband daily, and remains faithful to him until death. She honors him, cherishes him, tells him she loves him, and wholeheartedly respects him.
A godly wife loves her children and strives to do what is best for them. She comes to understand that this encompasses not only giving gifts, but providing discipline when it is needed. A godly wife never fails to let her children know that she loves them, and does so unconditionally. A godly wife makes it her goal to be an example of godly principles for her children. And, if you’re anything like your own mother, nags them day in and day out . . .
A godly wife understands that beauty is not defined by physical attributes. Beauty springs from deep within your soul. It is the aroma of your character. Although our society covets and applauds the external, a godly wife understands that beautiful character far outweighs and outlasts the physical. Today, though, as I look at you, I see both internal and external beauty.
A godly wife understands that worldly possessions are on-loan from God. As such, a godly wife is a good steward with all her earthly possessions, and especially with her time. A godly wife is charitable; she loathes selfishness and selfish behavior.
A godly wife understands that knowledge and wisdom are not synonymous. A godly wife seeks knowledge at every opportunity; a godly wife seeks wisdom continuously. A godly wife strives to be honorable in all her pursuits; she reveres truth above all else.
Meagan, please understand that the characteristics I have just described comprise only a subset of the many that define what it means to be a godly wife. In my mind, however, these characteristics stand as paramount.
Now, as I conclude, I want you to know one last thing. I fully admit that I have made many mistakes as your father, and that your mother and I have not always reflected or fully communicated the characteristics I have described to you today. Moreover, I am certain that we will likely make many more mistakes in the future. Nonetheless, it is my solemn prayer that you have learned, and will continue to learn, what it means to be a godly wife. Even more, I pray that you, like your own mother, will become a godly wife.
Proverbs 31:30-31 says this:
Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting;
but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.
Honor her for all that her hands have done,
and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.
Proverbs 31:30-31 (NIV)
I love you and I am very proud of you! I love your charm; I love your beauty. I praise your respectful, loving fear of the Lord. I honor you for all that you have accomplished. What you’ve overcome; how you’ve persevered.
Today, I toast you and Drake, as husband-and-wife, for the very first time. I trust – no, we all trust – that this will not be the last. That your love for each other will grow each day and stand the test of time.
I have loved, and do love, only one lady more than you, and that is your mother. That will always remain true. But today is your day. And so, I ask that everyone please raise your glass, as I toast my daughter, Meagan, now Mrs. Drake Western.