Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Greatest Advice I Ever Received about Marriage

"How did you know daddy was the man you should marry?" Little-girl me asked my mom years and years ago.

"Because. He reminded me of my father," she said, smiling softly. 

Huh? I scrunched my face, confused by this the way some of you may be now as you read these words. 

"My mama once told me to find a man like my father, and marry that man. She said I wouldn't go wrong that way. And she was right."

Simple advice. "Well that sounds easy," I responded. And I remember the way she looked at me then and nodded. Something about her expression then stayed with me. Because she knew something I didn't know at the time... The advice that sounds the easiest may prove to challenge you the most.

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
Throughout my life, my father has been an indescribable example of Christ-like love and strength in my life. He hung the moon, but made sure I knew the One who formed it. He was my hero, my buddy, my confidant, my protector, but always, above all else, my father. And I never struggled with the image of God the Father because He gave me an earthly example of His love, right there tucking me in each night. 
Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
As I have grown older, I have come to realize that the quiet strength and commitment of my father makes him a proverbial dinosaur in this age of flashy romance and "I-centered" living. The lessons my daddy taught me about life are written in traditional granite, a strong contrast to this digital age in which web pages are viewed only long enough to stand the test of a viewer's very fleeting interest or endurance. Few people will read my words this far.

As grateful as I have always been to have grown up on the shoulders of that man, my mother's advice became a very real challenge, written across my life and my heart. Find a man like your father, and marry that man.

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
A man like my father? The man who made me laugh as a little girl by tickling my palm with one finger when he held my hand? The man who scrutinized my clothes through those teenage years when I was too naive to understand modesty, so he made the final decisions for me on what I could and most certainly could not leave our house wearing. The man who has always said "We believe marriage is forever," and lives that out with quiet determination. 
Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
Find that man? In today's world?

So at 26, I was still single with no prospects in sight. Go figure; I was searching for a near-extinct quality type. I daresay there were moments when my mom questioned her own advice to me.

And I remember the frustrations of the "wrong ones" and the lonely moments of waiting. And I remember the questioning prayers. Then I would remember my mother's words, God's way to gently guide my focus in this muddled world. And I would sigh. And wait.

Single sisters, it ain't easy. I know.

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
Then, along came Russ. I won't pretend that he is some prince that swept me off my feet and carried me off into the sunset the way girls are told love is supposed to happen these days. I won't act like he is some image of perfection. Our marriage will never become a hit reality tv series, and our wedding video did not have some flashy moment that went viral.

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
But the first time he held my hand he tickled my palm with one finger. And years of my father's relentless lessons in modesty paid off the day he told me "You know, I really like the way you dress." And the day he said "I believe marriage is forever," I saw a calm determination in his eyes that reflected a generation of good ole' traditional granite.

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
I know wedding dresses are beautiful, and the pictures are fun to splatter across your Facebook page. Rightly so; enjoy that dress, that moment, those pictures. Enjoy sharing it all. But at the end of that day, you have to be able trust that man to hold your heart and guide your family. That goes beyond the digital display.
Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
We are quickly approaching one year of marriage. One year of laughing at our mistakes and realizing how very far we have to go. I do not profess to know it all or to have this marriage thing figured out. Most people have forgotten more about marriage than I know at this point. 

But I know we'll be okay.

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
Should I ever need a reminder or morsel of encouragement, there always seems to be a little moment in which Russ does something or says something that makes me think, That is just like something daddy would do...

Photo Credit: Joshua McCoy Photography
And I thank God.