Monday, June 6, 2011

Sometimes Just Being a Dad Is Enough

My Father's Day gift came a couple of weeks early this year - our son, Travis, got married last night, and I got a beautiful, sweet daughter-in-law, Christy. And the gifts just keep on coming, because our daughter, Alison, will be delivering our second grandchild right around Father's Day.

I daresay none of you fathers will top those gifts!

But today I'm dealing with a lot of different - and, to some degree, conflicting - emotions and feelings. Fatigue, to start with. My wife, Joanna, and I have put a lot into this occasion, and we're tired - getting home at 1:15 this morning, after a long day, not to mention several months of intense planning, organizing, and anticipating.

And then there's relief - to finally have all of the work and preparation behind us, and to know that everything went off without a hitch. It was beautiful and wonderful, meeting all of our expectations (and theirs, too, we hope).

Sadness for those who were missing, and whom all of us are missing - especially Christy's dad, Steve, who passed away a few months ago. But I also thought about my parents, as well as Joanna's dad, who would have been so proud of their grandson last night. I'm glad that my dad got to meet Christy a few times and know her. And I'm also thankful that Travis and Steve got to know each other so well and had such a great relationship.

But joy even moreso - joy at seeing our son happy and having a wonderful daughter-in-law who long ago became a part of our family in our hearts if not in the eyes of the law. During the past 7 years, they have supported and encouraged each other through various challenges and times of sorrow, but they have also shared their joy throughout those years. As many remarked last night, their love for each other is evident in everything they do.

Joy at watching my brother-in-law, Palmer, perform the ceremony just as thoughtfully and beautifully as he did for Alison's wedding a few years ago. Fifty years ago last Thursday evening, we were together at another wedding - his marriage to my sister, Patsy (unfortunately, I'm old enough to remember it very well). They are very special to me, and it was wonderful to share this night with them.

Joy, as well, at visiting with my favorite cousin, Lawana, at the wedding - she was one of the hardy souls who stayed through the entire reception!

Joy at celebrating with my niece, Stephanie, and her family. Stephanie's remarks at my dad's memorial service 4 years ago - about the faithfulness of my parents, her grandparents - continue to inspire, challenge, and encourage me every day.

Joy at being with many members of Joanna's family - including her mom - who traveled from Hong Kong and Toronto to celebrate with us. Their eagerness to travel so many miles to share this occasion means more to Joanna and me than they could ever imagine.

Joy at sharing this evening with many treasured friends, including my best friend for almost 40 years, Bob. He was Best Man in our wedding in 1976. David Currie was there last night as well - David has been a great friend to me and has never failed to ask, "How's Travis doing?" It was so good to get to visit with him last night.

And just sheer tears and lumps in the throat. Where do they come from? Joy, I guess, but also from the realization that this little boy - whom you've nurtured from birth through childhood through adolescence, from birthday parties at Sportsplex to countless baseball, basketball, and soccer games, through all these many years of school (he finished his college degree work just last week - whew!), and on and on and on - this little boy is now going to make his home with someone else and is up there pledging for the rest of his life to love and cherish till death . . . for better or worse . . . for richer or poorer . . . through sickness and health . . . this woman standing next to him and pledging to him as well. Lumps in the throat.

And, finally, pride, in a son who understands the importance of family and the importance of loving with a love that is faithful, sacrificial, and at times even "mushy." A son who has met a lot of challenges in recent years and has learned, grown, and persevered.

Well, each of us plays a lot of roles in life. For me, a key role right now is right here at Texas Baptists Committed. It's a role I've taken on because it's important to me that Texas Baptists stay Baptist - in the truest sense of that word. Anyone who has worked with me in this enterprise can tell you that I have a passion for Baptist principles . . . for communicating those principles . . . for preserving our Baptist heritage . . . and for encouraging today's Baptists to stay true to that heritage. And I'll give every bit of time and effort needed to further TBC's mission.

But I have to confess to you that I have a passion that's even greater - a passion for my family. Joanna and I will celebrate 35 years of marriage in September, and she has truly made my life complete. We've raised two wonderful kids - when Alison pledged her love to Adam in that ceremony 6 years ago, I had the same lumps in my throat as I had last night. Their daughter, Avery, who is 3-1/2, was the flower girl last night, and the highlight of the evening was when Avery reached the front, and Travis bent down to call her to him. That hug between Travis and his little niece brought a lump to every throat and a tear to every eye.

And my family well knows that, as passionate as I am about the work I'm doing, when they need me I'll drop everything to make sure they're taken care of. And I know that they would do the same.

So each of us has a lot of important roles to play in life, but believe me - God will find someone to do His work. Serving God is a privilege that He gives us because He loves us and our service for Him will draw us closer to Him, not because we're indispensable to that service. Where we are truly indispensable, though, is to our family. We can be replaced at work, but we can't be replaced in our family.

So I really enjoy all of my different roles in life, but when all is said and done, sometimes just being a dad is enough . . . and a husband . . . and a granddaddy . . . and a father-in-law . . . and a brother and brother-in-law and cousin and uncle . . . and so on. Nice work if you can get it!

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