I recently stood in a sacred place and watched my only daughter become someone else's girl.
She got married. I used to try to imagine what I would feel and how I would react to this pinnacle fatherly act of letting go. Watching her grow up I seriously pondered what it would be like if I could arrange a marriage for her, like a scripted scene from Fiddler on the Roof. By ponder I mean I really let my imagination go. Two years ago I even wrote about it in a blog entry called, "If I could pick my daughter's future husband."
I considered all the qualities of the young man that would be good enough for my little girl - his work ethic, his integrity, his need to have a plan for success and to provide, his caring hand and his ability to make her smile.
But the more I pondered, the longer the list ... how he would temper his pride, how he would react to her strong spirit, how he would act when he's wrong, how he would act when she's wrong, his ability to lead her toward meaningful and eternal things.
As I listened to these two young people covenant to faithfully love and honor each other my thoughts were quietly pulled to a memory of a little girl skipping through the house in her pajamas. Now in front of me I beheld a beautiful, smart young woman who understood her own self worth and how she deserved to be treated. Because of this, she needed no matchmaker.
I beheld a young man who would take over where a father must step aside. He will provide now -- protection, shelter, love, laughter -- this stewardship was no longer mine.
In that room at that moment I could literally feel something in my world shifting, changing. And while this is ultimately what parents work toward, there can still be a hesitant grip on our hearts that doesn't want to let go.
At the end of the ceremony I first hugged my daughter and told her I loved her and was so very proud of her. I then hugged this young man - the young man she chose for her eternal companion. I whispered in his ear, "Please take good care of her." He said, "I will sir."
And I knew in my heart that he would.
What do you look for in the young men that want to date your daughter? What qualities or characteristics do you think are missing in many young men today?