Sunday, May 1, 2011

"Good night, good night until we meet again"

I'm fresh back from my church's women's retreat. As one of the four unmarried girls in attendance, I learned one thing from everyone else: having a husband is hard. One woman gave a testimony of how she went into her marriage with rose-colored glasses, expecting that her husband would adore her like her father had. When he fell short of her expectations, she became bitter and shrewish, driving her husband away. And though her story has a happy ending, with growth and reconciliation and true love, I couldn't help thinking to myself that I'm in big trouble if I ever get married.

Because honestly, there's no guy better than my dad.

So I'm fresh home from this retreat, right? My mom is preparing for her night shift, curled up on the couch, and my dad greets me with a hug. We sit down in the other room, quiet so as not to disturb, and blow-by-blow he catches me up on life at home from his perspective. About his battle with cordon bleu, his fix-it challenge with the bedroom lamp, his devastation over conflict with my sister, his gratification in a quality Sunday sermon. While I was gone and Sarah was away, my dad spent his weekend working, taking care of my mom and siblings, and holding down the fort; I forget sometimes what a big deal that is.

My dad has a genuine servant's heart. I was horrified to hear the women this weekend complain about going home, wracked with certainty that they would be faced with a sink full of dirty dishes and an empty refrigerator. That would never happen in my house. My heart sank for them when I heard them share their hurt at their husbands' shortcomings in listening. My dad has the wisest and most sympathetic ear. A few women laughed helplessly over how they occasionally felt neglected by their husbands, like they didn't matter. And all I could think of, it's funny, is how I always feel guilty asking my dad for permission for anything, because he hates to have to say no. He loves to dote on his family.

I've learned a lot about God the Father from my father in this world. Who could possibly live up to that?

Not that hanging out with a bunch of married people for a few days made me cynical about marriage: they had plenty of wonderful things to say, too. And granted, my dad's had 20 years of practice at this whole husband/father thing. So there's that.

Now Caleb and I are watching The Lawrence Welk Show [wait, what? I know!] and my dad is telling me about how my grandmother's favorite singer was Nora, and how smart the producer of this show was, and the best chart-toppers. "I think all these people lived their lives vicariously through this show," he's says referring to the predominantly elderly studio audience, and laughing as he taps his toe to the Bobby & Sissy number.

It doesn't seem fair, that there are girls who don't have dads like my dad, that there are ladies who don't have husbands like my mom's husband. I don't understand how it works, how you end up with who you end up with. But I never want to be guilty of not honoring my father like I ought to, especially because he is so deserving.


Michael said...

That's one of the things that makes marriage so scary for me, is that it seems so easy for me to believe that I would do that for my wife, especially since you know I married her and God's given her to me to take care of . . . but then again it's so easy to believe nice things about myself, and how hard it is to do them. It's difficult to consider the responsibility of showing love and care for another person for your entire life. But . . . it also seems like a wonderful thing to look forward to doing.

Art said...

"But I never want to be guilty of not honoring my father like I ought to, especially because he is so deserving." My dad, too.
Thanks for the post, Hayley.

Anonymous said...

I just had to comment.

Having a wonderful father (and watching him being a faithful husband) shouldn't cause you to worry about being disappointed in your own marriage. Quite the opposite. As one who has been loved and "learned much about God" from your earthly father, you are less likely to take your future husband's shortcomings personally.

A christian marriage is a journey of two imperfect pilgrims who are learning to share together in the grace of life. Neither must look to the other for meaning or significance but rather be willing to serve the other in whatever ways he/she can. It sounds like your dad knows this.

Anonymous said...

For a unique (and hard to swallow) view of marriage I suggest you check out this modern tale of sacrificial love at

Nicole said...

I fear I tend to gravitate toward rose-colored glasses, thinking "Well, I'll never marry a guy who does such-and-such or this-and-this or thinks that-and-that". Yet, I've always grown up highly aware of the difficulties of marriage. One of the things I'm most grateful for as I observed my parents while I was growing up was how they resolved conflict Biblically. I learned much from them in that area. My prayer is that I view marriage not as merely a means to my happiness but as a tool to glorify God by displaying Christ and His church.

Oh, and I'm grateful for my dad too. :)