I have to say, it kind of freaked me out – sending Libby off to bed in the guest room with a young man! I know, they’re married, but it just kind of goes against the grain somehow. Maybe a little background is due …
For the last 21 years, a significant part of my life has involved keeping Libby AWAY from boys. Like most fathers, I tried to do my best to teach Libby about the proprieties regarding boys – mostly just to avoid them altogether if I could help it – though I usually couldn’t, because boys have always liked Libby – and Libby has always liked boys! In fact, one of our fond memories of Libby’s early years was how while I was pastor at Dickson Baptist in Oklahoma City, she recognized the sound of our young and good-looking Associate Pastor Ray Swift’s truck when he would pull into the driveway. She would hear the sound of that truck, and toddle up to the door and look expectantly. She liked Ray! It was just a sign of things to come.
I did some things right. When we lived in Tulsa and Libby was a preschooler, I set down a hard and fast rule for her: “You don’t kiss boys! You only kiss your Daddy!” I DRILLED that idea into her mind as if it were a multiplication fact. It was not long before that precept was tested. Cheryl was keeping several kindergartners who were Libby’s age, and from my home office I could hear a couple of the boys talking. They had been trying to get Libby to give them a kiss (these kids were 5 years old!). My ears perked up, and I strained to hear every word: “She said she didn’t kiss boys; she only kisses her dad!” My fatherly chest swelled with pride – and I breathed a huge sigh of relief! She had passed the test! But it set me on guard, from her earliest days – I had to keep an eye out for those boys!
Over the years I had employed a variety of tactics: I might gently suggest she look in another direction for a male friend, or just say it was not a good time for her to do something with a guy I didn’t want her to build a relationship with, or just pray like all get out when there was someone in the picture and I was just not sure he was the right one (Cheryl & I had both prayed for our kids’ future marriage partners for years, but when Libby was in a relationship with a guy, my prayers would go into overdrive!) Sometimes I just flat out put my foot down. You do whatever you have to do as a dad. Of course, Libby did not give us a whole lot of problems anyway – don’t get that impression — but you can’t be too careful as a dad; you are guarding a precious treasure!
I still remember speaking to Libby on the phone last fall, as she told me about how she stayed up late talking to a guy at Louisiana College, by the name of “Josh.” I asked her if this was a potential boyfriend, and she said he wasn’t. But I immediately thought otherwise. Why this interest? Why did they stay up so late talking? I just thought there was indeed something there – my “Dad radar” was up! And I was right. A few weeks later, she brought “Josh” home, and Cheryl & I fell in love with him – as we found out Libby had already done! It was not long until we were making plans for a wedding on May 14th, which brings us up to date. Josh & Libby are now Mr. & Mrs. Joshua Breland!
So, last night the newly married couple came over to our house. They needed to go to the Parish Clerk’s office in Lake Charles to get an official copy of their marriage license, then take it to the Social Security office to get her name changed. Thinking that it would be easier to drive to Lake Charles that evening and spend the night, then get up the next day and go to the offices downtown, they arrived at our house right before we came home from church. We had a great visit. They had just picked up the last of their wedding pictures from the photographer, so we had a great time looking at all the great shots together. We downloaded all the pictures to each of our computers, and posted some of them on Facebook. We talked about preaching and preachers the whole time, too; it was fun.
But by the time we had finished everything, it was pretty late. Cheryl had already gone to bed. Now I got up to go too. Libby headed back to the guest bedroom, Josh trailing just a bit behind. My first, fatherly response was “Wait a minute … !” I had previously always made sure that they headed in different directions at bed time! But this time was different. They were supposed to go that way – together! God has answered all the prayers we prayed all of those years, for just the right guy for Libby. It’s time for her to kiss this boy – all she wants! But still, after 21 years of trying to keep the boys away, old habits are just a little bit hard to break! I’m going to have to make some adjustments. Standing there musing about the situation, I thought: “That’s just a little double bed in the guest room; it’s not really big enough for two people!” But … they seemed pretty happy about it …