Father's Day DadI’m not one to write a post for a particular day such as Easter, Thanksgiving, or Christmas, and especially not Father’s or Mother’s Day. I don’t even acknowledge it on Facebook or change my profile picture to include the appropriate parent.

I know – I‘m a social media pariah.

I get my cynical anti-bandwagon genetic makeup from my father. He and I are very much alike – we don’t express our deep sentiments too freely and especially not in public.

So the fact that I’m about to actually write a Father’s Day post should be noted as monumental. And also should not be expected to have a sequel. Ever. But I was overcome this morning with the urge to tell one story.

I got engaged at 18, and we set our wedding date for six months later when I would be the seasoned age of 19.

Chris had not only asked my Dad’s permission to marry me (and endured two weeks of complete silence before he received an answer), but had also asked his permission to date me a year earlier. Or, as he worded to my dad, “May I date your daughter with the intention of marrying her?”

Upon that first questioning, after spending an afternoon mulling over his own opinion (we’re also both mullers), Dad came to me and said “I’m fine with it, but do you want to date him? Because if you don’t I’ll tell him no and then you won’t have to do it.”

I had known I was going to marry Chris for at least three months (way before Chris realized it), so I was agreeable to date the guy. But I was fairly surprised that my Dad was skippy about the whole thing – after all, he’d spent seventeen years frightening away any potential suitors with his intimidating silence and vague illusions to loaded weapons. I’d never dated anyone, and Chris, although fantastic in every way, was twenty-three years old. A freaking adult.

But this story happened after the second permission granted by my Dad, and after Chris and I got engaged.

Within a month, I started battling crippling anxiety. The kind that would make me have to leave work because I couldn’t quit crying. I realized that this anxiety was centralized around my upcoming wedding when I couldn’t sleep one night until I hid my veil in the closet.

Being an analytical person, I had to understand why, because I certainly wanted to marry Chris with all my heart. I began to realize that I was terrified of making this decision. Nineteen-year-old me loved Chris and desperately wanted to be with him. However, this was a decision – the decision above all decisions – that would affect the rest of my life. What made me qualified to make this decision for every other iteration of me that there would ever be? And most crucially, was I absolutely positive that this was God’s will for my life? Because above everything, that was what I needed to know – the assurance that I was entering into this because God wanted me to, and not just because I selfishly desired it. If I had that, then I knew the future would be okay.

It was October, my wedding was in March, and during the next two months my anxiety steadily increased. I went from being a nearly unemotional person to a constant mess. And when I wasn’t anxious, I was anxious about becoming anxious. I told my parents and Chris about my inner struggle. I prayed. I cried. I searched the scriptures for reassurance. But God was silent.

Chris, meanwhile, was terrified, although he didn’t tell me this for several years. On the outside he was supportive and steady, but he thought I was working toward breaking up with him.

My anxiety ruined the holidays for me, and nearly halted my wedding planning because thinking about it filled me with an unbearable fear. (Maybe that’s why I was still arranging my cake plan forty days beforehand.)

Finally, on the evening of New Year’s Day, I broke down with my parents. In between ugly, hiccuping sobs, I told them, “I just need to KNOW. I need to know that this is the right decision! I can’t keep going on like this.”

And my Dad, who had always been reserved with his words and certainly had never shown any glee about giving his only daughter to another man, said,

“Look at me. You know how long I’ve prayed about this and that I spent two weeks agonizing over it before I gave Chris permission to ask you. Do you really think that I would have said yes if I wasn’t absolutely convinced that it was God’s will for you?”

The effect was immediate.

The burden disintegrated and I knew with my entire heart that he was right. This was the word that I had been looking for, assurance that I wasn’t even sure was possible, and now I was completely confident in my decision.

Although I still struggled with chemical anxiety until after the wedding, it had nothing to do with the upcoming marriage. My assurance never faltered again, and I was able to enter into marriage with an undoubting heart that was full of anticipation and joy. And my Dad seemed pretty happy, too.

Wedding Picture With Dad

In the thirteen years that have followed, I have never, ever questioned my decision.

Because of the gravity my Dad took in helping me make that crucial choice, I now have a magnificent father for my own children – a father who takes on their upbringing with just as much passion and responsibility.

Father's Day

(And a good bit of whimsy.)

So for all of the times that my Dad scared the crap out of me about associating with unsavory men (geez – I got grounded one time just because I was with my older brother and he didn’t call before we went somewhere else, so there was no way I was going to hang out with anyone worse than a not-call-homer), I am eternally thankful.

It was never many words, but the ones he did say shaped the rest of my life.

19 thoughts on “The Gravity of Granting Permission.

  1. What a beautiful tribute! Cherish him while you can. My Pops has been in heaven since 2004….Oh to have him one more day to call and joke with and hear him give me sage words of wisdom……

  2. What a beautiful post! Your dad sounds wonderful, and you are so blessed to have his guidance. :)

  3. Such a beautiful story. I met my husband when my dad was sick and dying of cancer. I tried to introduce them, while we were dating, but at that point my dad was in and out of consciousness a lot and very hard to wake up. On my 25th birthday I visited my dad in hospice and told him that I would be ok, that Mike would take care of me. He passed three days later, and I actually found out two days after that that I was pregnant. A little less than a year after our son was born we got married. We have had our ups and downs and in the worst of times I have probably doubted our decision to get married. But reading this now, I’ll never doubt it again.

  4. I was very happy to have my Dad’s input and permission to marry my guy. I also had never dated, and neither had he so we were cautious and needed the advice and support. Even so, I was pretty sure he was the one before we asked. It was very important to me that my future husband respect and be respected by parents. We’ve been happily married for almost 13 years now. My older sister managed to obtain Dad’s ‘permission’ only through the ‘I’m going to do it with or without permission’ method and her marraige was miserable and ended in divorce 4 years later.
    Over the last 3 years or so years, my Dad has literally gone crazy. Delusional, paranoid and abusive from Parkinson’s disease and the medications for it. He was finally committed and placed in a home that we hope will keep him safe and happy. Because of how badly things got before that, my mother and younger sisters had to file restraining orders for both their safety and his.
    We visited my mom and sisters over this father’s day and my 18yr old sister was struggling with how to deal with having a boyfriend with no Dad around to help and protect her. It really makes a difference in life to have security at home. I can see the vast difference in my life at 18 vs her life at 18 just because of that loss of our father, but I have no idea what to do about it.

    I miss my Dad.

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