Friday, August 17, 2012

A Swooper and A Whisker

Marriage separates families. Not a popular thought. Some would wholly disagree...that's your freedom to do so but here's an example. We rarely experience a time when 100% of our family can be together. It's so rare an event that I just want to cry the whole time it happens. (don't go all psycho-analytical on me.) We are a family of 9, soon to be 10: Two parents, two daughters, two sons, one son-in-law, one daughter-in-law, one more daughter-in-law-to-be, and baby Bobby. That's a lot of different personalities, but more importantly, it's a lot of schedules.

The craziest of schedules belongs to my daughter, Jourdan, and her husband, Jeff. They are musicians. That means they live their lives out of a suitcase. This didn't used to be her life. Someone swooped down and whisked her away, into his van, into his band, into his crazy life and away from ours. How was I supposed to take this? I am by nature very territorial. Everyone knows this about me.

When someone wants to swoop down and whisk your daughter away, you, as a parent normally treat that act as an infringement, a threat, or a disaster. Sometimes you sigh with relief because somebody finally loves her. Rarely do you consider it a joy. I know many parents who love their son-in-laws yet still aren't overjoyed that their daughter is married with a life separate from them. This is where I found myself three years ago.

Sure, Jourdan chose a fine Christian man to love and marry. Sure, he treated her well. Sure, he could provide for her.  Sure, their kids would be beautiful. Why should I be bothered in the least? Because I'm Barbara. Selfish and protective to the end. I wanted my daughter to be there for me whenever I needed her. I wanted to be there for her whenever she needed me...and I wanted her to need me. There I said it. I was afraid Jeff wouldn't "get" our family. That he wouldn't see the need we have to be together. That he wouldn't need me. (again, said.) Jeff and I were friendly all during his and Jourdan's courtship and dating life. He is a lot of fun. You can't help but like him. But not until he married Jourdan did I really get to appreciate who he is and what he is to my daughter. At some point if you decide you're going to be a good parent, you forego your selfish desires and opinions and look at your child's life in the way God does. God probably says something like this to himself, "Who will take care of my daughter, Jourdan, the best?  Who will let Jourdan be all that she was created to be? Who can benefit from a partnership with Jourdan the most? Who will let Jourdan honor me and who will allow Jourdan to serve me, alongside himself? Who can Jourdan love the deepest? Who will teach Jourdan what my Bride is to be when the Bridegroom comes for her by living this out in earthly form?"

I was wrong to limit my desires for my daughter to my own narrow views.

Jeff Johnson is the only man my daughter has ever wanted to marry and the man whom God found as the answer to the above questions. I now know why. He pursued her, loves her, protects her in ways most men don't think about, learns from her, teaches her, prays for her, and plays with her. These are all aspects of their relationship that I celebrate. 

But I have to mention here that not only does he play with her, he can get her to do anything unreasonable. They got married the day after Thanksgiving in Dallas. On Thanksgiving day, both the Burks family and the Johnson family gathered together at Jeff's home to celebrate the annual feast together. It was all very civilized and friendly, in spite of the fact that we did not know each other well. Jourdan was seated at one end of the table as the hostess and this was the first time both families had sat down together. Her first time to host her in-laws and her own crazy family. She was a little nervous, but happy. The conversation turned to impressions. Someone brought up that Jourdan used to do an impression of Will Ferrell's impression of Harry Caray as seen many times on Saturday Night Live.

So Jeff then makes her do her impression in front of all , including her new mother and father-in-law. But he doesn't stop there. He goes and gets her guitar, puts it in her lap and tells her to sing a Thanksgiving song in her Harry Caray voice. She proceeded to sing us an impromptu song about Thanksgiving in that ridiculous voice. That's when I knew it would be alright. From then on Jeff has been stretching Jourdan's parameters. I have seen a change in her over the past three years. She is more relaxed, funnier, more joyful, and continues in her pursuit of godliness. I attribute much of that to her husband's influence.

Jeff and I are big buddies now. I love him as I love my own sons. We have deep conversations and we talk nonsense. (He's equally good at both.) I'm so grateful to Debbie and Larry Johnson for bringing him into the world, that hot August night. (I don't really know exactly what time he was born, I just wanted to make a Neil Diamond reference here.)

Jeff, I honor you today and every day. I pray that I will always make you proud to have me as your other mother. And I pray that your incredible God-ordained mission is brought to completion every day of your life. Thank you again for loving my daughter, for pursuing her, for never giving up.

And thank you for taking my advice to not be a turtle.

Love, Barbs

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