Dating is nothing new for my daughter. Years ago Rachael began
leaving our house once a month for dinner and a movie with the guy she
loved: Her dad. It wasn't for lack of alternatives. Boys proposed to her
when she was three, four, and twice when she was six. Each time she
most emphatically said no.
In her teen years she pasted a Bible verse to her bedroom door. Psalm
56:1: “Be merciful to me, O God, for men hotly pursue me.” And they
did. A few showed up holding flowers. I had rehearsed clever and witty
things to say to them, threats involving their little bodies and staple
guns. But I never had the heart while they stood there on our front
steps, sweating, as if someone had already yelled, “Ready! Aim!—”
“Why don't you go out with them?” I surprised myself by asking.
“They're not the kind of guys I wanna marry,” she said. “Besides, I like dating you. You pay for everything.”
A few summers ago a guy by the name of Jordan began showing up with
regularity. His nerves weren't so good either. One day he leaned against
our counter and the toast popped up. You'd have thought he had licked
an electric fence.
Jordan is immensely helpful around the house. It's surprising the
things this guy will do for free. He has cleaned our shed, repaired our
dryer, mowed grass, shovelled snow, and correctly assembled a barbecue.
He does dishes, sweeps floors, and is showing real potential in the
One day last June Jordan stammered, “I, uh, was gonna talk to you about, uh, your daughter. I really like her.”
I had rehearsed clever and witty threats for him. They were too good
not to use. While sharpening a knife I informed him that I'm not real
big but I have lots of friends. That if he broke her heart I would break
some things that he might need. I told him that nothing on earth
matters more to me than this girl; that we've prayed for her every
single day of her life. That she'd find a guy who doesn't talk about God
as much as he loves Him. And I told him about the video surveillance
units we've installed in every room. And in his car.
He chuckled nervously and said, “I'll be good to her.” And he has.
Just before Christmas Jordan's enthusiasm for chores reached an
all-time high and his nervous disorder resurfaced. While Ramona and I
wrapped Christmas gifts one night, he tapped on our door, and tiptoed in
like a porcupine entering a balloon factory.
“I was going to ask you about the uh,” — long pause—“marrying Rachael.”
“Does she know about this?” was all that came to mind.
"Sit down,” I said, stalling. Jordan sat on the bed. “You have the
right to remain silent,” I informed him. His grin widened. “Seriously,
we've been watching you and we like what we see. You're a gentleman. You
make her laugh and we've seen your love for Jesus. You're a youth
pastor so you'll be broke. That's OK. We were too. Rachael has made me
very happy. She'll do the same for you if you let her. Just remember, I
dated her first, you know?”
Then I asked him a few simple questions: Why would you like to marry
her? Will you be stronger together than apart? How do you plan to
encourage her gifts? Are you honouring her now? How will you honour her
after you tie the knot? How will you help her grow closer to God? What
will you do if marriage doesn't turn out the way you planned? Easy stuff
He spluttered a little, so I suggested we talk about these things
during the seven years he would spend raising cattle for me. Jordan
laughed. “You have a great sense of humour,” I told him.
“I think I'm gonna need it,” he said. And we all laughed.
On December 28 Mr. Jordan Culp produced a sparkling diamond set in
gold, got down on one knee, and fainted. No, he didn't. He popped a
question: “Will you marry me?” It wasn't the first time she'd been
asked, but this time Rachael broke down and cried. And said, “Yes.”
We couldn't be happier for them. But like an eight-track tape plugged
into a Blu-ray machine we realize that life changes fast. I find myself
offering up more prayers now, and less unsolicited advice. Last night I
found myself on the other end of things when I asked Jordan, “May I
have your permission to date her when you're married?”
Sometimes we watch them in the car talking about their June wedding.
(The picture is quite clear from these new-fangled surveillance
cameras.) They're planning a lavish catered affair, but I think we
should have a backyard potluck. A-E bring a hot dish. F-M salads. N-Z
toasters. I haven't mentioned this to Rachael. But I'm sure she'll leave
that decision up to me.
After all, I'm the dad. I pay for everything.
The Wedding is June 18.