I said this to my older brother this evening.
Mark, we never talked about our visions for marriage, for wives, for children.
I’m not sure why.
But I have a bundle of hopes and wishes and dreams for you today.
As I welcome you and your bride into this strange and stunning marital world,
As I extend my hand and pull you in along with the hands of all these loved ones today,
As I wrap my arm around yours and hold you in congratulations and compliments,
As I squeeze and tell you that I love you inside the echoes of all these other expressions of love,
I want to tell you what my dreams are for you, for Keisha, for your children, and for your future.
I want to tell you what I didn’t when we were boys, when traveled around the country singing.
I want to tell you what I didn’t on Normal, on 103rd Street, over Auntie Pat’s and Uncle Tim’s and everywhere in between.
I want to say what I didn’t when I became Dawn’s husband.
I want to say what I see, when I look at your future.
I want to welcome you to marriage, to being Keisha’s husband.
I welcome you to not knowing exactly what you’ve signed up for, to not fully knowing what you were saying moments ago when you spoke those lovely vows, to a world where being a husband means putting someone else first, all the time, and hoping that it means you will be first place again, to a world where you are becoming more like God because you are graciously and regularly putting another first.
I welcome you to finding out that being a husband means that everything changes even when your address doesn’t, to an arena when you’ll answer questions differently because you’ll always, now, have a wife who trusts you and hopes for you and gives to you and builds you and who expects that you are able to do the same for her.
I welcome you to the solidness of that simple precious circle on what was, this morning, a lonely finger, to an experience when women will want you more now than they did before (and they did before), to a world where words become symbols with the power to alter your family and your future, where compliments erase criticisms, and where the consistent practice of humility will make you a better man even when it feels defeating.
I welcome you to what will sometimes feel like unending fights with no real point behind them, to a swirl of upset with no real beginning, but I also see, in that same world, unending kisses and streams of happiness and contentment when conflicts are resolved and God meets you in the midst of joyous and sexy reconciliation.
I welcome you to the security of lifelong love and commitment and forgiveness, while running or walking or stumbling up cultural hills which tell you to leave your wife, to forget your vows, or, worse, to act as if those vows having no weight.
My dream for you is that you will always be an example in how you husband your wife and father your children.
My dream for you is that you will navigate with honor and power and grace the roads of being a father to all of these children, that you will know the boundaries but not respect them, that you will be wise in dealing with a biological father who may, at times, act sinfully, and that you will have a long and wide embrace of four children unless, of course, more come along!
My dream for you is that you will never lose strength and when you do, because you will, that you will the tap the greatest strength in the greatest and only God.
My dream is that you and Keisha will experience daily joy even while experiencing the bland parts of life, that boredom will be a minister to you and that it, like excitement, will teach you that life is about moments of boredom as much as it is about excitement.
My dream is that you will always be convinced that God loves you without condition and that you learn, daily, how to love just like that.
My dream is that you will not shudder under the heaviness of responsibility but that you will arise and arrive at that burden and that you will excel and flourish and flower.
Finally, my dream is that the Lord will bless and keep you, that the Lord’s face will shine upon you and be gracious to you, that the Lord will lift up his countenance upon you, and give you peace. Amen.