Prom was last saturday evening …
Bethany Rose (my 17-year-old) was buzzing, flittering around the house all day saturday… feet just a few inches off the ground. Her dress had been meticulously picked, hair and makeup tastefully prepared and her dazzling rhinestone high-heel sandals carefully ordered. No detail had been overlooked. Prom was here and Bethany was coming alive. Her plans included a dress up dinner with several couples and then a visit to the TPAC (Tennessee Performing Arts Center) to see a CS Lewis play with her date. They both chose to skip the parties and the dances and the strobe lights for something a bit more cerebral, a bit more intimate. Good for them!
Jessica was even more subdued… with only a few weeks of High School left in her life, her view of Prom was more sedate, more contemplative…more elusive. Her plan was to take the time to spend on a picnic with her date, over take out chinese and a viewing of Titanic far removed from the hype and hustle of a flashy prom. Exactly what I expected of her. Practical, simple and romantic to the core.
My wife Paige was doing pretty good, usually calm and laid back… Paige could get a bit stressed with things like this. I could feel her tensing as the moment was drawing closer… “be sure and be back by 3pm she said, that’s when Matthew will be here for pictures… ” as I raced out the door with my 14-year-old son, in search of electronics and saturday guy stuff.. my mind was a bit confused?
Prom pictures…did that mean all dressed up and going out like adults with a boyfriend… kind of pictures? I swallowed hard, but pushed the emotion down a bit as I sped out the door with Caleb. Ohhkay… still puzzled and disturbed a bit by the idea…
I was bluntly caught off guard by the beauty of my daughters when I returned, I was not prepared for the emotional impact of facing the reality that Prom brings… the truth that they were not “little” any longer. Where had the time gone? … as the moment arrived, it was surreal. I found my mind was thick with confusion, shock and some pride… almost gushing as the young man at the door smiled brilliantly at me when I answered the door… He was standing excitedly with his flower corsage proudly displayed while I was drawn to the perfectly matched blue shade of his dapper bow tie and tuxedo jacket…to compliment my daughters sapphire dress.
Bethany Rose, my munchkinaroo was going to Prom. I numbly let the poor guy in, tried to engage a little small talk, but it was clear, dad was no longer the apple of his little girls eye… I watched as they prepared to go, pictures in the house, pictures out back in the garden, pictures on the way… pictures, pictures and more pictures.
Jessica quietly slipped out a few hours later to meet her young man and head for their sunset picnic and movie. Her beauty and grace evident in her simplicity and presence as she promised to send us a text if they were running late. We were clear in our understanding that this was how she would most love to remember her senior year… not at a dance or a fancy dinner, but with reflection and contemplation on her terms.
I sighed and watched them both go in their unique and special ways… turned to my wife of 20+ years and said… “I love you“. No long discussion, just a intimate and firm hug we shared and the profound presence of real peace in our home… our daughters were all grown up…I was reflecting silently with her about this age and stage of life and how gracious things had turned out for us as a family.
God had blessed us with two very special daughters, both healthy, strong and smart. Capable of embracing life…of influencing others and remaining focused on their faith and their principles and the truth of life beyond the status quo. More than I deserved, more than I could have ever hoped for… more than I had dreamed could be..
It reminded me afresh… God is faithful, in my life, in my family’s life in your life. No matt er how hard or difficult your life has been, no matter the struggle with your kids, your marriage your ministry…The years of pain and sacrifice and delay to put our marriage and our kids first, to share life with them…to surrender my will for Gods… those were all just distant memories now, the return on the investment the best I’ve ever made.
Prom could have been a disaster, a dangerous, drunken and painful coming of age moment, but for us; Prom was an exclamation point on the power of redemption and hope and grace. Something we may have wondered about when they were both 13 or 14 years of age… when hormones and life and immaturity and circumstances had us almost convinced to withdraw and let the teen years be an emotional hurricane for us to barely survive, not interact with and help shape.
Thank God we didn’t.
Neither should you…
Jude verse 24-25 (ESV) says this… “Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen
Paige, Brad, Jessica, Bethany and Caleb Mathias….