A week ago my daughter became engaged to be married. It was a well-crafted plan by her fiancee, who she has known for four years, dated for two, and even lived apart from for two. It took place at a beautiful space, with picnic prepared and setting sun upon them. Her fiancee had asked me in advance for permission. I told him that permission was not mine to give, but that I very much appreciated the gesture of respect. He showed me the ring. We enjoyed dinner together. Some of it serious. Some of it playful.
Imagine that, my little girl now turning into another phase of adult life. It’s a transition that reshapes family. I become a Father In-law. My daughter becomes a wife, connected into a broader system of brothers, sisters, nephews, nieces, parents, and friends. The structure that shapes her life will change. She will now journey with a primary partner. I’m happy for her. I’m happy for them.
What doesn’t transition, however, and that has become clear to me, is some of her overarching life purpose. I’ve shared with her that her job, if you will, is to live into the “fullest version of herself” that she can. That was true before engagement. It was true when she was 12. It will be true when she hits her 30s, 40s, and beyond. My commitment that I shared with her was that I would always support her in the conversation that is “how are you doing with living into the fullest version of self?” It just means now that she lives this full version of self in the context of a particular companion and family that will evolve around her. Her self evolving and family evolving will simultaneously impact one another.
Transitions change things. But they don’t change everything. Purpose can remain through changing arenas. I find it helpful to remember this, as I think of my own transitions, as I think of the teams that I get to work with. The ability to remember that purpose and adapt to what will always be changing arenas is a rather good skill. And it hits home, with this transition of my newly engaged daughter.