By Mark Thompson
Special to The PREVIEW
My best friend, Lyle, was getting married and I was the best man.
Best man is the greatest job ever. There is nothing to do, nothing to pay attention to; just show up, maybe carry a ring, and you are golden (like the ring — see what I did there?).
In retrospect, maybe a good best man would pay a little more attention to the groom than I did.
I suppose there was probably a guide out there somewhere. In the generation before me, the best man would have read Emily Post. In today’s generation, a person could Google. I was in the Wasteland of Accepted Mores of a Best Man.
In other words … it wasn’t my fault!
I would like to get that established before the story is relayed.
Back to the story. Everything was going great. We had had a wonderful rehearsal dinner, food was eaten, speeches were told, tears were shed, laughter happened.
The day of the wedding moved along as well. As I recall, we had a small panic because the tuxes were late getting picked up by the brother of the groom (not the best man!), but they made it, so that was fine. All the guys were dressing in a room in the church, just a short while before the wedding. I wonder now why we hadn’t picked up the tuxedos the day before to try them on, but I have no answer for that. It was a busy time, and, of course, being best man I had my hands full, so it certainly wasn’t my job.
At any rate, there we were, putting on our wedding attire, when I heard an unworldly sound. It was a wail, full of pain and disappointment, and it was coming from the groom.
All of the groom’s guys stopped what they were doing and whirled towards the sound. There stood Lyle. He had on a beautiful white shirt, new dress socks and his tuxedo pants. He had a distressed look on his face that will occasionally come to me unbidden to this day.
His pants were … short.
“Short” is a kind word. Apparently the tailor was dyslexic.
The pants came to mid-calf. They were bohemian to the extreme, but Lyle was not. We reacted like every good groomsmen, best man or brother would react, since the inception of weddings. We laughed.
“Laugh” is too polite a word. We roared, we screamed, we cried, we held our sides, we fell over.
After pulling ourselves together, we did what guys do: we moved into fixing mode. Someone pulled out a pocket knife and began cutting apart the hem. Someone else ran to find a stapler. All the while, Lyle, looking discouraged and frankly a little put out at our reaction, tried to regroup for the ceremony just minutes away.
It is a great story. It is wonderful to tell at parties or at reunions when all our friends are together. But, in the years since, some things have come to me.
Being married myself more than two decades, I realized we were focused on the wrong things. None of us should have cared what we were wearing, especially the groom. He was about to step into the most significant time of his entire life. He was about to move into an incredible covenant relationship, the equal of which does not exist on earth.
In retrospect, he was embarking on a path of great joy, contentment, sorrow, stretching and pain. He was about to begin a family, from which there would come children who would be a blessing and would keep Lyle and Delores up all night with concern.
The couple would be stretched by financial issues, health issues, issues about occupations, and about their personal, moral and spiritual well-being.
We were worried about his pants?
It’s the human condition. Nero fiddles while Rome burns down. On the cusp of the most meaningful of unions, we pay more attention to our hairstyle than our promises.
In an unseen realm, God is on the move. He is changing men’s hearts and preparing us for an eternal kingdom, and we spend our energy sorting out if the couple from Hollywood is really meant for each other and who will be America’s next idol.
Jesus addressed some of this thinking in the book of Mark. In chapter 7, the religious leaders noticed that the followers of Jesus were eating bread without washing their hands in a special way, part of the religious rules they were supposed to follow. Jesus spoke to their misplaced attentions when He told them, “It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.”
In other words, don’t get caught up in the stupid, unimportant issues; pay attention to the ones that really matter.
Don’t worry about your pants; worry about your vows.
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