As the best man in Aaron and Stacy’s wedding, I offered this toast (speech) at the wedding reception:
“Despite the cynicism that weighs down so many men and women of our generation, I am convinced that a man and a woman can, and most definitely should, enjoy a lifetime of love in marriage. Our generation has not bought into the sugar-coated, fairy tale version of marriage sold by the media from previous generations.
We are men and women determined to find the REAL, to live the REAL, and to grow old together still insisting upon the REAL. This marriage between Aaron and Stacy is a picture of our own lives. Aaron is the “slightly” older, worn and weary version of us. Stacy is the youth, the amazing energy, and the promise of a future the Aaron in each of us so desperately needs.
This marriage joins man and woman, young and slightly less young. I have known Aaron for 12 or 13 years, and I have walked with him through some of his happiest mmoments in life, and also some of his most difficult. And through those 12 years of friendship, there are a few things I can say about Aaron with certainty:
First, he values sincere communication more than most men, and he pulls off being real and sincere without seeming less masculine.
Second, he has an uncommon sense of decorative style, which makes me wonder how he pulls this off without seeming less masculine.
Third, he desires to be a good father, and will do anything and everything in his power to make sure his children know that they are loved.
Fourth, he desperately needs Stacy in his life to be that wellspring of energy and vitality that draws out of him many amazing character traits which still lie dormant (everyone laughs)… I wasn’t joking (everyone laughs some more).
Fifth, He taught me what it means to be a loyal friend. I learned from Aaron what it means to demand loyalty of oneself even when it is inconvenient.
Lastly, he has a God-ordained calling upon his life which he may or may not have yet understood, but through his union with Stacy he will understand in time as they continue on the path set before them.
It does my heart good to see Aaron find a woman who possesses the willingness to embrace the pursuit of the path and the life God has called them both to.
I do not know a great many things about God. Despite my years of asking and pondering, He is still largely a mystery. But if there is one thing I can say that I know about God, it is that loving and receiving love appear to be much more important to Him than merely following a set of rules. And if there is one thing every man should know in his heart, it is that at the end of the day, a man who lets his guard down and looks his beautiful wife in the eye without emotional protection is worth ten men who perform all the right daily rituals and husbandly tasks so they can check off their “to do” lists from a safe emotional distance.
No marriage will ever be easy. Let’s be real. Nothing on the face of this earth is more difficult than maintaining a healthy, romantic, and intimate marriage.
But since we’re being real, let’s not forget that nothing else in our lifetime will ever possess the fragrant hope and opportunity for REAL companionship, REAL intimacy, and REAL fulfillment.
Aaron and Stacy, if nothing else, I challenge you to demand of yourselves to be REAL. Real in pain. Real in joy. Real, even in heartache or offense. And always pursuing a fresh, new way to maintain soft and vulnerable hearts… in other words, real in love.
May your lives be filled with this soft, scary, thrilling, unnerving, and ultimately liberating kind of love. May you find in each other the companion who captivates your heart, challenges your faith, and satisfies the God-given ache to never be alone again.
To the bride and groom!!!!