THE LINEBACKER GROOM
She was a petite, beautiful, blonde girl who fell in love with a college linebacker while in school. Back at home, in my home church, she asked me (still a high school student) to sing THE LORD’S PRAYER at her wedding. Although I had done a few weddings already, this was still early on in my “sing for/playing for/presiding over” wedding career, and I was honored.
None of us had met or even seen her fiancé until the day he arrived for the wedding, from his home state of Oklahoma. It was a Saturday in July, on the desert side of my home state. It was a sunny one-hundred-and-three degrees…but it was a DRY heat. The old home sanctuary’s ancient cooling system (I’m not even sure they CALLED it air-conditioning at that point) was not keeping up. But the sanctuary was beautiful; filled with hundreds upon hundreds of pink and cream roses.
The bride was beautiful, and the groom…? Well, he can be best described as “the largest object in the room” and easily the biggest man I have ever seen. The presiding minister was five-ten and had to stand on one of the boxes the youth of the church used for one of their “musicals”, just to be seen by the congregation.
The groom was probably as uncomfortable with his suit as his suit was with him. And did I say it was hot?
The time came. The vows and rings had been said and exchanged, and it was time for the prayer. The Pastor nodded to me, and the pianist began the familiar arpeggio intro to THE LORD’S PRAYER. I began singing. Now, this is a song I knew so I could kind of watch the proceedings (which was supposed to be prayer and communion for the couple) while I sang. What I saw was a groom who started swaying, and then…to the horror of all present…started slowly falling forward, threatening to crush the Pastor. The bride threw down her bouquet and grabbed her future husband’s tree-trunk arm to keep him up, as effectively as a squirt gun in a forest fire.
The Pastor yelled (yes, more like screamed) “Somebody help!”, while indicating me to keep singing. BOTH fathers jumped up and ran to intervene, as they got closer, they frantically indicated to the assembly for MORE MEN!
Meanwhile, I’m singing THE LORD’S PRAYER. Is anyone praying? It was the strangest underscore to the scene before me that I could imagine. In the end it took ten average-sized men to gently lower the groom to a sitting position until he came to.
The wedding reception was held (as always, back in the day) in the church’s next-door fellowship hall. I meandered back for cake, mints, nuts and pink punch. The first person I saw was the bride’s mother, who came directly to me and said, “She wants you to go get him out of the kitchen, he won’t come out. She figured you’d be the best one to talk to him.”
Because…? And what? Remember, I was a MUSICIAN (read: scrawny, non-jock) and this was a southern states linebacker. Guys like that snap guys like me in tiny pieces, just as a light workout. I also didn’t know him. But, with a little prayer and naivete I entered the kitchen. There I found a man, a few years older than me, as big as the house I grew up in, sitting in the corner…crying.
I went over and said hi, sat by him and introduced myself.
“Nice singing.” He said, “I can’t go out there…I ruined her wedding…everybody’s laughing.”
And this big guy suddenly became a small boy. I didn’t (and still don’t) have the wisdom of Solomon, Ghandi or Dr. Phil at that point, so I probably said some stupid things. Thankfully I don’t remember. What I do remember is that he exited the kitchen to a loving crowd of people, I exited a hero, and I became friends with a really great guy.
Aside from the obvious life lesson: “If you’re going to get married on the hottest day of the year in an un-airconditioned church, be sure to ask the groom if he’s allergic to roses” …
…there is another lesson: “You don’t know someone until you GET TO KNOW them.”
We look on the outside, but God looks on the heart. (I SAMUEL 16:7) I’m prone to label and judge, and my guess is that some of you are also. This early lesson to me was that the outsides don’t always advertise what’s inside. And if you label too quickly, you might miss something wonderful.