A Slice Of Life To Go is an online Christian blog written by Todd Thompson. It encourages people to see the beauty in ordinary moments and to know God’s unconditional, unfailing love in everyday life.

American “Br-Idol”

September 27th, 2010

(Every once in awhile I post a column that I have a fair idea is going to rile some people up. This may be one of them. For those I rile and for those who smile, the email address is: thompson1963@gmail.com  🙂

You’ve probably never met my cousin Jack. If you ever do, you’ll like him right away. Strangers don’t stay strangers after they shake his hand. Genuinely West Texas friendly, he could talk the stubborn out of a goat. A trait I think he inherited from our Grandpa Thompson who talked his way out of more well deserved speeding tickets than you can imagine and died at 81 with a spotless driving record.

Jack is what’s known in employment circles as “bi-vocational”. He teaches school and also pastors the church at Buffalo Springs Lake, just outside of Lubbock. Somewhere along about a year ago a pretty lady showed up as a Sunday visitor. She came back the next week and the next. She began inquiring about the pastor. Evidently she thought he didn’t look too bad all cleaned up.

They went on a date. Then another. And it wasn’t long before they were keeping steady company. Tonya’s beautiful inside and out. It’s easy to see what Jack sees in her. What she sees in Jack? I teased him that he better pull the trigger and propose before she went to her next eye doctor appointment.

She said “yes” a couple weeks ago. I called him last Tuesday and asked if they’d set a date. He laughed nervously and said, “We’re thinking about this Sunday at the end of church.” Telling only immediate family and a handful of friends, people they would need to pull this off, they put the plan into action.

Every once in awhile they do “Cowboy Church” at Buffalo Springs. A big potluck dinner with BBQ chicken and steak after the service. The place was packed, everyone sporting their Wranglers, hats, boots and pretty dresses.
After a great time of worship, Steve London recited a funny cowboy poem about how young cowboys grow up watching Roy Rogers and Tom Mix and they don’t need any girls around. The only thing they kiss is their horse. But then they grow up and discover a good woman and the horse doesn’t get kissed anymore. “You all know Jack and Tonya are engaged. And they want you to know that when they get married, you’re all invited to the wedding. And since you’re all here, why don’t we just do it now?”

The way the place went nuts you’d think someone spiked the communion juice. People screamed and shouted and clapped. I’d been keeping this a secret from my girls. Annie and Emma’s eyes were big as offering plates. Someone clicked on the music and the speakers lit up with “Goin’ To The Chapel”. The flower girl pulled a red Radio Flyer wagon down the aisle, carrying Tonya’s grandchildren tossing flower petals. Bridesmaids came out at random from the pews. Tonya’s Dad was prouder than ten peacocks walking her down the aisle. As he told me later, “This is every Dad’s dream wedding. All the fun and surprise…and the church feeds everybody steak afterward.”

The youth pastor superbly officiated the simple ceremony. Adding to the charm of the day, it was the first wedding he’s ever done. And I guarantee if he preaches another fifty years he won’t ever do one more memorable. Jack and Tonya got hitched. With only five days of planning, a simple lovely white dress, some yellow daisies, and a couple new pairs of cowboy boots. And everyone will always remember it.

Channel surfing later that night I came across a wedding reality show called, “Say Yes To The Dress”. The contrast was nauseatingly obvious.

“What’s your budget for the dress?”

“$15,000 to $20,000”.

15 to 20K? Really? You’re going to spend the equivalent of a down payment on a house you will live in for years on a dress that you’re going to wear for maybe 12 hours?

That logic makes me think I could start my own reality show called “Are You Smart Enough To Get Married?”

(If you’re wondering where I might be riling people up, this would be the spot.)

Americans spend way too much time and money on weddings. Months and months of planning and tens of thousands of dollars for one day that, if we’re honest, ends up looking like every other wedding that took months to plan and thousands to put on.

If I asked you to detail all the weddings you’ve attended, you’d be hard pressed to differentiate. They’d likely be an amalgam, a consolidated image of all the weddings you’ve ever been to. Guys in tuxedos and too tight shoes and girls wearing dresses the bride promises they’ll be able to wear again but never do. Unless someone faints on stage or the photographer goes National Geographic with the close up camera angles in the middle of the vows, there’s really nothing that sets one wedding apart from another. Even ring bearers and flower girls pitching a fit in not doing what they’re supposed to is as predictable as the feather on the guest book pen.

I’ve often wondered if we could put a dent in the divorce rate by taking half the time and money spent on the wedding day and investing in serious and extended pre-marriage counseling. It couldn’t hurt. Because the grandiose ceremonies and receptions certainly aren’t doing anything to make marriages last longer. My suspicion is that if couples spent as much time thinking and talking about what happens after the wedding as they do planning what color the ascots will be that they’d have a better chance of being together to celebrate an anniversary ten years later.

Weddings are important. God’s idea and illustration of His relationship with the church. Certainly weddings should be memorable. And that’s my point. The memories Jack and Tonya made for themselves and everyone else wouldn’t be any sweeter had they spent six months and thousands of dollars to plan it out. And what’s more important? A showy start? Or a faithful finish?

For those I’ve riled up, don’t worry. You may well have your revenge in due time. Remember, I have 10-year old twin daughters.

And you can bet for the next 20 years I’ll be reminding them how much fun they had at Jack and Tonya’s wedding.

(Yes, I said 20 years. That’s a column for another time.)

Todd A. Thompson – ASliceOfLifeToGo.com