I have never seen him like this. Since the 5th grade, he has always been the epitome of cool. He has never raised his voice, behaved erratically or emotionally. Through decades of euphoric highs and dungeon level lows, he has maintained a neutrality in his demeanor that always reflected peace, but not excitement. We’ve laughed, joked and encouraged each other over the years as we navigated through middle school, high school, college, career changes, marriage, fatherhood, divorce and re-invention. Like most guys, we didn’t talk about our emotions, but our connection remained strong. He is not just my best friend, he is my brother.
And everything about him changed the moment he met her.
His modest, reserved personality began sprouting sudden outbursts of joy on Facebook. He started posting date night photos and making frequent trips to where she lived. Our conversations on the phone went from sports and music to relationship lessons and thoughts of the future. He wasn’t just in love, he had made a decision to love. This would be the first of many decisions that would impact their lives forever.
He proposed. She accepted. Planning began. He began expressing his emotions more as we grew closer to the big day. They picked colors together, decided on wedding favors and asked me to lead their ceremony. Despite my substantial counseling and prayer, nothing could have prepared me for what I witnessed on their wedding day.
My best friend was beaming with joy unlike anything I’d ever seen. It was so vibrant that it made him look younger. He smiled incessantly. There was a diamond-like sparkle in his eyes. No cold feet; just high anticipation. He cried tears of joy – several times. Their vows were endearing. His confidence in his decision to love his bride until death was undeniable. The way he held her during their first dance, it was clear that he was never letting her go.
In 30+ years, I have never seen my best friend smile beyond his classic “smirk.” I have never seen him cry one tear; let alone a steady stream down his face. We’ve been at school dances and formal events; but I’d never seen my brother slow dance. I have never seen him so submerged in joy and happiness – and it looked good on him. Challenges and triumphs are on the horizon for these newlyweds, but I believe God will keep them through it all.
I realize that God is the originator of all the joy I witnessed. Everything about me changed the moment I accepted Him into my life. This milestone in my brother’s life was a strong reminder that I need to reflect the joy and happiness God continues to give me with life, health, strength and opportunities to help others. My smiling is a rarity and I’m working hard to increase my frequency.