The Scary Thing I Did This Weekend Published 2008-05-30 under ,

scary "I pronounce you husband and wife..." How these words made for a scary weekend - even though I was not the one getting married.

In a recent post, I spoke of advice once given me: to do something that scares you on a regular basis. The point of this advice was to stretch me - put me in situations that are uncomfortable and challenge me. We learn and improve from such situations.

This past weekend, I had the opportunity to preside over my friend's weddings. While this was the first wedding where I was the officiate, I have spoken in front of larger crowds. So, it was not the idea of public speaking in it self that scared me. Actually, I really looked forward to being up there participating in their marriage.

But why was I scarred? It could have been that I had not completed my speeches (three during the ceremony) and obviously, I had not had a chance to practice. It could have been the amount of preparation that was going into this event and the knowledge that I was in a unique position to screw it all up. It could have been the conflict I was feeling between keeping my words to the traditional, limiting the chance I would insult or offend anyone, and expressing my feelings and making the ceremony unlike others. In the end, the real reason for being nervous is not important as much as the fact that this was a challenge, one of those scary things that I remind myself to embrace on a regular basis.

To be a successful scary adventure, I needed to come away with something new. At my brother's wedding, I came away with a silver calling card case, or was it a hip flask? For this wedding, we got chopsticks (actually they were from the rehearsal dinner). But that is not what I am talking about. What did I learn? How did it make me a better person?

The first "lesson" or success was my ability to craft the ceremony to be unique, include traditional elements, and (most importantly) be very personal. The second "lesson" was that you can't prepare for all contingencies. I did not anticipate just how emotional I was going to be. I lost it when the flower girls came down the isle and was a mess to the end. (In a moment of role reversal, the groom had to reassure me.) All that emotion made me forget what little of my speeches that I did manage to memorize. But in the end, the emotion was one of the greatest factors for the success of ceremony (more than my actual words - I have to admit).

But the greatest success or gift that this experience offered was the chance to reflect on marriage, what is important to me, and my deepest love of my wife. My words while written for the bride and groom, were really an expression of my feelings for my wife and our wedding. Actually, my writing became much easier when I pictured my wife and started writing for her.

In hindsight, my "fear" was about the pressure to make the ceremony perfect. Perfection, while an amiable goal, is rarely experienced and is really not necessary. I decided on settling for this wedding to be as special and meaningful as the one I got to have.

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