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Lights, camera, marriage


The Life Less Traveled


April 22, 2015
Next year my wife and I will celebrate 20 years of marriage. I'm thankful we got married when we did for many reasons, not the least of which is the fact that I got to propose several years before the rise of social media.

Back in the stone-age days of the '90s, we didn't video our proposals. We didn't post them on YouTube. No one gushed over them on the morning talking shows. They didn't go viral, get shared, pinned, tweeted or even sent by smoke signal.

In my case, I simply got down on one knee, popped out a ring, told my girlfriend I loved her and asked her to marry me. Then, in what was clearly a lapse of good judgment on her part, she said yes. End of story.

But that kind of old-fashioned nonsense doesn't cut it with the young whippersnappers these days. Just Google wedding proposals, and you'll see what I mean. You'll find music videos, flash mobs, marching bands, puppets, hot air balloons, skywriting, scavenger hunts, Legos, sandcastles, a giant heart made of thousands of dollars worth of iPhones and even a guy in Russia who faked his own death in order to surprise his would-be fiancée.

I know some people are dying to get married, but c'mon, that seems a bit extreme.

I get it, though. That kind of stuff can grab a person's attention. It can show them they are so awesome that you would go to amazing lengths just to declare your love. I'm sure many of these proposals are totally sincere.

What doesn't seem sincere, however, is the public nature of these productions. It's like some of these guys are just trying to one-up each other. Showing off. Sometimes it feels like the guy proposing is more in love with himself than the poor woman he's asking to marry him.

I say if you want to go big on your proposal, knock yourself out, but don't record it. Don't post it online. Pop the question with all the bells and whistles but do it for an audience of one.

Of course, if that became the rule of thumb, I'm guessing these big proposals wouldn't happen so often. But that's just human nature. Whenever we do something good, we're always tempted to make sure other people see us doing it. Nothing new there.

The religious leaders in Jesus' day were masters at this. Every time they gave their offering, they'd make a big show out of it, just so everyone knew how generous they were. If they'd had flash mobs in those days, you can bet they'd have done it.

That's why Jesus said, "Be especially careful when you are trying to be good so that you don't make a performance out of it. It might be good theater, but the God who made you won't be applauding" (Matthew 6:1, The Message).

A few months ago I did a very small good deed for someone, and no one saw me do it. I won't give you the details, but trust me, it was no big deal. It took about 20 minutes to do it, though, and the whole time, I kept expecting that someone would catch me in the act. To be totally honest, I was a little disappointed when they didn't.

It's so easy to forget that the best acts of kindness are done in secret. Our pride shrinks and our souls grow stronger, and everyone wins in the end.

So, the next time you do something good for someone, go off-line. Do it in stealth mode. Do it for an audience of One. You may not go viral. It may not win you praise and popularity, but it will fill your heart and make you a better person. That's a proposal I think we could all say yes to.

Jason Byerly, a 1990 graduate of Crawford County Junior-Senior High School, is the children's pastor at Southland Christian Church near Lexington, Ky. He and his wife have two daughters. For more, visit www.jasonbyerly.com or follow him at www.twitter.com/jasondbyerly.

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    Lights,camera ,marriage
    April 27, 2015 | 08:24 PM

    Well said. Amen.

    C
Barbara Shaw
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