That Awkward Moment

… when people don’t think things through.

So, inspired by Sarah’s tweet this morning, I thought I’d share my story of good intentions gone oh-so-wrong:

My in-laws are HYPER religious. So much so that we did not allow anyone other than a dear friend to speak during our wedding ceremony, for fear of what would be said (remember, they weren’t quite on board with the wedding) … and the toasts were planned: Skye would give a toast, my dad would do the welcome, and … in an effort to not leave him out, should he want to … husband’s dad would give a blessing before the meal. You know, once everything was already said and done.

There are always mishaps when it comes to toasts: My dad, for example, wished us “good luck” when he meant to say (he later told me) “best wishes”. Skye slipped in a few extra words she hasn’t been planning on (her face when they slipped out was hilarious!). Funny incidents, and no foul, right?

Well, my father-in-law decided he DID want to give the blessing. And so, he was handed the mic. As far as blessings go, it was long-winded, but lovely. And then, he veered off the road:

“And Lord, if there is anyone here today who does not know you as their Savior, touch their hearts, and turn them away from their path of wickedness…”

My eyes flew open, and stunned, I stared straight at a table full of my friends. My friends, who were Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, and atheist.

He was still talking, but I was too stunned to hear him. I sat there, horrified, until one of my friends (he’s Jewish) looked me in the eye … raised an eyebrow … and started to  laugh.

I lost it.

I have never in my life been so grateful for the ability to laugh silently.

4 Comments to “That Awkward Moment”

  1. Um. Yeah.

    My dad’s memorial service was last Friday. I told my mom/the pastor that prayer/bible passages could be used in my dad’s memorial service because those members of his family who are religious might take comfort but that he wasn’t religious (and that I’m DEFINITELY not religious) so I’d appreciate if they stuck with the celebration of his life rather than the comfort of Jesus/heaven/etc.

    All was well and good…until the pastor related a story about how he and my mom prayed over my dad while he was dying (but was certainly unaware of what was happening) and assure him that despite his sins he would go to heaven. I heaved a big sigh at this but was prepared to overlook it, hoping that my mom had taken some comfort in it. Then he said, “But this is church…” and I got nervous, “and if there is anyone here would would like to recommit themselves to Christ…” Holy cow. I wanted to RUN. And that’s how it ended. Grrrr…

    But in the end? I think most everyone (but me) got what they wanted out of that which was good. And I think for you guys it was probably for the best your father-in-law got to feel included. Best of luck with him….

    • Oh man. I’ll never understand why some churches think it is appropriate to do a call for “recommitment” at every single event. I understand the impulse, but really, at a memorial?

      Luckily for me, my friends thought it was funny … they’d all basically been through the relationship with me, so they in essence had been warned.

      PS – I’m so sorry for your loss. Huge hugs.

      • I don’t understand even the impulse. I think as a church you have to understand that a service like a wedding or a funeral has so many more cultural implications than just a religious service. I understand the need for the religious rituals but how do you not understand that by definition there are people there who are not (and probably don’t want to be) part of your church? They’re so very happy to be there to celebrate someone’s marriage, life, etc. but don’t want to be converted.

        P.S. Thanks for the hugs. We had a lovely hike out to my dad’s hunting stand the day afterwards with just me, my mom, and his brothers and sisters. That was more perfect for me than anything I could have imagined.

  2. Good friends of mine were recently married in a Catholic church – it was for their family’s sake, as neither was religious. It was a church on the university campus where they had met and they spent a fair amount of time with the priest ahead of time talking about the ceremony they wanted, doing the marriage preparation course etc. They liked him and felt comfortable that he would respect their wishes for the ceremony. Weeell…..during the wedding ceremony, the priest ended up launching into a 20 minute rambling speech that touched on everything from how marriage is between a “man and a woman” to how most marriages “end in divorce or are unhappy” (except of course good christian marriages) to even mentioning fertility treatments (?!?). I spent the time digging my fingernails into John’s leg in sympathy anger for my friends. Luckily they took in in stride. I’m not sure I would have been able to.

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