This is the toast I gave this past Saturday as the best man at Matt Leung's wedding reception. I've known Matt for just over 10 years. We met in 2002 at the Freshman Campout for the college ministry we were both a part of. I was the awkward 19 year old who was made somewhat more awkward by a recent injury that broke my jaw. And Matt was the only person there who was lame enough to bring his guitar on the campout. I guess he was trying to impress the ladies.
We hung out for only a short time that night. He played 90's alternative songs on his guitar, and I clumsily tried to sing along with my jaw wired shut. Even then we made an odd pair. We also probably had an interesting conversation or two, and maybe even got into a friendly argument - those things are pretty par for the course with Matt. A few years later we were roommates during a short mission trip overseas, then shared a house in North Campus for two years with three other dudes. And somewhere along the way we became best friends.
We became best friends for a lot of reasons. For one thing, Matt is a lot of fun to argue with, because he's wicked smart, very logical, and maybe a little bit stubborn. Matt loves to argue because he has a knack for understanding people, and a passion for pushing people to grow. He's also a brilliant encourager. Matt has been my loyal friend during some of the darkest, most difficult days, and at crucial forks in the road Matt has been the one I could count on to help me discern which direction God is calling me to go.
And he's been all that in spite of the fact that we haven't even lived in the same city in over six years. During that time period our friendship has grown largely over email. Matt is incredibly talented at goading me into debates, most of which happen over email, and most of which include one or two other friends, friends who typically don't respond much because normal people don't have the energy or the inclination to engage in our friendly but often heated diatribes. We debate politics and war, religion, theology and morality. And occasionally we even talk about really tough issues, like during which season did The Office start to go downhill, and what exactly was the nature of its decline? Innocent bystanders often mistake us for enemies, but disagreement and nuance is just how we work out our friendship.
Matt, our friendship has been filled with more verbal competition than most of our mutual friends can stand, but none of it has ever been about winning, at least not for me. Our debates don't really ever end with a clear winner (when they end at all), but they do end with me being better, sharper. Arguing with you has sharpened me as a thinker, as a Christian, and as a human being: like iron sharpens iron.
And then there's Nataly. She might be the only woman in the world that can handle Matt, other than his mom. So it's good that we got the two of them married - it's too late for her to back out now. Nataly, when I first heard Matt talk about you, I was listening to the words of a man who was grappling for the first time with truly falling in love. My old friend had finally met his match: a woman who can not only handle Matt in all of his idiosyncrasies, but can encourage them, overcome them - even fulfill them.
So let's raise our glasses to Matt and Nataly: In your life together, may you be one as Christ and the Church are one, may your love and faithfulness ever increase, may your patience and your hope be long, and may you sharpen one another in your gifts and encourage one another in spite of your weaknesses. And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you, all your days. Amen.