Long before the "checked baggage wars" erupted a couple of years ago, I've been battling against some checked baggage fees of my own.
In the spring of 1995 I was asked by my best-friend-from-high-school to marry him.
No, not that way. I was soon-to-be ordained and he wanted me to officiate his wedding. I met with him and his fiance and we began to plan my part in their wedding.
I owe a lot to this man. He was my friend in high school when I really needed a friend. He shared with me his locker when I really needed one (my own locker's combination was known to some bullies and I had lost quite a bit of stuff). We shared a passion of computers at a time when Steve Jobs and Bill Gates were just getting their start. He tutored me to a passing grade in math.
At first I was very happy that he was getting married and felt great that he asked me to do the wedding.
Soon after meeting him and his fiance, I received a note from them with some requests about the wedding itself.
Everything was fine until I reached the stipulation that I do not mention God or Jesus. The family he was marrying into were atheists and he didn't want me to offend them.
Here I was, about to be ordained. I was about to start serving a Lutheran church in Michigan. My best friend was getting married. I couldn't mention Jesus.
What was I going to do?
I am ashamed to tell you that I declined to do the wedding, sort of at the last minute. It was about a month before the wedding. I told them I had become unavailable. I was going to be visiting my new congregation for the first time the weekend of their wedding.
I could have changed the date of my visit. But I didn't know what to do about the stipulation. I panicked. I told them I couldn't do it.
And I haven't talked to him in 16 years.
I still wake up in the middle of the night, every now and then, thinking about this. About what I did to brake our relationship. How do I fix it?
I've written him a couple of times, apologizing to him. Seeking his forgiveness.
But I hurt him too much. I can't blame him for closing that part of his past and moving on with his life.
And for the most part, I can live my life in peace and joy, too.
For the most part.
Still, on occasion, I think about it. I get a sinking feeling in my gut. I shake make head. I spiritually palm-slap my forehead.
I carry this baggage around with me. Sometimes I set it aside, move it to the basement or the storage locker I keep in the back of my brain.
Then I'll see something or hear something and I'll drag that particular piece of baggage out.
I don't know how to stop paying this baggage handling fee. I know I'm forgiven by Christ. I live in that forgiveness every single day of my life.
Thankfully, I have a good friend who listens and prays with me about all of this and more.
Someday I'll talk to my friend again. I hope we'll be able to restore our relationship.