My younger brother Trent married Emma on September 17, and I was asked to be the best man. What follows is the toast I gave on their wedding day, with a few interruptions. Anything in italics is commentary.

Hi everyone! My name is Brad—I’m Trent’s older brother and the best man.

Classic introduction, even though before handing me the microphone the DJ introduced me in almost exactly the same way. Maybe instead I should have broken out into an awkward rendition of “Satisfied” from Hamilton. Next time.

At one point in our life together, Trent and I fought quite a lot. Physically. We’d get heated about something or another and then just start throwing appendages at each other. Like, every appendage. Fists, elbows, open hand slaps. Trent had this fascination with kicking, and it was a strategy that worked surprisingly well because, well, it took me by surprise. He would kick my stomach and knock the wind out of me, and I crumpled to the ground more than once. Soon, though, I figured out that if I grabbed his leg as he kicked me, I could gain a sudden advantage.

I attempted to act some of this out. Not easy.

Stories like these are probably pretty common between brothers, and I’m sure I’m not the first older brother to tell a story about wrestling his younger brother. I suppose it’s still a story worth telling because it speaks to a lot of who Trent is—he’s cunning, creative, inventive, mischievous, strong. But I’m not sure many older brothers have the opportunity or the privilege to talk about how much they’ve learned from their younger brother.

Me, though, I have that opportunity and that privilege because Trent is my younger brother, yes, but he’s also my role model. If in my days on this earth, I’m ever given even an ounce of the quiet strength and compassion that Trent carries, I will be a better husband. If I’m ever given even an ounce of the work ethic and perseverance that Trent has, I will be a better human. And if I’m ever given even an ounce of the patience and gentleness that pours out of Trent, I will be a more complete follower of Christ. Trent, I respect you and love you more than you’ll ever know.

Do you realize how difficult it is to look someone you love in the eyes and tell them what they mean to you? I’m all waterworks at this point. A few blubbering pauses and I continue:

Emma, you are beautiful (another pause). Inside and out, you are beautiful. And you are so strong and wise and brave—and you’re hilarious. It seems cliche and trite to say it, but hear me honestly: I’m so thankful that you’re a part of our family. You bring spontaneity and joy into our lives, and just like I wouldn’t be the same person I without Trent in my life, there’s no way I would be the person I am today without you in my life.

I struggled to keep composed through this entire section. Again, do you realize how difficult it is to look someone you love in the eyes and tell them what they mean to you?

I know you know this already, but Trent will not fight you. If he ever does, watch out for kicks. But Trent will fight for you and you deserve that. You both deserve each other, in the best way possible. And to be honest, all of us here, we don’t deserve you guys, but we have you, and we’re blessed to have you in our lives. Each person here is made better for it.

I couldn’t get to the actual toast fast enough. Seriously, do you realize how difficult it is to look people you love in the eyes and tell them what they mean to you?

So, let’s all raise a glass to Trent and Emma!

Brad Zwiers

Brad Zwiers (’12) graduated from Calvin College in 2012 and Western Theological Seminary in 2015. He will not be graduating from any more schools. He often stares at books he wishes he could read but knows he will not finish and goes for long walks with his wife, Gwyn. Sometimes he plays basketball and always he follows the greatest sporting club in the world, Liverpool F.C.

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