My wife and I welcomed a new member to our family Dec. 13 when our middle son married his college sweetheart, whom he dated for the previous nine years.
She is from New Orleans, and the wedding took place in the French Quarter there. With its quaint shops, great music, art galleries, 18th-century architecture and street performers at every corner, New Orleans is unsurpassed when it comes to culture and ambiance. And, of course, the food is among some of the greatest in the world.
Although our son was raised in a traditional Methodist church in Savannah and our new daughter-in-law was raised Catholic in the Garden District of New Orleans, they chose not to have the wedding ceremony performed in a church or cathedral. Instead, they had the ceremony at a beautiful building called Latrobe’s. Built in 1822 by Benjamin Henry Latrobe, known as the “Father of American Architecture,” Latrobe’s is one of New Orleans most architecturally significant buildings and originally served as the Louisiana State Bank.
Our son and daughter-in-law chose a local hospice chaplain to perform the wedding ceremony, and after witnessing the event we understood why. He did an outstanding job, performing a Christian ceremony that stressed the importance of love and shared his feelings of how the newlyweds’ love for each other had inspired him and given him hope for the future.
The couple chose Romans 12:9-18 as their Scripture reading. In this letter to the Romans, the Apostle Paul describes how love changes one’s life and a new life begins. A life that hates what is evil and clings to what is good. A life that honors one another and gives hope.
As I witnessed this beautiful experience of two young people expressing their love for each other and their hopes for a bright future, I couldn’t help but contemplate what might lie ahead for them. I also couldn’t help but think back to over 36 years ago when my wife and I took our wedding vows. The excitement, the bliss that we felt as we entered this new phase of our lives. We’ll get jobs, buy a home, start a family — we’ll live the American dream.
While I could see the sparkle in the newlyweds’ eyes and hear the hope in their voice, I couldn’t help but wonder if our children and grandchildren would have the same opportunities as we had? Would they be able to live the American dream? I couldn’t help but think of all the challenges facing our country and world and what the newlyweds would face in their lifetime.
I thought about my recent campaign for Congress and the issues we had discussed: an insurmountable national debt that we are leaving future generations, the growing threat of terrorism, ISIS, the future of health care, Ebola, changes in workforce opportunities and on and on — all the bad things facing our world today.
I thought back on my father telling me how every generation hopes for the next generation to have a better life than the previous generation. While I knew my generation had it better than my father’s and his better than his father’s, would my son and daughter-in-laws generation have it better than mine?
And then, I looked into the eyes of the newlyweds and saw the love and hope that they shared. I remembered the words of Paul to the Romans, and I thought about all the blessings that a living God had bestowed on me, my family and this world. Suddenly, my heart was at ease and I realized that it all was going to be OK.
Yes, we have challenges and sometimes it seems they are insurmountable, but in the end we have things much more powerful — we have love, hope and a loving God who continues to bless us.
Congratulations, Mr. and Mrs. Jonathan Barrett Carter. We love you.
Carter, a former state senator, was elected to the U.S. House in November and takes office next month. Connect with him on Facebook at facebook.com/buddycarterga or follow him on Twitter @Buddy_Carter.