“You’re too young to be married,” said Lottie to my husband after we returned from our honeymoon. Lottie, one of our clinical supervisors in our Master of Counseling program was speaking of his developmental age, not his biological age. “You are still a little boy looking for a mom,” she said.
My 27-year-old heart felt panic at her words. We were just weeks into what felt like a grand rescue. Fragile hope had emerged after decades of my heart being under self-protective lockdown.
I dared to believe I could trust a man with my wild emotions.
On our first date, neither of us wanted the night to end. We shamelessly suggested ways to keep the evening going. Michael invited me to a game of putt putt and we played like it was the Masters. Tied entering the 17th hole, I hit what I expected to be a perfect hole-in-one. The ball circled the hole and ended in the rough. I threw my club. Michael gasped and then broke out into deep laughter.
An hour later, we were riveted as we watched Chariots of Fire. Later, I shared my dreams of living a bold life for Jesus, where we could experience God’s pleasure by moving into the unknown territories of people’s hearts as counselors.
Earlier that night, we dined at an Italian cafe and alluded to our stories of past sexual harm. We felt hopeful that the grit of the other could hold our messy stories.
On June 11, 2005, we swayed our sweaty bodies during our first dance to the words of Don Henley’s “For My Wedding,” agreeing to forsake all others and vowing to leave the dark angels of our past.
Our brown eyes were brimming with hope just weeks into our new life together with words that felt like they exposed a foolishness in us. Perhaps our eyes were bigger than our capacity for sacrificial love.
As the years have passed, and the collagen has depleted, our idealism has long since been buried. A sober hope is rising as we remember the wildness of the story of God bringing our hearts together, but also hold our own failure to love. Whether that’s our attachment wounds or our preoccupation with self, it is clear that we have not been able to love as we hoped in our 20’s.
We lost our dear Lottie just a couple of weeks ago to heart failure. Lottie was unconventional. She lived by the Spirit, fearless in her prophetic words, and deeply familiar with her dependence on Jesus. She wrote a letter to all of us at her funeral addressed “To the ones I love,” sharing her deep love for us, while still naming her failure to love as fully as she could.
Perhaps we are finally old enough to be married. We are celebrating 18 years this June, so maybe that means our marriage has reached the start of adulthood. The little boy and girl in us, however, are still learning to receive love, and the adult in us is still learning to attune to the needs of the other. May we follow in Lottie’s legacy and stay ever so close to the goodness of our wild, almost childlike hope in each other, but never far from our deep need, which can only be touched by the love of Jesus.
Rachel Blackston loves all things beautiful…rich conversations over a hot cup of lemon ginger tea, watching her three little girls twirl around in tutus, and Florida sunrises on her morning walks. She resides in Orlando with her lanky, marathon-running husband and her precious daughters, priceless gifts after several years of infertility. Rachel and her husband Michael co-founded Redeemer Counseling. As a therapist, Rachel considers it an honor to walk with women in their stories of harm, beauty, and redemption.