I only have one son. From the time he was little, he was momma’s boy. Sometimes (often) he got in trouble in the primary Sunday school classes. He was a talker, a joker, and always on the move. I could tell how bad it was when I looked up to see his teacher walking down the hall toward me, and he was tugging on my arm to tell me how much he loved me. When I scolded 5-year-old Brian, he would drop to his knees and put his face in his hands as he wailed, “I’m sorry, so sorry.” When he felt that he was not getting enough attention, he would put his fat little hands on my face to bring my attention to him and say, “Momma, pay tension to me. Pay tension to me.”
When he faced trouble in the 5th-grade band, I offered to attend a session to see what was happening. It was clear to me that he was the leader and the band director was targeting him to handle the whole group of drummers. I offered to sit in and observe. I knew that he would behave if I were in the room, and it would help change the dynamic between the two. So, each Wednesday for the spring semester, I showed up to the 5th-grade band. After the first week, the band teacher offered me a clarinet and the chance to help out the woodwinds. Brian made it through band, and continued to play his drum in high school. I threatened to join him at college.
As he grew, he took on the bubble gum gambit on the Middle School bus. He bought Hubba Bubba Bubble Gum at the store on the corner and then sold the pieces for 25 cents each. Once, when he and his sister were on a school trip to Boston, he sold Allie’s lunch and juice boxes for spending money. The vice principal at the middle school had us on speed dial. There were days of real worry about this one, but I knew that under that tough kid I struggled with, was a tender boy’s heart.
By high school, he had learned there were boundaries and rarely got into real trouble. He was hot-headed, he could be an ass and often played the part of tough boy jock. He developed a great group of friends, played football and track (because the coach required it) and continued to develop character. He was the one gathering his friends for the youth event, or concert. He’d work the phone arranging rides, gathering friends, and making things happen. I could see his servant heart, but he mostly showed a tougher side to the world around him.
When he graduated from high school, he fulfilled his life-long wish and began to help people as an EMT. As an eighteen-year-old facing the worst days of people’s lives, every day. I could still see his tender heart, his desire to gather people, and a heart to impact the world around him. I know the daily-ness of trauma took a toll, and like his father, I worried that the pressure would reshape him in some way. Yet, he loved his work. He was good at it.
In the years since my sweet boy became a young man, I’ve watched him face challenges with grace and love. When his friends were hurt in a terrible accident, I saw the depth and love he found to pour into that situation. He’s been a loyal friend to many. He’s served with humility and sacrifice. He’s grown into a man I am proud to know.
The girls always say that if he could make me laugh, he could get away with anything. And they aren’t wrong. He could definitely have used some more discipline, and yet… it’s his heart. Don’t get me wrong. He can be difficult and demanding, exasperating and frustrating. There were some days I had real concerns about this boy. But, when I look into his heart, I find that in many ways he is still that sweet and tender boy who first captured my heart. He has taken that strength and surrounded it with character and integrity and wears it well.
I’ve been praying for his wife since he was an infant. All these years, I’ve prayed. I prayed for her life, her heart, her family. I prayed for her decisions, her circumstances, and her journey. I imagined the day this woman would walk into his life and see his heart. For many years, I worried the tough guy façade he wore might block the view and I prayed harder.
I may have been a tad skeptical when I heard that Brian had a girlfriend. Allie and I have always joked that we worried what would happen if a girl ever broke his heart. We’d have to bury her in the backyard and tell God she died. The first time I met her, she was quiet, reserved. I saw how he looked at her and knew he was falling in love. I hoped she was too.
As I’ve gotten to know Kaitlyn, I have watched her love my favorite son. She is tender and careful with him. I like that. She calls him on his crap. I like that too. She helps him be better. They lean into each other, as they work to build a life together. He reminds me of his father, as he takes care of her. I love her tender way with his heart. She is smart, capable, and strong and requires the same from him. They are good, very good together.
This weekend, we will gather to celebrate this couple. Yesterday, I texted a friend and choked back tears. It’s hard to entrust your son to another… and yet, I have such hope for their love and life. If I had been the one to choose, I couldn’t have done better for him. I am so grateful for the way she loves him.
Just a note… this posted with permission from both the bride and groom.