She Said Yes…at 20
by Meredith McKinnie
It was a fresh out of college Southern fairytale. He proposed; she said yes; everyone rejoiced, well…everyone but me. I remember the day I saw the Facebook post from her mother announcing the engagement. I was aghast, and mad, and frankly, disappointed. She was only twenty years old. It was too soon. I remember thinking what I would tell my twenty-year old self if I had had the chance. It would no doubt have been a loud, insistent, “Don’t get married! You don’t know who you are!”
Let me back up a bit. She’ll remain nameless, but she’s beautiful, one of those girls that is so inherently good that her beauty almost seems to radiate, like her appearance is untouchable, but weirdly made more genuine by her wholesome nature. She loves animals more than people, but you’d never know it considering how generous she is with others. She’s a believer, and not the Sunday believer, but the light shining from within believer who aims to walk the walk. She’s the type of spirit you want good things to happen to regardless of the fact that she is genetically gifted and sparked by the innocence of her youth. You can’t help loving her.
And because I love this person, see so much potential in this person, I want the best for her. I’ve been so proud of her decisions in life thus far. I had faith in her to keep making wise decisions. And then she said, “yes”…and my faith began to crumble. This has more to do with me than her. It’s my experience that makes me fear the weight of this decision made at such a young age.
So then the irony happened; she asked me to help her write her wedding vows. I chuckled when I read the text. While I may be the most qualified person she knew in terms of writing, I was perhaps the person with the least faith in this decision. I pondered the opportunity over and over. Do I tell her how I feel? Do I at least warn her? Do I have a responsibility because of what I know from making the same choice around the same age? And the truth is, I just didn’t know.
So she came. And she’d done all the homework I had requested: words to describe her groom, words to describe how he made her feel; anecdotes about their time together; what he had taught her about love, etc. It was an impressive list. As I read through it, the anxious look of nervousness on her face as I examined bits of her relationship on a piece of torn out paper softened me. She had her whole future in front of her. She was mature. She was grounded. She had faith. They shared their faith. It was more than I had had when I took vows. Who was I to judge? Just because I hadn’t been ready at twenty-one didn’t mean she wasn’t. I was right to be cautious, but sometimes we have to take a leap of faith. It’s the leaps we remember, not the times we took a step back.
I decided not to say anything, to focus on the task at hand, to help her write the words to express her love to the man she had chosen. It’s beautiful when you think about it. It was an honor to even hear them ahead of time, much more to help compose them. I fell in love with their love story that day. I fell more in love with her that day. And for the first time in over a decade, I began to believe in the hope of young love again.
And two weeks later on a Saturday afternoon, I watched her walk with her dad down the aisle, with tears streaming down her father’s face, and again that twinkle of hope and love and innocence and possibility radiating from the tears in the corner of her own eyes. She was happy. She didn’t seem scared or concerned or nervous she was making the wrong decision. That was my fear, not hers, and sometimes it’s best to keep our fears to ourselves, letting others radiate in the cosmos of life’s joys. She’ll find her own way, and God willing, they’ll find it together. That twenty-year old new bride taught me to let hope trump fear, and she did it with the same innocence I’ve always adored and without even knowing she did.