This is the story of how a boy got his jeans dirty.
It all took place in the warm desert sun, at a big desert church, and in two small desert towns. But to be exact, it started on an Island. In The Island at church to be precise. Introduced by a friend, their relationship began to bud. For a year, their desires for each other couldn’t seem to meet up though. And their fears kept them from acting on them when they did. They were both guilty of fickleness and fluttering.
A whole summer spanned between their friendship as they began to talk more and more. They opened up secrets and unlocked fears and became more than acquaintances over innumerable text messages and long nights.
Then it happened. . .
They were sitting on a rocky wall at a camp called Hume. The wall next to the laundry room. You might know the ones. This girl had been mean to this boy. This boy was Zackary. Well, this girl was ready to apologize. Little did Zackary know that when she did, she would realize that Zackary actually meant more to her than she thought. This girl was Lilah.
Lilah realized that after Zackary’s one (or two…okay, three) attempts at pursuing her, that she was actually quite fond of him. She opened her eyes during a series of events including a trip up the country and a strategically planned barbeque by Zackary himself.
You see, all this time, there was another factor in their relationship. It was a Mighty and Holy one. This was God. He knew their fears and their insecurities. He knew them to their cores. And He had already decided that He wanted them to share their lives with one another.
And what a glorious day was it when that boy and that girl realized it.
So Lilah decided she was ready. And though Zackary had just about given up hope, Lilah threw her fears to the curb and asked to take him out to coffee.
She was secretly head-over-heels for him.
They met at the Grind and Lilah quickly got to the point. And although the words she said are lost in their memories, she said them with humility and as much grace as she could muster. He said yes, of course.
He was not-so-secretly crazy for her.
So they were off like an airplane! Ready to take on whatever the world had in store for them.
It was after an awesome day filled with a store bought sushi picnic and Up! at the theatre. Their first date was filled with the ease of their friendship, but also, the wonderment of what this could mean for their future. The day was spread out over the entire high desert. Zackary brought her home only to be interrupted by Lilah’s Mother when he was trying to make his move. Their first kiss was followed by laughter that midnight.
Their next few months would become some of the best times of their lives. They decided early on to honor God with their relationship. They never wanted their friends to feel uncomfortable around them and they committed to saving the beauty of oneness for marriage.
They played in the desert, at the beach, around the city, and in the rain. They got lost every time. They spoiled each other with the resources that God had given them . . . and their parents covered the gas.
They spent that year nearly inseparable. He bought her shoes, she bought him sun glasses, and they split a few nice dinners. Lilah waited and prayed as Zac went off to Hawaii to serve with their church. And she welcomed him home with a Rockstar the day he came home from camp. Zackary waited and prayed for Lilah as she moved down to Los Angeles to complete a three month makeup training program. Then again, he prayed as she counted down the days to graduation from her Esthetic training. They dreamed and prayed and longed. They learned about one another and about themselves. They found where their heart of hearts’ lies. With the broken and the hopeless. They decided to serve. One day in there, Zackary decided he wanted Lilah to be his always. And she was more than okay with that. They started talking about marriage. A little earlier than most are comfortable with.
They spent as much of the holidays together as they could. And when Valentine’s day came, Zackary began to feel the pressure. He handled it incredibly and spoiled Lilah to a weekend in San Diego with his Auntie, who’s an Esthetician. Lilah got a taste of what her job would be like and fell in love. They made a picture perfect salmon dinner that they enjoyed on a nearby lawn in the adorable Ojai neighborhood and ate Kashi cereal for breakfast the next morning.
As they enjoyed the next summer together, Zackary had some very large decisions to make. If Zackary wanted to make Lilah his forever, he had to figure out the smartest way to logistically and economically take care of her for a lifetime. So he prayed and prayed and prayed some more. He took a couple weekends and held silent so that God could speak. And God told him Arizona. Northern Arizona University to be specific. Zackary heard, so Zackary went. Lilah supported him, reluctantly at first, but with her whole heart eventually. What God had planned for him was much, much more than she could ever fathom. She knew she had to trust Zackary and God. And after a few breakdowns, she kissed him goodbye and drove back to the sunshine without one tear, clinging his class ring on her finger.
Zackary began classes. He also began to grow and learn more about himself than ever. His faith was tested and his life was changed. Meanwhile, Lilah graduated from her Esthetic training and passed her state board exam. She was blessed with a job right out of school and began washing people’s faces the day after her licensing.
While they were apart, together, they adapted and overcame everything that came their way. There were tears and long nights. There were misunderstandings and miscommunications. But together, they broke apart fears and uncertainty. They blew up the devil’s schemes and fought hard for unity with each other and their Lord. They failed each other. They failed themselves. And each time, they humbled themselves and returned to their Lord and His grace covered all.
They talked about when they wanted to get married. They debated the options, and researched health insurance. A lot. They discussed where, how, and in what they would live. She gave him hints on how to ask her Dad and he asked about what she wanted. She told him she wanted a ring with a story. She wanted to go antiquing for one. And like their relationship had always been, he knew that she never wanted an expensive, shallow ring.
And then the time had fully come.
Lilah was visiting Zackary at school one weekend in February. She stayed with a friend of Zackary’s whom he’d had the opportunity to show Jesus to. They were due for an adventure! They decided, in their true fashion, that they didn’t need directions. They drove until they found this huge hole in the ground. Turns out that hole was named the Grand Canyon. With their chipotle-pack-lunch, they drove along its edge until they couldn’t any longer. They came to a place called Hermit’s Rest and jumped out of Zackary’s Jeep to go exploring. They found a little store with trinkets and souvenirs. They took pictures and walked along the edge. Lilah took a seat on the rim and fiddled in the dirt with a stick. Zackary stood beside her and, together, they drank in God’s handiwork.
As the sun went down, Zackary stood her up. He grabbed her arms and looked in her eyes. He inquired if she remembered the time when she’d told him that she wanted a ring with a story. And she knew it was coming. He pulled out his Grammy Ann’s ring from around his neck, smiled and said, “Well, I happen to have one.”
And he got the right knee of his jeans dirty.
And now we’re living not-so happily ever after, but rather head over heels in love with life together in a rural town in a rural state. But we pray that God would move in more-than-rural ways.