When I was younger, I did not readily trust people. Having been pretty battered by my parents’ marriage and in need of police protection from my mother more than once, simply being told that I was loved didn’t quite cut it. I developed very high walls and very dense shields. Very few of my peers had the patience or wisdom to scale those walls.

Then I met Travis. Now, I have recounted how lightning struck in my Aunt Molly’s kitchen when we saw each other for the first time, and that we knew we were meant to marry about a week after we met, and that I got scared and made us separate for a while.

In January of 1986, we sang together in a wedding in the Broadway Church of Christ wedding chapel, and I looked over at him and realized I was just being stupid. The man who loved me better than anyone ever had was patiently waiting for me to decide that he was what I wanted. So I did, that night.

Once we- no, I- decided to make a romance out of a friendship, no holds were barred. This was it! We talked marriage from that point on. We took our classes together when we could (as voice majors, that was pretty easy) and he walked me to class when we had different schedules. After classes he sat with me when I worked in the SUB or called me when he could from his job at Jent’s House of Music. We started looking at rings, and I found a wedding dress on a trip to Brownwood, before there was even a proposal.

Halt!!!! My still-fragile heart finally realized what was happening. It called to mind all the ugly of my parents’ union. With no warning to Travis and no rational decision on my part, I stopped speaking. Not only to him, but to everyone. I went through days of silence, walking to classes and to my dorm room, where I lived alone. Recently I found the letter he wrote me during this time, it was delivered to my campus mailbox. He pleaded with me to break my silence, if not to him, then to anyone I trusted. I couldn’t. I just couldn’t.

One afternoon after class, he grabbed my hand and took me to his car. We drove to Maxey Park, where he spent hours trying to break through to me. He walked away, very angry, and I sat in stony silence, really not sure why I could not speak, I just knew I couldn’t.

Then a man was there on the bench across from me. I had not seen or heard him approach, but I heard him ask me if I was okay, if I needed help, if I needed an ear. He spoke to me of trust, he spoke to me of letting go, he spoke to me of the killing power of fear and keeping love walled out (I am not making this up). He spoke until I was able to uncross my arms from the front of my chest, release my shoulders from around my ears, and relax my jaw. I never said anything to him, at least I do not remember doing so, but when Travis approached, this man simply walked away. Travis sat down and held me while I cried and finally surrendered to his unconditional love of me.

See, sometimes I wonder what the heck God is thinking, and if He has forgotten me. Then I remember that He sent an angel, a real one, who encouraged me to let go and let Travis love me. On the occasions when I have doubted God’s love, I remember the man He gave me to demonstrate His love for me here on this earth.

And I remember the angel who saved me from myself on a bench in Maxey Park in the spring of 1986. If you see a slightly disheveled man hanging around the benches, keep an ear out for the flutter of angel’s wings.