Written and photographed by Rapunzel H (written under appropriately themed pseudonym and names changed throughout for anonymity)
Every little girl dreams of her wedding day, and I was no exception. I dreamed of wearing my mother’s dress, walking down the aisle in the church I grew up in, and marrying the man that my family loved. However, that was not the case for me. This story is fraught with spiritual growth, maturity, abuse, and prayer. If it was not for the grace of God, I would be in a cult today of my mother’s making. My name is Kortney, and this is my love story.
The Road to Salvation
Part of the story begins with my lifestyle as I grew up. I grew as a stereotypical black girl in Philadelphia. My parents divorced when I was five years old, my father left my mother with two little girls to care for full-time, and he would pick us up on the weekends to hang out and learn life lessons from him. As I grew up, I was fraught with conflict because I wanted to please my parents enough that, maybe, they would stop fighting and my mother wouldn’t be so miserable. My mother taught me to take the “honor your mother and father” thing way too far. It got to the point where I didn’t really think for myself.
As time went on, my Mother pursued other relationships, married again, had a second set of kids, and divorced again. After that, men were dead to our family of five, and we were determined to grow up as a group of strong, independent black women… except for my little brother. For most of my life, I felt like a mother to my younger siblings. Mostly because I was taught to resent my father and help around the house. I felt like since I was the oldest I had to replace him. My sister and I were best friends at this point, and my little brother and sister were like my children at times. We were all very close…but that bond wouldn’t be as unbreakable as I thought.
“We” felt that our “strength” and “independence” were hindered by my mom’s first and second ex-husbands constant influence. When in reality, my step-father saw the mistreatment of my little brother and sister and wanted to take them out of my mother’s custody. Miraculously, she heard a revelation from God that we needed to move to Texas. So in 2011, she sold our home, packed our bags, and crammed two teenagers, two toddlers, and two cats into one car, and drove to salvation. During that time, I began to question some things that were happening to me:
- Why have I not seen my father in 3 years?
- Why hasn’t Dad called in a year?
- Why can’t I go out with my friends?
- Why can’t I go to college out of state?
Then The Trouble Started
In 2017, I was old enough that I said that I needed to move to a college town. My family decided that this meant that we all needed to move to a college town. So we ended up moving to Fort Worth, Texas where I would attend community college. During that time, I felt strongly about our family being a part of a church, and I thought that it would be good for us to join one. However, I refused to go to a church of predominately white or black people. I told my mother, “I’m not going to attend a church with an uneven ethnicity in either direction because that’s not what heaven will look like. I want my younger siblings to go to a church with diversity and learn from all kinds of cultures!” My mother said okay and gave me the task of choosing the church. And that’s when it happened. I found what we’ll call in this story Diversity Baptist Church.
We fell in love with Diversity Baptist Church as soon as we entered their doors. We couldn’t believe all the opportunities, amenities, and friendships that were waiting to be had. After two weeks of attendance, I felt like there weren’t any cute guys my age to be seen…and that’s when he walked out of the drum cage. If I told you that he was walking in slow motion, you wouldn’t believe me, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of him. He was dressed like a hipster with his blond, side-swept hair and brown leather dress shoes. He didn’t smile, and he immediately left as soon as he walked out, but I was intrigued by him.
Months went by as I crushed on Elias from afar, too afraid to make the first move and subtly flirting with him – however, I’ve never found that subtle flirtation works with men. During that time my family became a prominent family in the church and joined the choir. Everyone in my family can sing and we were known for our ability to harmonize with one another and other people at church. I couldn’t believe someone as cute as him existed! I did research around the church and heard that he had a girlfriend, so I decided that I would at least be his friend. We talked every now and then, but he kept his distance for some reason – I didn’t understand why. Fortunately, through our friendship, I was able to follow him on Instagram one week before he would eventually ask me out. And that’s when everything started to change.
On May 20, 2018, I noticed that Elias wasn’t there. Where could he be? I asked our music leader where our drummer was and he said, “Oh! Yeah, Elias has a stomach bug and wasn’t able to make it.” Well, I found this unacceptable. My friend was gone, and I had to check on him. Immediately after church, I sent him an Instagram message asking how he was doing. He said that I was sweet to check on him and that he was doing much better. He explained that he started taking a new medication, but he was feeling much better. Eventually, we talked more and he asked me what my plans were for the day, and I told him that I purchased a classic movie and I planned on watching it. He asked if I would be interested in watching it with him on Saturday instead and he would treat me to dinner. I asked him if it was a date, and he said that it was. I was so excited.
In May 2017, Elias and I had our first date. He and I lived an hour apart from each other, but seeing him was worth the ride. As I listened to romantic, classical jazz music, I looked at the beautiful landscapes and trees as I drove down the highway. I didn’t realize it at the time but Elias lived in a university town. He worked very closely with a prominent college, and I fell in love with the town immediately. I arrived at his door, and he greeted me wearing shorts, a pink shirt, and sneakers. I had never seen him so casual, and my crush on him was just getting stronger.
It was a beautiful date where we walked around town and discussed our interests, had subtle touches and glances, and I really felt like I could be on my first date with my husband. One of the places that he took me to was the library. As we perused the books, I asked him what made him decide to take me on a date? He said that he always thought that I was cute but he thought that I was 18. He heard that my sister was 20 and that we were two years apart and assumed that I was too young to date. At this point, I was 23, and I thought that was hilarious. We went back to his house, ate pizza, and watched a movie together. After our date, he walked me to my car, hugged me, and left. Later, I learned that he told his mother that he believes that he would marry me.
The First, First Kiss
A month later, Elias and I were on a date, and he asked me if I did anything interesting this week. At this point, I wanted to start giving him presents, and I also wanted to see if he was dating anyone else since we weren’t exclusive. So I told him that I went to the store to buy him a present (some silly socks with avocados on them), and I asked the sales representative if he could tell me where the men’s section was. He said that he’d take me and since it was a bit of a walk he started to make some light conversation with me. He said, “who are you buying the socks for?” and I kind of hesitated. What should I call him? I thought to myself. Well, I told him that I was getting them for a friend but that didn’t seem right. So I asked Elias, “What should we call each other exactly? Is that the right thing?” Elias thought for a moment and said, “I’d really like it if you called me your boyfriend.” After that we were exclusive.
After our date, he drove me home, and the whole time I knew that I wanted to kiss him. I was so nervous, and I didn’t know what to say to him. We were just sitting in the car at this point. We kept kind of saying goodbye and we gave each other long glances. That’s when we had our very awkward first kiss. He said, “come give me a hug.” And I reached over and gave him a hug. Then he gently said in my ear, “I’m gonna kiss you now. Is that okay?” I said yes and then we kissed. He held me for a moment and our eyes locked.
“What?” he said nervously. “Was it bad?”
“It wasn’t bad!” I replied. “I just think I need another one.” He chuckled to himself and kissed me again. Then I said goodbye, and I’d text him again later.
As time went on, our relationship grew and grew. We would debate on what movies were best, discuss theology, play video games, and share secrets. Sometimes we would spend long nights together and forget that we had work in the morning (and that I had an hour-long drive back). We were falling in love, and in October we would finally tell each other on the car ride home.
Our relationship was starting to get serious very quickly. After a month we decided to be exclusive and four months later, I told my mother that I was falling in love with Elias. She was very unhappy and began to do whatever she could to hinder our relationship from blooming any further. The first thing that she did was tell me that seeing him twice during the week and on weekends was too much. She asked that I only try to see him on Saturdays and Sundays. She said that the stress of me not being home was affecting my younger siblings and no one ever knew what was going on with me. I agreed to this because I loved my family, and I didn’t want to see them suffer. Soon she asked that I try to only see Elias after church on Sundays. She said that I needed to focus more on school, work, and the family and spend less time with him. After that, she started working some night shifts and said that she missed seeing me and asked if every other Sunday could be a day where we spend time together as a family. So I hesitantly agreed to that too.
Eventually it got to the point where I was seeing my now boyfriend once a month! I couldn’t understand it! Why was she keeping me from seeing him if she said she was happy for me? I broke my heart to have to call Elias and explain that we would only be allowed to see each other once a month. Elias and I had a heart to heart once I suggested that we try to only see each other once a month. He said that he thought it was too excessive and couldn’t imagine seeing his own girlfriend so infrequently. I confronted my Mom and told her that I was a woman, and I needed to see my boyfriend more often. I told her that I would make it work any way that I could and not skimp out on spending time with the family, but I wanted to see this man. She was upset but accepted the terms.
Eventually, things got too hostile where I was living. My mother was shutting me out; she was always tired and angry. My siblings were taking the brunt of her anger when I messed up. I was tired of feeling insecure, and I was in my last year of community college. That’s when I decided to apply to a university near where Elias lived. I told my family my plan to move out and live near Elias but not to live with him because I believe that you should only live with a man you’re either related to or married to. My mother flipped out. She accused me of having sex with him outside of marriage, giving up my life for a man, and said that I would be pregnant and barefoot with nowhere to go in a year. She said that he would leave me, and I would come crawling back to my family. She said that I was a bad influence on my siblings.
Despite her words, I worked hard to find myself in a new living situation. I was accepted to the university that I wanted to go to, I got a job as a live-in nanny, and a second job as a sales associate. There were weekdays where I didn’t have school or work that I would come home to my family and help drop the kids off to school, clean, or take my siblings out for the day. However, my relationship with my mom was getting more and more volatile as time went on. During that time, Elias and I went to church and learned more about each other. There were many nights where I would hang out at Elias’ house and just cry because of the hate that I was getting from my mother. I knew that our relationship was moving fast for her, but at this point, we had been dating for a year.
In August 2018, I told my mother that I wanted to marry Elias and that he and I had been discussing it. She said that if I married him that I shouldn’t bother talking to her again. I asked her why, and she said that I was too young to get married and that I was too inexperienced. She said that he was rude, stubborn, and reminded her of my step-father. I told her that he wasn’t that way and that she didn’t get to know him. I tried to persuade her, and it didn’t work. I drove to Elias’ house at midnight and cried my eyes out in his arms and slept on his couch that night. He didn’t think it was safe for me to have even driven to his house in the first place.
Elias didn’t want to stand by and do nothing so he decided that he had enough of the verbal abuse and manipulation I was receiving. We met with my mother, and all she did was bash my character. We went to the elders about it concerned, and they tried to meet with her but she was too angry to reconcile with them and said that she didn’t trust them. Then we tried to meet with some friends that she was close to but she never showed up for the meeting. The reason that she didn’t show up for the meeting was that she witnessed two of her other friends die in a car accident outside of the church and was planning their funeral that previous week. For some reason, she decided to plan the funeral on the day that she was scheduled to meet with me and only scheduled to talk with Elias and I for one hour. I was crushed.
In November, my mom calls me and tells me that she and my siblings are going to be moving back to Philadelphia in April and wanted to know if I was coming. I told her that I was not and that I was going to finish my degree to become a teacher. She said she doubted that I could take care of myself and that when I need a plane ticket I should call. Elias and I discussed this together, and he said that he thinks that we should get married. He said that he would be able to care for us both on his salary, help pay for school, and I could just focus on my education. He said that he loved me so much, and he didn’t want me to want for anything. He said that he wanted to design our wedding rings and my engagement ring and said it could all be done by December. However, I said that I wanted to wait to see if by then we could patch things up with my mother. We tried and tried but never could. I told Elias that I didn’t care anymore and that I loved him. I knew that being with him was the right thing to do and that I loved him. I told him that we could get married at any time.
Friday night, January 2019, Elias calls me says that he wants to take me on an impromptu morning date on Saturday. I agreed, and I thought that it was weird that he wanted to meet with me on such short notice. I begin to think to myself that he’s going to propose so I got into the cutest outfit that I could. It was a very cold winter that year, but I was cute and bundled. I drove to his house to see what we were doing, and he looked at me and laughed. He said that I looked cute but I was dressed for a night out on the town. He grabbed one of his hoodies, his hat, and told me to change into my work sneakers. Then he drove me to our favorite fast food place for breakfast. He drove out to a beautiful, open field with dewy grass and a lake. We sat in the car drinking our coffees and eating our food.
We were joking and laughing like we always did with lofi music playing on the radio. Then be became deadly serious. He said that he loved me and that he knew after our first date that I was the woman that he wanted to spend his life with. He said that he had never met a woman like me before and couldn’t believe that someone so kind loved someone like him. Then he kissed me with one of the deepest kisses I had ever received. I looked at him with tears in my eyes and told him that I had always prayed for a man like him. I told him that I wanted to be his wife and that I was so thankful that we met. Then he said that he wanted to ask me something…he asked if I wanted to go to his mother’s birthday party the following Saturday. I was hesitant, but said yes. Then he drove me home, kissed me, and said that I could come over to his place that day at 4 PM.
So the next Saturday came and I decided to dress really cute (black skirt, black heels, floral top, and skin-toned pantyhose). On the way there I ended up ripping my stocking and asked Elias if we could run to Walmart to get a new pair. As we drove to Walmart I said to him, “Oh! Honey, did you want to come inside with me to get a present for your Mom?”
“No, I’ll wait here.”
“You don’t even want to get a card or something?” I asked.
“Nope. It’s all good. Mom doesn’t care about stuff.” He gave me some money for the pantyhose and told me to hurry back so we could get there on time. Once we arrived at the party, I was greeted by his Mom, Dad, sister, and Auntie. They were all smiles as usual, and I suspected nothing. After we sang happy birthday and blew out the candles, she said that she was ready for presents. I was so embarrassed because I forgot a present as well. After everyone gave a gift, Elias turned to me and proposed. It was a beautiful band of twisted silver and pink gold. Atop the band were three beautiful pearls, my favorite gem. I said yes and then his family clapped and cheered. Then they all left the table and brought in presents for us. His sister gave us crystal champagne flutes and his mother and aunt gave us a vintage wedding dress from the 70s; it was beautiful.
Once the party was over, Elias told me that the party wasn’t over yet. He said that he wanted to watch a movie with me and talk for a while until 1 AM. After that was going to be a lunar eclipse, so we traveled out in the country and looked at the stars. As the eclipse hung in the sky, we sat in his car, and he showed me all the constellations. Elias looked over at me and noticed the tears in my eyes. He asked me what was wrong. I told him that many people are kind to us, but not everyone would be accepting of our relationship. I told him that the world, my parents, and many others would have issues with us. I asked him if he was sure that he wanted me and told him that if he changed his mind while we were engaged that I would understand. He said that there wasn’t anyone else in the world that he wants other than me. As we sat in silence we listened to “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” by Death Cab for Cutie.
The next day I sat next to Elias and called my mother. We told her we were engaged, and she yelled at us. She said that we wouldn’t last, and he only wanted one thing out of me. Then, she hung up on us. However, we proceeded with the wedding plans. I texted my Mom and told her that they were still welcomed to come to the wedding, but I wouldn’t get a reply from them until two weeks before our wedding in April. During that time Elias and I went through premarital counseling and answered some really hard questions about how we saw marriage, each other, whether divorce was an option, biblical grounds for divorce, how to deal with problems, and many other topics. We grew so much from those things being discussed that it set a very important foundation for our marriage. To this day we don’t argue for longer than an hour and during our whole marriage, we’ve risen our voices at each other twice. But for the most part, we’ve vowed to always speak kindly and discuss things thoroughly.
The Wedding Day
Fortunately, our wedding day was just like any other wedding. I walked down the aisle, we said our “I Do’s,” and we were wed. We had a morning wedding with a breakfast theme, and we decided to make it a small event. Many of my friends were there to celebrate, and they wished us well and wrote us cards. My mother and younger siblings did show up but they only stayed for the ceremony, took a few pictures, and immediately left. Fortunately, my Dad was able to fly from Philadelphia to walk his daughter down the aisle. We had cake, bagels, fruit, and coffee. Then we went to a small Irish inn located in town that was fun and affordable. Our plan was to go to Japan in 2020 but…well, that didn’t happen (pandemic).
Our marriage today is strong and loving. I never thought that being married could be this wonderful in my life. Today, I work as a freelancer and a writer. He works as a teacher and makes leather wallets on the side. We love God, each other, our cat, and two ferrets. As for my relationship with my family, it got complicated. My father and I are closer than we ever were before. Much of 2018 and 2019 was spent with him telling me the truth of my birth, their divorce, and the mental abuse that he went through. My father left because he knew if he stayed, he would have died from the depression. We realized that my mother needs help, and I’ve tried to help her. However, she still does not respect our marriage and currently is no longer talking to us. She did, however, decide to move up to Pennsylvania and start a farm and potentially a church. She has caused my siblings to believe that I abandoned them, and they are no longer speaking to me either.
Elias and I rarely ever get attacked for being an interracial couple. However, people have made comments about how evil white people are that I shouldn’t be with him. One woman said that interracial relationships were on the same level of evil as bestiality and pedophilia. But, we don’t let those things bother us because we know it’s not true and that we’re happy. Elias and I are hoping to add a little bundle of joy to our family this year as well, so wish us luck. And that’s our story.
If you liked this love story, check out other real life love stories and fictional romance stories. If you have a story to share, real or fictional, please consider doing so here. Please share on social media using the buttons below, and sign-up for our newsletter to receive advice and stories straight in your inbox.