I've known I wanted to marry my girlfriend Erica for a long time.
We've dated since December 29, 2009 (our Junior year in high school), have gone to different colleges, broken up, gotten back together, and generally grown up and matured alongside each other. The day we got back together two years ago after a tough break up, I knew I wanted to marry her.
Erica loves people incredibly well. Better than anybody I know. She loves people and gives of herself without any thought or expectation of being recognized or acknowledged. That's just who she is. I started planning the proposal around this idea back in December. I wanted her to get the chance to see how much the people that she loves so well love her. So, I organized times to sit down and ask her and my family the question:
WHY DO YOU LOVE ERICA?
The process was not without it's fair share of close calls. Oftentimes, Erica would show up in places she was not supposed to be or ask questions that were difficult to answer without giving things away. I had to think of some quick (and pretty rough) excuses sometimes that she may or may not have really believed. At one point when she saw me pull my camera out of my car at her house, I told her that her mom asked me to take pictures of their backyard.
Erica says that in four and a half years of dating, the only time I ever surprised her was the night I broke up with her. I was determined to pull this surprise off.
On Tuesday night, I set up a projector and a screen over at Grand River Chapel. I laid out some flowers and letters she had written me over our time of dating in a path to take her to the front of the chapel to watch the video. Then, I called her and begged her to go look for my wallet over there which I told her I had lost there at a worship night on Sunday. Then, I hid in the bathroom and waited for her to get there.
She watched this video:
I left my hiding spot in the bathroom when I heard myself talking, snuck up behind her, and got down on one knee to present the ring.
THANKFULLY, SHE SAID YES
I had arranged for about 40 of our friends and family to be at my house afterwards. People from church and friend groups, people from K-State (her college) and members of both of our family. I told her I had left something at my house that I wanted to give her, and that I had forgotten it in the craziness of the day. We drove back to my house and she was completely surprised by all the people waiting to greet her.
(Thanks to my friend Chris Binkley for the pictures)
She was overwhelmed by the showing of love from our community. I was filled with joy watching her be overwhelmed. The night became one of the most special nights of both of our lives thanks to the providence of the Lord and an incredible community of friends and family.
WHY DO YOU WANT TO MARRY ERICA?
I had the incredible privilege of having a close friend who knew I was proposing sit me down on Sunday night and just ask me that question. Why do I want to marry her? What makes me think now is the right time to propose to her? Ultimately, it comes down to one word. Unity.
Erica and I could not be more different. Literally if you lined up our personalities, they are polar opposites. But, over our time together, God has used these differences to push us closer to him and closer to each other. Somehow, he has made two completely different people come together as one in a way only he can. Throughout this process, I have read and prayed over this passage of scripture, Jesus praying to God before he goes to his death. Before I asked the parents, when I set the date of the proposal, right before I proposed, and right after I proposed:
JOHN 17: 20-26, JESUS' PRAYER
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me. Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”
Ultimately, I want to marry Erica for the glory of God to be proclaimed. That by becoming one with her, I would join in the unity that God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit have enjoyed for eternity. And not only for our own sake, but so that the world would know that Jesus died and raised to pay for the sins of humanity and establish eternal life in the hearts of men. I want to live a life with her so transformed by the unity of Christ and the Gospel, that people know Jesus as a result.
Proposals are great and fun and special, but that's not where the process ends and that's not why we do it. We do it for the sake of the Gospel, so that "the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them".