On Saturday, October 25, 2014, I asked Emily to marry me. She said yes.
I know she could do better. I know she could have her pick of guys better looking (wouldn’t have to go far), or with bigger smiles or bigger checkbooks. I know she could have any sort of tender artistic soul, or a natural romantic who bleeds Justin Timberlake lyrics. There’s no sane, red-blooded man on this green planet who would not try to catch her eye if they knew–even barely–who Emily was.
But she said yes to me.
Emily and I have been friends for several years. For the longest time there were obvious sparks but nothing caught flame. That was the wisdom and mercy of our Lord, who was in the slow, painful process of completely inverting my life and changing me. Let’s just say that Emily’s faithfulness in friendship was immovable even when there was no earthly justification for it.
Our love has been less like an explosion and more like a steady simmer. In many ways we’ve grown up together and have been with one another in painful and transformative moments. Perhaps it is true somewhere that familiarity breeds contempt, but that place is not here. The more familiar I’ve become with Emily, the more I love her.
Asking your best friend to marry you is, I imagine, a bit like skydiving. Everything should go just as you planned it; if you’ve paid attention, taken it seriously, and are generally not an imbecile, you should land gently and safely. You know all this. And yet, standing at the door of the airplane, looking at the world thousands of feet below you, feeling the surging gush of the atmosphere and a newfound awareness of gravity…none of that logic makes sense anymore. It’s terrifying and thrilling at the same time. When you jump, you don’t jump because you know you’ll be ok, you jump because you have to.
Asking Emily to be my wife was at once the sweetest, most nerve-fraying, most necessary and most frightening thing I’ve ever done with another human being. It was a moment of total vulnerability, physically (yes, I took a knee) and emotionally. In the series of infinite moments between the question and the answer lies the genuine possibility of rejection, unrequited love, and blunted hope. In that moment, on one knee and with ring in hand, all the logic and all the reasons and all the justifications for why anyone does anything evaporate in an endless infinity that awaits a simple, heart-freeing, “Yes.”
That makes me think of 2 Corinthians 1:20: “For all of God’s promises have been fulfilled in Christ with a resounding, ‘Yes’!” I know, this sounds like another “Jesus-juke.” But I know that when Emily said that blessed three-letter word, it assuaged my fears and unfettered my heart to soar. To think that this is but a symbol of God’s “yes” to his people, His infinite, eternal “Yes” that sets us free from sin and death and lets us feast at His table! To be the object of that kind of love!
She said yes. For that I am unspeakably grateful. But even if and when death separates me from my love; if the fig tree does not blossom and barns collapse on all I know and treasure, I will live eternally hearing the Maker of the cosmos say, “Yes,” in love, to me.
(First photograph courtesy of our friend Elizabeth, a brilliant young photographer. Go to her page and see her tremendous work. Highly recommended)