“To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1)
And Adam said: “This is now bone of my bones And flesh of my flesh; She shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. (Genesis 2:23-24)
A year ago today my husband proposed to me. I’ll never forget that night, it was my mother’s birthday. She and I had gone out for manicures that day and, unbeknownst to be, David sat down with my father to officially ask for my hand in marriage. He had emailed my father months before but wanted to be sure to talk with him in person. My dad said he wasn’t surprised at all and that he definitely expected it to happen eventually. David pulled me aside after dinner and asked me to take a walk on the beach with him. We walked down to a gazebo, he had brought along a cup of tea, and he was holding my hand tight. The gazebo has the most beautiful view of the ocean. It was windy and cool that night, but the moon still shone on the water like a spotlight. You can always see the stars so vividly from my parents’ back porch in the Bahamas. David didn’t waste any time – he immediately took my hand.
He smiled at me with those kind eyes of his, his beard always scrunches all the way up to his eyes when he smiles really big. “Beloved, we have talked a lot about why we should wait to get married and what those roles and responsibilities look like. My feelings for you have always been strong, and I think we both knew from the start that we were moving towards marriage. I have prayed a lot about this over the past few months, seeking God’s will and doing research. When I got to the island this morning, I asked your dad for his permission to marry you, and he said yes! I believe God is telling us to move forward, so sweet Isabelle, will you marry me?” And then I did this weird happy-laughing-sobbing thing for like two hours?
He proposed with his grandmother’s ring, a huge, gorgeous emerald cut amethyst stone. We later replaced it with a gorgeous two carat solitaire ring (a bit more traditional). But I still wore the amethyst on my right hand on our wedding day.
My parents were ecstatic and supportive when I walked up the porch from the beach with a huge, stupid grin on my face and that gorgeous purple rock on my finger. My future mother-in-law and father-in-law welcomed me into the family (officially) with love and endless hugs. And as you can imagine, I also heard quite a bit of questioning and protest. The news of our engagement was exciting for most people, but scandalous and controversial to others. I can remember being given so many disapproving looks masked by pseudo-sweet words and fake congratulations. I’ll never forget a heartbreaking moment after we got back from our honeymoon. My mom’s childhood best friend, mother to one of my dearest childhood friends, and their family sent us an obligatory card wishing us a generic congratulations. The card contained a small message the greeting card company came up with, signed Congratulations, From the Family.
I remember feeling my heart drop in my chest. I thought the disapproval would end when we finally made it to the altar after a very hard engagement. This was a family I had known practically my whole life and all they could think of was a generic, unsentimental “congratulations”. No personal message or thoughtful blessing. I remember my eyes filling with tears, I felt guilty for being so selfish and expecting more, but I could feel the disapproval radiating through the cardstock paper.
A few times throughout my engagement, when I would timidly tell people I was engaged to be married in the coming summer (after many rude, passive, or sarcastic responses), I felt encouraged many times by older couples applauding David and I for taking this huge step in faith, trusting Jesus with our future, and choosing to go against the grain with this huge life decision. I’ll never forget one of my grandmother’s friends taking me by the hands and telling me she and her husband married at eighteen and have been wed now for almost sixty years.
David and I knew our bold decision would yield some highly opinionated remarks. We knew this is what Christ had for us and we prayed others would see that also.
Among the discouraging reactions that seemed to make wedding planning even harder, there were several people who were steadfast supporters of our marriage and the path Jesus set us on. I am so grateful for the many people who answered the call of kindness and trusted in Christ instead of the world’s view of when and how marriage should occur.
Marriage has been one of the most sanctifying, frustrating, incredible, and beautiful things God ever could have chosen to bless me with at this time in my life. At such a young age, David and I have discovered that, as our counsellors put it, we “get to grow up together.” We are learning about “real life” together, and there is no one more fit to lead me through it. He is gracious when I am not, kind when I am moody, compassionate when I have the flu, and listens for God’s voice when I am too stubborn to. David is exactly the man our Heavenly Father created just for me.
I am so grateful David proposed to me a year ago today and I am grateful for the half year of marriage we have already braved together.