A Promise, A Proposal, A Party
Written by Michael Walker
On May 18th, I ended my four-day journey back to Texas to ask this woman to be my wife.
To give a little context, for the last two years I’ve suffered much sleeplessness and heavy morning depression and for the last few months, she has had constant and consistent daily depression. For those of you who suffer from depression, you know that much of that time is unclear. It has sometimes been described as the dark cloud of the soul. Why? Because there’s not a lot of illumination.
"What am I feeling?" I don’t know.
"Why am I feeling like this?" I don’t know.
"What can I do to feel better?" I don’t know.
On the day I proposed, these seeming rhythms in our lives were no different.
Imagine having one of the biggest events happen in your life (like an engagement) and you are completely apathetic towards everything that is going on. That’s real life. Not every day is sunshine and daisies, and many of us, including myself, need to be reminded of the reality: life is hard sometimes.
In our Instagram feeds, everything looks perfect with the perfectly filtered culture - we need to be reminded that that’s not the way life is. You can’t just throw a filter on the reality of your daughter getting run over and killed or your son being raped or your mother dying from cancer and expect everything to be okay. Now, there are many reasons and influences as to how and why our culture has gotten to where we’re at, but I think one reason for this is our lack of thanksgiving.
That might sound a bit odd, but thankfulness is a weapon unlike any other. True thankfulness is a posture of gratitude towards God, receiving wholistically whatever he might be giving, rather than comparing it to something else. Our comparisons always reveal our preferences and our preferences alway reveal our desire to be God. Yet, when you have a posture of receiving, you aren’t comparing. You are grateful.
There are a great many gifts that I've received over the years that I didn't desire, but the understanding of the gift is only as good as our understanding of the giver. Sometimes we receive something and don't understand its purpose, but if we trust the one who gave it, we can rest in the midst of our lack of understanding. But, what is God’s posture towards us when we don’t want him? When we don’t ask for him? When we don’t desire him? When we don't trust him?
The night before I got into town, the night before I was planning on proposing, Scout and I had a conversation. We talked about many different things, but the conversation ended up at a point where I asked her a question:
“If you were to look at yourself right now, would you desire yourself?
"NO! No no no” she said, and then followed that with many specific reasons why not. That was hard for me to hear. I wept when she said that. Me, the man that desires her immensely, who plans on displaying that desire in the form a question the following night, hear's that she sees herself as undesirable. Another question was asked:
“Would you be willing to exchange that interpretation of yourself with what God has said about you; that you are desired, even at your worst, which he has clearly shown on the cross?” Her response was, “I hear what you’re saying, and I know that it’s true, but I just can’t do that right now.”
I wept more.
It hurts when the girl you desire doesn't desire herself, but it hurts even more when she doesn't believe that God's interpretation is better and more desirable than her own.
"What do I do?" I began to ask myself. "Is it the wisest thing for me to propose now?" "If she doesn’t even want to receive the reality that God desires her, what makes me think that she will receive my offer of that reality when I propose?" For what is a proposal but simply me saying, "You are desired?" Among all these thoughts and questions, the most important question I asked was to God.
“How would you respond to Scout right now?”
To which the Spirit responded:
“I’d make her mine,”
as he reminded me of Romans 5:7-8.
"For one will scarcely die for a righteous person, though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die, but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us."
This was one of those moments where a paradigm shift happened and you were given eyes to see something in a completely new way - and what a beautiful sight!
When we didn’t want God, when we didn’t desire him in any way, he pursued us, died for us. This reality of, yeah you might die for this really good person, maybe even for that pretty good person, but you would not die for a sinner; you would not desire you.
It is in that where God’s love is displayed: God desires the undesirable. The reality of that collided with my heart in a way that it hadn’t before and there was suddenly a new motivation for proposing. The same way God postures himself towards us, towards me, I get to posture myself towards her. When she feels undesirable, like Christ has already done, I get to tell her that she desired.
Now that’s a vulnerable thing to make known because she could still say no.
I’m reminded of how C.S. Lewis describes love:
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully around with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken, it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
What an adventure it is to love!
The night I got into town, we went out to the street and the place where we want to get married. Interestingly enough, the building was unlocked and we were able to walk around inside. We kept walking on that street, and as we walked, we saw an alley with graffiti art on the walls that we stopped to admire. We noticed that it wrapped around the whole building and it was there, away from the street and away from being seen by anyone, where I decided to propose. In front of graffiti and the ruins of art laying on the ground around us, I asked this girl to marry me.
She said, “Absolutely".
I love that. Not “yes” but “absolutely”. It was at that time that I explained all the intention behind everything:
•The Ring Box
I got her a ring box from England that was over 200 years old. Why? Because I wanted to symbolize the longevity of our relationship. But not just to the longevity of it, because there are many marriages that might be ‘celebrating’ their 50th wedding anniversary yet are miserable, I wanted it to point to the legacy of our marriage. Legacy, like this box, that would last far longer than either one of us or our marriage.
I have three rings for her and she currently has two. The first is a promise, the second a proposal, and the last one is for the party, the celebration of a covenant. None of that “If you will I will,” but rather “I will.” Why three rings? I wanted to point to the relationship of God, the Trinity; three in one. The relationship that always has been and always will be. One who's longevity is eternal and legacy is infinite. That's what (who) I want our relationship to reflect; the relationship that ultimately will sustain ours. And not just sustain… but grow, cultivate and flourish it into something far grander than either of us has ever seen. With each ring, I wrote a poem for her presented in a letter. Now, what I said is intended for her, but I'll share a piece of what I wrote for the second ring (engagement ring):
"But now... a question. For I have shared my heart and now I'm asking for yours, mi amor. Asking you to share your all as I share mine. Asking you to walk with me, weep with me, worship with me. Asking you to laugh with me until we cry; to be with me until the day we die.“
Neither one of us knew it then, but that question would be answered later that night.
•The Ring Design
The design of the ring itself has three diamonds; a brilliant cut, an uncut black diamond, and then another brilliant cut. This design is meant to point to the Story of God; the true story of the world that tells what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen. The first diamond is pointing to what has happened. You have a brilliant cut diamond. A diamond made and cut a specific way, just like God did in the beginning of creation. Everything he made he made intentionally and specifically and it was very good. But, that is no longer where we are at in the story; All of creation, including ourselves, are broken. Yet in that brokenness, God is still making beautiful things and is redeeming what is broken. This is where the uncut black diamond comes into focus. It symbolizes her because this is where she is at, in the middle of this story, what we might call the present. Now the story of an uncut diamond is that it is exactly the way it’s found, uncut. It's raw, and yet in a similar way to the first, it's exactly the way it’s been made; beautifully unique, much like her. The prongs and how the raw diamond is being held represents the way I am called to love her. If you were to try and put another diamond in its place, it would not hold it well. The same is with her; if I were to love her and hold her in a generic or general way, I would not love her well at all. What a joyless love that would be. Never truly knowing her and so never truly loving her. But rather, being in awe of the way God has made her and is making her, I get to taste and see his goodness and beauty through knowing her and in that loving her. Experiencing what gives her joy and what makes her sad; what gives her life and what takes it away. That is a pleasure and an honor for me - a privileged position that not everyone gets to walk in. Yet, that stone is just a symbol of that: of her. That isn’t where the story ends though, which is where the third stone comes in. This is good news for her, for me, for all of us: The story isn’t ultimately about us - which takes the weight off of us. With another brilliant cut diamond placed on the other side, we're now pointed to the promise of God restoring things back to the way they were. No more sin, no more suffering, no more sorrow. This is the story in which all other stories find themselves a part of. What a grand thing to be reminded of and what a wonderful hope to have when we are in the midst of a seemingly endless amount of other stories, like stories of depression.
Now, imagine being overwhelmed by complete apathy when all his is happening.
"Oh my gosh! What was going through your mind when he got down on one knee?”
I don't know… oh look he’s on one knee.
“What were you feeling when he said all this?!’"
I don't really remember.
After the proposal, we went out to get some food and drinks and while we were sitting there we found out that one of our good friend's mom died that same night from cancer. Some might say that the news ruined the night. It didn’t. We left where we were at and went to my car and we wept together. As we were weeping, we prayed for our friends and for their family. After that, I dropped her back of at her house.
That’s the story of the night of our engagement.
I love it and what a beautiful story, yet, it can be hard to tell over and over. There are wounds in that story and like any wound, it needs time to heal.
Like Scout's burned hand, there is a story of how it happened and right now it is bandaged up. Many see the bandage and ask her what happened. Now, what if every time someone asked what happened, that meant she had to unwrap her arm and show her wounds and her scars? It would be unhealthy. Some get the opportunity to know how it happened. Some people may never even know that it did. Others, like myself, get to be the one who helps peel the dead skin off her wounds so that the skin underneath might heal and re-wrap it as shown in the picture below
This is another good picture of our relationships; they're messy and at times can hurt deeply, yet to be so near to someone is a dear thing. This engagement time is similar. In many ways, it is so joyful, yet that isn't the full story.
We have many people that we love and we want to tell the full story to, but, to continue to tell (unwrap and show) the story in such detail to everyone just simply can’t happen. Some people get to know, like family and community, while others desire to know.
The purpose of this blog is our effort to tell the engagement story to those we want to know but we can't tell it to personally.
We are already so thankful to hear so many encouraging words from those who have gotten to hear the story so far!
With all of this, we ask for everyone’s continued prayers for us.
Things are still heavy. Depression is still here. Hard things are still being worked through.
Yet I am reminded in this moment that his grace is sufficient and there is deep joy in the midst of all that is going on because he is with us in all that is happening.