Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Engagement Rings and Chocolate Bunnies

I love spring and Easter is full of memories for me.  I love that we spend more time remembering and reflecting on Jesus' work on the cross, but I also spend some time each year thinking about Easter 2005.  Most people get chocolate bunnies and candy in an Easter basket, but I was given something most women dream about that year.

We stopped by the pond and he took my hand, got on one knee, showed me a ring glistening in the sunlight and said "Heidi, will you marry me?" and to this day I think that was one of the most difficult days of my life.

I started courting/dating/spending time with this boy in August of 2003.  He was one of my best friends, and we had known his family for a long time.  His dad had loved me ever since he asked me what I wanted to do with my life and I told him I wanted to be a wife and mom (years before we started dating), and I think then and there he decided I should marry one of his sons.  The first time the bf and I met to spend time alone was at the Emerson Drive concert at Trails West.  Our first real date (he asked my dad, picked me up, opened my doors, and no siblings or parents were in the vicinity) was to the rodeo...yes, you read that right, a country music concert and a rodeo, doesn't get much more hick than that!  He was a good guy, ambitious and driven, worked really hard, managed his money well, and was a gentleman.  At the time, I would have told you our relationship was going well, and when I graduated from high school in 2004 he said he wanted to marry me, but when he and my dad had the initial "talk" my dad told him flat out we couldn't get married until I finished college, and bf agreed, saying he would wait.  But 4 years is a long time to wait and although I really do think he loved me, he was getting impatient.  We had visited the marriage option over and over, bringing different scenarios to my dad and every time my dad saying we needed to wait.  We were young and had much to learn, probably more spiritual lessons than anything else.  In one letter he wrote me he said, "But if your dad won't let you get married next fall, I need to change some things, and I need to let God start taking control of my life more."  Um, hello, red flag - so if we are getting married God doesn't need to "take control", what?!  But I was blind to it then.  I think we were both kind of spiritually stagnant, but we didn't fully realize it until later.  We spent so much time working on our relationship with each other that we neglected our personal relationships with the Lord, and as a result there was a lack of growth, and we weren't keeping Christ at the center of our relationship.  A few months later, after some distance, the Lord began to open my eyes to the mistakes we had made.  I wrote that "No matter how much a part of my future "bf" might be, I need to focus on my relationship with Christ first."

On Easter, our plan was that after our family lunch at my house, the bf and I would go to his sister's new farm to spend some time 4-wheeling and then eat dinner with them.  Now, 4-wheeling is one of my favorite activities in the world.  You get to go fast, feel the wind blowing through your hair, catch some air if you go terrace jumping, and feel that "lose your stomach" feeling you get on the drop of roller coasters.  I LOVE it.  Bf knew I loved it and really planned the perfect proposal.  When we got to the house we rode around for awhile, and then we stopped by the pond.  It was a beautiful day, warm and sunny, the water was sparkling, and I was doing my favorite activity with the boy that I loved.  Then he hopped off the 4-wheeler, proposed, and by God's gracious mercy the first words out of my shocked mouth were "did you ask my dad?"  Bf said yes, he asked my dad, and I proceeded to ask what my dad said, why would I do that...wouldn't I assume if he was asking, my dad said yes?  God is truly sovereign and merciful!  The next words out of bf's mouth changed everything, "Your dad said no."  

Now, at this point in our relationship, I loved my parents but I didn't think they understood our situation.  I thought I was mature enough to get married, I understood that I was trading life experiences for marriage and I didn't care.  I knew marriage was hard, but I couldn't convince my parents that I knew it.  My relationship with my parents was very strained as a result.  This made the fact that I even asked what my dad said, or cared enough to decline bf's proposal because of it, nothing short of amazing.  To this day, I don't understand it, God had to have put those questions on my heart and lips.  I wasn't being obedient to my parents in other ways.  I thought I knew better than they did; I hated college and just wanted to marry bf so I could begin my dream of being a wife and mom.  But again, God showed me mercy and gave me the courage to tell bf that if my dad said no, then I couldn't marry him.

We skipped dinner with his family and he drove me straight home.  I cried a lot that night, and I think my parents might have been more shocked that I said no, than they were that bf proposed.  We sort of kept dating (yeah, not my brightest idea), but with a lot of distance, and two short months later I randomly found The Master's College online (there's another long, but awesome story of God's faithfulness) and decided I wanted to go.  I left in August and bf said he would wait for me.  But waiting only lasted until September when he called to tell me we either needed to get married that summer or break up.  Again, the Lord had been working on my heart and gave me the courage to tell him that I knew I was where God wanted me, so I guess we needed to break up, and that was the end of it.  Since I was thousands of miles away we didn't talk again...for like three years.  It was hard at the time, but I grew so much through the situation.  I have several friends my age who worry that they are never going to find "the one" that they will be single for the rest of their lives, and that they will die lonely old men and women.  But let me tell you, it's better to live for the Lord, to follow Him and be single, than it is to be married without the Lord in the center of your relationship.  Every Easter I am SO thankful that the Lord is merciful, compassionate, forgiving, and sovereign over all, and that He caused me to decline that marriage proposal, and ultimately draw my heart to Him to show me that only in Him can I find joy, contentment, and satisfaction.

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