I remember the day Joey proposed to me like it was yesterday…
I had been on a worship internship in New Hampshire and was flying back home to Kansas City. Joey and I had dated almost a year, and I knew I was going to marry him, I just didn’t know when. We had our late night talks over the phone while I was away, lamenting how far apart we were and wondering when God would lead us to marriage. Joey kept sharing his need to save more money, how maybe after Christmas we could start looking at rings. Little did I know, he had a little surprise waiting for my return.
When you are in the throws of love, the world seems to stand still. I couldn’t imagine waiting another 7 months to get engaged, even longer to finally get married. The past years of my love story were all about waiting– on the cusp of new adventure, but still out of reach.
When my plane landed in K.C., I was overwhelmed with anticipation of seeing him again! I knew he was picking me up at the airport and I had butterflies.
Ah, young love.
As I was walking off the plane, a stewardess approached me and asked if my name was Erica. Confused, I answered that it was, and she handed me a rose. “So sweet!” I thought to myself. That Joey was the best! Following the tunnel to the terminal, I was greeted by more stewardesses, one by one, each with a rose. The further along I went, the smell of the flowers in my arms grew stronger and stronger.
Now I am giddy with excitement, but completely oblivious to what what about to happen. (I look back now and think, “Really?!”)
My pile of roses weighed in my arms as I entered the main terminal. I scanned the room, looking for Joey. He appeared from around the corner in a tuxedo holding more roses…
Bravo, sir. BRAVO.
This sweet man was like a deer in the headlights as he hugged me and handed me the bouquet (he was a little nervous…) I was just focused on that face, those eyes, the finality of being together again, as he dropped to one knee…
I don’t remember what he said. Not a clue. I’m sure it was sugary sweet and wonderful. Only God knows.
I let out some ridiculous sound, like a grunt of disbelief, and then say “Yes!” (he knew he wasn’t getting a princess, so the grunt didn’t even phase him.) Little to my knowledge, there was a huge crowd around us watching the proposal unfold like a delicious chick-flick. They erupted in applause and I was brought back to reality: I was getting married!
Fast forward to yesterday. I was up early enough for a run before kids awoke so I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door for a trail nearby. As I came to a bend in the path, I was hit with an overwhelming floral smell. It was incredible! I glanced up and saw flowering vines all around the tops of the trees, winding in and out of branches near the trail.
It made me smile.
A deep breath in and I kept running. There was another vine. And another. Every few steps another set of flowers to fill my nostrils with the beautiful scent. It’s then that God spoke and brought to mind my marriage proposal:
“Remember how Joey brought you an abundance of flowers, more with each step, showing you his love for you? I do the same thing. Each day I call out to you with beauty and surround you with love. It is there, romancing you into a love affair with me. THIS is the perfect picture of marriage.”
God offers us an underestimated romance.
“For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh. This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.”
This Saturday, September 12th, I will have been married for 12 years.
Our marriage is a beautiful image of our relationship with Jesus: we become one flesh in His purpose. Where I begin and Joey ends disappears. There is only “us.” We are one. We are equal. May my relationship with Christ be equally blurry, losing sight of where I end and He begins. I want to be lost in that kind of love.
Maybe you don’t have a great marriage right now. Maybe it used to be. Maybe it never has been. The thing is that we will never have a “perfect” marriage, at least not the way that God intends it to be. When we get past our own needs and wants and fully embrace our spouse for who they are, regardless of what they do or don’t do for us, we come that much closer heaven on earth. We sacrifice for the other, serve the other, die to oneself for the other.
THIS is true love.