First, sorry for creating any impression that “tomorrow” meant “first thing tomorrow morning”. I didn’t intend to leave you hanging when I started the project last night. I just got sleepy and the blog post got long, so I broke it up.
Ok, without further ado, back to my journal entry…
I took one look at the ring and my first reaction was “This is a narrow band, all we ever talked about loving was a wide band.” (I can’t believe I just admitted that on the world wide web. Of all parts of this story that I would like to omit, that one takes the cake. For the record, I do wear a wide band today. RRL had the wide band in his pocket, but had been so anxious to propose that he hadn’t yet had the diamond mounted on the new band. Yeah, I know.) I was shocked even at myself for having such a superficial thought. It wasn’t like me at all and it made me wonder why I was really doing this. Slowly, I put the ring back in the box and handed it to him as I told him that I just didn’t think I could say “yes”. I didn’t feel anything at that moment. It should have been one of the most exciting moments of my entire life and I felt neither joy nor sadness. I wasn’t scared, I wasn’t nervous, I wasn’t anything. Looking back, I KNOW that Satan was the one who attempted to rob me of the feelings of the moment. He knew that Ricky and I had committed to be a team in ministry and I think that really scared him (I really hope I didn’t mean for that to sound so cocky at the time).
I called my mom and told her I said “no” (I was overcome as soon as I heard her voice and I think she thought RRL was dead or something because all I could get out at first was “RRL…he…RRL…and I… ) and RRL called my roommates, who were waiting with the Willises and other friends for us to come home with exciting news.
My mom was really encouraging. She just listened as I sobbed and then she calmed me down. She never told me I was wrong or making a bad decision. She just told me to look at RRL. To forget everything else and look at him. When I did, the Lord filled me with an amazing love and a complete assurance about wanting to spend my life with him. (I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I can still vividly remember that moment- I still clearly remember the visions of our future family that flooded me in that instant.)
Ricky had asked my roommates to come out to where we were (oh, my. These three were…and still are…such amazing friends. Thank you, girls, for the blessing and encouragement you were through all of this) Just as I was headed over to explain to him how wrong I had been, they pulled up. In the headlights of their car, I asked RRL if he would still consider marrying me. He told me that I was not allowed to ask him and then, with the same gentleness and with a new confidence, he got down on his knee A SECOND TIME. This time, (with all the Joy the Lord intends when you catch a glimpse of His amazing plans designed just for you) I said Yes, Yes, Yes ABSOLUTELY yes!! Then I got to yell and scream with my roommates who were thrilled everything was okay, but a little confused as to what had happened.
We never made it to Nashville (because it was so late by this point) but lots of other good things came out of the way things happened. (But we did head to Dallas to celebrate with all of RRL’s family and my Momma flew in that weekend so I could celebrate with her, too). For one, as I already mentioned, my roommates were all there when I said YES and it was amazing to get to share that moment with them. Secondly, we got to have some time with Dr. and Mrs. Willis by ourselves. They had gone home and gone to bed and I think we quite surprised them when we showed up on their doorsteps in the middle of the night, but they never let on. If we had gone back to my house where everyone was waiting, we would have only seen them in the crowd. Instead, though, we went to their house and had a very special time of prayer with them. During this time of prayer, Dr Willis encouraged us to really think about the spiritual battle of the night, the implications of Satan’s attack and the Lord’s conquering powers. He is incredibly wise, so gentle and loving in his encouragement. The biggest blessing that came out of saying “no” is that I won’t ever wonder if saying “yes” was the right thing. I have a confidence in our union and I feel the Lord’s presence in our relationship in a new way.
And that’s where the journal version ends. I love that I documented what I thought to be the biggest blessing at that time…only one month after it happened. I should have known that the blessings were really just beginning. Our marriage has not been perfect, sometimes far from it. RRL has always said that he believes the marriages of Ministers are attacked in a unique way because of their visibility to other vulnerable marriages. I think he’s right. We’ve seen it. And this night didn’t free us from further attacks or struggles. But I will say it did uniquely prepare us for our marriage. If even for an hour, we faced what looking into the future as individuals would look like and we made a decision that the road ahead looked better (MUCH BETTER) knowing we would travel it together. We prayed that we would be stronger in ministry together than we could be individually (thank you, J.Reese), and we’ve continued to hold that as the standard for the health of our marriage. We also gained a glimpse into the ways Satan attacks and manipulates our emotions. While he is NOT the victor (praise the Lord), he is also not a force to face naively. This is why I find myself weeping in prayer for the Lord to save the marriages of those we love. Its so much more than just praying that He won’t let them get divorced, that He won’t allow their families to be torn apart. Its a prayer for the victory we believe in to come quickly and thoroughly.
There is no way I could have articulated at the time, but that night, as we committed to each other and to the Lord, there was indeed a little taste of the coming victory. A victory made sweeter by knowing we could not earn it or deserve it. So, after years of keeping it to ourselves, that’s why we needed to tell this story. We are richly blessed.
Oh, and I still have that gold string. It ties together many of the cards and letters that RRL has written me over the years. Just reaffirming, that he’s something pretty special…as if asking me TWICE wasn’t proof enough.