He’s on one knee, ring and heart both outstretched. Will you? He asks. All awareness of my surroundings, even myself, has dissipated. I see only him. Him and a dozen tiny diamonds sparkling in the late afternoon sun. This is the moment. The one I anticipated for years, the one I dreamed of when my preteen self first imagined the unfathomable idea that one day a boy might like me enough to want to marry me, the one I’d been hoping would happen every time I saw this particular boy for the past two months. This is the moment. Will you? He asks. Yes, I reply. Yes. Yes. Yes.
Of course I say yes. There’s nothing but that answer. And I come down the mountain and we’re laughing and giddy and kissing every five seconds. I can’t wait to tell everyone, I show my ring to anyone who will look. I run into my parents kitchen, I call my brother, my best friends, my grandparents. Everyone wants to know the engagement story. How did he do it? They all ask. As if an engagement story is something that just happens once. As if slipping a ring on my finger is all it takes to engage.
I’m in my car at the grocery store. The heat of our argument is still steaming from my heart. We’re in our first year of marriage, and stumbling over each other as we learn what it means to be adults and what it means to be husband and wife. It’s been five minutes since I threw my angry words at him and I can’t remember what made me so upset. I just know I’m more upset about my anger than I am about anything he did or didn’t do. I’m back home with my bag of eggs and cheese and I’m in his arms. I’m not sure why I stormed out, but I’m sure I never want there to be space like that between us. Can you stop pulling away from me? He wants to know. Will you stay here so we can talk this through? Yes, please. Yes, yes, yes.
We’re walking in the front door late, stressed and tired. Late nights are our norm during this season. Our days start so early and never seem to stop until we collapse on the couch with a bowl of cereal and and Netflix. For as much time spent with each other I wonder how we keep missing each other. How we’re missing the intent of each other’s words and actions? Miscommunication brings me to tears and him to silence tonight. But as we climb into bed we start talking and then we’re saying how we didn’t mean that and those words didn’t express what we were actually feeling and can we just try again? Morning comes and he asks if I’m coming with him on his trip and I am throwing my things into a bag and pouring coffee into two thermoses because yes, I am coming with him. Yes, yes, yes.
Where You go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.
These words lay before me today as I sip my coffee and watch the morning begin.
Your people will be my people, and your God my God. Where you die, I will die and there be buried.
This whole engagement thing? It isn’t about how he got down on one knee. It isn’t about the place or the words or the pictures. It is about making a choice to engage. Deeply and wholeheartedly. It is staying present with each other. It is going forward alongside each other.
I’m standing there on the mountain. The sun is setting, the mountain air of that February afternoon rustling through my hair. He’s holding out a ring and with it his whole heart. Will you take me, will you choose me, will you let our two messy lives be wrapped incessantly together as one?
Yes. I say yes. I say yes on the mountain and I say yes again as I hop in the car with him and show up at his events. I say yes as I wake him up each morning and as I crawl into bed with him each night. I say yes, I will engage. I’m better at hiding my true self, at covering my emotions with excuses, at keeping my questions and dreams zipped tight inside my heart. It’s easier to stay guarded, to keep to myself, to remain surface level. But I say yes, because easy doesn’t mean good and engagement is what I want more than anything.
So we’re here now. Four years of engaging. Of telling hard truths, sharing deep desires, and looking each other in the face and hearing their words. Four years of trying to meet each others’ needs and then failing and then trying again. Four years of saying I’m so sorry and will you please forgive me a hundred times a week. Four years of taking steps toward each other, and waking up beside each other, and facing our days as teammates and not competitors. Four years of opening our souls and stretching out our hearts and keeping rings on our fingers to remind ourselves of this vow.
This is the engagement story. One that is told wherever there is movement toward, and not away from, another human being. One that starts long before a ring and continues past the proposal and unto death.
The ring is still sparkling as I sit in the light of this February day. The air is crisp enough that my nose is red and my fingers cold, but the sun is so warm that I don’t want to leave this place. I don’t ever want to leave this place. I want to climb the mountain again, I want to take the hand he holds out to me. I want to pull him closer and shove all of the space between us to the side. I want to engage.
Yes, yes, yes.