Between trying not to hyperventilate, crying, laughter, and shock, I got to watch my own proposal.

Engagement Ben Ring 3

It started with an invitation.

Ben asked me out for dinner on Sunday, June 2.  He suggested I change from the capris I’d been wearing for street ministry back into the skirt I’d been wearing at church that morning.  He’d never asked me to do something like that before.  I found that suspiclious.  Very, very suspiclious.

We got to the special place Ben had in mind, and my fright grew.  Was this the night?  Was Ben going to ask me?

We sat on the top floor of a beautiful restaurant, the only ones there, in a curve-around booth that was on a turret over-looking the city below.  (I didn’t know what the turret was called until I overheard Ben’s dad accurately labeling it later.  It’s like a “bubble porch” enclosed by wall but with windows to look out.)

It was a very special seat, not like any other in the restaurant.  Then Ben told me he had to go to the bathroom, and I was almost sure.

Engagement Flowers 2The manager of the restaurant then dropped off an extravagantly romantic bouquet of flowers.

And then a card.  From Sniffy the brown bear.  (With Sniffy holding the card.)

Sniffy the brown bear has played a quirky part in our relationship from nearly the get-go.  I introduced Sniffy and Ben the first night we dated (we were with a group of others) and the two hit it off.  Sniffy’s been my teddy bear since I was about ten.

Sniffy Engagement 3The card Sniffy held was a Hallmark.

If you’ve read my other thoughts, you might already know how I feel about Hallmarks.  I’d warned Ben that, if he sent me a Hallmark, we’d have to marry.  😉

So the card was VERY SERIOUS.

From my lofty perch, I saw him (Ben, that is, not Sniffy) jog across the street to the parked car.  I ducked my head (because I wanted whatever he was doing to be a surprise).  I was really sure now.  My heart was pounding, pounding, pounding.  Would you believe that Sniffy was able to stay calm and not give the surprise away?

Then, the Italian music in the restaurant stopped playing.

It was really happening.

In came Ben, playing his guitar and singing a song written just for me.


It was a Hallmark.  He just had to marry me after that.  😉

Somewhere between having a breakdown of hysteria (if you knew how I normally handle stress, you would understand why), wanting to bawl profusely, and wondering why I couldn’t cry at all, I watched Ben singing.  Singing to me.

He got down on one knee and the shock was like thunder.  I lost most sense of reality.  The reality I did have was how unworthy I felt for this to be happening to me.

I don’t remember Ben reaching for my hand.  He was talking to me, wooing my heart, and I was sitting there like a bird that had just smacked into a window.  I remember knowing that he’d asked me–and realizing it was up to my reply.Ben Teej Hands Ring

I guess I had this idea that, somehow, I would think of something magnificently romantic or marvelously witty to say when the time of my real proposal (not one I’d daydreamed) came.  In reality, uh, the only word I could think of was yes.

But it was the right word, and it worked, and I guess he had taken my hand, because then there was a ring on my finger.  I honestly can’t say I know for sure when that happened, but there was the ring, and there was the proposal, and there was me, dazzled, overwhelmed, and overjoyed.

If Ben had been having dreams of me being brilliant and wonderful that night, I am sure I did not live up to what he had in mind.  But I got the feeling that he didn’t have any expectation other than for me to say yes.  And, he’s known me long enough to know how pathetic I can be under stress.

I am also a person normally filled with doubt.  But in that very special moment, God gave me a beautiful gift.  It was the gift of knowing.  Of not doubting.

And I was engaged.

Only watching, and with my yes, I was engaged.

I said yes.

I said yes.

The work, the time, the arrangement, the expense, the gifts, the timing, and the asking.  It was on Ben’s shoulders.  I didn’t have to carry any of it.

That doesn’t mean from time to time in our relationship (or a lot of lots of times) I didn’t try to carry some of the burden of it, but it never worked, and I knew God wanted me to wait on Ben.

Only the yes was up to me.

All the work, the time, the arrangement, the expense, the gifts, the timing and the asking: Ben (through the work of God).

And yet, the yes: left up to me.

Engagement Ring 1

.                         .                         .                         .                         .

The engagement I experienced is, in an infinitely tinier realm, like what Christ does for us on the cross.

We could not carry the appointment of when Christ would die.

We could not arrange for it.

We could not cover even the slightest portion of the expense He would have to pay with His life.

We could not give Him any gift to win His heart into such an endeavor (in fact, we were His enemies).

We could not push Him on the timing of giving His life.

And we could not ask Him to do so (nor did we even know what was required).

The cross–and all the work it took to get to the point of laying down His life–was totally laid on His shoulders.  We didn’t have to carry any of it at all.  In fact, we couldn’t.

Every drop of blood from His brow, every print His foot left on the street, every cry of anguish from His lips, every fulfillment of the Law He kept, He did for us.

Do you realize that as Christ fell with the cross, it was as though He was down on one knee, asking you and I to be in His Kingdom?  Do you know what He did to win the heart of His children?  Have you seen the work on the cross clearly before?

Nothing in Christianity makes sense if you do not first understand the proposal.  Jesus Christ laid down His life for us.

What would cause Him to do this?  Love.  Sheer love.

All we are left with, the only thing we must do to be saved, is our yes to Him.  We do not have to be perfect in our moment of asking.  We do not have to be free of all doubt.  We do not have to be free of the addictions that torment us, or of the past guilt that haunts us, or of the affliction of an ever-growing sin nature.  Christ, yes Christ, takes care of that.

All He waits on is your yes.

From Ben’s Pen:

. . as always, I am deeply honored when you compare any part of me or our relationship to Christ . . it was very interesting to see this from your point of view.

The env

The envelope for the card Ben gave me.

I planned the details, practiced the song, rehearsed the speech, but I didn’t really have an expectation of your reaction.  I’d imagined it many times, of course.  Would there be exuberant joy, or stunned silence?  Tears?  Friendly, in-love, laughter?  Once I even briefly feared there would be a look that said, “It’s about time.”  But expectations?  I expected a “Yes,” most likely either whispered or shouted, and a big hug.  Beyond that, I had no clue how you’d react, and I didn’t really want to have a clue.

As soon as I parked, I realized it was a bad spot.  When we got up there, I looked out and saw the car.  But I thought maybe you’d be looking around the room instead of out the window, and anyway there was nothing I could do about it.  Plus, although it would be sad to ruin the surprise, it wouldn’t ruin everything.

You can see Ben's blue car from the window.  :)

You can see Ben’s blue car from the window. 🙂

All day, it seemed odd to me how nervous I wasn’t.  I kept thinking, “I’m getting engaged today.  Shouldn’t I be all shy and fidgety?”  But I’m glad I wasn’t.  Then it was very hard not to react when Rachel (a church friend who went to street ministry with us) asked if we were going to get engaged.

Engagement Ben Teej 2Driving, walking into the place, taking you upstairs, still not a hint of nerves.  Going back to the car, handing Sniffy over, getting out my guitar, still not a hint of nerves.  Strumming the first few chords as I walked across the room, still not a hint of nerves.  It hit me when I started singing.  I’ve sang for you before, with and without music, and I knew you wouldn’t dump me for my poor singing.  I even wrote a line about it in the song.  But that’s when I was nervous.  But it was “I’m going to mess up the song, I’m going to forget the speech, I’m going to screw up and kill the mood.”  There wasn’t any “She’s going to reject me,” or even “we’re making a mistake.”  I had no doubt that this was the right path, or that you would say yes.  I only doubted my ability to follow the plan and not ruin the moment.

I did not forget the third verse of the song, which had given me so much trouble.  I got a little choked up when I saw you crying during the speech, but I did not stumble over the dialect, or forget the sections I usually forgot when practicing.  And then there was the “Yes.”  Not so much whispered or shouted, but said with love, conviction, and no hint of doubt.

Teej and Ben holding hands

We took this picture on our first solo date.

“I guess he had taken my hand, because then there was a ring on my finger.”  One part I’d been looking forward to was putting the ring on your finger.  After you said “Yes,” there was a ring on your finger.  I assumed you’d taken it and put it on, but I hadn’t noticed you doing it.  But I wasn’t disappointed.  When you took it off to look at the inscription, I made sure to take it back and put it on you that time. 🙂

Engagement Teej 4

Shortly afterwards, I tried to think of metaphors.  Jesus compares salvation to a marriage, but I was trying to think what part of that is like a proposal?  I couldn’t find anything.  But now I see why.  I was looking at the proposal from the groom’s point of view, but now I see salvation from the bride’s.

While your “yes” to me bears some small resemblance to our “yes” to Christ, my path to asking you bears very little resemblance to His.  I had to put forth some effort, but I didn’t suffer.  I had to get creative, but He knew His path all along.  I wondered how you would react, but He already knew.  I knew you’d say “yes,” but He knew most wouldn’t.

If I knew you’d say “no,” I wouldn’t have bothered to ask at all.  If I thought there was a very good chance you’d say “no,” I wouldn’t have been motivated to do nearly as much.  But I knew you’d say “yes,” and I wanted to make it special.

He knew most would say “no,” but still He went.  He knew even those who said “yes,” would turn their back on Him at times, but still He went.  He knew we didn’t deserve it at all, but still He went.

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” – Romans 5:8, NIV


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One CommentLeave a comment

  1. Oh Teej…..that is absolutely beautiful! I am so happy for you ~ Don’s little girl!!!!!!! God bless you both with many many happy years together!

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