now, just to be clear... i was not holding my breath, waiting for the proposal. a while back, tim + i had our worst fight ever. i won't go into all the nitty gritty of it, but the outcome was that i realized that i had been (unconsciously) trying to control the relationship... move it in the "right" direction at the "right"time. and that in doing so, i was not letting tim take his place in the relationship as the leader and chief pursuer. it was a painful lesson, but i was able to let go and just live in the moment. i didn't need to know where we were headed and when. i could just trust God to lead us. and i knew that i could trust tim to hear and heed His leading. i was completely at peace about the whole deal.
so when tim didn't propose that night, i kind of figured that he was waiting until he finished school. and that seemed wise + okay to me.
i knew that he had all kinds of fun things planned for the next day. it felt pretty cool to me that he had taken all kinds of thought and preparation to surprise and spoil me for our anniversary. we went to breakfast at the place that has sort of become "our" place... the egg and i. has a leisurely breakfast. we talked + talked about all sorts of things. it was so good to have some time set aside from the bustle of life to just be together + communicate about the important, deep things + the trivial, silly fun things.after that, he took me to a paper store + a my favorite bookstore. we browsed around. the perfect kind of day so far.
now, in order to understand the awesomeness of the next part of the day you need to know this: i am a bookstore connoisseur. i pride myself on knowing all the cool spots to find old books at good prices. so when tim pulled up to our fourth destination, i was befuddled. he found a lovely little hole-in-the-wall shop called whitney books + prints. there were piles of gorgeous old books, stacks of antique art prints, old maps (sigh!), and a shelf-full of photo albums overflowing with photos of old buildings in minneapolis + st. paul that don't even exist anymore. there was a mint condition two-volume first edition copy of uncle tom's cabin (available for the reasonable price of $9,000) that i drooled over (but not ON). tim gave me a dollar figure and said i could buy whatever i wanted with it. i could have stayed all day. i finally settled on a late 19th-century illustrated volume of greek history. the owner threw in a 1910 yarn catalogue + knitting guide for $1. when we left, i was euphoric. literally grinning from ear-to-ear. i was so impressed that tim had found such a jewel of a store.
after we left the store, tim was oddly quiet. i thought i had worn him out, spending so much time in a book store. so when he said there was one more place on the docket, i was a little surprised. when he pulled up to uncommon grounds, i thought, "oh good. a place to sit + relax." i can't remember who suggested exchanging gifts there, but i thought it a good idea. it was the place of our first official date + seemed appropriate.
i had been racking my brain for weeks, trying to come up with a good anniversary present for tim. in the course of some organizing, i happened to come across an old journal. inside was a list i had made several years ago. i had just come out of a series of really damaging relationships + had decided that i was through with dating for a while. i went on a silent retreat shortly afterward, + during that time, i asked God what he wanted in a husband for me. i made a list of qualities during that weekend. it was pretty specific. i hadn’t looked at the list since tim + i had started dating, but when i was reading over it i started to cry. i realized that tim was (IS) every single thing on that list. and then some.
the match was too uncanny not to share with him. so, i printed up the list + used wine + tea to dye the paper to make it look old. then i tied it up like a scroll with a ribbon. i wrote him a card that explained what the list was + how amazed i was at reading the list + realizing that God had given me exactly what i most deeply longed for without my even looking for it. that he had given me timothy.
in retrospect, i have to say that it was pretty cool to have been able to give that list to him even before he proposed to me (though it was only a few minutes before).
then it was my turn to open a present. i seriously had no thought whatsoever that he would propose that day. so, i was completely engrossed in the moment and blissfully able to soak it all in.
i opened the book and immediately started crying. i saw the date of the first entry in the journal + realized that he had been laboring over this gift for nearly two years. my tim! the same tim who, when we first started dating, had a difficult time telling me how he felt. the same tim who gets physically worn out after a long conversation. the same tim to whom words do not come easily had spent literal years finding words to tell me how much he loves me.
he asked if he could read some of the entries to me. yeah. no problem there.
as he read, i felt my heart open wider than it has ever been open, for as long as i can remember. the words he read to me were so poetic, the sentiments so honest and heart-breaking. i felt like the most beautiful, the most treasured, the most loved girl on the entire planet. i felt like the princess of the world. i had never felt that way before. i had never let love touch my heart in that way. i was smiling so widely and crying so hard i thought my face would crack.
and then, in one movement, he turned the page and got down on his knee. i was almost too overwhelmed to realize what was happening. almost.
he took my hand, looked into my eyes, and asked me to be his wife. i couldn’t speak for the tears, so i kissed him until i could recover. and then i said, “yes. yes. yes. i love you. yes.”
he slid the ring on my finger. and then he explained that the ring had belonged to his great-grandmother. it was her engagement ring. and that it had been in the family for 100 years. i feel so honored to be wearing his family’s history on my hand.
i feel so honored to be loved this well, this deeply. to be accepted for who i am. to have such a wonderful friend, on whom i can pour all the love and desire that is in my heart. to be so graced with openness and ease of communication. to feel so safe, so protected, so treasured.
and to have the heart of this man. i do not feel worthy. but i do feel so happy.