I knew I loved John from the moment I met him, that’s a wild thing to say. It wasn’t really a “love at first sight” sort of thing either, because I knew there was so much to get to know but I knew that the moment I laid eyes on him I thought to myself “oh shoot. This is it” this is the moment I have cried over, prayed for and dreamt of for years and years.
I was nervous but there was also this surreal peace that washed over me at the same time, by the end of our first date I felt as though I had known him for years. I was fascinated with how his mind worked, how he saw and articulated who God was and how brilliantly and meticulously he did everything from drink his coffee to stare intently when I talked.
A year of dating felt like nothing and I finally understood in that moment what it meant to love someone, to love someone means forever just isn’t enough time with them. Forever just won’t cut it, so instead, can I have eternity? I’ll take eternity for 500 please thanks!
This past weekend was nothing short of the most beautiful whirlwind of a miracle I have ever experienced. John and I went to Northern California to be with my family for Thanksgiving, (something he had asked to do months before) but I had no idea what was in store. Thanksgiving was full of food, lots of family and sweet moments that I loved watching unfold as my two worlds and two hearts collided around family games and desserts. Friday my sister suggested that we should get our nails done and then we hung out watching Disney Plus while my dad and John were sneakily scouting out and planning the next day. John had mentioned going on a date day while we were in San Francisco because he loves seeing and exploring the world I grew up and used to live in. The last time we were home in Northern California, I planned our date day and surprised him with a trip to see an exhibit of Redwoods in San Francisco. This time, the surprise was for me as he told me about brunch, a coffee shop stop and then a surprise location to end it all.
For some reason the night before I got a little inkling, I remember laying in bed thinking…am I going to get engaged tomorrow?! And just in case wrote this little note for myself to remember:
November 29th 1:30am
I think I might get engaged tomorrow.
Is this something you feel?
Like the whole world around you shifting and focuses in on one person
Will I cry? Will I sob and stutter through the yes?
I can’t wait to say yes!
John picked me up with Trader Joe sunflowers in hand per usual and we headed off to brunch (which is my favorite) and he made me take the flowers inside with us and he handed me what would be the first of seven notes. As the notes progressed, each one described what would and has continued to shape, our home, this love that we have been blessed to receive and live out. After brunch we found ourselves in a coffee shop of course where two more notes arrived next to my latte as we sat and talked and enjoyed each others company while the rain poured down San Francisco hills. Before we left, I went to the restroom, pulled out my phone and wrote:
November 30, 2019 2:27pm
On the day you get engaged,
butterflies will swarm in your stomach the night before
You will toss and turn
And giggle in your sleep
The butterflies will not leave
They will Carry themselves
all day long
They will be your minds constant reminder
Despite the internal battle
that this is not a fairytale
The last location was the surprise secret, a beautiful place called the Conservatory of Flowers. We walked in immediately in awe, mesmerized by the beautiful space where more notes popped out of his pocket and into my hands. We made it to the end of the observatory and in the corner of the greenhouse there was a bench with a familiar blanket on it, John removed the bag with the final note and ring from the bench and sat me down.
Shaking and nervous he got down on one knee and began to read to me the final and seventh note as I breathed deep and began the ugly cry. See I may have known what was coming but I could not have known how beautifully swept up I would be because of it. He pulled out the ring asked, “Arie, will you marry me?” and as the tears continued to fall and this moment that I had been waiting for unfolded before me in real time I weeped out, “Yes. yes!” and as the ring slipped on my finger I sobbed. I sobbed for every night I cried lonely and feeling undesirable, I cried for every moment I thought my love story would never come into fruition, I cried for every heartbreak I’ve ever experienced before that moment, I cried to release, to make room for what God had in store. They were good tears, beautiful and necessary tears and honestly they just kept coming.
Simultaneously, my best friend (who also took our initial engagement photos (@karenmarieco on IG) and her husband had popped out of the bushes with her camera both documenting the whole moment (which also made me emotional because I was able to to be there for their engagement as well ** cue more tears **). We started chatting about all the moments John and them had conspired and planned, all the moments I wasn’t completely oblivious to but had missed all the connotation and intention behind them. WOW, isn’t that a beautiful reminder of how we don’t even know how God is working on our behalf when we cant even see or notice it? How much beauty he is working and creating around you just for the perfect moment of “look what I have for you. Look what I’ve prepared and planned for you?” Dang *insert those tears again*.
We walked around the conservatory snapping photos and moments post him putting a ring on it and then later went into what I thought was just a friendsgiving party that ended up being an engagement party full of friends and family who love us. THAT is the part that gets me, the surrounding of people who love you covering in that first moment of stepping forward into a union, a union SURROUNDED by love, guidance and covering. John knew how important family is to me and to him too, he knew my heart to be surrounded by people who love not just me but us.
“Us” can be such a foreign word, especially for an individual type four of a human. But even more so throughout learning my love for John one of the biggest moments for me was when I learned to shift my language to less I and more we. We are a team, a partnership and a good one, we problem solve, we listen, we love, we empathize, we challenge and we grow each other.
Though beautiful and super fun to think about, I have no doubt that this season will also bring about some challenges, some difficulties and hard moments that prayerfully will continue the work of problem solving, listening, loving, empathizing, challenging and growing one another. No one talks about the whirlwind of emotions that happens post engagement, when you feel like you might actually be bipolar or depressed for a few days before it all settles into a peace and a confidence that allows you to step forward into a future together that is imperfect and yet glorious all at once.
No, this is no fairytale, this is a depiction of grace and transformation all wrapped up in love and I would dare to say that is all the fairytale we need.
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