Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How Sweet It Is {Part 2}

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything, and your heart will certainly be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact, you must give your heart to no one, not even to an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements; lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket- safe, dark, motionless, airless--it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable.”  
~ C.S. Lewis

This time twenty years ago I was walking in and out of shops on Sea Island, Georgia thinking my boyfriend had planned the best Valentines ever.  Nothing else crossed my mind except how great this day was and how sweet of him to go to all this trouble to take me to one of my favorite places {basically any coast line}-- all for Valentines.  Even as the day unfolded, finding out we would be having dinner at the Cloister {driving home afterward, of course} and realizing he had somehow managed to have all the right clothes and cosmetics for me and noticing that the people at the Cloister restaurant seemed to know Jeff and that they were all smiling when we walked up and finding eleven beautiful roses on the table at which the hostess seated us, my thoughts never changed from what an awesome boyfriend I had.  My only defense against how spoiled I might have been or my thinking this was “special normal” is that he had prayed the Lord would “make [me] stupid” so that he could surprise me.  The lovely ring with a timeless question came right before dessert.

I said yes.

The restaurant clapped and we scooted out for me to catch my breath and imagine the next six months leading up to a very special day.  I had to dig every pot hole* {what ifs} and then fill in each of them so I could walk the road to August 8th, 1992 in peace and excitement.  It wasn’t Jeff’s ideal half hour after the proposal but he let me dig and fill. Then I was free to move on, eat dessert and make all the phone calls-- from a PHONE BOOTH!  Oh my.  I feel like I am saying I sent a telegraph or letters on horseback.  Anyway, it was a cozy and quaint wooden phone booth.

And the romancing continued..... on a moonlight cruise in the marshes of the island, he pulled from somewhere on that dark little boat the very first gift he’d ever given me~ a framed photograph he had taken of one of his aunt’s pink roses.  As he opened the frame and removed the matting, he showed me the letters in pencil, “WYMM”.  Christmas of 1990 was way before the texting age but any girl new that stood for “Will you marry me?”  He knew that December, a year and two months before our Sea Island date, I was the one and he committed then to pursuing me.  Twenty years ago today, he asked me the question he’d written on the back of the picture of the pink rose which symbolized his intention of marrying me.  A pink rose came out with the ring.

And that pink rose made twelve on the table.

Taking a risk, he made me feel loved, special, chosen, and worthy of celebration.  In the grandest way possible, he let me know he preferred me above all others.  And every girls wants that.  I wanted that.  He knew that.  And, thankfully, he took a chance lavishing it on me.

“To love at all is to be vulnerable.”  In the world, there is nothing safe about vulnerability.  In a marriage covenant, it is life and breath and the ultimate safe place.  I am still learning that.  Jeff’s love has been extravagant.  His love has been tough.  His love has been filled with grace.  His love has led us.  His love has gone out on a limb.  His love has carried us.  His love has been filled with courage.  He has taught me much about love and I have still much to learn but I do know that parts of me that were “dead”, possibly “irredeemable”, have been awakened and redeemed because of how God has loved me through Jeff.

This love is for a lifetime.  My sanctification is for a lifetime.  Praise the Lord.  His grace abounds.

For How Sweet It Is {Part 1} click here.

*Thanks to Kathy Keller for confessing to this sometimes irritating habit and for calling it what it is sometimes..... sin.


Emily said...

I love that pic of you and Jeff. Just right. Glad you said yes and that I have been able to be a witness to this sweet relationship for the past couple of years.

Alyssa said...

Emily said it all!

Sarah said...

I didn't know you were engaged on Valentine's Day. He did a good job, I'd say. That whole plan sounds very Jeff ;)
You've inspired me to write down Chris and my story... can I copy?

andrea said...

love reading this story and loved hearing it WAY back when...in Eckerd Drugs. Such a wonderful story. So does Jeff blush a little knowing you are sharing with all of us gals?