Sunday, 18 January 2015

WE'RE ENGAGED | A Haribo Ring Proposal

Finding true love requires us to take leaps of faith and be vulnerable. "No serious courtship or engagement or marriage is worth the name if we do not fully invest all that we have in it and in so doing trust ourselves totally to the one we love. You cannot succeed in love if you keep one foot out on the bank for safety’s sake." Jeffrey R Holland, How do I love thee?

This is a follow on post from My Mission Call Arrived & I'm Not Going, that 'other option' I spoke about, that fills my heart and soul with insane joy is this. Being with my best friend forever. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints the value of families has been instilled in me my whole life. Marriage and families are quite a normal topic of conversation and something that we have been surrounded by for a very long time. 

Our relationship is the best, happiest and most perfect I have ever experienced. Sometimes I wonder if 'normal' couples are as happy as we are, I hope so. This May marks two years since our first official date. A seemingly long dating period for many mormon couples. But it has been perfect for us. Everyone and every relationship is different. 

Marriage was something we always thought we'd address after I came back from my mission, but recent events caused a massive change in that. This past month has been horrendous and one of the most difficult times of my life thus far. Finishing university caused me to lose confidence in my decision making skills and I was overcome by what seemed a massive weight of sorting out everything right now. Which is frankly ridiculous. No one truly tells you or prepares you for what it's like to finish university at the age of 21 after going straight though the education system. 

A mission had been my plan since before we starting dating. Finish university, go volunteer for the church for eighteen months. Yet I no longer felt joy or excitement at that prospect. I was incredibly torn. Crying excessively. Praying, fasting, seeking counsel an extensive amount and trying to figure out the happiest and best choice for my life right now. The rest we can sort out when it comes to it. There is no need for this idealised notion that life has to be completely sorted and planned out. To get married you don't need a house of your own, a mortgage, both have grad jobs or tons of money. While those are ideal, lovely, desired and incredibly helpful things, they shouldn't stop us from being with who we love. 

The very idea of leaving Bernard for a year and a half, not being able to visit, talk on the phone or even Skype ripped my heart out. It was physically painful. But I still wanted to be a missionary. I wanted to serve the Lord, to have a grand adventure, to get married at a more 'logical' time. But it was silly. I was utterly miserable. How could I be the best missionary I have the capacity to be if I'm crying my heart out constantly?! If I have this insane pain and longing?! 

I kept trying to make this choice, this decision on my own. We are told to be selfish after all in choosing who we marry and being in my early twenties the world tells me to be selfish, to travel, to party, to not be romantically committed. In the end there were simply too many opinions. I needed to make the choice by myself and for myself, but that didn't mean we couldn't pray about it together. We are a team. No matter what was to happen it would affect both of us. We watched General Conference (a worldwide address from the Lord's modern day Prophet and Apostles) and prayed together. Praying together was honestly the best choice we could've made. Talking about 'The Situation' kept going in circles, causing upset and became almost trivial. 

We both felt I should go on a mission. Which meant in 19 days. 

The days that followed were some of the worse. I was miserable. Conflicted. Angry. Confused. Surely this isn't how someone should feel. I almost postponed my mission in order to feel 'emotionally ready'. The whole thing was getting beyond ridiculous. I decided to fast one more time. In my prayers, I became blunt and demanding. After all "Spiritual questions deserve spiritual answers from God." Neil L Anderson. I needed the Lord so much. In my 'forwardness', my honest, deep expectations. I found my answer. The decision was always mine to make. I only had to figure out what I truly wanted and needed. Right now, a mission wasn't it. I wanted, needed my sweetheart. 

Once I made this choice I immediately prayed and opened by scriptures. It is a technique I have see many times where people will open up the book and happen across a verse of sentence that speaks strongly to them and their situation. A technique I never usually do. However on this instance, I had put in so much effort, heartache and passion into this choice, that I felt I might find a confirmation of the Lord's will in this manner. I actually laughed in amazement at how much what I read meant to me and brought tears to my eyes. Mosiah 29:40 "And they did wax strong in love.."

I typed up my 'acceptance letter' (in this case a pleasant decline) to send back to the church headquarters. A great peace and joy overcame me. Before I had been so scared to allow myself to truly exercise the very notion of my decision. Once I did. Oh my goodness. I have never felt such joy, such a filling of love and sense of right. Only by following such a horrendous month/experience do I believe it has caused me to know, understand and appreciate this fully.

"Yea, I say unto you..that there could be nothing so exquisite and so bitter as were my pains..that on the other hand, there can be nothing so exquisite and sweet as was my joy." Alma 36:21 (paraphrased slightly)

That night I made by decision. I finally took confidence in my own choices once more. The following day I was actually seeing Bernard in Manchester and so planned to take a copy of the 'acceptance letter' with me as a mark of my commitment and a way to express what I had done. Enough of this flitting between two choices. I also toyed with the idea of buying him a Harbio ring as a funny "I'm basically proposing to you!" thing, however I of course would still expect a proper proposal in return ;). Little did I know, he too came to a decision that night. 

We meet and he suggested we go outside, he'd bought a new coat that was far warmer than expected (at least this is what he said, it may of simply been a rouse to get me outside..). As we went outside he mentioned that the Christmas Markets would be back soon. I blooming love Christmas Markets and so responded pretty enthusiastically. (Silently telling myself off in my head. He didn't yet know I wanted to stay, so talking about something I was going to miss might not really help.) We sat down and he asked why I had fasted the day before to which I didn't really reply. He went on to ask if I knew where we were. A really weird question. One of those 'this is so simple, is it a trick..'. "In Manchester.... by Selfridges..." He went on to remind me that at six months since we'd started dating we decided to celebrate and thus went to the Christmas Markets. We had actively chosen not to put our relationship on facebook for quite a while and so things relating to that were a big deal. On that day we took a really happy photo that went on to become our first ever profile picture together. (you can read that post here)

He expressed his love for me, that he didn't want me to go, that he wanted to do something about it. (Now Bernard loves pretending to propose on a regular basis. He knows it cringes me out and loves winding me up. Almost going down on one knee in places such as KFC.. mega classy. I always asked if I would know when he was doing it is for real.) HE WAS DOING IT FOR REAL! I was looking at him so intently, shocked, happy, on tenterhooks. Almost verbally asking if this was real, is this really happening?!! He opened a side pocket on his new coat (a pocket I'd been staring at a few minutes before pondering how it was an odd place to have a pocket. It was on the left hand side next to this chest. Wondering if it was for an MP3 player or phone. Luckily I hadn't reached out and touched it as I sometimes do when I'm thinking about something.) And pulled out a small box, going down on one knee. "This is a temporary one." he explains. Opening the box to reveal a Haribo ring and asks if I will marry him! Tears running down my face (as per) I couldn't help but kiss him over and over again, repeating the word 'YES'! 

I then pull out the 'acceptance' letter. I know the Lord loves us so much. That it is no coincidence that we both a billion percent knew at the same time. That our lives have come together like this. I feel joy that is more brilliant than I have ever experienced. I cannot even comprehend how I will feel on our wedding day. I love Bernard so much. I cannot wait to start our lives together.  

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Celebrating Our First Anniversary | The Lake District

*This post was written on Friday 31st October 2014

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