Thursday, March 20, 2014

The [Extra]Ordinary Engagement Story of Agnes and Greg





Our engagement was a little bit unusual. Not in the sense that we had some extraordinary or super romantic experience – quite the opposite - our engagement experience was very ordinary. Too ordinary. So ordinary that it made me upset. Or perhaps a better word to describe the way it made me feel initially is "disappointed." Why? Because my expectation had always been for our engagement to be super unique and extraordinary. I felt like I deserved that. Like I earned it. I felt like our love was so unique and so strong that we deserved a fancy or at least romantic engagement. We had been dating for close to five years at that time and we were very much in love with each other from the start…..and I just felt like I deserved a special engagement. Like Greg owed it to me. Like God owed it to me. In addition, I wanted to have a good story to tell. I wanted to brag about it to people. I wanted to show them that my engagement and my love is better than theirs. It was all about ME. ME, ME, ME. I was in the center of it all and Greg failed to cater to my expectations...to cater to the way I WANTED THINGS to be. 

Of course, soon after the engagement and now that I look at it from hindsight, I would not want that day to go any other way. It finally got through my thick head that this is what God had wanted for us and this is how it was meant to be and it was beautiful in its own way. It might not have been an outwardly unique or romantic experience (like I wanted it to be). No. God made it to be soooo much more than an outward experience. It was simple and ordinary, but so very spiritually enriching. More importantly, it taught me a lot about myself as well as about God and His Will and His Wisdom.


But let me explain how it all began…


A week or two before getting engaged, in the middle of May, right after I finished school (the end of the last semester of my undergraduate pre-pharmacy program), Greg and I took a road trip to the Smoky Mountains in Tennessee and North Carolina. As you may already know, Greg and I LOVE LOVE LOVE mountains…and hiking…and nature. This was a very exciting trip for me because the whole time we were there, I suspected that Greg had his ring with him and that he would propose on top of a wonderful Smoky Mountain, where it was just the two of us, the beautiful God-created nature, and God Himself. Since I am an introvert and tend to stay away from people and noise, I never wanted a big or loud engagement, or even an engagement that involved any people except the two of us….and the Third One who makes it all possible. And this particular roadtrip, filled with lots of walking, holding hands, and hiking to beautiful places with each other and no one else, brought many such opportunities to be alone, in silence, and in His presence. I knew that Greg went out and purchased the ring the previous month (April) because he had been asking me about the types of rings I liked and even dragged me to a few jewelry shops while at the mall so he could get a clue of my taste. Thus, I knew he had the ring, I was just waiting for that special moment…for the special moment when he finally gathers his courage and picks the right place and the right time to ask me to be his lifetime partner. In my head, the Smoky Mountains were the perfect time and place. 








The Great Smoky Mountains National Park
I forget what this particular point of interest was called and I'm not sure whether this was on the Tennessee or the North Carolina side of the National Park

We ended up having lots of fun together and seeing some beautiful places, however, the vacation time came to an end, and still…. no ring. I was a little saddened that he had missed the opportunity to have a beautiful and unique engagement with some awesome pictures that we could show off to the world. I was a little bit disappointed but had hoped that he would find even a better time…that perhaps… he had even a better idea. Now when I look back at what I actually wanted out of this engagement experience, as I mentioned above, all I see is that I was being very selfish. I just wanted to get engaged and be able to show off to the world how unique and different and special my engagement was and how it was better than everybody else's. But naturally, my dear Father in heaven would not allow me to ruin this beautiful time of my life by selfishness and boasting and pride.

But since I was disappointed inside, I expressed my disappointment to Greg in a very gentle way…just simply mentioned the idea that I had hoped that we would get engaged in Tennessee, high up in the mountains. He mentioned something about not having thought of that and was, himself, a little bit disappointed that he hadn't thought of it and also, that he disappointed me. He was also sad that he missed this opportunity; especially because I told him it was my dream to get engaged on top of a mountain. 

I quickly got over it, because, as I mentioned, I still had hope that we would have an awesome engagement and that Greg was probably already planning something…especially now that I gave him a wakeup call. So now came the real mystery in my life: I really didn't know when he was going to pop the question. He's not a very romantic guy and certainly is not great at surprises…so it was a real mystery to me what was going to happen and when it was going to happen.

So the Sunday after we came back from Tennessee was just an ordinary Sunday. Greg had called me in the morning, after he woke up, asked whether I was ready for church, and stated that he would be there to pick me up shortly. It was our tradition to go to church together every single Sunday even though we weren’t married yet and still living with our parents. Greg lived in the same town, only lived five minutes away, so I knew that he would be here shortly after he called. I knew that my parents were still napping in their bedroom, which was right next to mine, so I tried to finish getting ready in silence and not make too much noise. I heard the front door open and I heard Greg slowly making his way up to my bedroom. I was sitting in my computer chair in front of my desk, probably putting on my socks or something. I lifted up my head to greet my lovely boyfriend of almost 5 years and noticed a huge bouquet of red roses. Before I even had time to process everything that was going on, he was already on his knees in front of me and had already popped the question. Again… it all happened so quickly that I didn't even have time to think about the circumstances or anything else, I just said yes, smiled from ear to ear like an idiot, and we embraced each other for a nice, long, warm hug. 



 


I acted surprised initially, I remember, but I think my mind, almost right away, started rebelling a little bit against the fact that this really was not the engagement I had imagined. It didn't take me long to realize that this engagement was nothing special… that Greg was not at all prepared…that he did not even try or care to make this a special day in our lives. “Why would he do it right before Sunday mass when he knew that we have to hurry off to church and could not celebrate?” I thought.  And when I asked him what he wanted to do after church to celebrate, he didn't know (“Are you serious?Again, I thought: “UNPREPARED”), so we mutually agreed that we would just go out for dinner and perhaps go take some pictures somewhere. However, I was still further disappointed because I realized that we had planned for a while now, to go to my brother’s house on that Sunday with my whole family ( I forget what the occasion was for my brother inviting us over).

And the battle of the mind continued:

 “How could you not have thought of that?”
 “You knew.”
“You knew this Sunday was already filled with plans of going to church and to my brother’s house
.”
“Did you think that our engagement was just going to be a five-minute deal and we could just forget about it without even celebrating?


All of these thoughts I was battling with made me really sad and further added to the fire of my anger and disappointment

I don’t even know how I felt at mass. I was trying to focus on the liturgy and not let negative thoughts into my head. I was kind of numb to everything. But all I know is that every time we looked at each other during mass, we could not help but smile... these cute and innocent but long and sincere smiles. Every time we looked at each other we thought: “Hey! we're engaged now…we just promised to stand together in front of the altar sometime in the next year or two and hand over to each other our bodies, souls, and lives.”  And every time I looked up at the altar, I imagined us standing there, in front of Christ, promising to lay down each other's lives for the other person. Then this thought came into my head - that this was perhaps thee most beautiful way to celebrate our engagement. Since we had just made a decision to enter into a lifelong offering of each other, which resembles Christ offering himself to his Bride, the Church, on the altar - this was perhaps the best way to celebrate the beginning of that decision. Celebrating Christ’s offering of His body on the altar at mass went hand in hand with us celebrating the decision to enter a marital union, in which we would continually offer our bodies to each other…in which, like Christ, we would be making sacrifices for our spouse. 

These delightful thoughts did not last forever though. You would think that God would make me a revelation of His Wisdom and it would be enough….and that I would get it. Nope. As soon as I left the church and the enemy gained back ground in my mind, he once again, started and continued feeding me false thoughts and lies. 

Not long after we came back from mass and went into my bedroom, it started pouring rain. And I mean pouring heavy rain that was pounding against my bedroom window and against the roof of the house. And at that point, I thought I was going to burst into tears. How many times are you going to disappoint me today oh Lord? I thought maybe in between the time we went to mass and my brother’s house, we can at least go out to a park or drive downtown and take some pictures to have some memories of the special event, but now this? 

The whole time during which the devil was feeding me lies and negative thoughts, God was trying to break through the dark cloud of negativity that was hanging over me and give me at least some rays of the truth.  I was trying hard to fight…and to win this battle. I knew that the way I was feeling and acting was wrong and selfish. Finally, God got through me and I started seeing the beauty and truth of the whole situation. I finally started seeing a bit more objectively…not being clouded by negative thoughts and by my own egoism.

I finally started thinking good/smart thoughts such as:


·      “ The way Greg proposed (the place and time, rather) was not in my control but rather in God's control and God is GOOD and takes care of everything the way it is best for us…. so why should I be upset?”
·      “This must be the way that God meant this to be. This must be His Will, His Plan…He is probably trying to teach me something through this experience…something beautiful, something important, something that’s better, deeper and more worthwhile than simply having an externally nice and unique engagement experience.”
·       “The beautiful sacrifice of the mass and the offering of Jesus’ body and blood on the altar we had just experienced was not a coincidence. God wanted our engagement to be this way, to be celebrated through Christ Jesus. This mass, this beautiful sacrifice, that we celebrated immediately following our decision to marry was what made our engagement truly UNIQUE and SPECIAL. I mean: who goes/went to mass right after their engagement? You can probably count those couples on your fingers. “

I asked myself:
Agnes…It doesn't matter that your engagement was not in some super fancy restaurant or on top of a mountain in Tennessee or at least in a beautiful park - all that matters is that God was with you and that he provided that special moment… that He brought this man into your life and placed him on his knees in front of you to ask you for your hand. What more do you want?



We ended up driving to a nearby town to go out to eat together and then went straight to my brother’s house…where we stayed the rest of the night. 

[Greg sneaked a photo of me while waiting for our food at the restaurant...contemplating what just happened and what it means for us]


 
 We decided that we will go to downtown Chicago to take pictures when the weather is better. The next day was Memorial Day Monday. I, unfortunately, had to work but we had it planned that, weather permits, we will drive downtown right after I come home from work. And so we did. We took a nice walk around the various places and streets of the city…mostly just holding hands and taking pictures and being happy to finally be engaged!




 


The following day...my mama and soon-to-be mama-in-law kept the celebration going by buying us some fancy "engagement" wine glasses and cracking open some champagne (I know, champagne in wine glasses, haha)




Thank the Holy Spirit for shining some wisdom upon me that day and then for the many days after the engagement (since the devil still kept attacking my mind and telling me that my engagement wasn't good enough and that my future husband wasn't good enough.) Without this Holy Wisdom, I would not have been able to achieve victory in this battle of the spirit and of the mind....would not have been able to accept God's Will....would not have been able to have piece and happiness about the situation...would not have been able to see the TRUE BEAUTY and UNIQUENESS of our engagement.



It wasn’t until we booked our photographer for our actual wedding that we had a professional engagement session. Our professional engagement session was also in the city. We are really, really happy with the way the photos turned out. I really wanted to have those to cherish and to show to our kids, but also wanted to use them for our invitations, labels, stickers for favors, and various other wedding-related things.

I will let those speak for themselves. Enjoy!



Our aqua colored engagement session downtown Chicago















This is the engagement picture we used for our wedding invitations



























The End

The Wedding stories are coming up next. Those will take a while because I will probably have 4-5 different parts/posts. But the first part should be getting published soon!

3 comments:

  1. Here's mine: http://peacefulwaters.org/proposal.htm

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    Replies
    1. Nice Jen! Sounds like yours was as modest as mine!!! :-)

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  2. The Lord has blessed this world with your beauty.

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