Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Whale-watching

Six years ago today, Brad and I were on a plane headed home from San Diego. We had gone there to visit friends of Brad, people I had never met (and still have only met once, but who continue to be tremendous examples of a godly marriage and amazing parents).

Brad proposed to me on that trip, during a whale-watching tour off the coast on December 30. Did I have a clue a proposal was coming? Nope. 

I should have taken a hint when he kept asking if I was having fun. "You don't look like you're having fun," he would say. "Is something wrong?"

"No, this is fun," I said, trying to muster up every ounce of enthusiasm I could find within me. I don't tend to be a very giddy or expressive person...my extremes of emotional expression usually fall somewhere between a brief chuckle and a chin quiver or watery eyes. 

But I also tend to be a self-conscious person, so when he asked why I wasn't having fun (only because he was, apparently, a bit on the edge with nerves himself) I spiraled to a level of introspection that can't be exhausted or fully explained in a single blog post. Here's the gist of my inner turmoil on that day: Why doesn't he think I'm having fun? Do I look sad? Do I look mad? Are these people thinking I'm a jerk becuse I'm not jumping up and down in excitement? Should I be more excited about this? I smiled when we saw the whales...did I not smile big enough? Do I seem fake?

And when we went down to the front of the boat to get our picture taken by Brad's friends, I silently wondered why they were taping us with a video camera (Discretion was not an option at that time; There was not a video-capable iPhone to be found in our group six years ago, folks...). When I looked back to Brad, I found that he was suddenly down on the ground, on one knee, oddly enough. And people were looking at us.

"What are you doing?" I asked him in shock. "Get up." (Clearly, I'm not a fan of the lime-light.)

"Will you watch whales with me forever?" he asked. He said nothing before or after. Just that one question.

Let's be honest. This was not one of his smoothest moments. Before that day and since that day, his words have communicated profound love and grace to me via letter, email, phone, text, and face-to-face conversation. But that day, his words--for once--hadn't come to him the way he'd planned. Later, this man who has never admitted to being nervous in his life, admitted he might have experienced some nerves at that moment. When asked about the whales, he has explained, "It was all I could think of." 

When I said yes, he tried to cram the ring on my finger. It wouldn't fit. Neat. 

In the days before Christmas Break, I had jammed my finger while playing basketball with my middle school students. Of course, it just happened to be my left-hand ring finger. It swelled up so big and colorful it looked like a spoiled lime had lodged itself under my knuckle. I didn't think it was that big of a deal...Until we made a spectacle of ourselves trying to get that dang ring on. 

In short, it wasn't an ideal proposal--the awkward wording, the nerves, the swollen finger, my initial harsh reaction--but it was awesome. 

And so far, our life together is proving to be the same: Not the way we might have planned it out, but amazing nonetheless. Thank you, Lord, for knowing what you're doing. 

Here's to an amazing 2014. Let's watch whales together forever. 


(Thanks to Brianna K for the sa-weet whale-watching mugs!)