On Friday morning, my life changed forever. My best friend got down on one knee and asked me to marry him, and I, with pounding heart and shaking hands and a smile so big that I could hardly see straight, said “YES!“
Now before I go any further, let me pause, take a deep breath, and start at the very beginning. After all, I really haven’t mentioned Casey at all on this blog over the past six months (except in a few oblique references that only I knew about)! We didn’t even announce on Facebook that we were dating until last month. But now that we’re engaged, I feel more than free to tell you, my readers, the entire story.
This story begins all the way back in November 2013, when my family and I joined our nearly-200-years-old Presbyterian church with a thriving, down-to-earth congregation. My brother TJ, my sister Emily, and I soon entered the “College & Career” Sunday school class, led by a couple who are now like adoptive grandparents to all of us. Two of our fellow students were a couple of best friends by the names of Forrest and Casey.
For several years, these guys were simply fellow students and church members who we saw every Sunday. Or, at least, we saw Forrest every Sunday. Casey ended up going to college in north Louisiana, then to seminary in Jackson, Mississippi–though I did see him at VBS every summer. (Our paths usually crossed whenever I herded my energetic class of 3-year-olds past him and the sound system.) By early 2017, however, Forrest and Emily were starting to gaze an extra moment longer into each other’s eyes during Sunday school–and by summer of 2018, they were engaged!
I, meanwhile, was wrestling hard at that point with the possibility of a long (possibly lifelong) singlehood. I’ve written about this a lot in the past, so for now I’ll just say that I’d suffered a severe disappointment on the romantic front by that point. Thankfully, I was on the verge of a complete transformation in my thinking about singleness; I just didn’t know it then.
I did know that I would serve as my sister’s maid-of-honor. I also knew that Casey would be Forrest’s best man. I distinctly remember chatting with him before the wedding rehearsal about his life in seminary. But I confess: after my all-too-recent sorrows, I was very wary of intellectual young men, especially within my particular theological tradition. Most of the guys I’d known who shared my convictions were insufferably arrogant, chauvinistic, and far more concerned with the finer points of doctrine than with cultivating Christ-like behavior. I didn’t know Casey well enough to say whether or not I could lump him in with these guys, but I was cautious, skittish, and probably a little standoffish.
Unbeknownst to me, he really, really liked me. But he’s told me since that he went back to seminary that autumn thinking I’d be married long before he graduated and returned home.
Fast forward a bit. In 2019 Casey and I both endured some emotional and spiritual upheaval, both good and bad; in 2020, I think we saw each other only a couple of times (things get blurry in the pandemic era); in February 2021, I had my major accident-injury; in May 2021, he graduated from seminary and started work at another church 15 minutes from my house.
In June, however, the church where we met all those years ago hosted an ice cream social, its first big social event after the pandemic. Over the course of that very fun afternoon, Casey and I started talking…and kept talking for at least an hour. We caught up on everything we’d been up to (seminary and church work for him, lots of reading and physical therapy for me) and chatted about books, theologians, and stories. I was so impressed by his humility and friendliness. We didn’t stop talking until my dad told me it was time for us to go, and as I walked back to our van, I thought, “Wow. That was amazing. I wonder…?”
I wondered for several months, haha. But we had been closely observed by several friends, including one who flat-out told Casey, “You really need to ask her out.” Although Casey was engrossed in his new job over the next few months, he didn’t forget that advice.
I was working at my neighbors’ house one dreary November morning when he called me. I’m so glad I picked up, even though I didn’t recognize the number. He asked me if I would like to meet him for coffee that week; I stuttered a bit, trying to remember what my schedule looked like, finally remembered that Friday was free, and said “Yes, please!”
And thus began 6 months of coffee dates every Friday morning…which developed into me visiting his church every other week or so…and an evening at the zoo right before Christmas where we agreed we were purposefully dating…which developed into long walks through Civil War battlefields…and family gatherings…and holding hands…and goodnight texts…the first “I love you” and the first “I love you, too”…watching in complete, slack-jawed amazement as God provided both a pastoral position and the loveliest little house in Mississippi…and finally, on Friday, a ring of my finger and an official engagement.
I live in a constant state of gratitude, deep happiness, and disbelief these days. By the Lord’s grace and kindness, I’d reached a point where I still desired lifelong love and companionship with a good and godly man, but it didn’t plague me anymore. I always thought it would be nice (and so much less stressful!) if someone popped into my life out of the blue, right when I wasn’t looking for him. I just had no idea that the one I’d always longed for had been right there for 8 whole years. Casey is everything I ever hoped for, and more. Not only is he deeply committed to Christ, but he’s also kind and gentle, as much of a geek/nerd as I am (you should hear our conversations about The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars!), funny, respectful of my own thoughts and opinions, and grounded in truth and goodness. I love him so much, and I can’t wait to do life with him.
If this had happened earlier between us, it may not have worked out–but God’s timing really is perfect. People always say that to you when you’re single, and it is never easy to believe when you’re struggling with a deep, desolate loneliness. But now I can say, from experience, that they were right. They were so right.
So that’s our story, and that’s my announcement! I’m getting married!