After all the invisible confetti settled on the post-engagement ground in Brooklyn, I heard bits and pieces of the story that led up to the ultimate Easter proposal. Somewhere along the way, I heard about the conversation between Patrick and my Dad at the littlest steakhouse in Anita, Iowa. My Dad has never mentioned it, but Patrick shared a few things and I've stored them up in my heart. Before my dad could settle into midwestern pleasantries and pretend this meeting was about anything else, Patrick said, "Dick, I'd like to marry your daughter."
I suppose that set the tone for the conversation, but maybe more so when my dad said, "Patrick, I would be honored."
I wasn't there, but both men are great conversationalists so I kind of wish I could have been. In between the appetizer platter that I'm sure my dad ordered and the steak that is the best in the tri-county area, I guess they talked about life and marriage and love. I don't know exactly how it came out, but at some point my dad shared this encouragement with him (and he paraphrased it for me):
Patrick, not many men want to pursue a strong woman these days. They are afraid or intimidated or something, I don't know. Cindy is a strong woman and I am blessed every day that I chose her to love. And Caroline is like her mom - strong.
It has taken months to let this conversation sink in - that Patrick flew to Iowa to ask my dad if he could marry me, that my two favorite men shared a meal, that my dad said I am a strong woman, and that Patrick loved me enough to pursue me.
I think my dad might be right - men are afraid to pursue strong women. I don't always feel strong, but I know the Lord provides it in abundance. I am confident in a strength apart from me and maybe that looks intimidating - that I can say yes to crazy things or hard things or dangerous things because I know God has already gone before me and will sustain me with His faithfulness. I was humbled to hear my dad say he sees strength in me; humbled because it is the grace of God and it has much to do with growing up in his home.
More than that, or at least equal, came the realization that Patrick is one of the brave ones. He, too believes God is faithful and strong and sovereign. He is not afraid to pursue a strong woman and that makes me love him ever so much more.
Tonight, we are going to take my parents out to dinner to celebrate 35 years of their marriage and to celebrate the beginning of ours. We are strong women, I guess (by the grace of God), and the Lord has blessed us with brave men.
We will always be learning about God's design - the way marriage reflects something beautiful about who He is and how He loves us. Today that lesson seems to be about God's grace to give strength and bravery in order that two can serve one another and give God glory for His provision.