My wife says our first date went well, despite the fact that I nervously interviewed her like I was Barbara Walters.
On the other hand, our second date didn’t go so well because – um, how do I say this – after the concert I took her to a nice, little restaurant called – deep breath – okay, here I go – don’t-judge-me! – McDonald’s – yes, McDonald’s (I promise, there is a somewhat reasonable explanation).
Remarkably, not only did she go out with me again, but four months later, she said yes when I asked her to marry me.
With so little time for us to get to know one another well enough to get engaged, it leads some people to ask how I knew she was The One. The truth is, I didn’t exactly.
Before I started dating my wife, I had an unspoken assumption that before I got married, God would provide some kind of heavenly confirmation that I had finally met The One – you know, red letters in the sky, a prophecy, or an angelic visitation – whatever – but definitely something more than “you’re attractive, and I feel really comfortable with you.”
Therefore, to increase the chances of hearing audibly from God about my future spouse, about five weeks after I met her, I told her I was going to take a week away from her to pray and seek God’s will as to whether we should officially date. Rather than run away screaming, she politely told me to do whatever I needed to do.
That week, I told my brother Caleb what I was doing, and he said, “Josh, I’ve listened to you describe this woman to me in detail, and it’s amazing how many of the qualities she has that you’re hoping for in a wife. Like it or not, sometimes God just wants us to be a man and make a decision. If you want her, then own that desire and choose her.”
I called off my week of prayerful discernment, begged her pardon for my indecisiveness, and asked if I could call her my girlfriend. She said yes.
A couple months later, she and I were visiting her parents, and I invited her dad to breakfast with me so we could “have a talk about mine and his daughter’s relationship.”
Before leaving their house to go out for breakfast with him, I knelt down in the guest bedroom and prayed, “Father God, I’m about to ask her dad if I can marry her. I wish I knew You approved, but I don’t, so I want You to know I’m going forward with this simply because I have chosen her. And if You want to give me a sign of Your approval at some point, that would be great. Amen.”
About thirty minutes later, her dad and I were eating breakfast when, grinning from ear to ear, I asked if I could marry his daughter. I assumed he knew it was coming. He didn’t. He really did think I just wanted to talk about my relationship with her.
For about an hour-and-a-half, he hemmed and hawed, stumbling over his words, trying to make sense of how quickly everything was moving. Finally, he concluded that although he couldn’t give the “green light,” perhaps it would be better if he gave a “yellow light.”
I had no idea what that was supposed to mean, but at least it wasn’t a red light.
Then he asked, “When were you planning on doing this?”
“I wanted to ask her to marry me on her birthday, because I think she’s more likely to be surprised,” I said.
Suddenly, he got choked up and said, “You have a green light – my 100% approval. God told us this was going to happen.”
I was confused.
After he composed himself, he explained that several months before, his wife was awake one day when she had a strange vision. In the vision, she saw a birthday cake with one candle on it, and at the base of the candle, there was an engagement ring.
“I always wondered what that vision meant,” he said. “Now I know.”
And that was when I got choked up. I had gotten a sign of God’s approval much sooner than I thought.
Believe it or not, even after that vision, even after our picture-perfect engagement night, there were times in our five-month engagement where I was uncertain about our relationship.
Due to an embarrassing degree of selfishness on both our parts, we didn’t get along very well during engagement. And in the worst moments of conflict, I thought, “If we weren’t engaged right now, we would definitely break up.”
But in spite of all the tension, we kept choosing to move forward, one challenge at a time. And then on our wedding day, we made the last, decisive choice; that is, we made a vow – to God, to each other, to the Church, and to our families.
And in that very moment – the moment we died to ourselves and became alive as one marriage – she became The One. And til death do us part, she always will be.