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Our Story: The Proposal {Part 2 of 3}

Updated: Mar 22, 2019

When most couples start dating, they are getting to know each other, but not us. Knowing each other wasn't part of the process. We had dated briefly, been friends, lived distant lives, struggled and fought our way back to each other.

Loving Joel is easy, marrying Joel was inevitable. I had known for nearly 9 years he was who God had sent for me to spend my life with, to grow old together and have a family. However, when the accident happened most people's faith would have been shaken. For me, God's promise was most clear. There was a reason I knew that I would marry Joel, there was purpose for God sharing that intimate promise with me. I knew, but I couldn't possibly fathom how to manipulate it to work for my good on my own. No, this was something bigger than me. For all the times I had tried to control mine and Joel's relationship, it would fall apart. We were nearly toxic to one another because our love was so potent, until now, December of 2012.

When the accident happened, just 3 years prior,  we heard all sorts of rumors of what had happened or what people thought occurred. I had even heard that Joel was dead. But my heart didn't believe it. Because God's purpose, whatever it was He whispered in my ear as a teenager that I would marry Joel was just coming to fruition. He knew I would need that promise to cling to Him and know that He had us both in His hand. He knew I would need to know that Joel was my purpose. I even remember telling my friends, who looked at me in disbelief (because no one else went around seriously talking about who God had chosen for them to spend the rest of their lives with at 15 but me- especially as we were not even together at that point), that "I see Joel the way that God sees Joel- as a man of God," despite his lack-luster drive and motivation in life as he fell into a life of drugs and numbed the pain of his teenage years. Those words never even made sense coming out of my own mouth until much later.

Layers of sin and guilt from both our lives had to be scraped and we had to be pruned away from the dead things in our lives that would taint our future marriage. I clung to this verse:

"But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus." Philippians 3:13b-14 ESV

It was not an easy process, but we had finally made it. And, God's promise to me was finally making sense. In my darkest hours, I knew that Joel and I would make it, despite what the world said, the doctors predicted, the years apart. I knew that my God had faith in me, that I could live this life.

And so after dating a brief 2 and a half months, Joel and I prepared for an engagement. Weird, right? Yes, we had to prep both of our families. We had to know answers to questions prior to the engagement that most figure out as they prep for marriage. Certainly Joel could not just on a whim ask me to marry him. This was the biggest decision of both of our lives. This was not only our future, but his family's future, as the question of where and how we would live would initially be answered by moving in with his family. Imposing on someone's life and daily routines is something you consider when you marry your spouse, but not typically an entire family. I wasn't gaining just a husband, but also entirely different life and routine.

There were several fears in my mind, things that ultimately do not matter, nor do I remember. And Joel had his fears too, but of course he didn't mention them to me until later, after we were married- things like being able to take care of him and be his wife. But we were open with one another and we discussed everything we could think of that might come up in marriage, because we knew that our parents and all those around us would have questions too, and they wouldn't look to our star-studded, radiating eyes of love, but for solid answers of how we would conquer this life together. We agreed that there were some questions that we just wouldn't be able to answer prior to coming upon those obstacles ourselves. This was not an easy transition for everyone, for good reason.

Joel and I, however, had made up our own minds beforehand. He loved me and I loved him. Together we were going to make it work. Whatever it took. It was a decision, not just a feeling.

Joel had the help of family to pick out a ring (photos of several back and forth until he found the perfect one). He had a family friend help compile a video for the big event. A montage of all the photos of us over the past several years, with the help of Bruno Mars' hit "Marry You". He took me to the movies to see Safe Haven the day after Valentine's Day and we stayed 'til everyone left. It was still dark in the theater and I heard chuckles behind me. I knew in that moment what was happening.

Joel knew I hated being in the limelight. So he proposed in our special place, but also the only place he could get away with an extravagant proposal- in a dark room at the theater. I'm just awkward when it comes to surprises. Eh. Needless to say I was giddy and the answer was YES! He had texted my Dad and asked his approval, he had arranged a lavish proposal, and his love for me was never so bright. {side note: IF MY QUADRIPLEGIC HUSBAND COULD PROPOSE TO ME WITH THIS MUCH THOUGHT AND LOVE.... EVERY GIRL DESERVES SOMETHING JUST AS BEAUTIFUL AS THIS!!! Girls... do not make excuses for lazy "boys" who do not pursue you the way a princess of the Most High King deserves to be pursued- another topic for another day.}

We began planning for a beautiful September day in the late summer of 2013. But it was not all rainbows and butterflies. It was hard work. I had more questions than Joel had answers. He however had one, "Lauren, will you marry me?" written in the sand on the last slide of that video- He only needed one answer.

We just knew we belonged together. But it was battle of selflessness on both of our parts, and it was something we vowed to work at daily.

 photo cred:  Top Photo- Kristina Jackson

Middle and Bottom Photo: Laura Spratt


Lauren Jackson

Jackson Pine Farm

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