3,700 people were cheering, whistling, and screaming as Jordan knelt down on one knee. My hand went to my mouth and laughs exploded from each of us because this was actually happening. He had mismatching socks, I wasn't wearing shoes, and we were getting engaged under the spotlight. We were on stage at Miami's Charter Day Ball, a situation made possible by weeks of Jordan's planning and coordinating. I still don't know the full extent of how this underground dream came to surface, but, I do know that every moment spoke to Jordan's character and the big dreams we have for our life.
I had suspicions that he would propose at the ball; suspicions that were actually more like hopes. Everyone around me knew how Jordan would propose and did an excellent job of keeping the secret. Meanwhile, I was wondering if I needed to look for dresses and start planning before we got engaged because we want to get married in the summer. "Does Jordan know how long these things take?" "Does he even have a ring yet?"
If Jordan did propose at the ball, this is how the scene went in my head: we would be slow dancing to one of our favorites (probably Perfect by Ed Sheeran), he would whip out the ring and kneel, and, slowly, as people around us realized what was happening, they'd cheer and make space for us to waltz around the dance floor. Another option was, if he didn't propose at the ball, he would propose on a run that we planned to take the next day. An invite to run had marked one of the first times I was suspicious that Jordan might have feelings for me. Why not bring it full circle? But no, at the ball, surrounded by friends, feeling beautiful and myself, I hear my name called from the Emcee because I "won a raffle."
"Oh my gosh." I thought to myself, "So this is how it's gonna go." Trying to push down my rising blush and keep my heart steady, I walked as quickly as I could towards the stage (without tripping on my dress). Friends waved me on as I made it up under the lights, quite aware that I was in sock-feet. The Emcee and Miami's mascot, Swoop, did a quick interview and snapped some pics, carefully and successfully keeping my gaze preoccupied. Behind me, my "prize" was getting into place. "Let's check out your prize!" I turned around to a big red and white gift box a few feet away with a ribbon carefully tied on top and two beautiful ladies ready to open it for me. I died in the best way, "He is literally in this box right now" I thought to myself.
Up goes the box and down goes Jordan on one knee. A few feet away from him, I can't do anything but laugh and stare. He's beaming and waving me over so he can actually get the ring on my finger. "Will you marry me?" I nod furiously and the crowd erupts. I glance at my ring and lose my breath because it's more than I could've dreamt of for myself. After a big kiss and waves to the crowd, Jordan points off stage into the side seats. My family was making their way down to meet us. I burst into tears and run off stage making a beeline for my dad.
After a swarm of friends, endless hugs, pictures and thank yous, Jordan says, "By the way, we have an interview tomorrow at noon with the Miami Student Newspaper." Out of everything Jordan planned, the crowd of thousands, the cute box, and almost every person I love being there, I think my favorite, and the icing on the cake, was seeing Jordan and mine's picture with our relationship story on the front page of the paper a few days later. I've always been a writer, and I'd recently fallen in love with journalism. Jordan had paid attention and absolutely milked it. Jordan and I spend a lot of time loving Oxford and Miami. It was beautiful to feel the love back.
It's strange, but one of the fondest moments I hold in my memory from the proposal was seeing Jordan's shoes as the gift box lifted. I can't quite put my finger on why, but I think it's because that's when it became real for me. As sure as I was that I was about to be proposed to on stage, seeing his shoes dispelled any sense of "maybe not now." The rest, him getting down on one knee and asking and me saying yes, all seemed so natural after that. It happened so fast, so joyfully, and so perfectly.
So, we are engaged now. And while there's absolutely a new closeness and attraction that we feel for one another, it's back to business as usual. We keep dating and laughing with a little wedding planning thrown in there. I walk around with a diamond on my finger and a new pep in my step because my boyfriend is now my fiancé and that's awesome.
To me, this proposal is much more than a shockingly cool event in Jordan and mine's history: It's a reflection of who Jordan and I are and a statement for how we want to live our life. Jordan has always been a "go big or go home" kind of person. His extravagance and resolve to leave everything on the field has been both an immense blessing and challenge to me. Driving home after the proposal, I told him, "Not every girl would have appreciated that proposal." He said, "Ya well that girl isn't for me." He knows the ambitions in my heart and knows that God has big things for me and he does everything he can to give me space to grow and shine. The day after the proposal, Jordan said, "A few years ago, God gave me a vision of me preaching on the Millett stage. God brought that image back up recently and I thought about how it could be connected to the proposal. Our marriage will be the greatest testimony we can give to the world." We believe and live like God will use us to leave a mark on the world. Just like the Miami Student newspaper broadcasted our story, so we will broadcast the Gospel through our relationship and our callings.
I remember in high school dreaming about getting engaged on stage. Theatre is a big staple in my history and I've always felt at home center stage. It was so sweet to watch God orchestrate the fulfillment of that "little girl" dream.
If anything, being engaged has called me into a new place of "teamness" with Jordan and a special dependence on God. Jordan and I have been blessed with mentors and parents who have given us a biblical perspective on marriage. But, oh my, there is so much more to be discovered. We've heard teaching after teaching about what it means to model Christ's love for the Church, but actually surrendering to the task is work that our hearts have been practicing and are tremendously excited to continue.
We are bound and determined to keep first things first: we love each other, we are committed to helping each other grow into everything God created us to be, we forgive, we laugh, we kiss, we dream, we hope, and we trust that God's glory burns a little more brightly in the world because of us.