If you haven’t read Laney’s side of our engagement story and the start of our life together, I encourage you to. She carries herself with such wisdom and awareness, so much so that she was very close to calling out my many, small bluffs about her birth-day turned engagement-day. She reads my every word and facial expression, and understands my heart better than anyone else. Similarly to my Father, Laney knows me fully and loves me fully – something that has changed my life and brought peace to my heart.
Let me take that idea of knowing someone a step further, and bring all you Enneagram people into the mix. I’m a 3 – an Achiever: the success-driven, image conscious, never let a chink in the armor show-type. Throughout my life, my pursuit of what I believe is best has actually led to success, albeit short-sighted and often times lesser than what I know the Father delights to give me as his son. But let me get back to the topic at hand, and hopefully I can give more insight into why I had such peace about asking Laney to marry me.
I woke up on June 28th having slept a little, and planned a lot. It was 5:45 AM on Friday morning, I was in my truck on the way to work, Chris Lane’s “Big, Big Plans” playing over bluetooth with Toby Mac’s “Lose My Soul” queued for the next jam.
Yes, my taste in music is unmatched, Laney tells me that often.
Anyway, I pressed pause and a prayer full of thanksgiving and for continued peace came over the now quiet ride into downtown Nashville. I started to think back on the previous weeks of conversations with my dad, Big Daddy (aka Laney’s father Terry), best friends and a few trusted mentors. Until this morning, my mind and heart had been relatively calm and unnerved considering the typical whirlwind of emotions that comes with life-altering decisions and choices. I attribute this peace fully to Jesus’ touch on my heart.
The process of proposing was different than I imagined. Why? The main reason is that for many months I have been confident that Laney Redmon is who God has molded for me, an adopted prayer from my earthly father to his Heavenly Father that I have tried to consistently pray for years. Talk about a “peace that surpasses all understanding,” I’ve felt it continue to carry it in my spirit. So, the big build up of: “Is this the one?” definitely came, but it came many months before actually going through the formalities of asking her that four-word question. In my mind, I told her I wanted to marry her when I told her that I loved her…
We had been dating for three months, and I was making a fifty mile roundtrip to Franklin, TN every day to see this girl that was unlike any other. One afternoon we were driving through country roads outside Nashville, and I pulled over to tell her how much she meant to me. Of course that was my plan until I got really nervous, and she said “Do I need to say it first?” The first of many mind-readings that she’s so gifted at. After which I gained enough courage to say “I love you” (before she did) and many others in a desperate attempt to relay what my heart was feeling in that moment.
Back to the story, I was back in that place again, ready to relay just how committed I am to her, and how excited I am to begin our “official” life together. My timeline is not His timeline, this was an all-too-familiar and recurring realization over the past year. Marriage was not an unspoken subject for Laney and me, but each time it came into conversation, I met it head-on with a determined “No, not for years.” LOL. Do boyfriends/fiances/husbands ever get what they expect? Thankfully, I didn’t. My timeline was set for a Christmas season proposal, and I was sticking to it. Until, I got really weary of waiting, so I began praying for a moment to ask Big Daddy for his daughter’s hand in marriage.
Of course, calling him “Big Daddy” seemed a little risky in that moment, so I went for another nickname…
“TR, I have a question for you…” His reply as we sat around the breakfast table: “Really? I’m in my pajamas.” He was definitely impressed by my impeccable timing. I continued the convo with confidence. Hear me out, we were in Dallas (Lane’s hometown) for a short weekend trip, and one-on-one time with her dad was cut to a half-hour before going to church on Sunday, June 2nd. Thankfully, it was enough. And after a few (hundred) tears from me, I had what I came for – mission accomplished, Big Daddy was on board for an early August proposal. A conversation that I truly will never forget. I was humbled and honored. Later that afternoon I told Mama Redmon (aka Laney’s mother Rhonda), and she slipped me a ring that had been on her hand for years. I want to stop here and note how much I love the idea of Laney wearing a stone that has heard many wise words spoken by its owner, and been worn by an incredibly faithful woman. That in itself gave me double peace. I took it back to Nashville that next day, praying over the commitment it would represent and began taking that next step of planning to get it re-sized and re-set.
Again, back to the real story-the day of- yes, all these thoughts and more were running through my mind while driving to work. Fast forward to leaving work around 3:30 that afternoon. (trying to avoid a novel here) Laney’s parents had flown from Dallas to Nashville that afternoon, and we met downtown for coffee. I was excited, and very nervous now. We talked strategy, how to lie to Laney for a few more hours about our whereabouts and what we were doing to, how to set the scene and make it (buzz word) “cute”. Lane’s roommates, special people to say the least, were taking her to the spa for her birthday. Following that, Lane and I were going to dinner at a nice restaurant in Nashville for gifts and to celebrate the big two-five. Yes, I fell in love with an older woman. Apparently I’m an old soul. The plan was for our parents and my sister to setup Laney’s back porch with candles, lights, flowers, etc. while we went to dinner. After dinner and a few birthday gifts to distract her, we would go back to the house, I would ask her THAT question, and hope for a “yes” or “sure”. Plan in place, Mama Redmon prayed over me, totally putting my heart at peace once more, and I left the two of them to collect my thoughts and get ready for dinner.
One more flashback to get the full picture of the engagement month…
Lane was able to go look at a few jewelry stores with her Mom and just happened to try on a few rings (thinking an engagement was still six months away). My man Derrick at the store hooked me up, and my father and I stopped by to pick up the center stone, now set in a gold band with eight small diamonds on either side of the stone. (This complicated scheme of getting the ring was a back-and-forth email chain with myself and Mama Redmon called “Project Platinum”, giving you all the details.) Laney doesn’t miss much, for all her joking and being silly, she’s incredibly intelligent and can always read the crowd and often times, me. In the weeks before the proposal, she knew I was hiding my phone, which is abnormal for me. She also knew I had asked for time to be alone one Sunday (so I could call her parents to get them to Nashville, once again my timeline was moving up – December, August, now June 28th), so all these things and a few others were making her question something, but I don’t think she knew what to make of it all.
I picked her up at the spa, and yes, I was playing that country tune again, talking proposal and marriage. We drove to dinner and kept the conversation about our day and the weekend ahead. For the most part, dinner was normal as well. Lane has a way of bringing joy into any scenario and situation, so much so that it makes otherwise stressful thoughts disappear. Until of course she mentions that her mom’s location is off, and precedes to ask me why. When I say “ask” I really mean interrogate, “20 Questions” style. Lane is persistent, and I normally would dive into her questions with responses. At this moment though, I tried to redirect to opening her birthday gifts instead. And for a while, she played along – probably because she loves gifts and knew she could get an answer out of me whenever she wanted. With special occasions, we often write each other letters. It has always been a great way for us to communicate. Laney Rene is a gifted writer; she can paint a picture of her heart and the heart of Jesus, and from the first time she gave me one of those well-written letters to this day, I look forward to receiving “Laney letters”. For me, it’s much easier to transcribe what I feel rather than perfectly say everything my mind is occupied with; however, this one time, to throw her off, I wrote a shorter, kind of “sweet” card. She didn’t mention it, but I’m positive she was slightly disappointed – this being her 25th birthday and all. Let’s speed up the story…
We left dinner and headed back to her house, having got the “go ahead” text from my parents that all was ready on the back porch. Before we got out of the truck at her house, I asked her to remove her shoes for one last surprise and gave her a letter to read. Like I mentioned earlier, words sometimes fail me, so to try and give Lane another look into the depth of my love for her and commitment to her, I planned to wash her feet before asking her to spend the rest of her life with me.
She probably wished I would simply wash my own…we all have our flaws.
Why wash her feet? I find Jesus’ final meal with his best friends quite revealing. From the first day with them until the last, he served. He sacrificed. And, simply put, he loved. The first two don’t happen without the foundation of the last. A friend of mine advised me to not worry so much about the details of the day or the exact time of the proposal. Though the time is important, the moment is the real treasure. After walking through that evening and the weeks prior to it, I believe and have seen that to be true. In that moment, after washing her feet, my wife-to-be began to laugh. She laughed with such freedom and with such joy. Joyful freedom is the constant state of her spirit, and she laughed through the entire conversation and question of “Will you marry me?”
Laney Redmon’s smile is real, and it flows from the heart that Jesus has made new. I mean COMPLETELY new. Mama Redmon recently reminded me that when He restores and heals, it is never incomplete or partially done. As you can imagine, the next moments are a mixture of emotions – relief, joy, thankfulness, etc. We finished the evening like so many others, with three big scoops of ice cream and around our best friends and families. The family members that weren’t able to be there, we quickly called or texted. And as we sat on the couch later that evening, I have to be honest, I fell asleep as Lane was talking about everything – best fiancé award hands down.
*A letter to the Gentlemen:
Whether you find yourself newly single, walking in relationship with someone, or having never been entitled “boyfriend”, know that the Father leads perfectly. Yes, we are called to lead, but that leading flows out of following another wholeheartedly – the perfect example of love: Jesus. Too often, the Enemy wants us to forget who truly owns our lives and holds our hearts and directs our steps. The enemy sends messages through culture that suggest the best ways to be in relationship or live independently, but those promises don’t prove true. Look no further than the promise of grace in the midst of failure, peace in the midst of pressures, and love unending. These truths, these promises I forget, too. At times, I look to earthly accomplishments or Laney or my friends to fulfill and bring joy, but these fail. They are human, not divine. Do they deliver insight and point to Jesus? Without a doubt, yes, but they must not be placed before Him.
Delight in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
This verse has taken over my mind and spirit. He laid it on my heart when I met Laney. I imperfectly pursued the Father and continue to, and he has gifted my imperfections in my walk with more goodness than I can imagine, and much more than I tell myself I deserve. He continues to give what I need, before I realize I need it, and more perfectly than I could ever strive to obtain “it.”
Our family members each received a word for this year: 2019. My spirit heard HEALING, and while I have witnessed this in many facets of life, one is ever-present. Realizing that I can’t earn anything has healed my heart. Knowing, being convinced by faith, that I can’t give anything that I haven’t first received has healed my heart. I cannot give grace if I refuse to receive it. I cannot honestly love if I don’t trust and receive that honest, unending, reckless love from Him. I cannot…He can and has for me and through me.
Hear this open, honest reflection of my own walk over the past year. I pray you receive it for yourself…
You are a Son of the King. You have a perfect Father, even and especially when your earthly one is imperfect. Lead with love in every relationship. He will take care of the rest, BUT first receive the love that He freely gives you each morning. You are forgiven for every failure. Any shame, impurity, guilt, fear, resentment is paid for and erased by Jesus, your best friend and brother. Walk confidently in the truth that death has no grip on you, you are free to walk in his provision for your life.
Thanks for taking the time to read…
Clayton is a follower of Jesus. A native of Nashville, Clayton will graduate from Lipscomb University in December of 2019 and begin working in January 2020. He is passionate about building relationships with young men through sports and in church communities, loves family travel of any kind, and enjoys spending time outside in the woods or on the beach. On June 28, Clayton proposed to Laney Redmon. They plan to marry in the Spring of 2020.