Nate and I were on a happy trajectory toward wedding vows but had bumped into a bit of opposition from my folks, who insisted we were moving too fast. We knew differently and were, at age 23, both sure of what we wanted. And what we wanted, after getting engaged in July, was to marry before the school year began in September.
Nate thought my parents just needed reassurance that he would be a good marriage choice for their daughter. And how could they be sure if they had unanswered questions? His plan was to write a letter, addressing what he thought were their two greatest concerns: (1) Did he really love me? (2) Did he really love God?
I knew immediately the letter was a good idea, because Dad and I had often wrote to each other, even while living in the same house, especially during the turbulent teen years. If I wanted my way in any category, the surest approach was to reason with him in black and white, on a sheet of paper.
If I delivered it to his desk before he got home from work, he could open it when he was ready and respond when he chose. Even potentially explosive subjects became less volatile when reduced to written words. Approaching problems “decently and in order” counted for a lot with Dad.
Nate composed his letter while still at Ft. Riley, borrowing a typewriter and tapping out the entire thing without a mistake. He didn’t let me “preview” it but did say, “I was thinking mostly of your father as I wrote. We need to convince him first.”
Here’s the letter, written nine days after we got engaged:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Johnson,
Writing you at this time is both easy and difficult. It is easy because I have known you for two years and feel very much at home when I am with you; and because I am writing of Margaret who we love. Yet it is difficult to discuss engagement in a letter. I want to talk personally with you before she and I go to Moyoca [a church camp where we planned to be counselors].
Many times people ask an engaged couple how they know they are in love. My answer comes from a guide the Lord has given us in Scripture. In 1 Corinthians 13 He has set out through Paul the characteristics of love by which I examine myself. Love is patient, kind, hopeful and enduring; most of all it is forgiving. Love for Margaret is a spiritual gift with which the Lord has blessed me. Her virtues fill my eyes; I see past her few faults. And she has shown me so many times that my love is reciprocated. I know it is.
I am very fortunate to have a fiancée with her virtues. Her faith with witness, prayer, Bible study and obedience to God are reassuring. Margaret’s humor, energy, beauty, education, intelligence, charm, creativity and love of children make me realize what a wonderful Christian woman she is. Her letters and visits during this Army camp prove to me her spiritual quality and goodness. Each minute of the day but especially when we pray together I want to share my life with her. Having accepted Christ in our hearts as ultimate, Margaret and I will have a marriage unified in Him.
If Margaret’s parents were less understanding, I would worry about my absence at this time. However, she has written of your complete acceptance of my Army situation and our decision. I am thrilled and happy that the Lord has given us understanding parents.
With love and warmest regard,
* * * * * *
…and Dad was convinced.
Persuading Mom, however, required a different approach. (Part IV)
“Look at those who are honest and good, for a wonderful future awaits those who love peace.” (Psalm 37:37)