Catie and Will first crossed paths through a missions organization as she was beginning her service and he was completing his. Catie first heard Will's name as she was talking with coworkers about her love for health and natural medicine. Someone asked, "Have you met Will? You guys should talk about this stuff!"
Fast forward a few years, and Catie and Will had ended up working together and become friends. For a long time, it seemed like friendship would be the extent of their relationship.
In Will's Words: “At last…” Adam’s first words in Genesis are words of a man who was searching, a man whose heart was longing to answer an echo heard in every waking moment and every dream. When he first saw woman, he knew “at last” that this creature would draw him into deeper understanding and deeper mystery—into finding himself and losing himself.
In October of 2015, I drove to Long Island to visit a few friends who were working there, one of whom was Catie. During my stay Catie and I found some time to sneak away to a café and catch up. I didn’t visit with an agenda, but I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t hoped for some time with her.
“If I’m being honest, I am more than interested in you” was written that night in a letter to her, which she wouldn’t read until much later. The following week, I called Catie to tell her how incredible she is and asked her out on a date. And from our fantastic first date on, I knew that this was special.
To think of our marriage discernment, I can think of two crucial elements: prayer and one important conversation over coffee last winter. We have tried to pray often, sometimes daily, and to make each other a priority even when the busyness of life makes that a challenge. But there was one day last winter where Catie truly won my heart. It was then that she shared with me the sacrifices she has made in her life for her future husband, and I shared similar sacrifices for my future wife.
I remember writing later, “Could this be real? I had almost stopped hoping for a love that was chaste and free existing in this world. I was wrong to doubt.” I felt the words traveling down through the generations: “At last.”
Eventually, I surprised Catie by flying down to Nashville while she was home with family and with friends from college. Her sisters were instrumental in getting her out of the house and into my proposal scheme. In a clearing in a park which overlooks the Nashville skyline, I waited for her. She laughed and asked, “What are you doing here?!” I told her why I love her and why I want her to be my wife, got down on one knee and asked her with all my heart to marry me.
For me to get from the point of dating to the point of popping the question, I had to learn to live the tension and to be intentional. I actually learned these two matters from my bride-to-be. To live in the tension means to press into difficulty as a chance to grow. Chastity requires a tension between desire and self-control. Dating requires tension in the “not knowing yet” and restraint from making plans before their time. There is tension in veiling parts of the self early on and in having the courage to bare those parts when the time is right. There is tension when you discover that you disagree. We are learning to press into that; we are learning together to live intentionally.
In Catie's Words: God knew the best place for me to get to know Will and be totally myself was the friend-zone. I can’t say enough, in hindsight, what a gift that time was. Then there was a period of time, once we no longer worked together, when I started hearing from him quite a bit more. Then one night at a party I caught him looking at me just a little bit differently than he had before. “Something is different with me and Will,” I told a girlfriend later. I had no idea what would happen, only that something would.
It didn’t take long for us to start dragging one another on silly adventures, fun dates, runs in the park, road trips. One of the most surprising things to me was how natural and fun it was to fall in love with him. I can't believe just how steady he has been for me during the entire time of dating and engagement.
When we seriously started talking about the future, we decided we wanted to bathe our whole decision about whether to get married in prayer. St. Louis de Montfort’s consecration to Jesus through Mary had been an important step for each of us in our walks with Christ. So, we began. And, on the 33rd and final day of prayer--the feast of St. Maximilian Kolbe--Will flew down to Nashville to interrupt a girls’ weekend and surprise me with an engagement ring, complete with a perfectly orchestrated scheme involving my sisters and best friends. I honestly could not have planned it better myself. And of course, I had, in my head, many times.
Engagement has been a season of fun, planning, challenge, self-discovery, and the list could go on and on. We are preparing to make the biggest and most final decision we will make in our entire lives. I have learned that love and marriage are not a romantic comedy, nor my own personal fulfillment project (learned that lesson from Fr. Mike Schmitz). I do, though, feel so lucky to be marrying this man who is teaching me so much about life and about the way that God loves me. It is affirming and purifying, humbling and healing. We view marriage as an important mission, and we are so excited to take it on.
Photography: Charlie & Co.