On Engagement Rings, Oreos, and Impromptu Parties

As you might have heard, or suspected, or divined by means of casting lots or looking at the entrails of a sacrificed bull, ElderJ is planning to be married, or is he?.  I know of course that in today’s highly networked world, a traditional engagement announcement (or lack thereof) means nothing.  All that must occur is for some pictures with proper captioning to appear on one’s facebook page, and the words of felicitation begin to flood in, as well as not a few incredulous phone calls seeking to verify what might, after all, be erroneous information.

In cases like these where there is so much potential for accuracy, inaccuracy, and downright guesswork, it if probably important to seek understanding “straight from the horse’s mouth,” as it were, and in this case, I am the horse in question.  Therefore I will seek to cursorily address what might or might not be on the minds of those who know me.

Are you engaged? The short answer to this question is not short at all.  I and my sweetheart are not technically engaged in the traditional North American romantic love way of things.  There has been no exchange of rings, no getting down on one knee, no blushing and crying woman saying, “Yes, yes, of course I’ll marry you!!”  However, we are most certainly planning a wedding and, more importantly, planning to spend our lives together.

So you’re not engaged but you’re getting married?  I’m confused… Don’t be confused.  We are engaged in a Chinese traditional sort of way.  I met the parents and requisite family members.  Hands were shaken.  Heads nodded with appropriate solemnity.  Difficult questions were asked and answered, and at the end of it all, my beloved’s father produced a cake and made an announcement.  What had been a mission’s prayer meeting became an impromptu engagement party.  We ate cake.  We received congratulations.  We were photographed.  We smiled until our cheeks hurt.

So you set a wedding date even though you’re not engaged? Yes.  Actually we set the date for our wedding back in December, even before we had made a firm decision that were going to be married.

Are you going to give her a ring? Yes

Why didn’t you give her a ring when you went to see her? Although we have been steadily moving in the direction of marriage, there were a lot of things we needed to talk about before moving ahead.

Aren’t you rushing things? Maybe we are.  Ask us in 30 years and we’ll let you know.  Seriously though, things are moving ahead at a somewhat quick pace, but there are reasons for this.  We decided very early on that this relationship would end in marriage or that we would not pursue it.  Neither of us is young, so we know ourselves much better than we did 10 years ago, are much more aware of our own limitations, and have much more realistic expectations of marriage than we used to.  We have been very intentional in tackling straight on the things we know are important.  You could say that our relationship is not entirely unlike arranged marriages of the past: we determined that we would be a good fit for each other, and have spent the time working through some of the pitfall we know we will encounter (since there are many we DON’T know about).  And we have fallen deeply in love.

Change of subject – Why are you with this Chinese girl?  Are you an Oreo? I am most definitely NOT an Oreo (for the uninitiated – Black on the outside but culturally White on the inside), though I was asked this question in person during the process of my courtship.  I love Black women, Black people, Black culture, and never really considered that I would marry someone that was not Black; indeed every woman I’ve dated was Black.  And yes, I know I’ve been going to an Korean church, but I do not have “yellow fever.”  I am also not naive about the challenges inherent in a cross-racial relationship, and I know there are some Black women out there who will not look favorably on my relationship.  I can’t do anything about that.

What about the kids? Our kids will be ridiculously attractive, but not because they’re biracial.  Seriously, have you seen how fine I am??  How could they be anything but fine as well?

Does this mean you’re going off to China or something? I am no more likely to go off to China now than I was before.  My life belongs to God.  Where he sends me, I will go.

Do you love this girl? Yes

Where will you all live? We will live together

Do you know each other well enough? I don’t know if there is a real answer to this question.  Does anyone know the person they marry “well enough.”  The answer is probably both yes and no.  We know each other well enough to want to spend our lives together. We don’t know everything there is to know about each other, and there is no way we could.  One thing though that is true of us is that we know OURSELVES far better than we did years ago.  Self knowledge is critical in any relationship, and the ability and willingness to be honest about who you really are with another person is important as well.

So when is the wedding? We are planning to marry September 11 in Atlanta Ga, followed by a honeymoon in SE Asia.  We gladly accept gifts of cash and in-kind donations.  We’re both missionaries, so yeah, I’m not joking when I say that.  We live from the faithful obedience of God’s people to be generous in their giving.

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7 thoughts on “On Engagement Rings, Oreos, and Impromptu Parties

  1. Elderj, I only know you as a fellow-reader of Eugene Cho’s blog. But I still wish to offer my congratulations and best wishes for your life together, from one interracial family to another.

    1. I work with college students, seeking to see them transformed by encountering Jesus through scripture and community, empowering them as transformative agents on their campuses, and equipping them to be life long disciples of Jesus who live out values of the kingdom of God in every vocation for all of their life.

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