I met Annie at the Niagara border a couple of months ago with flowers in my hand. COVID restrictions and travel issues had separated us for so long. It was our first time seeing each other in almost two years.
We barely said a word when we saw each other. Everything we wanted to say we had already said many times over the phone. For two years, words held us together. Now, for two speechless minutes—we held each other. We didn’t share words, we shared hugs and we shed tears.
Annie looked beautiful, as always. She was wearing my favourite dress of hers, a blue dress she wore on our first date. That was fitting, because she didn’t know I was taking her to the park where we had our first date.
It was nearly sunset when we arrived at the parking lot. I immediately grabbed a precious item from my bag and placed it in my pocket. Annie must have been talking to me the entire time, but my heartbeat was louder than her words. I couldn’t hear most of what she was saying. I was about to do what I had been waiting to do for two years.
I was initially on Annie’s left side as we walked toward the park—before I moved quickly to her right side, near the streetside of the sidewalk. Annie immediately said she’s glad I’m a gentleman. She said her father says a real gentleman will always walk between the street and his woman to protect her.
I didn’t tell her I had no idea what she was talking about. I didn’t know men were supposed to protect women from walking near the streetside of a sidewalk. That’s not why I moved to her right side. I wasn’t trying to be a gentlemen, I was just trying to keep her from seeing the bulge of the ring box on my right pocket.
When we arrived at the park: I stopped in front of a set of flowers, I went on one knee, and I said:
“I am not afraid anymore, Annie. I love you…Will you marry me?”
I am not afraid anymore. She didn’t need me to explain. She understood me. She knew I was referencing words from an article I wrote a few years ago. She knew I was referencing the words that brought us together.
In 2017 I wrote an article called “I Am Afraid”. In the article, I said:
“I am afraid, so afraid of marriage. I am not necessarily afraid of rejection. I am afraid of acceptance. I am afraid that whomever I marry, may in the end, be just as heart-broken and regretful as my mother is over my father. I am afraid that like my father and his father before him, I too will be a poor husband and an absentee father, too afraid of the future to be present.”
I believed that baggage would be to burdensome for any woman to carry. I believed my transparency would make me less desirable for women. God, however, had other plans.
A woman commented on the article saying:
“Thank you for this, especially your transparency. I have similar struggles of being afraid and trying to please people. I have come to find that when I am most afraid, when life seems most unjust, when I see hurting people all around, I sing. They are mostly hymns or songs I was taught as a child but it helps immensely. Thank you again 🙂.”
That woman’s name is Annie.
In God’s providence and humour, my fiancé and I met through my fear of marriage.
That fear of marriage seemed so natural. It shaped many of my relationships with women. I’ve always known I was afraid of marriage, but I didn’t realize just how deeply afraid I was of marriage until several years ago—when I was relieved after a woman I was pursuing rejected me.
I was relieved she didn’t want to date or marry me. I was relieved she didn’t give me an opportunity to hurt her like my father hurt mom.
The first thing I learned about marriage when I was a boy is that marriage is why mom suffered so much.
At the time, I didn’t know my father’s name. I didn’t even understand the concept of fathers. I didn’t understand why some men were called fathers. That’s because I didn’t call any of the men in my life “father”.
But I understood one thing: a man that people called my father had hurt my mom through something they called “marriage”.
I didn’t learn that man’s name until I was 10 years old. Mom was too hurt by him to tell me anything about him, including his name. His name is David Sey.
He pursued mom for a long time. She rejected him many times until his persistence convinced her that he was truly loyal and committed to her. He promised he would love her forever. He made a covenant and a vow with her, saying he would take her as his wife, he would hold her forever from that day forward—for better, for worse, for richer and for poorer.
However, when Ghana’s economy worsened and he and mom became poorer—he abandoned mom while she was pregnant with me. He ran away to Nigeria. I’ve never met or talked with him.
My father is just like his father. I do not want to be like my father. I do not want to be yet another Sey who hurts his wife and children. I bear my father’s name and I apparently bear his voice—I do not want my wife and children to bear the pain of a bad father and bad husband, like mom and I have.
But that fear didn’t help me. Actually, my fear of marriage made me more like my father—which made me even more afraid of marriage.
I pursued lust, not love. I pursued women, but I maintained distance from them and distance from marriage by prioritizing sexual sin above all.
Until I met Annie.
When I said to her “I am not afraid anymore”, I didn’t mean I wasn’t afraid of marriage. That would be a lie.
I’m still afraid of marriage—I’m just not afraid of marriage with Annie.
I would still be afraid of marriage if it wasn’t for Annie. Sometimes I’m still like a little boy haunted by his father’s shadow. I’m still a weak and wretched man. I know that more than ever. Annie knows that too. But she’s forgiving, gracious, and merciful.
By the grace of God, when I marry Annie—though I will hurt her, though I will hurt our children: I will not abandon her. By the grace of God, I will do just as I have since we started dating: I will repent and reconcile with her.
I want to do for Annie what my father didn’t for mom. By the grace of God, I will love Annie unlike my father with mom. By the grace of God, I will love Annie like Jesus with his bride.
God is giving me the best helper to be a faithful husband and father: Annie. So, I am not afraid anymore.