Why I Proposed to My Girlfriend At the Foot of the Cross

wasn’t sure how to sneak a diamond ring into Israel without my girlfriend noticing. If I put it in my backpack, she might stumble upon it as we traveled. But if I carried it on me, would it set off the airport metal detector? The last thing I wanted was to have to show the ring to the TSA. If they saw it, my girlfriend would, too. What then? Would I drop to a knee and propose in airport security? I didn’t want to think about it.

Sarah and I praying at the foot of the Cross, where we got engaged

In the end, I carried the ring in a money belt, which I wore inside my pants, around my waist. (Yes, I thought that upon popping the question, my girlfriend would say “yes” despite the fashion statement that wearing a money belt makes. Guess I thought she really loved me.)

The only time I took that money belt off was to quickly send it through airport scanners. Otherwise, I kept it glued to me. And what with the Israeli heat, I don’t use “glued” lightly.

The Backstory

The year was 2006. My then girlfriend (Sarah), her brother, my family, and some friends were on a large group pilgrimage to the Holy Land.

When strangers in our group learned that Sarah and I had been dating a while, they wondered if I might propose on the trip.

Their wonder peaked at Cana, the site of Jesus’ first miracle: turning water into wine at a wedding feast. If I was going to propose, surely I would do so there, right? In Cana, I felt like I couldn’t reach into my pocket for a Kleenex without an old lady or two gasping at the possibility I was reaching for a ring instead.

But Cana came and went. Everyone seemed to give up hope that I would propose. But I had other plans.

The Proposal

On the second to the last day of the trip, our group visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem. The church is built on the site of Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection.

With my brother’s help, I managed to get Sarah and me at the back of our tour group as we entered the church. Each member of our group prayed at the spot where Jesus was crucified.

Sarah and I were the last two to pray at the foot of the Cross. As we stood up to leave, I proposed. She said yes.

Why Propose at the Foot of the Cross?

Weeks later, I told a priest friend of mine about the proposal. In his British accent he asked, “You proposed at the foot of the Cross? Don’t you think that’s a bit morbid?”

“Well, that’s where Jesus laid down His life for His bride, the church,” I replied. “And I want to do the same for Sarah.”

“Oh, brilliant. Capital idea!,” he exclaimed, his 180-degree change in attitude revealing that he evidently no longer thought me a complete weirdo.

Why am I telling you this?

I’m telling you this because we have to be prepared to suffer for what matters most to us. Christians believe that Jesus suffered and died for you and me—because we matter most to Him.

By proposing at the foot of the Cross, I wanted to acknowledge that reality and prepare for it in my life with Sarah. Maybe marriage would be a piece of cake. Certainly there would be countless joy-filled hours and wonderful moments.

Brian McAdam
Brian McAdam
Through his blog, www.brianmcadam.com, Brian helps others have more time and money for what matters most. He holds a doctorate in philosophy from the Catholic University of America. He serves as the Director of Formation at FOCUS, the Fellowship of Catholic University Students. He and his wife, Sarah, live in Colorado and are blessed with a daughter and fraternal twin boys.

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