huanyangelina

The beginning of the story of Huanyangelina

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On this post, I will share the story of Huanyangelina, or how our love story begins. We believe that it is important for us to share our story. Here, we will share where we started off and how we end up with one another. This is so that people reading this will learn from us how God really weave together this Huanyangelina story despite our different backgrounds and differences. 

How Huanyangelina started – from the beginning

Huanyan’s side of how we got to know one another:

The story of how Angelina and I got to know one another happened somewhere around July/August 2007. I first met Angelina at OG Orchard before service. A sister, by the name of Shuyi, told me of a sister who just returned from Australia. She wanted to connect to a university lifegroup. I was a newly appointed lifegroup leader for about three months. But though I was struggling to lead the LG, I could not refuse anyone joining my LG. So I decided to allow Shuyi to link this sister up with the LG. 

My first impression

I still remember the first impression of Angelina. She was not exactly the most cheerful person I’ve ever met in Hope. At that point I could not understand why but slowly it made sense. Also, I would never consider this girl as a potential life partner since I never got to interact with her that often back then. If you ask me, there would be other candidates to consider.

But things started to change

As I was graduating, I slowly noticed how her involvement in Crusade has molded her into a strong support to her leader. And I saw how she struggled and grew in the area of prayer back then.

Yet one event stuck in my mind. It was sometime in August 2008, if I remember correctly. She asked me if I was experiencing burn-out. It was one year after leading the LG and I did not know what was burning out. I thought, ‘what could a girl who is not very frequent in church know?’ Then God took me out of Singapore on a conference to Hong Kong then and used Ps Jeff to speak into my heart. As I think back, that was about the time when I saw a sister of great discernment but I didn’t really give it much attention back then. 

Then I graduated and we parted way since I had to move on to the Young Adult group. I left off the friendship with a sense of respect for her. I wanted to ensure that the university group continues to take good care of her even after she was not longer under my care. Little did I know that this will have its own consequences some years later when God will converge our path again. I even remembered telling the LG back then that unless God brings all of us together again, most likely a lot of us would not end up in the same LG. 

Angelina’s side of how we met one another:

Shuyi first introduced me to Huanyan in July 2007 because I wanted to connect to a university LG upon returning from Australia. Thus she connected me to her LG, where Huanyan was the LGL.

My impression of him then was that he was a pretty loud and lame person. This is totally not someone I would naturally hang out with. But since he was my LGL, then “no choice”. On a positive note, he was someone who was very helpful and seemed to be a know-it-all when it came to things related to university matters (which was pretty much what a freshie would be concerned with at that point in time) and apologetics. So whenever I had any questions on university life or apologetics, he was the first person I would go to.

Although we were from very different courses (him being in History and me being in Applied Chemistry), we had a similar interest in entrepreneurship. Moreover, I was his junior in Technopreneurship minor. Thus I would also consult him whenever I needed help for the Technopreneurship modules.  

In terms of his leading as a LGL, I felt that he was a pretty strong, but hands-off leader. You can definitely count on him to “chope” seats for us every service, inform the LG of all the announcements/information and settle any unsettled admin stuff. But he seldom asked me about my personal life or follow up on some of the struggles I shared at LG, even though I was clearly someone with lots of issues in my life at that point in my life. (Perhaps it wasn’t appropriate for him to probe too much as a guy as well).

Two things that stood out to me when he was my LGL in my first two years of university:

1) The role that he “created” for me to serve in LG

By the second year of my university life, I had pretty much come to terms that I was back for good. I was ready to move on in life and to serve in some way in the LG. However I struggled with volunteering to serve in LG. I did not find that any of the existing roles suitable for me.

But one thing I knew was that I had grown in my heart for prayer, and if there was a way that I could serve in LG, it was to minister to others through prayer. Thus he and Shuyi decided to create this new role of leading a time of prayer and ministering after pnw at LG. Through those times of serving, I experienced the reality and power of God. This was one of the rare times that I felt I was serving God according to my gifts, rather than just filling a need in ministry. So, I thoroughly enjoyed those times of serving, 

2) How he “took care” of the remaining LG members in the university ministry

He ensured that our transition to the next LG was as smooth as possible before he moved on from the university ministry. Knowing that I was someone who took relatively long time to warm up to a new group, he made sure that the next group I was transferred to had people that I was already familiar with. (This was something I realised not to take it for granted, because the subsequent transitions to other LGs were not as smooth).

The last encounter with him when I was in the university ministry was the prayer I made for him at a camp – where I felt that it was a season where God was preparing him for missions.

Little did I expect that I would end up in his group again after I moved on from the university ministry 2.5 years later.

The years in between – Waiting for Huanyangelina to happen

The story of huanyangelina began when we met but it did not come to its full logical conclusion when we parted ways in university. There remained a few years in between – a period of waiting for the both of us.

Angelina’s side of the story:

The struggle within Angelina

As a girl who grew up watching Disney movies, being in a relationship was something that I had dreamt of since young. I had a very idealistic and disney-like view of relationship. That persisted until my uni days, when I saw how the people around me got into relationships but broke up not long after. Then I realised that being in a relationship was not all that sweet and rosy. In fact there was a lot of heartaches and tough period that a couple goes through after the initial honeymoon period. One question I asked myself then was “what would make a relationship last beyond the initial honeymoon period”?

As I looked at my parents’ relationship, I realized that what keeps them together is not merely the feelings (because this phase will likely wear off after you get more familiar with each other and the stresses of managing a household sets in) but the commitment to each other to work through issues and stay through difficult times together even if your emotional tank is low. Thus the next question I asked myself was – “Will I be able to stay committed to work though issues during tough times when my emotional tank is low instead of throwing in the towel and say that we are not suited for each other?”

This I struggled for a long time because I could not see how can anyone find the strength to continuously give to a relationship when her emotional tank is constantly low. As someone who naturally avoids tensions in relationships and withdraws when I sense conflict coming in order to protect myself, there will have to be a greater reason beyond myself if I were to stay in a relationship and openly work through issues and conflicts.

The tough period in the years in between

I was apprehensive about being in a relationship because of potential tensions and hurts. But deep down I still wanted to be loved and adored by someone. Despite this desire, I decided that I should focus on my studies in university before starting a relationship.

Thus after graduation and when I started work in 2012, relationship was an aspect that I wanted to look into. Because I grew up in a girls school, my circle of guys were pretty small to begin with, and many of them weren’t of the same faith. Furthermore, it was tough to find someone that I could truly respect and felt secure following (which was one of my criteria).

To my “horror”, I realised that it was even more difficult to find someone after I started work, because it took considerably more effort to interact and get to know new brothers beyond the LG. To makes things worse, my workplace had significantly more female than guys, and even then, many of the guys were already married. It didn’t help that I was in a work environment with several young career-minded ladies who often joked that our department SGP stood for – Single Girls Party. 

It was a tough period of choosing to hold on to God and trusting Him for a partner. I felt that the chances of finding someone dwindling as I got more overwhelmed at work each day. I remembered constantly asking God if I will ever meet someone. And if so, how on earth will I meet that person when I am so overwhelmed at work?

The loneliness within

There were times when I felt lonely/sad and the desire to have someone to care for me in that special way was pretty intense. And each time it happened, I had to resolve to turn to God to meet my deepest need for love instead of wallowing in self-pity and feeling envious of those who were getting attached/married in that period.

It was always a struggle. But each time as I struggle through with God and turned to His word for the assurance of His love for us, He brought me to a deeper relationship with Him and understanding of His design for a godly relationship. It was also during that period that I started praying for my future partner and the relationship (even though I had no idea of who it will be). I prayed that God will prepare us individually to be the man and woman that he has created us to be, and we will not shun this period of growth no matter how painful it may be, so that we will be prepared for this new phase, and start the relationship with God at the center.  

Through this period of struggling with singlehood, God slowly transformed my idea of what it meant to be in a relationship. The defining lessons that God taught me during the period of waiting were:

1) For a relationship to last, it has to be one that is anchored in God. 

To my earlier question on how to find the strength to stay committed in the face of tough times when my own emotional tank is low, God revealed that the strength to commit and to continuing loving the person has to come from Him. Thus it is important that the couple continue to focus on growing their own relationship with God, even after they get together. Because the anchor for each individual (regardless whether you are single or attached) has to be God – He should always be our First Love and this doesn’t change after you are in a relationship. I realised that this principle of putting God first in a relationship is actually no different from other aspects of our lives. It is God who will give us what we need in every aspect of our lives, including sustaining a relationship.

2) The couple is meant to complement and not outdo each other.

This means that I should learn to be comfortable with my weakness because this is where my partner comes in to complement me. And at the same time, I should not fault my partner for his weakness, because this is where I can complement him with my strengths. Of course, this doesn’t mean that we don’t grow from our weaknesses, just that we don’t have to be ashamed of them and constantly strive to get rid of them. No one is perfect (even high-achievers) and we should learn to celebrate the individual that God has uniquely created.  

3) Being in a relationship is like learning to dance as a pair. 

Initially when you first start to dance as a pair, you tend to be clumsy and will inevitably step on each others’ toes. With more practice, you get the hang of the rhythm and you eventually dance gracefully as a couple. However, to get there, this requires much coordination, patience and practice. And after you have learnt Dance 101, you progress to the more advanced levels.

To bring this back to a relationship context, it means that even after you have learnt to work out the initial issues like what and how to communicate love/trust as a couple, new issues will arise and the couple will need to learn to work that out and establish a common understanding. This is a continual process of growing together as a couple. It would be unrealistic to expect to come to a stage where there are no more issues to work through and we “live happily ever after” on this side of heaven, since we are all sinners.

A Renewed Understanding of Relationship

With a renewed understanding and a more realistic expectation of what it means to be in a relationship, I thought I was ready to get into one. But God asked me the ultimate question during worship service on 16 Nov 2013: Would I still choose to follow God joyfully, if i were to remain single my whole life. I struggled immensely with it because all these while I had dreamt of getting married and having my own family.  Nonetheless, with much tears, i resolved to choose to surrender my desires to God and to follow His will as He reveals, rather than to be in a relationship without God’s blessings.

I remembered the feeling of liberation I had after surrendering to God. No longer did I have to strive to make sure that things happened “my way.” I could trust that God who loves me and will eventually work all things for the good of those who love Him. Getting attached will become secondary to following His will. (Of course this doesn’t mean that I don’t struggle any more).

Little did I expect that after choosing to put God above my desire for a relationship, Huanyan asked me. Till that moment he asked, I had no idea that he had been interested in me.

Looking back, God’s timing is never early or late – it’s always perfect. It was necessary for me to struggle through with God first. This is so that I had a renewed mind and started the relationship with God on the throne of my life. Though it was a pretty long and painful period, I was glad that I struggled through with God because this deepened my faith in Him.

May you continue to trust God in all areas, even when circumstances may seem to say otherwise. Such times of struggling with God though painful, will be very beautiful when you look back and see God’s fingerprints all over.

Huanyan’s side of the story:

A period of waiting was never easy. It took me more than three years before I started looking for a lifelong partnership. As I attempted to make sense of it, that He put me through a period of waiting for a purpose. Psalm 37:7 helped to guide me to wait patiently for Him and not to fret. And after looking back, I penned down these thoughts in my blog:
 … But God likes to play the waiting game, with a purpose. And I must say that the waiting game is not fun to play for us initially. Yet there is reward in playing this waiting game. My trust in Him is such that I know I will turn out the winner every time I play this waiting game with Him.

I have lost count of the waiting game that God plays with me. And so many times, I have to force myself to be still before Him. Only when He unveils everything did I see what He was doing in my life and with other people around me. There, we see His fingerprints in our lives. That is when we witness how much sense it makes to be part of this waiting. The time of waiting has even resulted in the most optimal result that I can possibly imagine. In this particular scenario, if I have acted any earlier, things would have turned out differently and negatively.

So, if circumstances have implied that God is making you wait, perhaps something better is coming your way.

Trust in Him, dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.

And so, to continue with the story, I graduated in 2009. And moved on to YG. The LG before I left NUS looked something like this:

And yes, I moved to YG. Of course after I moved on to YG, my contact time with her decreased. But it did not really mean much to me actually, since I was enjoying my newfound ministry. It was during this interim years when I started thinking about BGR, but that was for all practical reasons.

My training as a university minister

Before I carry on, I need to digress a little to give a bit of context. One must understand that I was educated to remain single for God until I graduate from university studies. Hence, my ministry training allowed me to become very excellent in teaching people how to remain single. This was sustainable back in my time. But when I had to disciple working adults who fret about such issues, I realised that it was perhaps not the right thing to encourage people to continue remain single for God.

Unfortunately, I was ill-equipped at that point to even say anything. Hence for all practical reasons, I began to think deeper and explore more into this issue. It matters since I was practically hanging out every other Saturday nights with my LG and we talk so much on relationship issues, till the point that some people complained that we talked too much into such stuff. 

And yet, I never thought that I will want to get into a relationship so soon. Of course, looking back, Angelina was never even in the picture (since she was still serving in the university ministry). And during the years 2009 to 2012,  the whole experience, together with the need to disciple young working adults, helped to hone and prepare me for the decisions I was about to make in Dec 2012. 

Reflecting on the lessons learned

So what are the lessons learned during these years? Reflecting back, these lessons were:

1) Be a man whom the woman I am looking for is looking for.

This means that if I decide that I want a woman who knows the Word of God inside out, can talk Aristole and Augustine and Erickson and Fee alike, can sing Jay Chou music and play the guitar, can manage her own household and cook good food, then I’ve better be a man whom such a woman will look for. That being said, my criteria were not so complicated, which moves me to the second point.

2) Define the criteria

But don’t make it so complicated till the girl has to be a pastor. The reason is so that I know exactly what I want objectively. But there is a risk. I had to watch that I do not end up being too self-centred to look for what I want or end up looking for a girl who is like myself. Hence, I ended up simplifying my criteria into three broad points:

  • Spiritually mature (Kingdom-mindedness)
  • Intellectually sound (stimulates the mind)
  • Emotionally stable.

Angelina met the three criteria. On top of that, she is someone who will seek God’s will for all her major decisions. So I was confident that her response she gives will have been well prayed through and thought through. 

3) Man and woman are created differently

I need to accept the fact that I am created as a man by God. As a man, it means that I need to accept the God-given role of a leader and an initiator. This does not mean that I am perfect. But in the context of a relationship, I take the first step to ask the girl despite all uncertainty. This actually means that I do not need to wait till the point when I confirm Angelina will say yes before I make my move. I mention this because people wrongly think that the guy has to ensure that the girl will say yes first before approaching. I have to admit that I used to have that perception as well. And that brings my to the next point. 

4) There are risks in a relationship

One just has to learn to deal with rejection. This is part of being a man and an initiator. To be honest, I never knew when to ask and how to ask. And I definitely had no experience in leading in such a relationship. But I just need to take the risk. This lesson was particularly important for me especially when I did not know Angelina’s response towards me. I just had to take the risk to ask her, bearing in mind the possibility of her rejecting me. 

5) Not to take life direction and God’s vision for a person as the defining factor

Definitely, when we consider someone as a potential life partner, her life goals and her vision for God’s kingdom do come into some form of considerations. But I made the mistake of taking that one too far. My conclusion lies from two observations. Firstly, the future direction of any couple is to be decided collectively as a couple but taken its lead from the man.

Secondly, no two visions for God’s kingdom are mutually exclusive. I believe that if God really intervenes to bring two persons together in a binding relationship, then He will help the couple to gain wisdom to know how their differing visions can converge. This liberated me to consider a wider scope of people. This was important also because I knew that Angelina did not know God’s vision for her. And I may have to wait until Jesus returns if I insist for an alignment of vision. Hence, this becomes an area which I had to trust God in. 

I realised that she doesn’t have to be a leader. Perhaps due to the kind of ministry I serve in, I serve quite closely with female leaders in church. Hence, by close proximity, female leaders lie within the direct scope of vision. But I realised that I do not need to confine myself to this group.

6) Establish proper boundaries during your singlehood with other sisters

This is so that our over-enthusiastic friends will not short-circuit the friendship by purposely spreading hints all over the place or telling everybody about it at the undue time. This was especially true in the case with Angelina when I had to be discreet in my actions. Our proximity means that people will inevitably ‘match’ us together. It became more difficult after I became honest with my feelings towards Angelina. This was also to protect the sisters from being pressurised to say yes in the midst of heightened expectation. 

That point when the story of huanyangelina took a turning point

It was around mid Dec 2011 that I found out that she was applying for a position at MOH. I think i was more excited that there’s a fellow church mate who will be working in MOH. I also knew that she will end up back in my LG. It was an interesting prospect since I always remembered her as a prayer warrior. This means that I could get her to lead prayer in the LG. Also, due to my previous experience, I knew that she was a discerning character. So she would definitely end up as a great support to me and the growing LG at that time.

And so, she entered back into my life, as a colleague and as a LG member. There was no liking back then, and I had to fight hard to avoid my over-enthusiastic colleagues from trying to be matchmakers, especially after they knew that the both of us attend the same church and she is in my LG. Yes, I had nosy colleagues who want to be helpful to this most eligible bachelor in the division. Now looking back, I think God had other plans for me. Before that, some pictures of the group together:

 And a prayer group in MOH which we started with some other sisters (because I was at that time the only guy…again):

The real starting point?

Perhaps, the route towards the asking started back in Dec 2012. I was at the stage when I was evaluating my own life. God was finally calling me out of my singlehood and I was to decide to settle down. This came through one of those excruciating marathons. I heard God rebuking how I ran my life as an irresponsible man who only runs for himself. It was a stinging rebuke but it brought me to some senses that perhaps it’s time to stop running alone but to run with somebody.

It was not because of loneliness that I decided that my season of singlehood was coming to an end. I was back then enjoying my singlehood a lot. I had the freedom to do things whenever and wherever I want. And I could spend time with myself to do the things I want to do. The decision was because I heard from God that a new season was due to begin in my life. So therefore, given all the signs and promptings, I knew that perhaps the new season was coming close.

Why her then?

If you ask me why Angelina, the strengths mentioned way above would have been the initial answer. But if not for the close proxmity, she would not have stood out so much compared to other sisters. And from the point when I realised that I had a liking on her (which was really weird to accept from the beginning since she was like a little sister last time), I really had a hard time to try to keep this not so obvious in the office. I did not want unnecessary rumors to be spreading around. This might short-circuit any potential progress I will have. 

I eventually asked on 30 Nov 2013, one year after finally deciding that it’s her whom I will ask. I was definitely not lacking courage since I was already ready to ask on 25 Dec 2012. But due to something which happened to me personally after that, I had to wait.

It was a tough 11 months. And I must admit that there were times when I wanted to jump the gun and just ask. But that would potentially go against my own principle of accountability.

But, during this period of time, I was also able to step back and consider deeper into the issue. I got time to ponder whether Angelina is the one whom I will want to pursue as a life partner. It took me all the way to Xi’an so as to isolate myself to do some deep thinking. I also had the opportunity to further observe how she overcame her problems at work and in ministry.

And I am glad that when God finally brought the waiting to fruition, I was ready to be the right person for the girl whom I am looking is looking. And I was ready to ask the question. 

The beginning of the formal Huanyangelina relationship

Huanyan’s side of the story:

Some obstacles to get by

After the time has come to make a move, there were still some obstacles which I had to go through before I get the “yes” to go on further with the relationship. 

Firstly, it was the timing to meet her. It was perhaps very difficult to find a time to meet Angelina back then. I was (and still am) a busy bird running all over the place doing ministry. Also, during that time, I had to prepare for my upcoming mission trip to the land where Facebook is banned, on top of the normal church stuff. Hence it was a bit difficult to arrange a common time. 

Secondly, it was the premise for meeting up. There was a lot of apprehension before even asking her to meet, as I needed to find a ‘non-threatening’ premise to meet her. It was a good thing that her birthday was around the corner, hence I could use that as a premise to ask her out. 

Thirdly, I had to overcome the possibility of rejection. At that point before 30 November, I did not know whether any other guys are chasing after her or whether there’s anything happening between her and other guys. But such is the risk of getting into a relationship that a guy has to undertake. More to be elaborated upon towards the end. 

Nevertheless, by God’s grace, I managed to ask Angelina out to talk about it. And she asked me to wait for one month so that she can think through and pray about her reply to me. I accepted that effort.

Biblical Masculinity

In some sense, the following two weeks was a difficult period to go through. It was a nerve wrecking wait, as I did not know what the reply would be. Hence, my mind was almost always occupied. Not to mention that during this period, I had to think about all the Christmas stuff and the New Year. My worst nightmare back then was that I will be rejected on Christmas Eve or New Year Eve. My work productivity back then was almost equivalent to zero since this was almost occupying my mind all the time. I remember I was walking all over the place and was unable to settle down at one place as I needed to calm myself down from the very very fast heart beats despite myself in resting position. 

On hindsight, that was indeed the risk that a guy has to take. John Piper has defined biblical masculinity as “a sense of benevolent responsibility to lead, provide for and protect women in ways appropriate to a man’s differing relationship.” This means that the man ought to exercise a personal directive leadership in his own life and in his future relationship which will allow the woman to exercise her roles well in the relationship.

On the contrary, John Piper defined biblical feminity as  “a freeing disposition to affirm, receive and nurture strength and leadership from worthy men in ways appropriate to a woman’s differing relationships.” This means that a woman best expresses herself in the acceptance of her complementary role and ministering as his helper and assistant even when she is searching for her life partner. Such a woman is free to allow the man she is considering to provide “the pattern of appropriate initiatives in her relationship while joining in this process of leadership and helping to strengthen the masculinity of the man.

My reflection on that two weeks of waiting

Hence, in view of the differing roles of man and woman in a relationship, it is truly appropriate that a man just has to take the initiative in his relationship, and indeed once he takes the initiative, he is also taking on the risk that comes with taking the initiative. Most of the risk, if I may argue, comes in the possibilty of rejection. And I have indeed seen people being rejected before. As Erik Thoennes said it in Dating 101, a relationship seminar conducted in Biola University in 2011, it is the man’s job to stick your neck so that it gets cut off. 

So, I think part of being a man is really to take the leadership and initiative in our relationship. This is, as I would argue, literally our God-given role. As the saying goes, we miss 100% of the shots we do not take. And as another saying goes, fortune favours the bold. We cannot perpetually sit there and refuse to do anything simply because we are afraid of rejections. You are going to set the pattern for your relationship and you cannot afford to allow the relationship to be defined as you being the passive half right from the start. And in any case, if you are so passive, you are probably not going to go anywhere.

And you know what, if you feel butterflies in the stomach, you are not the first one, and probably not the only one, and definitely not going to be the last one to experience this when you do the initial asking. For the first-timer (such as me), it was as terrifying as our first attempt at public speaking. I thought public speaking was bad but I never realized that I will go cold-feet at such a private setting – especially since I thought I had since overcome the fear of public speaking.

Little did I know that Angelina would have an answer so soon into two weeks….

Angelina’s side of the story:

And so two weeks after I made the decision to surrender my future relationship to God, Huanyan met me on the pretext of celebrating my birthday. Given that Huanyan rarely met up with girls one-on-one unless there was work/ministry stuff to discuss, I found it rather weird that he would initiate a one-to-one meet up just to celebrate my birthday.

And so the night before the meeting, I was wondering about the possible reasons he would arrange such a meet up. One of the out-of-the-world (or maybe not so after all) possibility was to ask for a relationship, since I did know that there was someone he was interested in. But I didn’t really place too much hope on that, given that there were hardly any signs from him that year (2013). Although we were still in the same office, we barely spoke or had lunch together ever since we went to different LGs. Surely, if you did like someone, you would have found excuses to increase interaction with the person, rather than to decrease it. At least that was how they always portrayed it in dramas. 

When Huanyan asked the question

And so we met the next day for lunch. I felt a little weird having lunch with him without ministry or work related stuff on our agenda, since most of our previous interactions were centred around those two topics. It was the first time that I saw him so uneasy. After we were done with lunch, he got really tensed. After taking a few deep breaths, he asked. No frills, just straight to the point, and he explained how he came to this decision.

I was surprised that the out-of-the-world possibility I had thought of the day before actually became a reality. My mind was just in a mess, with thousand and one questions. Too many for me to even ask all of them. Given that I rarely make decisions when I am in an emotional whirlwind, I told him to give me a month time to think and pray through. 

The consideration process

I was glad that it was service soon after that, because it gave me some time alone to think and process what just happened with God. Little did I expect that as I brought this before God during worship, God immediately showed me a picture of us standing together with light radiating out. The light from the two of us was wayyyy brighter than what we could ever achieve individually. The message was clear – the impact that we can make for God together is much greater than what each of us can ever achieve alone. 

Till that day he asked, I had never saw Huanyan as anything more than a leader. I spent the next two weeks asking God if this sort of synergistic impact could be achieved through a leader-member relationship. Though I had no clear answer, I knew that the synergy that God was referring to was more than a leader-member relationship, since we have had such a relationship for three years since our uni days.  

I also revisited my original list of criteria (close relationship with God, family man, sensitive to my needs) and asking which “non-negotiable criteria” were really non-negotiable and which were actually negotiable. There were a lot of fears that came up during this period too: loss of my freedom as a single, fear of a failed relationship and the heartache that followed, the limelight of being together with someone pretty high profile in church. The more I thought about the issue, the more questions I had, so we met up again to clarify expectations on the relationship. 

The deciding perspective

I prayed through and sought counsel from leaders and parents. They raised various valid viewpoints. But one of my leaders sharply pointed out that while I can spend more time considering the various factors that people have brought up (personality, values, family background, depth of how much I know him etc), actually deep down I already had an answer, from the image that God has given. And since there were no major red flags that I could see, it was about responding in faith to Huanyan’s invitation, and trusting that if God was the one who had brought us together, so that we can shine even greater for him, then God will take care of whatever concerns I had. 

It was with this understanding and perspective of trusting God that I decided to say yes to Huanyan. 

It has been about three years since then, and we have seen so much of God’s hands in this relationship. Like every couple, we have had our fair share of tensions, disagreements and cooling off periods.

Yet through each of these uncomfortable episodes, we see how God has moulded us to be more like Him, as we turned to God to make sense of the situation and responded to God’s promptings to put down our pride and serve the other person even though we don’t instinctively feel like it. This is an incredible journey that we hope to share more with everyone as time goes by. 

Share with us how God wrote your love stories. We would love to hear your stories.