My husband told me how my sister-in-love in Florida had mentioned to him the challenge she encountered in packing our purchases. We shopped online from stores in the USA and had them delivered to her address. She then packed the items in a big courier box to be shipped to us. It will be cheaper that way than have the stores ship directly to us. She told her Kuya Felix how she had puzzled in arranging his grass cutter in such a way that my pretty and fragile porcelain tea set would not be crushed to smithereens.
Later on as I lay in bed facing my framed Gracelaced arts on the wall, the thought was still on my mind and I smiled to myself. Grass cutter and porcelain tea set. I marvelled both at the beauty and paradox of that. Iron and porcelain. Exact opposites – strength and fragile beauty – yet exhibiting fierce attraction to each other, like positive and negative poles. In chemistry, like cation and anion reacting powerfully. A man and a woman. A husband and wife, exactly as God has destined it to be. Adam and Eve.
It has always been that way from the beginning. In the garden of Eden. God’s perfect design. And God saw that it was good.
Call me an incurable, hopeless romantic but that’s how I’ve always seen the differences between a man and a woman. There are distinct differences and they are wonderful. They stir up powerful emotions in both man and woman as God has purposed. Although women now inhabit the men’s world, pursuing careers that previously labeled as men’s and doing things that were previously exclusive to the “stronger vessel”, in the realm of love and marriage, the differences that God had put in place in the beginning are still intact. And no one can change that.
I’ve always seen my husband as the stronger one physically. And yes, even emotionally. Although I exhibited (still do!) a very strong personality, ruthlessly pursuing a career in chemical engineering and putting up my own chemicals company, his were the sturdy shoulders I cried on when I failed, was hurt or frustrated. His were the arms which held and carried me when I was too sick and weak to bring myself to the hospital. I always loved that with my husband: him capably carrying me in his arms, his masculine strength a contrast to my feminine frame.
The extreme feminists out there may strongly disagree, but I cannot and will not climb our roof to check leaks, or walk precariously in our dingy ceiling to check faulty electrical wirings, nor can I see myself climbing up a ladder, setting up CCTV around the house. In our home, my husband will always be the handyman, and me, the queen who enjoys her porcelain tea set.
One time many years ago when we were still dating and I was a hardworking career woman whose only rest was when I fell sick, he rushed to my apartment, flung open my closet to get my bathrobe, and scooped me up in his arms even before I could tie the robe around my pajama-clad, very sick self. He brought me to the hospital and took care of me everyday until I was well. He took a leave from work just to do that. This happened every other year, as was the pattern of my workaholic life then. I knew then that he was a man who would take care of me through thick and thin. That and the fact that he made me laugh were what made him precious to me.
But our relationship wasn’t always that beautiful and pat. Far from it, actually. The years that we dated each other were peppered with ugliness: shameful fights and bad choices. When we finally got married, on the outside, my dream wedding was fulfilled: a beautiful silk wedding gown created by a famous couturier, a wedding singer who performed in theaters, and a wedding reception at The Garden Ballroom of The Shangri-La. The gold-lined invitations were expensive and classy. But looking back now with the heart and mind of a born-again Christian, I can only shake my head in regret. Though our wedding was almost perfect according to the world’s standards, the events behind it, the real love story, weren’t that pure, let alone perfect.
I cannot count the times that I wished I could rewrite our history: our dating years, engagement, wedding, and the early years of marriage. We weren’t born-again Christians then. We walked in step with the world. We practiced what the world practiced. Many times I daydreamed of recreating our honeymoon, the very first night we became husband and wife. How beautiful it would have been had we been walking with the Lord then!
But we cannot rewrite our love story, how it unfolded, then crumbled hopelessly (just a year into marriage, it was an epic fail), and how I would have liked it told differently. We cannot brag about it as if it was taken from the pages of a beautiful romance novel, for it is far from that. What we can boast of instead is the grace of God that was poured out upon it unsparingly: how our marriage, marred by sins as dark as a moonless night and as crimson as fresh blood, was mercifully salvaged from the ash heap by the loving hands of the Savior and restored into His love and light.
The memories, replete with shame and sin, still make me shake my head when they sneak into my mind. The claws of the past still reach me sometimes. But, oh, how I give thanks to God for His beautiful gift: He makes all things new! In that one, short sentence is all the weight of my regrets and repentance carried and borne away as far away from me as the West will never meet the East. In it is the summation of my peace, my joy, my hope. God makes all things new in Christ. He blots out all past sins and remembers them no more.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. (2 Cor. 5:17)
I will never stop marvelling at God’s indescribable gift: the gift of a new life. Redemption. Restoration. Renewal. My life – past, present, and future – is poured out in this: the Lord Jesus Christ has become my sanctification, my holiness, my salvation! I just had to look it up again, that it’s really there, written on the pages of the ancient Book – the truth that set me free!
Do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived. Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites, nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners will inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But you were washed, but you were sanctified, but you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God. (1 Cor. 6:9-12, emphasis mine)
This year, we celebrate 15 years of marriage. We would have loved to renew our vows on a hill in the country, under a wedding dais decorated with a curtain of white orchids, a brightly-lit, cascading, crystal chandelier hanging at the center, and surrounded by loved ones, friends, and Church family. But I cannot walk. So, we embrace what is there to be had. Each other. And our two precious offsprings. And the sacrificial love that is a testimony to our tried and tested life.
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Journey with Jesus,