How could we ever forget that eventful June 5, 1999 Saturday? When I woke up I was still wondering whether this was a dream. 10 years of courting is no joke! It had been a pretty long run. And yet we knew getting married though felt like dashing through a finishing line in a way, was in actual fact completing one season and transitioning into another new season of life. And after 8 years, I at least don’t feel we’ve ever arrived in a finishing line at all .. it’s been a series of multiple phases.
A quick flashback. It should be 18 years because we kind of started having a “special friendship” pretty young. Perhaps more officially it was 18 or 19 years old. I’ve retold this story many times, and every time I seem to notice some bits which I may have missed out. Ok … if we want to go way back, May Chin’s aunt and my mom went to the same youth fellowship in Christ Lutheran Church, Setapak – it was the first youth fellowship of the new church in the 60’s. They have remained good friends since.
When I came back from the UK at 9 years old I still went faithfully to the Sunday School, and I knew there was this person May Chin who was 8 years old but we never really talked to each other. She was the Star Sunday school student who could memories all the Bible verses while I was this new kid on the block fresh from years being overseas. We still have one photo from those days, a group photo of all the Chinese Sunday school kids for a outing.
I suppose real contact was made only after I left the church as well as organized religion at 10, got reconnected through the Pentecostals at Secondary school and then returned back to the Student Fellowship of Christ Lutheran Church when I was 14. My first sentance to her as I shook her hand was, “Do you still remember me?”
We served together in the committee, became prayer partners (that was the only time we had prayer partners between a boy and a girl!), became best of friends, talked a lot on the phone, met secretly here and there π went for church camps together, Christian leadership camps, supported each other in studies, and whole lot of other stuff. We never really dated that young I guess, most of our times together were with groups whether a bigger group or smaller group of 5-6.
She studied law and I read theology. I think in all honesty she decided to do the whole law degree course locally because of me for which I am grateful. External degree programs have other benefits huh? This was a time it was really more “official” on our part. But it was not easy, because what would it mean for an upcoming lawyer to marry a pastor one day? It’s not part of the normal narratives you hear very often isn’t it?
We wrestled a lot with our values during these times, many conversations over our backgrounds. We thought we knew each other since we grew up together, but there was more to discover. And we were no longer those two young teenagers, we were changing too.
Friends and mentors have always been important for us .. and still do. Our relationship were never isolated from the church, our families and close friends/mentors. I think we avoided many unneccessary pitfalls because of their wisdom and concern. In a few crucial moments, this kind of accountability and support practically saved us from going our separate ways when it was tempting to do so. All in all, we were both learning to grow up. And it was great to have people holding us when we were weak and cheering us on when we were making progress.
After our eventful wedding, which had more than 500 guest, family and friends come, so much has happened since. The “resurrection of BLC”, the birth of our 2 kids (3rd one coming in November), changing jobs (for May Chin), my own involvement within the denomination and beyond, old and new friends coming and going, moving homes, lots of tears and laughter, … add to the list. Time has REALLY travelled fast. It’s amazing how as humans we can “go back” in time and recapture the memories, reengage the feelings of those moments and in many ways after revisiting those episodes learn to reinterpret them in a new light as well as deepen the original lessons. 8 years feels a little short but as I pause and look back there’s a lot to be grateful for, much more raw material to reflect upon, some regrets which need to be embraced, lots of forgiveness, loads of acceptance, a wide horizon for growth and expansion as human beings – and especially as Christ-followers. His grace truly has been enough for us.
Today, we are looking forward to many more years to come. Sure, May Chin as always still looks almost the same, young, intelligent, discipline and beautiful. Me? more gray hairs (inherited from my mother), a thinning hairline (inherited from my father), increasing in size (due to potato chips!) .. prayerfully wiser and humbled by hard knocks through the years. Now of course, with the dynamic duo of Gareth and Elysia this phase requires much energy and the next phase looks very open with possibilities and hard questions to be asked. But, that was part of the package wasn’t it? That is part of the outworking of the vows we gifted each other 8 years today. Thanks to all the friends and family to walked with us all these years for keeping us going especially when we wobbled or even stumbled along the way. Praise be to God – Father, Son and Spirit for pouring your love upon us and keeping us bonded together.
Our prayer is that we could allow all these blessings to overflow to all who come into contact with us π