Letter to Sam & Toni

Probably the longest blog I’ve written. I think it’s worth reading.

December 19, 2008

Dear Sam and Toni, Hi! How’re things going with you two? How’s school? You must be thinking I’m all too assuming with this letter. You reserve all the right to raise your eyebrows because yes, you don’t know me.Actually I’ve been longing to write you this letter ever since I’ve heard about you a year ago. I’m Archie by the way and I’m a friend, or to safely put it, I can be a friend. Well, my friends and I have been talking about you for quite some time now. Your case, that is – your relationship. I agree it’s pretty weird that you’ll have this coming from me, but I won’t be intruding in any part of it. More than that, put your guards down cause I promise you you’ll find me no better in both ends.

Lemme see. You must be altogether confused, doubting,convicted, or what. I would understand. And you needed help, right? Let me first personally connect with you on something palpable.

Ever scratched your head with these questions: What’s the real point of waiting? Is it not just being too idealistic? I would want to get off church if that’s the case, then. I’m created with the natural tendencies to love, what’s the score then? Does it make me less spiritual in that sense? Biblically speaking, clarify the point if you could. The love I may be having is real, it is. What’s the fuss about all of these things? Is this not a Victory disciple micro managing strategy? Lordship, they say. Or perhaps, that I-kissed-dating-buhbye Josh Harris conspiracy? I simply don’t get it cause it’s making things complicated, worse, horrible. And wait, is this supposed to be an issue in the first place??? Some pretty extremes right? But I know some of them could be real questions that are reeling the heck out of both of you. I didn’t come up with those, I actually have them in mine own mind years before. Yes, I had some of them. Sigh you go, hopefully that gives me a foot forward towards friendship. Shake hands. 🙂

Here’s my concern: If you don’t find those questions answered and they remain in you while you remain in the relationship, you could actually end up far away-far from friends, far from church, and far from God. I think that proposition makes this letter important. I brought no loaves of wisdom to answer all those questions, but I brought with me a story. Can I be seated? Thanks.

Alright. Rye was my college best friend. He was actually my brother’s friend back in grade school, and when I got into the same university he attended, I ended up as his dorm smally-turned good pal. It has been a very interesting friendship. I met her sister, Ree when she got in the same college a year after. Seven years after that, I’m now engaged to her. And it’s no less beautiful. In fact, I’m full of glee inside. I really am. You should see the ring! 😉

I remember the first time I met her when three of us had dinner at Shakey’s; she was exuding the gladness of young child secured in the warmth of her own smile. She has the ounces of that even more today. Not everyone’s just like that, y’know. She quickly became my little sister, someone I’d look upon to-a responsibility I shared with his brother. Our relationship evolved from that being casual friends to a family wherein I’d see her laugh and cry and at times make her laugh or cry. She was wonderful and beautiful, but with the purest of intent, she was my sister. You started out same way?

All three of us got in church on the same year; I was already on my third year in college that time. Though Ree had some Christian backgrounds already, everything was totally new for the three of us. One of the reasons I’m a minister today is because of these two siblings-I don’t know what was with them at that time, but both of them seem to simply love God. Though all three of us went through one to one, they were just different. I remember that love they had was so contagious that it actually brought their mom in the city with a cloaked mission to talk them out of it. She ended up broken before God, and was discipled herself. She is now my financial partner who’ll soon be my mom-in-law. Hehe.

Coming off from a broken family, Ree at one point shared to me, that when she was observing our pastor and his family, she was blessed by the evident wonder and incredible love they have. So she wrote a prayer in one of the leaves of her bible. The prayer simply says she wanted to be married to a pastor someday. And on that case, she is going to be – nonetheless to a handsome one. Hold on to that giggling, we’ll get back to stories a little later. Alright, I presume that both of are being discipled because if you’re not, this is a pointless conversation, right? You’re struggling with this simply because you’re aware there’s something behind it, which maybe at the recent moment you cannot really identify. The fact that we are giving careful thought about relationships is quite healthy. Sugar please? Thanks.

Let me just talk about waiting, and then from then on, we’ll just weave through some other stuff alongside it. There are a couple of realizations that I had during my college years. At times I thought I have no problem with this area because I’m really not into it as much as other people are. Wrong. When my small group leader got married, I realized he’s going to have a family of his own. And the fact is he’s not going to be with me for the rest of my life. Who I’m going to be with is my future partner that is my future wife, and therefore, I have to pray to God for her-for the future partnership that we are going to have. At that moment, I’ve always liked Ree, but the thought of it is something I would quickly shrug off. She was my sister and it was the dumbest thought that I could ever have. It was something I would not entertain, not until the day things were properly orchestrated. Did I hold it back? Yes. And I told you, I shrugged it off. Do I have to struggle about it? No. Both come from a vantage point of making a choice. I was made to understand that relationship comes as a gift. And to hold such gift entails responsibility. I’m not saying our emotions will always deceive us, but it can override us at times. My leader told me he does not believe in disposable relationship, to dispose it is to dispose a gift. Am not saying things end up being disposed, but it is a fact that there’s the responsibility and not just the commitment factor unto it. Responsibility in the sense of spiritual discipline, personal discipline, obedience, love…… We know how Adam and Eve messed things up. Sam and Toni, if I sound too radical on that, it is because I was made to understand that the level of conviction that we should have as Christians should give not a lick to our enemy. If God is to give good gifts, the enemy is to give a good fight to take it away. And take note we are not talking about school, friends, or scrapbooks, but relationship which has been founded way before Noah had grown beard. That’s how important it is.

Going back, I understood that my call at that time was to always prepare myself for responsibilities at that moment-school and my thriving relationship with God. Y’know what Sam? As a man, because the institutions are designed to be lead by us, I think our vision for ourselves should go beyond the current things that we have. If we succumb to just having our hands on it, we may miss the greater dimension of the panorama. Poetry aside, consider your greater call before you step out of clueless emotions. I hope I don’t sound assuming and arrogant, Sam. Tell you frankly, this are also realizations am sharing with you. Truth is, apart from God’s grace, I’m quick to admit I’m one big disgrace, man. There’s a lot God has for you right now. Try giving Him an undivided devotion. On my part I could tell you it has been so exciting. Not to mention, very rewarding – I have Ree.

Let me now move you on to her experience. I told you about the prayer in the bible, she still has it if you want to seei it! I was overwhelmed when I learned about that. I also told you about that thing she exudes, that beauty and gladness, wow. Actually it’s not just me who sees that. Others do too. There’s this guy, Mr. W, who was one of the smartest in her batch. Actually he was quite popular in the university. On his level though, not mine. He was incredibly attracted to Ree and he tried making his way to her. They started going out, and it’s needless to mention that Ree liked him too. 😦 hehehe. At that time, Ree was still new in church; she was being discipled. and she had a shed of light about relationships. Here’s what she encountered: She was being emotionally attached to Mr. W. She totally likes what she feels. You should know what I mean, Toni. She of course loves the attention she’s getting–the waiting at the corridor of her classroom and those stuff ladies get kilig over. Everyone they know wanted the relationship to blossom into somethimg. Even some of her teachers were teasing them. But this is where the crossroads demand detours – she also knows that God was telling her to surrender the emotions. Toni, I know you know that’s not going to be easy. Was it easy for her? Not a bit. But Ree did surrender it. She later said that the best thing to do was to surrender it to God for reasons she doesn’t even understand at that time. She simply quips and tells God in between sobs how she badly wants this, but she wanted Him more (Talk to her to get the full details of her dramatic monologue with the Lord). You know how God honors decisions made for Him? Amidst the pain of surrendering her emotions, the irony was, she found an indescribable excitement and joy. And for Ree, it made her more excited to wait. She tells God to simply bring healing if that is what He wants. And He did. God surrounded her with godly women (sisters) in the church and she had the best years of her single life with them. She later realized that she was imprisoned in a clueless emotion. During those times, I’m a witness among several others of the vibrant relationship Ree had with God. Both of them, Ree and God, they were just deep, Toni. I know of some other guys who also attempted and failed. She was just so smitten wih God that nothing else could hold her heart after that first painful surrender. All rights reserved only to the overly qualified one, ehem.

You see, if our view of waiting is about surviving the wait rather than enjoying the wait that makes waiting a silly idea.

When I was a kid, I would always pull my mom’s arm every now and then to ask her to buy me toys I wanted. She tells me the big no and that makes me so sad, sometimes hurt, sometimes I even rebel by making chores hard for her. But what drive me to excitement are the unexpected gifts they give me on rather simple occasions. I do anticipate that gifts are coming, but I wouldn’t know how it’s going to be wrapped, what’s inside, or how the surprise is coming. It’s just exciting! If God is actively involved in our lives, it’s the same way with Him. He knows gifts are exciting when they come as a surprise. He is a Father who loves us. And He would want to see us consumed by that love. He’ll give the relationships around us as gifts, and believe me, our Father knows best.

Toni, your value in the eyes of your Father is far greater than how you imagine it. Receive Him real, receive His love real. Be secured in His love and you’ll realize that indeed, you are worth waiting for. Sam, it’s going to be worth the wait, I promise you that. As you contemplate about these things, I want to assure you of the grace of God that is readily made available for us. There’s no story that can be labeled a standard or substandard, only ones labeled centered, that is, Christ centered. Whatever the beginning of that story is, when it finds itself centered to God, it is going to be beautiful.

I really covet your prayers for me and Rianne. Please stand with us. Thank you!

P.S. I’ll be writing about our engagement soon.

*Sam and Toni are characters we used in our case studies in the past two ENCM Visayas Regional Convergence. Sam and Toni are both students and are in a relationship. They brought quite a discussion among participating leaders.Interesting.

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