To each HIS own

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By Rianne Lim

Archie & I have agreed since day 1 that the standard for which we are going to lead and coach couples who are about to be married, are newly married, or are married for a long time already is the Word of God (period). It is true that our testimony or love story can also be of big help to others, but if it becomes the central message and the main story in our coaching sessions, I think there has to be some checking and balancing that should be done there. It can also get to a point wherein it becomes the standard you impart to or teach others, and if they don’t meet your criteria or the standards or practices that you uphold, God only knows what thoughts you have in your heart.

For me and my husband, every love story and marriage blessed by God is wonderful and beautiful… truly beautiful! Whenever we drive home coming from a wedding (which by the way feels like we have one going every week!), we can only speak in awe about what we just witnessed that day—a beautifully written, Christ-centered union. And we stand amazed on how God never runs out of ideas on how to uniquely give each story its own twists and highlights. Some probably got engaged after just 2 months of dating, some may have fully enjoyed years of dating and only after a while decided to pursue marriage, some even have longer engagement season than their actual dating season, some also may have been disengaged first before they finally got engaged to the person God has prepared for them, some may have been pursued for marriage in their early 20’s or mid 40’s. Nonetheless, each story is a masterpiece, well thought of and wholeheartedly written by God himself!

Let me get this straight, I am not, in any way, saying that you can go ahead and deliberately commit mistakes, after all God can repair it later. What I am saying here is that the moment one heeds to the standard of God in their lives at any given season, no matter how different and unique each story is to another, it is still part of the beautiful story God has perfectly written so that His glory may be known through their union! To look down on one love story and esteem yours is a mockery towards God, for He is the author of not just your story but theirs as well.

Why coaching with your story as the HIDDEN standard is unhealthy:

  1. You will never depend on the Holy Spirit as you lead the couple in their pursuit for a Christ-centered marriage.
  2. You will less likely be sensitive to the leading of the Holy Spirit as you minister to the couple.
  3. You will panic when the story of the couple is totally out of your league. And may end up hurting them instead of inspiring and helping them.
  4. Your pride grows and you forget that your story is still by God’s grace alone.
  5. When you find someone who has a “better” love story than yours, you pout and frown.
  6. You sow unnecessary seeds of insecurities and ungratefulness to the couple you are coaching.
  7. You can altogether dismiss a couple when they come to you not with your ideal story or standards, but with an honest heart that says, “We had a bad start. Can you help us honor God in this?” and you go on thinking “We told you so,” “See?”
  8. When you are a couple who has been tragically planted with seeds of insecurities and ungratefulness by people around you, you will forever remain silent about God’s story in your life and would only choose a handful of people to whom you want to share it with.
  9. You may be pushed to a point of convincing yourself that your added make-believe highlights and twists to the already complete and perfect story God has written for you is genius and inspiring. Thereby living a lie for the rest of your life.
  10. You will be hindered to celebrate other people’s stories on how God has been good and gracious in their love story.

And the list goes on…

I am glad you love your love story, it is actually a good thing. But I hope it doesn’t become a stumbling block to you and to the people around you, instead may it become a story that would keep on reminding you how good and faithful your God is, and how undeserving you are, but still….

Here’s to more weddings in the coming days, weeks, and months! And may you never be surprised to see tears brimming my eyes as the bride walks down the aisle (even if she’s completely unrelated to me!) in every Christian wedding I will be in.

Four Years

Today, I’m happily married for four years to the woman I can’t live without. Friends, it’s been four good years. I have been contemplating about our marriage the past weeks and I am just so glad we have the time for ourselves following some chronic busyness back home. And so tonight, I’m writing this on a very cold evening on a cross country backdrop with a congested ear slowly cracking to pop. My wife’s asleep with a double fleece blanket that’s serving her well.

True to everyone, our marriage isn’t a bliss. But I am glad I share this married life with someone who is equally committed to keeping a warm and fruitful marriage as I am. There isn’t a phone app that downloads husbandhood to anyone. Marriage is hardwork. And two pairs of hands working on it are better than one. I want to thank and honor my wife, Rianne for the love and sacrifice, for working hard for our marriage. It isn’t pure pleasure sharing a home with me, so I thank God for her audacity.

I did my first wedding last month and I made it clear to the couple that outserving one another can be a key in enjoying married life. My wife and I have been practicing it, and it (outserving/selflessness) works everytime! R. Zacharias even suggests that you have to be willing to “die” to yourself if you really want to get married. That equates to your willingness to die to your own convenience, interests, hobbies, pet peeves, traditions, routines, sleep, and even your favorite food. I’m blessed that this is a non issue in our home. And I believe this is birthed out of love for one another. Sometimes my wife serves to the extent of becoming a little “gentlemanish” towards me–securing my seat, carrying my stuffs, among others. It’s a little embarassing but I thank her for making me feel like a king.

I also love her heart of compassion. When we were dating, I learned that she always prays her favorite line from her favorite song that says, “break my heart with what breaks Yours”. That has been an everyday prayer. Thus, chances are, if you are poor, unheralded, and untapped, you do not miss the peripherals of Rianne. You are a topic for prayer over dinner.

And oh, if you see us driving around at 2am, it’s because we are extending the kindness to some of our four legged stray friends.

One thing marriage does to you is that it exposes you. And because of a compassionate heart that always chooses mercy and forgiveness, I’m just so glad that I’m loved just the way I was loved on our wedding day albeit my flaws.

That kindness of heart expresses itself in the most genuine love for people that I’ve ever seen. Sometimes I don’t mind being rude. I just have to cut short her long talks with people. That “long talk” actaully is usually just a 16th of a fraction only and the rest of the portion is all listening. She can listen to someone uninterrupted for hours. I.just.can’t.do.that. But that’s something I appreciate about her.

My wife is like a tender shoot. Through the years, her soft heart has allowed her to have an undescribable depth in her relationship with God. Her intimacy with the Lord allowed her to be still in troubling times. She can not hold up a life that displeases God. I deem it very important because that is humility, and humility extinguishes familiarity with God. And it allows her to lovingly obey the Lord, whatever it takes.

Four years into our marriage and it seems like we just exchanged vows yesterday. My wife is my darling. I miss her the moment I drive off our gates and I giddy-yup at the thought of going home. She is my best friend. I love picking any stories to start conversations with her. She is a companion and a partner, a woman I’d love to love again and again.

I remember the time when I stood nervously on the altar saying my vows. I have no idea what things are going to be like in the next years or decades. But the way I know my wife now, I’m confident that even if we meet a convergence of storms, we can count on what the Bible assures that we can be perplexed, but not in despair, persecuted, but not forsaken, and cast down, but not destroyed.

Let me share with you why I’m so excited for our fourth year.
Four is the number of creation. In the Bible, before the first ever nostril breathed its very first breath, all the “necessities” were already created in four days time. Everything necessary to sustain life have already proliferated before God created the animals and Adam. Adam didn’t have to contend with a DPWH concreting project or an untrimmed garden or a sea foaming up no waves. Things were readied in four days.

Four years of being married is like us learning the ropes. There’s been funny times of misadventures and mistakes. At times, it wasn’t funny any more. But our four years are like years of preparation for us individually and as a couple. This gives me the sense of excitement because I know the next coming years may not come in full bliss, but I know they are going to be times of receiving unmerited favor simply because God has already prepared things for us.

To the woman I took home as my bride four years ago, I love you now and forevermore, Mine!

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