It was amazing to find this document in my files! Twelve years ago, Edric and I wrote about how God brought us back together after our breakup.(Okay, I wrote most of this engagement story…he had a post script.) We had mutually agreed to seek God first as individuals and discern his will for our lives prior to our engagement. It was a very painful time of separation, but God used it to prepare both our hearts for the future.
We put this on a website before our wedding, but the website is long gone. I thought I would resurrect this to encourage the singles out there that God’s timing is perfect. And, well, it’s our anniversary in a few days and reading through this again reminded me how faithful God has been in our relationship. So for nostalgia’s sake…
March 3, 2001 — The day I said yes to E.
We often try to plan our lives with such careful precision, and every action becomes a determinant for what we will be in the next year, what we will accomplish, where we will find ourselves, but we never know when God will intervene to course our lives in the direction that he knows is best for us. When we recognize that God has allowed a tragedy or trial, pain or disappointment or even just change, we must be fully convinced that he loves us in order to experience and enjoy his perfect will.
Last year Edric and I thought we would be married. It was not uncommon that we would discuss our future together and our relationship seemed to be progressing toward that direction. However, when we were finally close to the possibility of being engaged, God changed our plans and we mutually resolved to be apart for a while, to discern His will first. We began to make decisions outside the context of a dating relationship and we no longer communicated on a regular basis after May 2000. This became the period of isolation from each other that God used to renew our desire to love Him above all else and to make us completely dependent upon Him.
I think there are many forms of idolatry and perhaps people can become so important to us, we allow them to replace God. Knowingly or unknowingly we find ourselves making choices based on what we value most at that point in our lives rather than what we know will please God. During this time of being away, Edric and I began to realize how we had become so focused on each other, so much so that we even made some compromises that caused us both and those whom we love a lot of grief.
There is only one God and he will not share his throne with anyone or anything because he wants us completely–heart, mind and soul. Using this period of absence from each other, we sought to reorient ourselves and seek God more passionately, while at the same time working on character traits that we needed to.
I would find myself frequenting Au Bon Pain a small café next to my office almost daily. Alone with my Bible and journal, I would order the same tuna cheese melt sandwich that I did each time I was there for my lunch break. Sitting in front of the window that faced the street, I would be devouring God’s word tearfully, reading chapters and chapters of the Old and New Testament while looking for answers to all my questioning and searching for His direction for me.
In a journal entry dated Saturday, June 10, 2000, I had written:
Just thinking about Edric now and how I have wished for the length of three years to be with him forever…I know it is not time to seal this relationship. Of course we are merely friends now and I know that decision was something God placed in both of our hearts so that we would come to know him more intimately, more personally.
Saturday, July 9, 2000
Psalm 32:8 “I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you should go. I will counsel you with my eye upon you.”
Monday, July 31, 2000
I know that I must wait for E a while longer than I might have wanted to but if God has chosen him for me then no waiting will be in vain, it will all be worth this temporal agony.
Year 2000 passed and Edric and I started communicating again. I had prayed for three specific things. Lord, if you want Edric and I to get married then please help him not to date anyone else while we are apart – help him to have eyes only for me even through the separation. (It sounds like a selfish prayer but I wanted to be certain that he really loved me.) Second, I prayed that if we opened up to my parents about how we struggled with our physical relationship, that they would still embrace him and accept him should he decide to marry me. Third, if Edric did ask me to marry him that he would get the blessing of his parents and mine first.
I was in Bangkok, Thailand, visiting Rahab Ministries with the intention of doing research on how to be a care-giver for abused women. It didn’t turn out the way I had anticipated because the ladies at the center were fairly preoccupied with their day to day activities at a beauty parlor where they worked as hairdressers and make-up artists instead of at the pubs and bars in Patpong. However, Jenny Reed (who later became my sister-in-law) and I were able to observe the women and see how God had radically changed their lives. During their worship time in the early afternoons, they would gather around in a circle and sing praise songs, praying out loud and sharing from the word of God. It was hard to believe that these women had once been prostitutes. It was also during this trip that I learned that drinking water after eating spicy food is a useless attempt to quell the fire in your mouth. The Thais pass around leafy green vegetables, which quickly subdues the burning sensation on the tongue more effectively than water does.
Apart from losing our bearings several times and eating curry off the streets, I remember telling Jenny during that trip that I was waiting for Edric to ask me to marry him but it was taking a while. I admitted to her that I was feeling a little bit impatient because I was very eager to map out the rest of my life.
Tuesday Night, YMCA Hotel, Bangkok, February 6, 2001
What a relief to be away from Manila. I have needed this escape for the last year and finally here it is…the tumbling forwards had to come to a halt at some point. What next, where to, what of all this, what about Edric, what about a new job, what about China? If E doesn’t ask me to marry him before May, it will make a big difference in my decision-making process…Already I miss him but somehow we both understand the necessity of being away from each other to think. He asked me to pray for God’s guidance in his life. I know what he means. He wants to know if he should get married, go to China, changes jobs…Lord, give me the patience to wait on you as I wait for him to sort out these possibilities. Knowing that you are sovereign is my comfort and my assurance. I know that you will speak to E and speak to me and your will shall be pleasing and perfect.
The week before March 3 Edric had seemed very high strung and stressed, and for some reason I had been feeling a little agitated as well with my own work requirements. Both of us were really looking forward to Saturday and Sunday to escape from our day-to-day schedules and have the weekend to relax and breathe. He told me that we should go through all the things he had collected from our dating relationship. I was not excited to do this since I thought it would be more appropriate if we did this kind of memory-lane walking in the context of being engaged. However, since he made it sound so fun, I conceded.
About Wednesday of that week, Linda Reed, who was renting our old house in Valley Golf with her husband Nelson Reed, called and asked if I wanted to have dinner with Jenny (her daughter) and Paul (my brother) Saturday night. This was not something out of the ordinary since she enjoys putting together tea parties and dinners for people. She told me to ask Edric to come since he had never seen our old house.
I was thrilled! I had always wanted Edric to see where I had grown up and that house was pregnant with childhood memories. When I spoke with Edric he said he would get back to me and added that I ought to check if we have to dress up. By Friday, Edric confirmed that we could go to the Reeds place for dinner and I had found out from Paul that it was a formal occasion. Both of us went out on a movie date on Friday but Edric seemed so distant and reserved, very much unlike himself. This made me a little frustrated and hurt since I did not feel like he appreciated my company during the evening. Furthermore, I had written in my journal earlier that day that I was becoming impatient once again with waiting for Edric to ask me.
Friday morning, March 2, 2001
What is it Lord that you have in store for me? I wait expectantly and hear nothing…I look for signs and yet see nothing but a large, indefinable expanse which overwhelms me. Tell me, where I should go and lead me…Should I sit and wait for E to propose or should I move on with my life and go for everything—a job overseas, a ministry overseas. Should I stay put and be patient? It is enough to make me squirm, this waiting…like I have no walls to determine what passageway I might be in, no doorway visible to me that I might inch forward to…I am perpetually hanging. This is not liberating. It is uncomfortable, spacious but not spacious enough so that I feel held back and trapped by my own imaginings and wishful thinking about the future.
So after our date that night, we decided that he would pick me up before dinner Saturday the next day and we would drive out to the Reed’s place together. Saturday I spent cleaning my room and talking to my mom. She helped me get ready for the dinner in an unsuspicious sort of way, without acting like there was anything unusual about the date. I put on a gold-ish shirt and this long flowy skirt which I had not worn in years but felt that for some reason, I had to wear this particular skirt that evening. I waited all afternoon for Edric to call me and let me know if the plans were pushing through but there was no word from him. When I tried calling him at nearly 5:00 in the afternoon, he could not be reached. Dinner was at 5:00! When finally I got through to him, I had started sobbing. I don’t know why but possibly because I was emotional all week due to work-related stress and feeling like Edric was beginning to take me for granted. He tried consoling me by saying that he was so sorry that he had not called, that he had work to do, that he would make it up to me.
Arriving at my house at around 6:30 pm, Edric came in through the front door with a bouquet of flowers behind him. They were beautiful. Of course I was pleased with his efforts to appease me. He was also mindful enough to compliment me by saying, “what you are wearing is perfect for tonight.” My dad, for no particular reason, also said goodbye to me on the stairway by giving me a hug. In fact, everyone said goodbye to me, which wasn’t too bizarre since we commonly yell out goodbye when one of us leaves the front door. But looking back now, they all seemed very excited about saying goodbye, lined up on the stairs. My mom even mentioned that I shouldn’t be upset about Edric being late because it might ruin my time with him.
By the time Edric and I got into his car, I had forgotten that I was feeling down and we were on our way to the Reeds. He said, “Just tell me how to get there because I don’t know where it is.”
“No problem,” I responded, “Just take Ortigas.”
By the time we got to Valley Golf it was nearing 7:30 and I discovered, upon arriving at the Reed’s house, that Paul and Jenny were nowhere in sight. This irked me because we were supposed to start dinner and I felt quite embarrassed that my brother had been so ill-mannered about being on time. He did call Edric’s phone, however, so I spoke to him and barraged him with a flurry of questions about where he was, why he wasn’t there, what time he was planning to get there, blah, blah. Linda Reed was good enough to be such an accommodating hostess and she suggested that I go ahead and show Edric around the house to give him the grand tour. She didn’t mind serving us first. Distracted by the excitement of showing Edric my old room and the rest of the house, I carried on a running commentary about where we used to play as kids, what my favorite places were and so on. Since Paul and Jenny had not yet made it to the house by the time we finished the “tour”, Edric and I made our way to the balcony, where I discovered a romantic place setting for four people. And I matched the color scheme perfectly with my outfit!
I was soon overcome by the natural beauty of our surroundings…something I had always loved about that house, and forgot about Paul and Jenny, who, incidentally, were never going to come anyway. Linda Reed, who was our “waitress” along with Jan Landry, her neighbor, served us the most delicious food, all my favorite dishes from salad to mushrooms to fish. At the same time, there was very familiar music playing subtly in the background, which I suppose was meant to infuse my mind with subconscious thoughts about marriage. Very good planning, Edric.
We were having such a delightful, romantic time, talking about an infinite number of things, in between remote controlled photograph taking and praising the food, when Edric decided it was time to bring out the “box.” This “box” contained all our memorabilia from the time we started dating until then. This was what he had mentioned earlier in the week that we should do – reminisce. At that point, I conceded. It was such a wonderful evening. Although I should have wondered why he was so comfortable about being in the Reed’s house, it just did not occur to me at all that something extraordinary was going on. I mean, there he was, borrowing their tripod without asking and going in and out of the kitchen like he was getting something from their fridge.
Anyway, this box turned out to be incredible. It was filled with photographs and things like placemats from restaurants we had eaten at, movie tickets, pieces of material or just the oddest objects that I never knew he had the diligence to preserve. As we went through these articles Edric opportunely asked me, “Joy, I have been meaning to ask you what God has been teaching you lately through his word.”
The question seemed out-of-place but I was happy to answer it. “Well I have been reading in Exodus about how God told Moses and his people that he would fight for them while they kept silent, and lately I have felt like I really needed God to do this for me at work.”
“That’s very interesting,” He said. “You know, God has been speaking to me directly in Exodus as well. I have been praying about this one thing and this is what he showed me…”
At this point, Edric pulled out an old Bible which I recognized as the one he had when we first started dating.
“Do you remember this Bible?” He asked.
“Of course!,” I responded.
I took it from him and was about to turn to Exodus, when he said, “Let me do it.” So he found the passage he was referring to—Exodus 33:12-14. “The Lord said, I will go before you…” I noticed that he had underlined the sentence with one of those gold metallic pens but the rest of the sentence was on the next page, which he let me turn to. After I did so the rest of the verse read, “…and give you rest.” Waiting for him to explain the significance of this verse to me, he simply said, “this is what God has been saying to me directly, Joy.”
As I continued to look at him and at the verse, I noticed that he seemed edgy and nervous. I did not know why until something on the right page caught my attention. Written in bold letters, with the same metallic pen, were the words, “WILL YOU MARRY ME?” And, at the tip of the question mark was a diamond imbedded into the pages of the Bible. He had cut out a hole for the ring and placed it inside the Bible.
I stared at the page for a while, trying to process what was happening, and then looked back at Edric, who, by now was pointing to the question with trembling hands and saying something with quivering lips. “I have been praying about when to ask you and this is what I read in Exodus. I am serious, Joy, will you marry me?”
For a split second, in between my screaming out YES! and my verbal constipation, I wondered if Edric had asked my Dad for permission since this had been something that I prayed about. (The two previous prayers I had about our relationship had already been answered so this was the last one.) God must have told Edric to mention it to me without my prodding because very quickly he added, “I have asked your dad and my dad and gotten their blessing.” The tears began to stream down my cheeks because I knew that this was confirmation from God and I said, “YES…”
We lingered in the moment, taking photos, laughing, going over how crazy the last few days had been, and uncovering the plan he had masterminded with my family and the Reeds. The entire thing had been a grand set-up. Edric had been to my old house many times to coordinate the evening. And he had bought all the food from a restaurant which I liked – all my favorite dishes. Paul and Jenny were never supposed to show up. He also bought movie tickets for the rest of the people in the Reed household so it was just Edric and I, Linda Reed and Jan Landry in the house when he proposed. (They were peeking from behind the kitchen the whole while and I didn’t know it.)
That night, I kept staring at the ring. The engraving in it read 1 Corinthians 13 forever, 3/3/01, Your E.
Sunday, March 4, 2001
The day after my engagement to E. Last night Edric asked me to marry him. Saying yes was inexplicable bliss. I still cannot get over what happened last night but I have this ring on my finger to prove that it was all real and not just one unbelievable dream. That was the happiest I have ever been. Today, during breakfast, in the shower, lying on my bed, I couldn’t stop smiling. What can equal this? God’s love has overflowed within me. He and Edric have been planning this entire set-up.
Every little detail was pre-meditated. God’s hand was sovereign in it all—especially since I had absolutely no inkling that it was going to happen, that he had talked to my Dad while I was in Thailand and to everyone, while I was kept completely in the dark. What a wonderful conspiracy. It was absolutely amazing, beyond my expectations—the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. E said it couldn’t have happened without God.
I have to keep on looking at the ring to remind myself that this fairytale is all true. My elation has not quit. I don’t suppose it will die down for a couple more days, at least until I realize that this all means forever.
I am getting married to the man I love. God made him just for me. How could we have found one another if not for God’s orchestration? I cannot stop marveling, cannot stop admiring the way God works, the way he accomplishes his purpose. As far as Edric and I are concerned, God designed and planned everything. He heard my prayer— those times of fasting and besieging God to guide Edric and to speak through him.
Postnotes by Edric:
I had decided to propose on March 3 upon a wild deduction from the Verse God lead me to. Ex. 33…3-3…March 3!? I pondered on the idea and realized that it all fit into place:
Joy was leaving for Thailand, work permanency was around the corner, and, on the practical side, the date fell on a Saturday. “Perfect”, I thought to myself…and the preparations began. I had all of two weeks.
What amazes me is how all the details fell into place on that Saturday…the motif, the food, the decor, the flowers, the ring, the bible, the memory box, and even the venue. Everything magically found its way into my consciousness (with monumental thanks to Linda Reed). God had planned it all in an instant. I just let go and watched it all happen. The only part I actually felt very emotional about was the pop-the-question moment. I was trembling because I had never done this before, nor did I expect to ever do such a thing again. It was a once-in-a-lifetime first-time experience that felt like a cross between the suspense of opening a college acceptance/rejection letter, and the excitement of a first kiss. That instance would change my life forever.
As her tears began to fall, she gracefully sprung towards me and said, “Yes!” In the blur that I recall, after this climactic response I took her hand and slid the ring onto her finger.
Voila! It didn’t fit.
“Not to worry,” I said to her, “We can have that repaired.” (I had planned out the repair of the ring in the event that it didn’t fit, along with the rest of the surprise proposal.) This is where I will end my “postnotes”…with the thought that in our future together there will be surprises like these that we will experience, but none that we cannot – together with God, handle or overcome.
My heartbeat has stabilized. Yes, I am alive, and she said yes, and we will be married and live happily ever after, by the grace of God. And the Lord said, “I will go before you and lead you…”
We had no digital photography for our wedding! It was waaay too expensive in 2001…