join me on this journey of waiting, praying, writing
and pursuing after God above all
"When you decide to drop everything that’s typical, all that is left is just a big idea about an even bigger God and a world that’s worn out from the way everyone else has been doing it." - Bob Goff, Love Does
As I sat at the kitchen table reading, I kept shivering. It wasn’t cold, so I glanced down and realized that there were goosebumps all over my arms, legs and neck. All at once, it dawned on me to pay attention, so I began praying, God, what do you want to say to me?
In the book, a young man named John was graduating from university and had a desire to go off roading with his faith, instead of going to safe places that everyone else was heading towards. His friend, the author Bob Goff, challenged him to do something wild in Uganda, and so John created a school in order to empower the kids and keep them safe. He went on to expand the school and build room for 250 boarding students.
Goff later remarks: "Two Bunk John got off the map. He wasn’t limited by the contours of convention any longer. Instead, he leaked what he loved. He was leaking Jesus. And pretty soon the puddle he made swallowed us all by the lake it formed."
I looked up and across the kitchen, and on the windowsill of the kitchen was a small sign my roommates bought. Hope, it read. As in many experiences in the past, I felt tangibly that God was awakening a desire in my heart for something bigger than myself. I’m not sure what life will look like 10 years down the road, or even what it will look like in a few weeks, but I know that He’s calling me on an unusual adventure.
It’s scary, grand and unpredictable, but one thing I’ve learned over and over throughout the years is that God is good, and I can trust Him. My dearest, it’s going to be challenging for both of us, but I’m excited to go through this adventure hand in hand with you. Let’s run together towards the prize found in Christ together, get off the map to follow Him, and “leak Jesus” into the world around us.
With much love,
your future wife
The words of the Father
They ring in my ear
Go and find you a love
And live out all of your fears.
- Matt Corby “Songbird”
I’ve held onto so many fears for so long. I fear losing control, preferring to plan and create charts and timelines for the big events and the minutiae in my life. I fear deep vulnerability, because I fear that there’s too much in me for others to handle.
It’s easier to hide from the fears and talk about everything else except for the elephants in the room. Following the still small voice of the Spirit is much more sacrificial, vulnerable and terrifying than making my own plans for the years ahead.
Lately He’s been challenging me, asking me to follow after Him in every aspect of my life. He asks me to trust in looking for a new job, trusting that if He could take care of the flowers of the field and the birds in the sky, how much more would He take care of me. He asks me to pursue one specific lead in looking for a new apartment, and I didn’t know why until it led me to someone I spent an hour sharing about God and life with the first time I called her.
He asks me to be vulnerable, putting away the mirrors and smoke in my relationship, being honest about where we’re headed and letting our guards down. It means letting go of my own timelines to be attentive to the Spirit’s work in both of our lives.
Through His power, I’m living out my fears. It’s been exhilarating, terrifying, peaceful, overwhelming, downright scary and wonderful. In the process, He’s been nothing less than faithful and good to me. He loves me more than I could ever imagine or understand.
Keeper of my heart, I will rest in You alone.
Let’s keep living out our fears, overcoming them with His love, my darling.
your future wife
"Growth in the Christian life is the process of receiving Christ’s words “It is finished” into new and deeper parts of our being." - Tullian Tchividjian
“The gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.” - Colossians 1:6
It is finished, Christ said on the cross.
I rarely sit back and let that profound truth sink into my heart. It is finished. My sin is finished. The deepest darkness of my depravity is finished. The corners of my heart that I rarely expose to the world but once-in-a-while hurt those closest to me is finished.
I’ve had a rough week. Work was stressful, with many emails and projects that have piled on top of each other for months, and I felt utterly overwhelmed - a sinking feeling. My body decided to throw a fit and I went through some pretty excruciating pain. This man in my life and I had some miscommunication. I was exhausted, stretched, and trying to juggle obligations and work and a social life, and it wasn’t working out so well.
I saw some of the ugliest parts of me rise to the surface, and that scared me.
I look back on the week and it was only because of His grace that I came out the other end: surviving, thankful, reconciled. In the darkness, He whispers hope and grace. In the exhaustion, He fills me with life.
At the moment when I needed to hear it the most, He told me, it is finished. In every part of my soul, every corner of my heart that I believed to be dominated by shadows, it is finished. In the moments when I felt unloveable and unredeemable, overcome with emotions from a dark place, it is finished.
All I have to do is allow Him to come in - allow His amazing work on the cross - the gospel - to take root in every compartment of my soul.
It is finished.
your future wife
My dear husband,
In my opposite-gender friendships, my regrets lie with those I hesitated to love because of legalism rather than the ones I loved full-heartedly.
As I reflect back on my high school and undergrad years, one of my biggest regrets is that I had an unhealthy attitude towards dating, friendships and men. I believed that I could singlehandedly keep myself and others from being hurt by creating distance and “guarding my heart”. I thought that the way to win a man’s heart was to subtly hint while appearing aloof. I bought the lie that every man who wanted to know me better was attracted to me or wanted to date me.
Instead of dealing with these issues maturely, I ran away from potential friendships, relationships and supposed pain. I didn’t realize that my unwillingness to be vulnerable actually caused me to internalize shame and guilt that I wasn’t supposed to bear.
I’m so thankful for Jesus, who frees me from this chaos.
If I could tell younger me anything, I would tell her this:
Love the written Word and follow after the Spirit. Restore God to the rightful place in your life - as the essence and sustainer of everything. There’s nothing in your life that His light shouldn’t shine on. Make loving God and loving others the intention behind everything you do, say, feel and think.
When God is in the right place in your life, take risks. Be wisely vulnerable. Know that whether you lock it up or you let it fly, your heart could break. Read John 11:35 and know that emotions can be good and that Jesus too wept. Trust the Word and the Spirit’s leading in your life instead of following legalistic human manuals. Your life will look differently than those of your friends’, but that’s because our lives together form a beautiful and diverse mosaic.
Love people generously: those who know Christ and those who don’t, those who worship in mosques and temples and fundamentalist churches and in the mountains, those who agree with you morally and those who don’t, those who see the world differently than you do, those who pass by you on the street and you get that fleeting glimpse into their soul, those sisters who heal your heart through their love and their hugs, and last, but never the least, those brothers who carry the imago Dei too, showing you a dimension of God that you can’t know solely befriending sisters.
If I could say anything to the brothers I hurt in my immaturity, I would say:
You deserved better than the endless cycles of passive-aggressive hints and running away. I can’t imagine how confused and frustrated it would’ve been for you, and my heart breaks for that. You deserved communication, vulnerability and dignity. I should’ve treated you as a person with all the shades and hues that uniquely make up you, not solely as a potential spouse or as a person who was attracted to me. Instead of running away, I should’ve stayed and got to know you better.
In the event that you were interested in me romantically and I wasn’t interested in you, I should’ve kindly and with dignity let you know. If it was the other way around, I should’ve trusted you to handle my vulnerability and trusted myself to handle the truth. I was too afraid to be honest because I believed I would be hurt, but in the end, all my attempts to control resulted in pain anyway.
If you didn’t know God and you knew I was a Christian, my heart hurts even more for you, as I was a terrible ambassador for God’s message of truth and reconciliation. For those of you who are my Christian brothers, I should’ve honoured the God I love in treating His sons with love and respect, recognizing your worth in His eyes. For all of this and more, I’m so truly sorry. I’m so thankful that God redeems and makes beauty out of ashes.
And for you, my future husband, this:
It is so neat to look back and know that God has done an amazing work in my life, and I hope to carry the fruit of His work into our relationship. Even though I have regrets from how I’ve hurt brothers and men in the past, I see God redeeming and transforming my former legalism into something so grace-filled and beautiful.
I want to be healthily and wisely vulnerable. I want to love you with the love that has been so generously lavished upon me, and I don’t want fear to stop me. I want to communicate instead of being passive-aggressive. I want to show you dignity as a human being first, as my fellow brother in Christ, on mission to pursue the things above. There’s something so beautiful about marriage, but even that ends one day, and I want to build into something that never ends: your soul.
Apart from God, I want to be your greatest encourager, your partner in mission, your courage when your own courage fails, your ezer kenegdo - a sustainer of life, and your faithful running partner towards the goal of loving God and loving others.
Along the way to meeting you, I hit some bumps and learned some painful lessons. I guess that’s okay too, because someone once told me that the brain and heart never return to their former state after they’ve been stretched. All those moments helped me to love you and love God better.
With an abundance of love,
your future wife
She looked at us and said, “how do I learn to be single again?”
In that moment, all the emotions of singleness flittered by. I remembered all the moments of spilling my heart at the feet of God, desperately begging Him to take away the loneliness. I remembered the embrace of His arms, spoken over me through His Word or felt through the warm hugs of friends. I remembered desiring, dreaming, becoming cynical, then learning to hope once more. I remembered.
I knew in that moment why I had been single for so many years. My years of singleness taught me lessons I could not otherwise learn about God’s constant character, His immense love for me, and the depth of His grace. They guided me to return again and again to His feet, acknowledging that only He can satisfy me wholly. They were a precious gift that helped me relate to not only singles, but all of those who are lonely, hurt and yearning.
Each one will be like a shelter from the wind
and a refuge from the storm,
like streams of water in the desert
and the shadow of a great rock in a thirsty land.
Then the eyes of those who see will no longer be closed,
and the ears of those who hear will listen.
The fearful heart will know and understand,
and the stammering tongue will be fluent and clear.
(Isaiah 32:2-4, emphasis mine)
I realized that as I grow in my relationship, my callings were shifting too. This passage jumped out at me as I sought out God in the middle of all the changes.
He calls me to be a shelter, a refuge, a stream of water and a shadow of a great rock to those who are lonely, hurting and yearning. I can walk alongside people, sharing in their burdens, having walked through many valleys myself. I can point people towards God as the only infallible source of intimacy - the place where I am so wholly known and yet so wholly loved.
Perhaps one day we together can create a home where people can find shelter and refuge. What a beautiful way to love.
With hugs and kisses,
your future wife
Love used to look like a spectacular display to declare to the world that we loved each other. It looked like a bouquet of reddest roses to greet me at the door. It looked like falling asleep to each others’ voices on the phone every night. It looked like handwritten poetry, wax-sealed letters, surprise midnight picnics and guitar songs written just for me.
Of course, love still can look like that.
What surprised me was that love has so many more shades than I ever anticipated.
Love looks like tugging on my hand so I don’t walk into telephone poles and tree branches. It looks like looking me in the eye and telling me about your big failure from the past week, expecting me to push you away, and instead finding my arms wrapped around you even tighter. It looks like coming home and finding our dirty dishes and cups all over and quietly gathering them up. It looks like driving for an hour on weeknights just to see me. It looks like worshipping God together in the quiet of the living room. It looks like having a stressful day and finding your arms around me, whispering that even though my head is full and my makeup smudged, I am still beautiful inside and out.
Love looks like being comfortable in each other’s silence, looking at each other after we’ve discussed philosophy and theology and marvelling at God’s amazing creation of spirit and flesh sitting right in front of us. It looks like creating a safe space, a small slice of heaven, for each other. It looks like dancing to the tune of serving and receiving and giving. It looks like finding yourself in the middle of love before you knew you even began. It looks like cultivating vulnerability, even with an uncertain future, because God calls us to live and love courageously.
Love, most of all, looks like chasing after God together, helping each other love Him and the world around us more.
I love you,
your future wife
My darling husband,
I have been shrinking for a while in this relationship. This man and I would make breakfast or go for burgers, and I noticed that I would eat very little. I noticed the strong, bold leader inside me slowly becoming quieter, simply going along with what he has planned instead of actively planning. Perhaps most of all, I noticed my body shrinking in weight, my waistline becoming visibly smaller over the past two months.
We talked about it a few days ago. He jokingly remarked, “I thought we were in a relationship of equals, but I’m doing all the planning!” It woke me up to how much I’ve changed. After lots of prayer and journalling, I realized that I was trying to conform to Christian sub-culture’s ideal "femininity". I was more passive, more quiet, less bold, more anxious.
Tonight, we talked about becoming more true to who God made us to be. I mentioned that I want to keep growing in my soul, keep expanding in love, and keep living in freedom. I want to be free to eat, to demonstrate servant leadership in our relationship, and to keep loving God, myself and others. I am Eve’s daughter, and that very heritage points to what true femininity means: "living one", "source of life".
I want to be the woman God created to produce life, to bring life, to create life - to speak truth boldly, love generously and live wholeheartedly. I want to love the people of this world and display the radiant glory of God. I want to love Him passionately, and in all things be true to the image of God set within me.
I can’t wait to see where He leads me as I keep breathing, living and expanding.
With great love,
your future wife
In all my years of singleness, I never believed my fierce independence was unhealthy.
When friends asked me if I needed rides, or help with moving, or soup when I was sick, I would decline, wanting to be anything but a burden. I would fight through the snow and sub-zero temperatures in the winter to walk to the grocery store, because I was too proud of admit my need. I worked during undergrad so I was never dependent on my parents for finances. I wanted to lavish others with my hospitality and presence and a listening ear, but had a hard time accepting others’ generosity towards me.
I was proud of the way I carved out a life of independence, a life of providing for myself, a life of needlessness.
Then, a relationship happened, and my world of fierce and proud independence was turned upside down. Oh man.
In my years of singleness, I learned to protect myself through various “alwayses”: always carry a loud whistle, always have savings just in case, always walk in the middle of the road at night so no one can easily grab you, always have a stock of Neocitron in case you get sick and can’t leave the house.
By bubble wrapping my life, I lost my ability to ask for help. I lost the vulnerability to say, I need something I can’t provide for on my own. I lost the willingness to receive. I forgot how to be a part of community, how to move to the dance of giving and receiving.
This man stepped into this mess and began to carry my groceries (All the bags! Despite my protests, he wouldn’t even let me carry one!). He began lavishing gifts and words and touch and time - reminding me of my beauty, worthiness and dignity, all gifts from the Cross. He made me encouragement mason jars, held my hands, washed my dishes, and told me I’m an incredible woman of God.
All the while, my fiercely independent spirit fights back: You are a strong woman. You don’t need to fear that anyone will ever abandon you because you can do everything on your own. You don’t have needs.
As my spirit rumbles inside, this patient man says to me, you need to receive in order to give. I think about the many times when I’ve given of myself to community or in ministry, and because I couldn’t receive, I found myself burnt out, spent and ineffective. My pride and my fear kept me from reaching out for help.
He continues: do you think you’re worthy of receiving good things from God and from me? I reflect about how giving and leading defined my identity from a young age. I’ve allowed myself to be defined by what I do, not what Christ has already done.
I’ve newly learned to wake up in the morning, lying on my back, arms outstretched with my palms up, and receive. I’ve learned to ask God, this man and my community for what I need, and trust them with my vulnerability. I’ve learned and relearned that I am made worthy by Christ. I’ve grown to see that my fierce independence was a story that served me well in the past, but it’s not serving me anymore. I have the choice now to choose a new story: a story of interdependence, of the dance of giving and receiving and giving again.
With bundles and bundles of love,
your future wife
You know it’s bad when it’s 10:56 PM on a weeknight and I’m sitting in the middle of my living room floor, hyperventilating a bit while the tears stream down my face.
The pressure started building in my chest when I was on the phone with the young man in my life, and he mentioned that he reconciled with a colleague who he experienced a lot of tension with a year ago after feelings entered the friendship. I knew cognitively that this was a good thing - a closure for him - and he told me a while ago that he was eventually going to have this conversation.
As I was listening though, I felt two things: one, I felt betrayed that he didn’t mention that he was going to have this significant conversation when we were talking yesterday; two, I felt jealous and insecure when he mentioned many men had developed feelings before for this colleague of his. I wanted his affections for myself, and I felt threatened by her presence in his life now that they have resolved the tension in their friendship.
After we said our good nights, I end the call, and held the phone to my chest as I started to sob. Big, heavy, loaded tears came streaming down my face as my heart felt physically squeezed. There were no words to describe the overwhelmingly ugly feelings of insecurity and jealousy brewing inside me.
In that moment, I glimpsed into my heart, and it was not very pretty.
I thought we were doing fine - thriving, even. We have our church community, our families and our friends praying for our relationship, speaking into our lives and rooting us on in pursuing each other. We’ve been told many times that our relationship is the healthiest relationship that they’ve seen, and that we’re really showing others the love of Christ through the way we serve each other and others in community. My friends who know about these letters tell me that the years of growth in writing these letters led up to this point of emotional and spiritual health. We both thank God for each other, recognizing that for this time, we are truly gifts in each other’s lives to bring joy and life and wisdom and fruit.
And yet, there’s still plenty of room for growth in me.
As I wrestle with insecurity and jealousy, I realize that I’ve once again forgotten that I am enough:He made me enough. I am an image bearer of God. Jesus’ blood shed on the cross purchased freedom forever for me. He covers me with the robes of righteousness, making me new. I have been given meaningful Kingdom work. I am loved so incredibly deeply that nothing - not death nor life, the present nor the future, height nor depth - can separate me from God’s love.
God whispers softly into my heart: Come back home. Come find true rest, not in man’s affirmations and words and touch and presence, but in Me.
I slowly unclench my fist and let go, surrendering my dreams for the future and hopes with this wonderful young man, and lay them all at God’s feet. My heart, still a bit heavy, finds rest through these words:
Let my sighs give way to songs that sing about your faithfulness.
Let my pain reveal your glory as my only real rest.
Let my losses show me all I truly have is you.
I am satisfied in you.
Oh God, I am coming home to you. I am satisfied in you.
With great love,
your future wife