March 6, 2023 Journal entry
Things were going well at the start of the year; life was good, I was healthy, and the church was excited about the expansion plans. Yet, there was something in my soul that I had to wrestle with. I had to go back and ask myself this question. How do I want my marriage to look?
To give you context, I was reminded of the days of growth we experienced when we started the church in Greenhills last 2007. We had 250 people that ballooned to 1000 in a year. In my second year, we were tasked to consolidate our efforts with our New Manila church which had around 250 people. I was on top of the world! I was young, energetic, vision-oriented, and results-oriented.
The church’s growth fed my need for validation, another problem I had to wrestle with. Yet, there was one problem. I was neglecting my wife, Thammie, and our daughters. I was out four to five nights a week; if this does not stop growing, I’ll be out six nights a week.
I remember Pastor Paolo Punzalan talking about my issue ( not going home and always doing ministry). He reminded me that it was a choice I had to make. I can continue this route of work hours and suffer the consequences of an unhealthy relationship with my family or put some boundaries and be healthy in both. I was not the reason for the church’s growth; Jesus is.
I had to realize that all relationships are teleological. All connections are living and moving and becoming something. The question is, where is this relationship going? (excerpt from Donald Miller’s book Scary Close)
In our 18 years of marriage, Thammie and I have decided to lead us where we are now. It’s been a path of hit-and-miss, yet it is marked by grace, hard work, community involvement, and friends.
This past month, I was in a position of not being able to give anything. I could not move, I could not walk, I could not do anything with ease. This was a place I still needed to get used to. Being served and not being able to help and do much. It felt like a one-way thing. This time, I also saw my wife, Thammie, love and serve sacrificially – for better or worse, in sickness and health.
She carried me for two weeks because I could not stand alone and go to the bathroom. She cleaned, changed my clothes, and served me without complaints. She lost days of sleep, yet she kept serving and loving. She showed me love that I thought I did not deserve. It makes me cry whenever I am reminded of her love and actions.
But why did I feel that I didn’t deserve such love? Maybe, it was because I was wired to receive love when I wanted my loved ones to expect of me or if I was successful. I know the correct answers. But only Jesus can affirm me, accept me, and that I have nothing to prove. Trust me. I’ve preached this to myself many times. It just has to become real in my life.
So this year, with the help of God and being open with what’s inside of my heart, I choose to receive love, grace, and service not because I earned it but because of God’s unconditional love and grace. I also accept the love my wife has shown me this past month when I know I cannot reciprocate.
All our actions lead to something – God’s death on the cross gave me a sense of security and belongingness in His family, not because I love him but because He first loved me. Thammie’s service, love, and affection are because all that we decided as a couple led to us serving each other for better or worse in sickness and health. Thank you, Thammie for showing it to me for 18 years.
This year, I choose to live this truth in my life. I love you, Lord, and I love you, Thammie.