October 12, 2013.
Saturday morning. Bethel. I just arrived in Metro Manila two months earlier for my new SP assignment in Makati. I was in Bethel to help rehearse parts for our upcoming Regional Convention. There, I met a neat, top-to-bottom well-arranged sister, who seemed kind and obedient. Her name? Regine. Her soliloquy rehearsal went well, and events on that day would have been another run-of-the-mill, when... something happened that caught my attention: she accidentally left her Bible.
That Bible was… tattered. It bloated, filled with Post-its on almost every page. Within me, I felt that the Bible was a sheer beauty. It sent me nostalgic to my best-loved books: soiled, pages coming out, well
over-used, intimate. What made me smile ironic though, is that this worn out Bible belonged to that neat, top-to-bottom well-arranged sister. That first impression did put Regine on my radar.
Did that set the forest ablaze right away? Not yet. Back then I was simply absorbed with the congregation, ministry, and doing substitute circuit work. (1Co 15:58
) Still, we belonged to the same circuit, and Regine pleasantly fluttered in the background. I gave talks in her congregation, observed her during assemblies and conventions, and we once teamed up in an SMPW project. I’ve also been hearing good compliments about her. Some of my friends would even emphatically “sell” her to me. :-)
In time, I became their circuit overseer. In 2015,
Regine and I were together in Tagaytay for her first Pioneer’s School. It was easy to see her spirituality, submissiveness, self-sacrifice, determination to work hard, and a strong willingness to adjust and be molded by Jehovah. While my observations and our interactions were very pleasant, and that I did kinda like her, all that wasn’t able to start real flames (yet). It appeared that Jehovah had been blocking and redirecting matters. I was glad to follow wherever His spirit led.—Joh 3:8
What followed was a lull of some two years. Starting 2016 I was transferred to serve the two other English circuits down south. Through that time, Regine and I interacted only twice, very formally, over email.
You see, during those times, although I was convinced that both singleness and marriage are gifts, I was also not enticed to jump ship, especially when people try hard to convince me that the other side is better. I saw that it is spirituality, not marital status, that makes one truly happy. (Mt 5:3
) When applied to myself, for years, I can’t find a satisfactory answer to the question: Why get married?
Despite that, the more I thought about someone who would make a good match to my peculiar chemistry, I began to like Regine more and more. This was further reinforced by the very good reputation she had been making. (Pr 22:1
) Nevertheless, I had also fully submitted to a vow that I will get married, not to my choice, but to the one whom Jehovah chooses. Or, if Jehovah willed, to not even use my marriage at all. So pursuing my liking for Reg simply stalled. Things started to changed though when I was already serving at Bethel.
Four and a half years after our first meeting. April 11, 2018.
Wednesday evening. Bethel lobby. The very place where we first met. Regine and I saw each other when she, together with her whole family, arrived for her two months of SKE. During her school we barely had any interaction. One night, though, approaching Regine’s graduation, while I was praying at the Bethel grounds, I had one profound realization. A motivation that felt right: I wanted to build a relationship, to be married, neither for me nor for my wife, but for Jehovah. That is, to build a oneness that will bring praise and honor to Jehovah’s name. So I asked Jehovah that if it really is his will, he will make clear to me both with whom, and the way how, I may build such a relationship. I knew that I will be convinced that it is Jehovah who is acting, when it will take place even if I resisted it. (Isa 43:13
) So I asked Jehovah that I would just like to “do nothing” about it.
I was thereafter assigned to work with Regine and her team in their assignment in Makati. The fairly constant communication that ensued was the chip that put a crack in our dams. Jehovah allowed us to become more than just friends. It was blindingly fast, pervasive, and precise. So characteristic of Jehovah’s movements. (Eze 1:21
) So one evening in July, after a lovely meal, a memorable walk, and after explaining at length to her my deep realizations, I asked her: “I am willing to build for Jehovah... Would you like to build with me?” ❤