Back in 2000 when the boy band fab penetrated high school girls, me and my bestfriend were also giggly over the Irish band Westlife, specifically over Mark Feehily who really stood out for me because of his distinct voice and dark brown hair and long eyebrows. My super crush mode of him got me into doodling his name every time and highlighting the word “Mark” in my mind whenever I see one. That ended there.
In 2011, funny that I marked a significant day of my life. This is not at all related to my boy band intro. But in February that year, my Mark and I became officially a couple. And we give credit to God who very well orchestrated our meeting and committing.
So here goes my point of view of the story…
(I’ve written a super short article about The Pre-Us, insufficient enough that made me want to write this but you may want to read as well. ) In 2009, I stepped out in faith to switch job desiring to serve God in ways that my potentials could be maximized, though with far different financial compensation than my previous one. During the job application, I was waiting for my turn for the interview when I found myself informally being interviewed already by the man who was also an employee there. The application went on and I saw how timely God placed me in that publishing company I’ve now been working with as a Marketing Specialist.
I got acquainted with my co-employees and easily felt comfortable around this Christian environment outside the Sunday church. We all felt like a family. I met these two girls who later became my advisers and friends. We worked diligently on our office responsibilities and had heartfelt talks during break times. I also got acquainted with that man who made that sort of preliminary, informal interview during my application. Since we were all like family, my heart was at peace to consider him as a kuya (older brother). I unconsciously observed him as a worker, church leader, brother, son, (some I learned from his testimonies during the staff devotion every Monday morning), and as a basted suitor to another girl. He makes any room brighter when he enters, I again observed, because of his lightheartedness, humor, and positivity.
In February 2010, though I was not yet a regular employee, I had the privilege to join the company retreat in Puerto Princesa, Palawan. It was a majestic treat for us just to see God’s wonders at hand carved in every mountain and island, swayed in every beach and cave. The Puerto Princesa Underground River was yet on the nomination list for the 7 Wonders of Nature. And proudly, now we say it’s officially acknowledged as one of the 7 Wonders of Nature! Later on, we had some leisure time exploring Honda Bay, walking on the fine sand, picking up seashells, doing photo ops with starfish, etc. Kuya Mark was also keeping himself busy with his buddy then eventually he walked with me. I didn’t bother him being near me and until we went digging sand (captured in photo!). The whole trip was fun that aftermaths of stories of this and that continued even a week after the Great Palawan Trip — in real conversations and in Facebook.
Came October to November of 2010, I got some different signals from Kuya Mark through his text messages of asking how I am when I had a seminar outside the office and even more frequent quotes and pangangamusta. Quite unusual but I tried not to make any assumptions and disregarded any feeling of romantic inclinations. I had learned about this in college (more about this in the article I wrote, “Letting Go of What Could Have Been” in the book, Young Women on the Journey: Beauty from Ashes to be released on September 2013). But I was silently thinking about that and asking God to make the matters clear if there’s anything to be cleared about. God knows my frustration of “indefinites” in a relationship.
Kuya Mark’s text messages and gestures eventually became more colorful to me. I had shared my concern with my discipler who joined me into praying about raising up Godly men who would be decisive yet dependent on the Lord and would guard women’s hearts by stating their intentions purely and do not just “test the waters.”
God really has His way of working things out. He made us come into a confrontation for me to get clear answer to his statement that “I’ve been praying for you.” Oh he’s been doing so since the earlier months of that year. So that one particular November night in Cubao, there was this man who wanted to pursue courtship with me having been given the “Go” signal from above and getting answers from his prayers. I was prepared with the answer. Or I think I was. Instead of waiting for me to get on the jeepney home, we decided to sit over cold tea and talk about what was happening.
He shared how he came to that decision and told me the attributes he saw in me. Since I was well acquainted with him already, it wasn’t an uncomfortable feeling to be sitting across someone who just plainly told you his desire of you. Surprisingly, at some point I was like a lawyer cross-examining him then like a birthday girl who laughs at the entertainer in front of me. Our initially fast and nervous heartbeats strangely turned to become comfortable and excited. I was looking at him while he speaks and making a mental rundown on the checklist I made for a Lifetime Partner. Is the person in front of me worthy to given my first yes for a suitor and boyfriend? My personal standard is that I was not going to allow someone to pursue courtship with me if he doesn’t meet The Checklist. Because that would be the Boyfriend soon and the Husband still soon. The first on The Checklist is that he should love the Lord more than me.
Kuya Mark knew he wouldn’t receive an answer then and asked him that we should pray more about this and seek God’s leading for us. The next Monday morning after “the revelation,” things were just normal yet I believed there was something special. I had all these events shared with my office friend, Grace, and my discipler and few more people that prayed with me during that time. Mark, too, has updated his “back ups” though he’s usually silent and discreet about that in our workplace, which I was thankful for.
I didn’t yet agreed to be courted until the year after our talk, which is just a month away. 🙂 I was still at peace. God made me decide to move forward with new hopes. Mark told me it was kind of hard for him to delay what he really desired to do when he wanted to make his courtship da moves already. But it was also an enjoyable journey of seeking God for His plans for our love lives. He taught us to wait on Him, make Him the center of our lives in all aspect, be submissive to His will and timing, and savor the richness of His Fatherhood. Only when we find satisfaction in God’s love can we have an unclouded perspective on such matters, on love life.
One time, Mark met my parents when he offered to bring me home that Friday night. It was warm to see how he enjoyed speaking with them as if they’ve known each other for long.
January of 2011. On the first week of the year, I had to dedicate my week-long Prayer and Fasting to find God’s leading for my life-changing decisions. During midweek, I was focused on God’s direction for me and Mark and so I asked Him to give me some concrete answer — when I came across Mark 12:31 in the Bible, “The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. There is no commandment greater than these.”
I was taken aback by how literal it was for an answer when I meant in my prayer to get some concrete answer. I mean Mark is the same name as Mark and he’s my neighbor living in the boys’ dorm across the ladies’. This portion in the book of Mark was about the teacher of the Law of Moses who asked Jesus about the greatest commandment. Jesus gave a wise and direct answer which is to love the Lord your God with all your mind, soul, and strength, and to love your neighbor as much as you love yourself as the second most important. I continued reading towards the end of the portion still with verifying question at the back of my head.
I ended gaping by the last part of the verse in 34: And from then on no one dared ask him any more questions. So is that it? I held on to that truth and was actually feeling amazed about that.
On another devotion, Mary’s character spoke to me. She was a young lady yet God saw her heart and considered her capable to bear the Savior Jesus. Do you consider me, God, to be capable of proceeding to this relationship? was my question. This will be another step of faith when I don’t know what goes before me.
I received another encouragement from the Lord in Deuteronomy 31:8 saying, “The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Thank you, Lord. Mark also had his own time of refuge in the Lord in his time of waiting and courage in his trek of yet another challenge.
February 12, 2011. Over Mc Donald’s fries and burger, I told Mark NO… No longer will he wait for me and I said my YES to him! That was after he picked me up after my teaching ministry at church, ate lunch together at Megamall, and watched Tangled in Gateway. Mark happily told me God even favored him with the date I answered him because he prayed to get it before Valentine’s. What-a-man! We thanked the Lord for we saw that He made everything fall into its proper place. The rewards of being in the center of His will!
The entire staff in our company also rejoiced with us and even gave us a slot to testify during our Monday devotion with the CEO to introduce us! That acceptance was also an answered prayer!
God’s humor is also unbelievable! I was teasing Mark that I won’t answer him until the mango tree in the dorm’s backyard already bear fruit. And the mango tree on my last check was all leafy green without any sign that it’ll bear fruit any sooner. But the next day, we just noticed that flowers have already started to come up! So the fruits would be emerging sometime soon, huh. I unbelievable chuckled in my thought. Interesting!