Saturday, November 16, 2013

One of my last posts as an unmarried man

"This train will stop at every station from Hibarigaoka."  That's what I heard.  Or at least, that's what I understood--the announcement was in Japanese: 「ひばりヶ丘から各駅に止まります。」  I cannot even begin to guess how many times I had heard the Japanese phrase without comprehending, waiting for the inevitable English translation, but tonight for the first time, I was thinking in Japanese and paying attention at just the right moment and I understood the phrase as it was being spoken--not even a moment's lag for my brain to translate or catch up.  I couldn't suppress my smile.

It has been a long time since I have posted anything, and even longer since I've posted regularly.  This is a statement of fact, yet not an apology--my life has gone and is going through a major metamorphosis this year.

Two years ago, on November 22, 2011, I wrote this post.  One year ago, on November 18, 2012, I went to a "singles party" after church.  The host had intended to introduce me to a young lady who was a friend of the family (and I mean "introduce" in the only way that it can possibly be interpreted in the context of an after-church singles party).  However, God had other plans and I ended up sitting on the other side of the room in the middle of a conversation that I could not follow, as it was all in Japanese.  Of course, instead of my lack of understanding making me invisible, it apparently made me a target for questions.  I tried valiantly, but unsuccessfully, to keep up.  The young woman sitting next to me must have recognized my confusion, and she began to translate for me.

I'd seen her at church before, and at a home party a month earlier.  I'd thought she was pretty and that she seemed nice, but I'd never properly met her or spoken to her.  She seemed a bit shy, and I could be a bit shy, too.  And, I had simply assumed she did not speak English.  But all of a sudden, here she was, swooping to my rescue and tossing me a lifeline.  I was grateful and very much relieved.  After I'd answered the questions that had been posed to me (through my rescuer's translation, of course), we met officially for the first time: her name was Tomomi.

As I said, that meeting happened on November 18, 2012.

In exactly six weeks, Tomomi and I will marry each other, and start our lives together.

The past year has been the story of our meeting, our friendship, and our courtship.  We began to spend time together in group settings in January.  We went on our first date to see Les Miserables at the beginning of February.  And, on March 16 (8 months ago), after going out almost every week since we saw Les Mis, we officially became a couple.  Less than two months later, we were engaged.

We both feel sometimes as though we're living someone else's lives, that this is all so unreal.  Perhaps this is because it has happened so naturally--there was no thunderbolt from heaven when we met.  Neither of us parted ways that evening thinking that the other was "the one".  We simply found ourselves in situations where we could spend time together and get to know each other.  It was in no way dramatic, and it was so unlike all of the adolescent crushes that had dotted my teen years and early 20s.  Those were intense and emotional, and I suffered from an inability to act naturally around whoever it was I happened to have a crush on at that moment.  I'd try too hard to be funny or cool, and would come across as nervous, awkward or so over-eager as to be off-putting.  My friendship with Tomomi was (and is) steady and comfortable despite all odds saying it shouldn't have been: language gaps, cultural differences, a 4 year, 11 month age difference, and the fact that neither of us really does small talk would seem daunting on paper.  Yet, we found ourselves at ease with each other from the start.  I can be myself when I'm with her, honest, vulnerable and real.  Perhaps because of this, I'm inspired to become the best version of myself that I can be, seeking to abandon my selfishness, striving to serve, and praying over our relationship constantly.  It's a journey that has made me much more keenly aware of my shortcomings, but I am blessed to be with someone who accepts me anyway, and who reminds me frequently of God's mercy, forgiveness and love.  It's a journey that has made me a better person.  Of course, the real journey, the journey of matrimony, has yet to begin and I can do no better than to rely on the grace of Him who has brought us this far.

This may be the last time I write before my wedding day, and I wanted merely to express what is on my mind and heart at this unique time between chapters in my life, and to express my joy and gratitude for the goodness of God and His plans.

When I wrote that letter to my future wife (linked above) two years ago, I was forcing myself to trust God's plans despite my own impatience and frustration.  We cannot predict God's timing, but we can trust in God's goodness and His faithfulness.  He has allowed me to experience frustration, anger, annoyance, heartbreak, pain and impatience over the course of my lifetime, but He has never abandoned me nor failed me.  I pray that I can recognize this, trust in this and rejoice in this every day as a husband; that we can take joy in this every day as a couple.


1 comment:

  1. And we are blessed by the blessing Tomomi brings to your life. Praise God from Whom they flow and flow.