It took three events to make this story happen: new heartbreak, old heartbreak, and a meme. All within the span of a month.
I don’t need to over-explain the first two, the former being a fresh rejection and the latter was a shocking but not surprising discovery that someone I had once loved very much had finally moved on with someone else. I cried much more at the second.
Then came the meme.
More specifically, it was a meme quoting Song Joong Ki declaring his love for his newly wedded wife, Katy Louise Saunders, placed together with a previous but very similar quote on his dedication to then-wife Song Hye Kyo, whom he divorced less than two years after their fairy tale union.
I had written a response article the day the Song-Song relationship hit news sites, a piece capturing my envy over the relationships that just work out, in comparison to the relentless disappointment I had faced in that department throughout my life.
A little embarrassed over having written such a piece, now that that prized marriage had failed, I found myself returning to the Thir.st website to read it once more — only to realise I had written it in 2017, at 28 years old.
That was the same year I had written The girl without the husband, the last story on singleness I ever wanted to write. Six years ago.
It had been six whole years and the story had not changed. Actually, make that a whole 34 years.
I was still the girl without a husband.
“I have no idea what it feels like to be committed to,” I had told a new friend just two nights before this.
And only when I walked away from that conversation did I feel the bruise from hearing that said out loud, somewhere in my heart.
“When you’re ready, I would really love for you to write your story on that,” Christina, Thir.st’s Managing Editor, said when I sent her the Song Joong Ki meme and texted her about my sad conversation.
“Stop talking to me like the Managing Editor of Thir.st,” I replied in jest, already certain I wouldn’t want to tell everyone I had never been desired for relationship or marriage. Miss 没人要.
But something in me seemed to push back against that hesitation — a niggling cocktail of indignation and courage that grew in strength as I looked closer at my Song Joong Ki story.
Because something else had not changed, in those six years, and that was the revelation I had received then of God’s heart towards me, rising from that same bed of lament.
And yet something also had changed: me. A “me” that no longer wants shame to headline this unexpectedly long chapter of my life; who knows the last six years have been very much a love story — one I will tell you in three parts.
This is a Valentine’s Day piece, anyway.
PART 1: LOSS
When loss begins the story, as it did for The girl without the husband, the reader expects — or at least hopes — for joy to return in the form of love found by the end of it.
You know, by now, that it didn’t. I would go on to lose again, and again, over the next few years. Tragically, suddenly, and I dare say unfairly. The darkness my soul was dragged into, I was certain would colour my days from then on.
But it was in this dreary, heavy season that I met and found deep friendship with many of those whom I know as “heart friends” today. Heart friends, because they’ve held my heart and trusted me to hold theirs.
I have learnt the friendship of God through the pieces of Himself He’s put within each dear friend of mine.
The marriage I desire may not have come, not yet, and the losses remain as they are, but the valley of shadows has proven to be awash with the most beautiful of wildflowers — and I cannot say I did not find greater love walking with me the whole way.
“Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13)
PART 2: LOSTNESS
I left Thir.st in 2020, a story I never got to tell given the grief and “lostness” I found myself wading in.
I could not understand why the Lord had me leave my dream job in the creative industry to bring me in three years before, only to point me back out — firstly and most strongly in a vision of Jesus washing my feet and telling me to “Go”, whilst I physically stood at the window of a prayer house in Jerusalem.
As it has been proven in the Word, such incredible encounters don’t inoculate you from doubt and distrust, and the next year or so was spent utterly lost, unsure if I had missed some important direction from above.
Then one night, following the Jayesslee controversy that had broken out, I felt the Holy Spirit push me to write a response on my own social media page to help others process the issue in His way, just like old times.
And I’ve found unexpected joy writing “in the wilderness” ever since.
“A voice cries: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.’” (Isaiah 40:3)
Here’s a prayer I wrote on my Instagram page, as part of the ministry I now regularly do for friends and followers alike: “Lord, some days the barrenness is too heavy to bear, but we choose to trust You, Father, that You are writing our story.
“Help us to focus on the whole story of our lives, not just the things we don’t have.”
PART 3: LONELINESS
While speaking at a college mental health conference last year, I was asked during the Q&A when in my life had I felt the loneliest.
I could immediately sense the inertia to talk about the most popular reason for young adult loneliness, but it was quickly replaced by a moment of reckoning as my real answer confronted me for the very first time in a room full of people.
“I’ve been sick for a very long time,” I admitted hesitantly. “Having a health condition no one could diagnose, and you can’t talk openly about, has been the loneliest journey I’ve ever been on.”
It was only in 2021, as the symptoms severely worsened, that the latest doctor I consulted finally discovered what was going wrong.
It had been eight years of a very private suffering. But now that we knew the cause, we had a response, and in fighting for my health, I collaterally ended up doing what I had struggled to do for so long: I learnt to do what was loving for my body, and it started to show. Really show.
Correction: The loneliest journey I’ve ever been on was my shattered self-image from the age of 12. That’s two decades before the scales fell from my eyes, but I can truly say I am the most beautiful I have ever been. That, I am convinced, is the second greatest love story for me after the Gospel.
“He delivers the afflicted by their affliction and opens their ear by adversity.” (Job 36:15)
As I was still sitting on my decision to take up Christina’s challenge for a Part 2 of my six-year-old article, I overheard my brother receive a phone call from his cardiologist the day after.
“I’ve got good news for you,” the doctor said, who was on speaker. “Your heart is fine. You can be discharged.”
My eyes filled with tears. It was like hearing the voice of God to me, and I knew it to be true. My heart was fine. It may not have been discharged by a relationship even after six years, as part of me expected, but it had been mended and tended and expanded beyond my wildest prayers. I was being discharged by the Great Physician Himself.
Just in time to write a Valentine’s Day story of us.
- What stood out to you from the article?
- What might God be saying to you through that? Take some time to sit with Him on it.
- Who are your “heart friends”?
- This week, reach out to them and be a blessing.