Love is a beautiful thing to watch, but can only be understood when experienced.

When I was in high school, I was secretly drawn to romantic movies. I couldn’t blatantly show my enthusiasm because I was known for being quiet (most of the time), tough, and sometimes humorous. I didn’t want any of my friends to know that I was a guy thinking about love and that I watched romantic movies. But I loved them, wanted them, and wanted someone in them! So… I had a girlfriend!

I was a typical teenage guy going on a journey to understand love. I kept wanting it, so much so that I went to great lengths for it. I thought love was just simply having a girl then bragging about her and being satisfied. I was wrong. I was finding a “girl”; not a wife. A lot of people endure a “crash and burn” position just to get a love that can satisfy— only to find themselves in a much harder situation. I didn’t want to be in that kind of position, but those movies were real, right?

Then I encountered God. I went to Bible school, fell in love with my Bible, and found this beautiful thing called love through the lens of the Author of Love. I never knew what love was till Abba showed it to me in a personal way.

There was this girl in church whom I had a crush on. She was a newcomer back then. She was very beautiful, had a good personality and a positive attitude. Her walk with God was progressing, and that’s when I knew I liked her. My attraction grew till it bothered me. So I said to myself: “I need to tell her that I am praying for her!”

On the Valentines week of February, I invited her out to dinner. She agreed, and everything was set. I was so serious about the date that I told my mom about it. Mom was cool with it, and it gave me strength. My date and I went to a café and ordered our food. We sat and I began telling her what was on my mind. I barely touched my food. It was a big relief in my chest when she responded with a big smile.

There are a few things that I said to her. One was that I was not courting her yet. It was clear in my mind that I was very serious with my relationship with God, and she needed to be serious as well. For both of us, I wanted God to be the No. 1 priority in our lives, and that we would only be able to enjoy each other through His love in us. Second, I would not be courting her yet, but I would be (no, I already WAS!) praying for her; that I was investing my prayers in her. I told her that God would teach me to wait till everything was aligned for both of us to be together. There were many more things that I said to her that she cheerfully received.

After that dinner, everybody at church became curious. The pictures we posted together on Facebook, our going out and having lunch together, etc. Everyone asked, “Kayo na ba?” (Are you two together?) We always said, “Hindi po. We’re still waiting and praying.” My mom was often asked, but her answer was, “Wag kayo magalala, nagpepray silang dalawa.” (Don’t worry. The two of them are praying about it.) All the people that I treasured knew about this budding relationship, which encouraged me to wait for her.

As we came to know each other, I knew her strengths and weaknesses, and she knew mine. We would always remind each other about what we were pursuing to protect each other. We wanted to be good stewards of God’s grace. There was a profound transformation occurring in her. We just found ourselves waiting for each other and waiting on God.

One day, while we are in a jeepney on our way to Bible Study, she put her phone in my bag. It was an early morning commute, and I was still daydreaming. We got out of the jeepney and went for a walk, when she noticed something. “Man, bukas yung bag mo.” (Man, your bag is open.) She immediately looked for her phone, but the phone was gone! We were so sad when we got to our Bible Study. She didn’t talk to me the whole time.

I decided to visit her at home after. I said, “Makakabili ka pa naman, may work ka naman na eh.” (Since you have a job, you’ll be able to buy a new phone.) She replied, “Hinuhulugan ko pa kasi yun eh. Tulungan mo akong hulugan yun. Hati tayo. (I was still paying the balance of that phone’s cost in installment. Help me pay for it. Let’s half the cost.) I agreed, but mom reasoned that the girl had put the phone in my bag in the first place. Although I was willing to pay for it, my mom’s words allowed me to think for a while. That next week, the girl had a new phone— a much newer model than the phone that was lost.

Weeks passed, and everything seemed to be dull about us. Our conversations were mellow and brief. Every time I checked on her, she would say, “Okay naman!” (I’m okay.) But I knew there was something wrong. I went to my room and prayed to Abba.

A team from church went on a mission trip to Palawan. Both she and I were part of it. Although she was often very energetic whenever we went to Palawan yearly, she was very sick this time around, often vomiting. She reasoned, “Ang sakit nang tiyan ko. Tumatama nanaman yung ulcer ko.” (My stomach hurts. It’s my ulcer.) We took care of her. When we got back to Manila, I checked on her. “Okay lang ako, Dear. Don’t worry!”

One night, we had Bible Study at her place. I was late that night because our music rehearsal ended late. When I arrived, she had a guy seated next to her in one chair. My heart pumped. “Was she still waiting for me?”

That same week, I was in my cousin’s place when my mom called me. “Anak, alam mo na ba yung nangyari kay J__?” (Son, do you know what happened to J__?) My heart raced. I knew what she was going to tell me next. “Buntis si J__.” (J__ is pregnant.)

I stared far away for a couple of hours as my hopeful young heart fell apart into bits. “She wanted the baby aborted, wanted to commit suicide when she knew she was pregnant. Tinawagan niya agad ako para pumunta sa Ospital.” (She called me right away and asked me to go to the hospital.) Mom told me that the guy who touched her was the guy seated next to her during Bible Study.

My mom asked the girl if she loved the guy. The girl replied “NO” in tears.

That week after, I went to General Santos City a broken man. I was not in the right mood for a mission trip. Everyone with me, including our bishop, could see this. I told them why. But then God came into the picture and communicated to me through two particular situations. The first was when we were chilling at a relative‘s place and an earthquake happened. Everyone panicked, and we immediately went outside. The second was when we travelled back home to Manila. The pilot tried to land the plane twice, but he ended up doing an abrupt, scary maneuver due to the weather. When I got home, God spoke to me about those two situations saying, “Son, do you see how exciting the world could be? There’s more.” He reminded me that the world was such a wonderful place, and that there was more to it. I bowed my knees and praised God for speaking to me.

I went to the house of the girl for a visit. She just got out of the hospital. She couldn’t walk that much yet, and she was still weak. She said she was fine. We talked about everything that happened. That’s when I knew in my heart that I was at peace in letting her go. It was hard hearing her tell me that “we” could still happen. I knew we could never go down the road of a lifetime commitment, but I told her that I would always be there for her whenever she needed me. I went home with relief in my heart.

A few months later, we found out that the guy who impregnated her proposed to her. They celebrated a baby-shower, and I was there having fun with them. When they exchanged “I do’s” at the altar, I was there to hear it. The baby was born, dedicated to God, and I was there to celebrate with them once more.

Looking back, I can say that the road was pretty rough. I never knew how affected I was. But I can say that God was still really good to me and to her. I know I was able to understand the situation.  God, being the Source of every good and perfect gift, allowed me to experience the situation so that He could expand my capacity to give— to give love which I thought was stolen from me, only to realize that it was just part of my learning process. On my own, I wouldn’t be able to do what I did, but through Him, I was able to give.

By the way, I’m still hoping for my happy ever after! 😀

God Bless you!

Emmanuel Lantion

Emman is a passionate, creative worshipper who wants to give glory to God in everything he does. He is a guy who loves His Mama, Papa and brotha very much. He is also a lifetime explorer who loves everything with chocolate and nuts. Plus, he’s a CAVEMAN.