By Jayson Nagao

Marriage. It is a beautiful bond that unites a man and a woman. Some see marriage as a serious thing, while others think of it as just another label. Marriage brings out the best in us and the worst.

Most of us dream about our marriage. We plan how it’s going to be, or how we wish it would be. We start thinking about it as we grow older. For some, like in my case, the idea of marriage is planted in our minds at an early age.

My name is Jayson Nagao, and this is the story of how I waited for the right time and went through the right path of pursuit, eventually marrying my lovely wife, Sofia. It was at the start of high school when I first met her. She was one of the new students in our school. She was a gentle, shy, and soft-spoken girl, but she was also beautiful and friendly. I had a crush on her the first moment I saw her. Since I was still young at that time, I was eager to get to know her and hopefully make her my girlfriend. I walked up to her and introduced myself and got to know her. We were in different sections, so I could only talk to her during our free time and after school.

After some time passed during our first year as high school students, I was planning to tell her that I liked her. But I was concerned. My confession would have made things awkward between us. So I had one of my best friends, who was also close to her, tell her. The next day, my best friend told me what Sofia said. Turns out Sofia had a crush on me too, but only for one day. I couldn’t really blame her. My looks were passable, but my personality turned her off. I heard she had a crush on someone else, so I moved on. Yet I still liked her.

I had a girlfriend in my second year of high school, but Sofia and I still talked. We got closer that year, and then came our third year of high school. My girlfriend broke up with me during the summer of our second year. When the third year of high school started, I decided to confess to Sofia again, but this time I decided to do it myself and with more conviction. I told Sofia over and over again that I liked her, but she didn’t take me seriously because of the nature of our friendship. She looked at me like I was the big brother she never had.

When her birthday came up, she celebrated her Bat Barakah. That was the day she made a covenant with her father and with God that whoever wanted to be her partner had to first go through the door of her heart. This door was her father.  The man pursuing her had to ask for her father’s permission in courtship, as well as his blessing in marriage later on.

Both Sofia and I are Christians. When I heard about this covenant, I knew I had no chance to get her to take me seriously. I still liked her even after that. We were still close until the end of our high school days.

We went to different colleges, but I only stayed in mine only for my 1st year. I met someone else during that time, but it wasn’t an official relationship. I had a chance to go to Japan since my father was Japanese, and also since a foundation was willing to help me. I always wanted to go there since I was a child, and I was so happy at the opportunity. But I thought of the things I would miss when I went away. I thought of my family and friends, and I thought of Sofia. I thought that if I didn’t tell her how I felt about her, then I would regret it for the rest of my life.

It took a year to sort out all my documents including my VISA, so I had time to ponder things. I wasn’t as eager as I was when I was in high school. I got shy, and maybe I was traumatized by her not taking me seriously before. I messaged her on Facebook and told her about my plan to leave for Japan. Since we were still communicating after high school, we were still close and talked about lots of things. We shared our personal problems and struggles.

She was still in college, so she didn’t have a lot of time to spend with me. Our time was limited. Sometimes, I would find her online during midnight, and we would chat until morning or until she fell asleep. We got closer, though we didn’t see much of each other. When there were events at her college, I would go and visit her. And when we saw each other, it was all awkward. We couldn’t converse like we did when we were chatting online. We were shy with each other and felt uncomfortable— but not in a creepy way.

When Valentine’s Day came, I texted her that I had something for her. We planned to see each other at her college, but I was late so she changed the venue. Since her family owns a cake shop and it was close to her college, she suggested that we meet there instead. When I got there, I was surprised to see her mom there, too. I was caught off-guard, but I still went on and greeted her and asked if I could see her daughter. We sat and ate, and it felt like a date— only that there were people watching our every move. I gave Sofia a rose and greeted her  “Happy Valentine’s!” We started to talk, and when I felt like we were really having a good conversation, she asked me who I liked. I was stunned at the question, and she still didn’t get that I liked her. She asked me to leave after that, since she said she was busy and had things to do. I was happy and contented with what happened, and it made me hopeful.

It was time for me to go to Japan, but before I left, I told myself that I would wait for her. I wasn’t able to see her before I left, which made me sad.

I got a chance to experience life in Japan, and I was happy. But I was also sad that I was far from Sofia. We would leave each other messages and reply once a month. We still kept in touch, but we sometimes lost our communication. This went on for about a year. I messaged her best friend from high school and asked if I could get Sofia’s number from her. She asked me why and for what purpose, so I had no choice but to tell her how I felt about Sofia. She started interrogating me, but in the end, she finally gave me the number.

I called Sofia during my lunch break, and she was surprised that I was able to get her number. We talked and caught up with one another. We communicated constantly after that. I realized I loved her, and I decided to go home and ask her father for his permission to court his daughter. I messaged her father and we arranged to meet when I got home.

The plane was late in departing. I was scheduled to arrive at noon but ended up with the last flight. I was already late for my meeting with Sofia’s father because of the flight, and I thought he left already. I still went to our meeting place and found him just about ready to leave. We were able to introduce ourselves properly. I asked for his permission to court his daughter. He gave me a set of rules and a curfew. He also suggested that I go through an Ancient Paths seminar. There, I was able to learn that sin is generational and can be passed down to the next generation of our family— unless we cut it in the name of Jesus. I also learned about family planning and that the spiritual aspect of the family is very important. He then told me that in the end, it would be his daughter who would decide if she would accept me or not.

The next day, Sofia and I met. It was great to be able to see each other again after a long time! We spent the day hanging out with her sister. I attended the seminar, which lasted three days.

The things that I learned there influenced how I courted Sofia. I was able to tell her that I loved her, but I did not rush her to give me an answer. The next day, I was invited to her family dinner. Most of her family was there, and it was a very pleasant evening. Sofia then stood from her seat and asked me to stand with her. There, she told me that she loved me, too, and that she accepted me as her boyfriend. I was shocked and overwhelmed that after so many years, my feelings were accepted. We spent my remaining time in the Philippines enjoying each other’s company.

I went back to Japan, and we started our long distance relationship. We communicated daily, and we continued to encourage and support each other. We prayed as a couple and thanked God for this relationship. We were being led to marriage by the Lord, so we continued to pray for confirmation.

A year passed, and I went home again to Sofia. This trip for me was about catching up and making up for the time we were apart, as well as to get to know her family. I felt accepted and was already treated as part of her family.

Sofia had no idea that I was going to propose to her this time around. I messaged her dad again. This time, I was going to ask for his daughter’s hand in marriage. He expected it to be so, and told me about the responsibility I would continue for him to his daughter. He told me to continue his love for Sofia, to know my roots, and to lead her spiritually. After that, he gave me his blessing.

I proposed to Sofia on our anniversary, and she accepted. I had to go back to Japan again, but while in Japan, we planned our wedding and received blessings from the Lord, especially in the area of our finances. Everything was falling perfectly in place, and it felt like God had already arranged everything for us. We just had to receive it. Our wedding was made to honor HIM who kept our relationship from getting ripped apart by the distance that lay between us. God had given us strength.

Sofia and I are now married. Though we may be young, the Lord has given us wisdom to deepen our marriage and our relationship with Him. We look forward to our journey as a married couple.

I pray for whoever reads this, wherever you may be. Trust in the Lord and wait for His plans to unfold for you. No matter how impossible they may seem, remember that  with God, everything is possible.

Editorial Note: We will be releasing Sofia’s side of the story tomorrow.