DADDY IN THE MIX
I had a boyfriend for ten years. It was a clandestine relationship; one which my parents didn’t know the details of, and one which, when they finally found out, requested the end of it. I didn’t obey them, and even when my boyfriend left for the U.S., we continued our long distance relationship. I flew to the U.S. to pursue my graduate studies and to see whether our relationship would yield growth, but the inevitable happened: we broke up.
Despite the end of our relationship, my boyfriend and I pledged not to speak evil of each other. We even encouraged one another to find the right man and woman to marry. This gesture helped me heal quickly, and so after a month, I felt healed enough to move on. I told God, however, that I’d let my parents know the next time I entered a new relationship with a man, or even when I’d go out on a date.
Two months passed. I was at a meeting with the Ten Outstanding Students of the Philippines. I was previously one of them in 2001, and in 2004, I found myself among my fellow alumni, planning the next steps for our fledgling community of nation builders. In the meeting, without really thinking much of it, I suddenly announced that I didn’t have a boyfriend.
Our alumni president quickly interjected, “Do you want to date my older brother?”
I answered, “Sure, why not?”
A blind date was set up for me and Jehri Asis at the Dusit Thani hotel. As promised to God, I told my parents about it. They allowed me to go.
Jehri and I enjoyed each other’s company, laughing a lot during dinner. I found myself eating only 25% of the meal he ordered because of all the conversation and humor we had. That night, he met my parents. Their reactions? My mother had an inkling that Jehri was husband material, while my Dad was indifferent.
A few days later, Jehri asked me out. This time, it was to watch the movie Dodgeball. My mom encouraged me to go, mainly because I needed new friends. Jehri and I enjoyed each other’s company and had a blast laughing.
On our third date, Jehri shared with me his goals, mission, and vision in life. He happened to be a lawyer, and he had a passion for community development, especially for the poor. Although I am a musician by training, I had been shown by God that in the future, I would somehow get involved with work among the poor. It was on this date that I felt that Jehri and I could work together, and that his complementary strengths would help us both fulfill dreams which we had no idea of beginning on our own.
There was one area in Jehri’s life that I wanted to explore, and that was in his relationship with God. Trying to figure out how I’d do it, I asked Jehri, “Would you like to join me in some cultural immersion?”
“Where?” he asked.
I named a church in Galleria.
I watched Jehri throughout the church service. He was quiet. Then he said afterwards, “I’ll be frank with you. I was considering if you could be my wife. That means that I would have to embrace everything of who my wife is, including her expression of worship.”
I decided to be very frank, as well. “I’ll be honest, too,” I said. “I like you!” Then I added, “If you are serious about me, I won’t make this decision about “us” on my own. I’ll do it with my parents, especially with my Dad. They have my best interest, and they see things in me that I am not able to see. Whatever they say, we’ll do it.”
Jehri replied, “Okay, I will obey whatever rules your Dad says.”
I told my Dad about this the next day. My Dad told me that Jehri was not spiritually mature enough for me. He firmly said, “Don’t let him court you.”
When I told Jehri my Dad’s reply, he reasoned out like a lawyer: “No Katherine, it’s too late. I’ve already fallen for you. Your Dad is a pastor, right? Then he should give me the benefit of the doubt or the opportunity as any member of the flock. I want to talk to your Dad tomorrow.”
Jehri and my Dad had a discussion the next day. Jehri presented his case and told my Dad that aside from wanting to court me, he wanted to build his relationship with God. There had been no one to guide him in the past. And because of meeting me, he was suddenly aware of all this.
Two months prior to meeting me, Jehri had gotten into a car accident and almost died. This made him want to seek God anew, so he went to church where, he heard God speak to his spirit, saying, “It’s your time to come back to me.”
Still, my Dad replied, “Regarding the courtship of my daughter, it is a NO. You are not spiritually mature. But regarding being closer to God, I will personally mentor you.”
My Dad and Jehri met, and they discussed the Bible. Jehri discovered much about God, about having a relationship with the Creator of the Universe, and about his own purpose and identity. In the process, too, Jehri learned more about my Dad. He felt like my Dad and he were kindred spirits. My Dad meanwhile, felt that even if Jehri was not from the church, he was moldable.
It wasn’t long before Jehri asked for reconsideration to court me.
My Dad answered, “To court or to marry?”
Jehri, quite taken aback by the response of my Dad, answered, “To marry.”
This time, my Dad said YES. Our entire courtship, from blind date to engagement, took only thirty days.
We celebrated at the Century Park Hotel where my Dad had previously said “No” to Jehri. On the way, we saw Jehri’s parents and sisters. The celebration became a sudden and happy pamanhikan (a Filipino pre-wedding tradition where the groom and the groom’s family formally professes the groom’s intentions to marry the bride in the presence of the bride’s family. )
I have recognized many things looking back at the courtship between me and Jehri. I am now married to him, and we have four beautiful children. Jehri is growing strong in the Lord, and I see his deep love for the Savior. I recognize the wisdom of my Dad and also the timing of the Lord.
Sometimes, our preconceived ideas hinder the surprise that God has in store for us. Don’t put God in a box. Allow God’s spontaneity to overpower all our plans.
Also, if there is another big thing that I learned, it is this: we should not be afraid to share our experiences and feelings with our elders, parents, and grandparents. This shows humility. My Dad is the gatekeeper of my heart. He and my Mom helped me call the shots. They saw a good match in Jehri, and God used them to move my relationship with him forward.
In your love story, allow God to work His way. Also, include your Daddy in the courtship mix.
Jehri is a banking and finance lawyer, one of the founding partners of Abuda, Asis, and Associates. He is also the author of Give Jesus: a Parent’s Legacy Through Letter Writing. Katherine is a concert pianist and music teacher. Jehri and Katherine have given parenting and worship-leading seminars together. They have four children: Joseph, Elianna, Daniel, and Samuel.
*This story was first published in the Love Issue of One Voice Magazine. Used with permission.