When I threw that dream away, I thought to myself, “So this is what it means, when they say marriage is a shackle.”
I should have expected it. After all, his proposal came at the worse possible timing, just as I was sending in my application to pursue further studies in the States. A year later when I reapplied, God led us to serve in Uganda. Having already spent hundreds of dollars on two university applications that I never submitted, I decided that that was over.
One day, at an award ceremony where an Afghan woman shared her experience building schools for girls in Afghanistan, I had a vision. It was a vision of our whole family in the States. I laughed and dismissed it.
But some nights later, I had a dream. I dreamed that I was flying a kite, and the kite fell. But Cliff ran to get it, and retrieved it for me.
In the dream, he said he would help me fly the kite again.
Little did I realize how prophetic that dream would be, how truly, you have always been a husband with a shepherd’s heart, laying your life down for me, for your family, for your sheep so that we can grow, thrive and flourish.
Because of your unwavering patience, selfless sacrifice and shepherd’s heart, I graduated with awards and honors as a mother and started an international venture because of your faith in me, even when I didn’t believe you. The truth is that, every one of those awards belongs to you, too.
As I walked across the stage, the entire year flashed before me as I saw you waiting at the school entrance carrying Sarah-Faith, a tiny pea in a sling back then, for me to pick her up to class with me; I saw you playing with blocks and cleaning up at home so I could focus on school; I saw you humbly, servantheartedly ensuring all my needs were met- from paying my tuition fees on time to clearing the trash-so I could go to school with an unrivaled focus.
It reminded me of the time a classmate told me with tears in her eyes, “ 你是黑暗中的光芒。（You’re a light in the darkness),” and I almost teared too because I replied, “That’s exactly what Cliff prays for me every morning before I step out of the car.”
It reminded me of all the times you sneaked handwritten hallmark cards into my bag before major tests or when I was feeling low. It reminded me of all the times you said I could do it even when I said I could not, when I said God made a mistake on me.
After the award ceremony, people asked me what my next plans were. Tongue in cheek, I replied with a cheeky smile, not untruthfully, “I’m going to be a stay-at-home mom and support Cliff as he’s just accepted a position as a pastor in Canada.” Some gasped aloud or laughed out loud before realizing I wasn’t really joking after all and apologized profusely- “I’m sorry, it’s just that… what?”
Now that you’re the Executive pastor of a church in Canada, our roles have been completely swapped. I’ll admit, that the transition from being a Type A personality in an intense program to now supporting you behind the scenes has its challenging, tear-jerking, handwringing moments. Yet, every time I have to bring Sarah-Faith out so that you can work or attend a meeting, reminds me of all the times you had to mill around a corridor or mall or library or mother goose program because I had to meet my professor, colleague or attend a conference call.
I am learning- that marriage is no shackle. It may seem so for a little while, in that very moment you wonder why you can’t be out doing some other amazing thing in the world.
But I’m learning, that I can find as much purpose as giving a talk to distinguished professors at Johns Hopkins as I can in waiting for you at the aisles of a drugmart while you finish a meeting nearby, because I know it furthers your calling in God, because I know it’s what you did for me when I studied and ploughed and went up to receive 5 awards and lapped up everyone’s congratulatory wishes, while you wiped and cleaned and waited countless of hours and changed hundreds of poopy diapers when nobody could see or pat your back. There were days you drove from home to school and back three times a day just so Sarah-Faith could nurse from me between classes. Sowing into my life was hard work at times, but you did it because you saw it as more than a job, but a calling to further my calling, too.
When you received this job offer, I was overwhelmed with joy. I never told you, that when I was 18, I prayed to God that I would someday marry a pastor. When I married you and it wasn’t so, I just kept this secret prayer in my heart, folded like an origami love letter to God. He never forgot it.
So seeing you now in your element- organizing, learning, pastoring, leading, connecting and teaching, for once being recognized as “Cliff” and no longer “Wai Jia’s husband” or “Sarah-Faith’s Dad”, has warmed my heart in more ways you know. While the world may shake their head and say what a waste this season of my life might be, I know for sure that it’s as filled with meaning as it was when you were there for me, too. Even now, you’re constantly thinking of ways for me to flourish in a land I feel like a fish out of water in, and pursue my calling to build Kitesong Global, write my next book, or enroll in non-profit leadership courses. And even though we’ll be living out of suitcases for a while, moving from home to home in the next few weeks, I’m thankful to be doing this with you.
As much as people may say that having a spouse or child can hinder one’s progression in life, I know I would not be where I am today without the both of you.
For all the times you bent down and stooped low to pick up my lost kites, thank you for mirroring marriage as how Christ loves the church, for showing me how much joy there can be in surrender, and freedom in marriage.
For the wonderful husband and father you are, Happy Fathers’ Day.
Your Wife, forever.