I told my girlfriend on Valentine’s Day: “You’re not as pretty as you used to be”
Before I married my wife last year, we had been friends for 12 years during which we dated for about three. So Cheryl and I had already been going out for a fair amount of time when Valentine’s Day 2017 rolled by – a dinner that has been hard to forget for either of us.
What was the plan that year, you ask? Well, Cheryl is not one for big shows of affection or unnecessary extravagance. So, yes, God be praised, I was with a woman many would consider fairly “low maintenance”.
With these considerations in mind, we went to Simpang Bedok for Valentine’s Day. Some merriment was had along the way to Spize as we patted ourselves on the back for refusing to be suckers for the season.
We ordered some Penang char kuay teow and tucking in as we talked, we quickly realised that our meal had been spiked with a horrible poison! No seriously, whatever chilli they used felt like an active ingredient for nuclear warheads.
Persevering, we were sweating and struggling through this romantic meal when I looked up at my girlfriend – who by now was drenched in perspiration, wearing that pair of spectacles I never liked, looking haggard after a long day of teaching – and for reasons that may remain unclear dared to bring this thought into the hearing world:
“You know as time has gone by, I find you less attractive. From when we were younger. But I also find I’m increasingly attracted to other aspects of who you are – I’m growing deeper in love with who you are on the inside.”
Cheryl stopped chewing.
Then she swallowed her food before saying despondently: “Wah, you very bad. Tell me I’m growing uglier and uglier on Valentine’s Day.”
She meant it jokingly, but I became flustered and quickly attempted to defuse the situation with all the finesse of a toddler going at a 100-piece Lego set.
For the record: I never said she was ugly. In fact, if you know Cheryl, then you know she’s gorgeous.
But if I were to attempt to account for my untimely utterance, I suppose it’s kinda like how Francis Chan talks about taking his wife for granted in Crazy Love. That tends to happen when you are with a person long enough.
I’m certainly guilty of taking Cheryl for granted at times – especially her looks. But the truth is, she’s physically beautiful. And I’m… well, I’m blessed!
But alas this saying of Maya Angelou has been ringing loud and true since that night: “I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
As you might gather from Instagram posts like that, Cheryl has never let me live that dinner down.
So, praises be, it was by the sheer sovereignty and grace of God that we got married some two years after that dinner and have been living an awesome and intimate adventure together ever since.
We always look back on the Valentine’s Day incident fondly because, for her, she gets to play-beat me around the head with it every now and then. And for me, it’s always heartening to look back and know that I am in love with something imperishable about Cheryl.
I have chosen well and may now enjoy gazing at the beauty of a woman who loves God and is growing into His image. And sure, she has her off-days, but I always enjoy witnessing a trend that can only go upwards.
I’ve been joking a lot, but I really do see 1 Peter 3:3-4 in my wife.
“Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as elaborate hairstyles and the wearing of gold jewellery or fine clothes. Rather, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight.”
My point is that looks fade fast. I only have to look at my own wrinkles or grey flecks of hair to know that.
So when I gaze into Cheryl’s life and heart, I always rejoice when I see things that are eternal – things like gentleness or wisdom. What a priceless privilege, to lead her and see the very face of God through her as we live life together.
Sorry lah, my romance sounds super holy.
But the truth is, at 100 years old, she surely won’t be as pretty as she was when we were growing up. Yet by God’s grace, I know she will be so beautiful. I long for that day, to know that we have chosen well and to have finished well.
THINK + TALK
- Are you reflecting the image of God in the way you live your life?
- What timeless qualities do you want to see in yourself (or your other half)?
- How can you work towards growing and becoming that person?