No longer the “runaway bride”: After 4 proposals in her life, she finally accepted 1
Jennifer Heng // February 11, 2021, 3:48 pm
All photos courtesy of Jennifer Heng
Once a serial dater who experienced the pain of two abortions, Jennifer Heng was looking for love in all the wrong places. Writing about these experiences in Walking Out Of Secret Shame, she shares about how her journey back to God gave her a new perspective on life.
The following testimony was adapted from her talk at the Not Gonna Lie conference, where she shared about the incredible story of how she met her husband, John. It is a reminder that God hears our prayers – and that His plans are bigger than what we can imagine.
Jennifer is currently the director of Safe Place, which helps women with unsupported pregnancies make life-giving choices.
I had so many boyfriends that I believed that there was no one left for me. I thought that all the good men had been taken by the good girls.
I felt that there were no more men for girls like me because I was second-hand, spoiled goods. That was really how I felt about myself.
But I remember dating this guy. He was quite a nice Christian guy who wanted to pursue a more stable relationship with me.
And yet there was something in my heart that prevented me from agreeing to go further. At the time, I didn’t know if it had to do with me or him, but the fear was there. Then he proposed.
I’ve had four proposals in my life, but I’ve only accepted one.
My friends used to call me the “runaway bride”. The moment they knew that my boyfriend proposed, they said: “It’s finished. The relationship is over.”
I wasn’t ready to marry him, but to be fair to him, I suggested that we attend a pre-marriage course.
I had hoped that I could figure out what was wrong with me by attending the course as it was led by some of the best counsellors in my church.
But once we finished the course, I only felt more convinced that I couldn’t marry him!
My marriage counsellors were a little traumatised: Was this a success or a failure?
My boyfriend was devastated as I told him that I really couldn’t go ahead with this.
I’ll tell you the reason why. That was during a time when I was trying to get my act together. I was trying very hard to crawl back to God.
One of the things that God put in my heart since I was 15 years old and started going to church was a passion for missions, the needy and the poor. It continued to grow over the years. And at 24, I still felt the same way.
But my boyfriend didn’t have a single burden for missions – I realised that that was a problem. He was a good Christian, but I just couldn’t get past that.
I returned the ring to him and both of us cried. He asked if we could take more time to think about it or try again.
After having that talk, I went home feeling very frustrated. I cried before God.
This was the closest I had come to getting married and it seemed that I had missed my chance. Was I being too stubborn? Should I really not marry him because of my desire for missions?
After I prayed and cried, out of my brashness, I said to God: “God, I want to honour you. This desire for missions is given by you, so the next single man who talks to me about missions is going to be the man I’m going to marry.”
After I said that prayer, I regretted it. I told God: “If you don’t want to do it, it’s okay.”
For the next month, I continued to meet up with my boyfriend, as we were still in a grey zone.
Every time we talked, I would be waiting, thinking to myself: “Just talk about missions, say anything about missions, then I will know that I can marry you, please.”
During that whole month, he didn’t mention a single thing. Neither did I meet any other man who did.
I started to wonder if I was destined to be single. After all, I used to say that I didn’t want to get married as I didn’t believe in marriage.
Towards the end of one month, I was invited to be a worship leader for a friend’s wedding. The band members were friends of the married couple whom I had never met before.
That was the first time I met my husband John, who was the guitarist.
After the wedding, one of the band members suggested that we should all get together for dinner someday since we got along well.
But on the actual day, John and I were the only ones who showed up. Around six of them all said at the last minute that they couldn’t make it!
It was a bit awkward because John and I didn’t really know each other. After dinner, we went for coffee and talked. There was nothing to hide – he knew I was in a relationship.
I always tell others not to follow my example and make rash prayers…
Suddenly, in the middle of our conversation, John launched into how he was involved with Youth With A Mission since he was 13 and did creative arts performances in different countries.
He told me about his heart for nations, and how he wanted to go out into the mission field in the long term.
I sat there, trying not to scream. But I was thinking: “God, no way.” This talk with John had happened within the one-month deadline I had set.
Afterwards, I told God: “God, I was the one who made this prayer, right?
“So, am I going to marry this man? He’s so young and goody-goody.” I wasn’t attracted to him at all.
Fast forward to a few months later, John and I connected again through playing in the same band. By that time, I had already broken up with my boyfriend.
This time around, John and I had better rapport too. We began talking, and after a few months, we started dating.
When we talked about the time we started to like each other, John told me that on the day we first had dinner and coffee, God told him that this was the woman he was going to marry.
But at that time, he thought: “God, she already has a boyfriend and she’s going to get married soon. How can it be? Unless she breaks up with her boyfriend.”
My jaw dropped, and then I told him my side of the story. We were both amazed!
I always tell others not to follow my example and make rash prayers because God hears everything.
But, even in our most foolish prayers, or what we think are foolish prayers, God knows what’s best for us. Although I was so weak in my faith, my desire was to honour God.
It was very funny because when my friends heard that we were dating, one of the most common things that they said to me was: “Wow, Jen, seriously? You two are dating? He’s so different from all your other boyfriends, like the total opposite!”
I’ve had no boundaries and I’ve done things that I’m not proud of, but John was very different.
One of the important things which I did and felt very strongly about when we were at the non-dating stage, in the grey area, was to make sure that he knew everything about my past because I was so afraid that he would mind.
One day I sat down with him and told him my entire story. At the end of that, he looked at me and said: “You know, that’s your past. What I want is your future.”
I’ve had my share of sweet talk from guys, but for the first time, when a man said that, I knew that he meant it. And John has proven that to be true for the past 18 years.
That was how we started dating – when I met this man who said: “It’s okay, I will accept you regardless of whatever has happened to you.”
To be very honest, John was the one who kept the boundaries very tight in our relationship, and I really appreciated and treasured that.
These were some of the things that were very different from my other relationships – he fought for my purity. With John, I saw something that was very different.
This would be, thankfully, my success story in dating, which ended up in a marriage that has lasted; a marriage that is continuing to grow strong.
We still enjoy each other; we still partner each other in life. We’re a very normal couple – we have ups and downs, we’re not perfect, but there is a confidence that we are on the right track.
John is my greatest champion. He is the one who has empowered me to do so many things.
He is the one who pushes me and says: “If God has told you, you better do it.”
That is the kind of husband you’d want: a man who pushes you to do what you both believe God has for you. At the very least, he should be a man who wants God’s best for you.
Remember that you can always bring this request to God. Who knows what He will do?