This week we share the story of Michaela Pang, a Brissie girl now living in Singapore with her husband. She offers her incredible gift in writing and honest vulnerability in sharing her journey to marriage. Read more of Michaela's work at www.michaeladaphne.com, and follow her on instagram "@michaeladaphnewriter".
by Michaela Pang
After a series of bad relationships, misleading men, and unrequited love I made a vow to “never let a man hurt me again.” They say that personal vows are dangerous, that you unconsciously become your own worst enemy. As it were, instead of the vow being a protection from bad man, it became a shield, a barrier from all men. For a long time I was entirely closed off from relationships, despite being pursued on more than one occasion.
I became incredibly high in my standards, unwilling to entertain the thought of dating just anyone. And so it was that when I met Shawn, my husband, it was with much resistance that I allowed him to woo me. I battled with myself when he met me after work one day to pass me some papers for a film project we were working on for Ignite Conference. He asked me, “Are you hungry?” and I faltered, knowing full well where he was leading. He continued, “You’re hungry. Let’s go eat.” One part of me cried out internally “You can’t tell me what to do!” whilst another part of me was impressed at his forthrightness, how he’d taken the lead. I followed after him like a puppy dog to our first unofficial date.
I wasn’t just battling with myself, however. There was an external problem that could not be ignored. He wasn’t Australian. His studies at Griffith and his time working for Freedom at QUT were coming to a close and he had to return to Singapore to fulfill a two-year scholarship bond to the Singapore Government. I was faced with the question of how to proceed – to enter into a relationship with him, knowing we’d probably spend two years doing long distance, or to wait for his return to Australia and see if we still felt the same way.
A wise friend of mine had once told me that before she started dating her American husband, that if she intended to marry him one day, she had to be willing to follow him wherever he may take her. So as I discerned the potential of a relationship with Shawn, I continually asked myself if I was serious enough about him to be ready for that kind of commitment – to be willing to follow him to Singapore or beyond.
What continued hereafter was a demolition of the barrier I’d built up as he walked me home whilst we discussed the faith, as he brought me coffee at work, pulled out my chair on dates, helped me carry heavy things, and complimented me perhaps a little too much. The day he finally asked me out, we went for Mass and adoration and I was certain that this was the kind of guy I’d been waiting for – godly, gentlemanly, and certain of what he wanted. Finally my vow was broken by his constant pursuit.
It had just clocked over to the Feast of the Assumption, August 15, 2013, as we stood on the Victoria Bridge, warming our hands with Max Brenner hot chocolate. He asked me that with the knowledge that he had to return to Singapore, would I be willing to begin a relationship with him? So I mimicked my wise friend and told him I was willing to go wherever he may take me.
Here began a whirlwind time of fear and excitement – six glorious months together and six apart as he returned to Singapore to begin his bond. I had decided to follow him at the end of that year and so I began the grieving time of packing up my life in Australia – selling my car, moving out of my share house, leaving my jobs at Christian Supplies and Ignite Conference, saying goodbye to family and friends alike. I knew I was making the right decision, that if I wanted to marry Shawn I needed to better understand the world that he had come from, his Chinese background, and to give his family a chance to get to know me and me to know them. I was certain that it was the most wise and loving thing to do, yet it pained me to do so. I loved Shawn, I wanted desperately to be wherever he was, but I also loved Brisbane very dearly and didn’t want to leave.
So it was with bitter sweetness and a ring on my finger that I joined him in Singapore in January 2015, to stick out the two-year bond side by side.
Constantly throughout the course of our dating and engaged relationship, I discerned whether Shawn was the right man for me, whether I wanted to marry him and live the rest of my life with him. When fear and anxiety overcame me I fell back upon reason: that the ultimate goal of marriage is to lead one another to God. When I remembered this, and I recalled the many ways in which Shawn led me nearer to God, I knew in my heart that I was making the right choice.
From that conversation on the Victoria Bridge and now into marriage, it hasn’t been an easy road. It’s been wrought with time apart, the transition into a new country, and stumbling through a difference in culture. But I know that we’ve made the right choice, following God’s call into the vocation of marriage to one another. I’d say that our successful discernment came down to dousing our relationship in prayer, the Sacraments, and keeping ourselves focused on the purpose of our relationship: to lead one another nearer to Christ.