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  • Writer's picturePeter Bai

Today is my 15th year Wedding Anniversary

Ok, today's the 15th year anniversary of Kathy and my weddding. We aren't doing anything big to celebrate (we both are working and have to attend a school function for kids) but I've been thinking about love in general and how my love for Kathy has been over these 15 years. Btw, Kathy rarely reads my blogs - something I pout about to her regularly. Will see when she gets to finally read this one!

I first saw her at a meeting. I still can remember the first impression - what caught my eyes. Her extremely SHORT HAIR. I think it was the time when the fashionable thing for Asian ladies was to keep your hair long. But, this woman was different. And I was intrigued with curiosity! And when I overhead someone asking her why she cut her hair so short, her response was, "Well, I'm about to go to a mission service trip and I didn't want to have to deal with my hair while serving." WOW! Is this a Mother Teresa? Giving up her looks for the benefit of serving God more effectively? (As some of you who know her might agree with me, Kathy was simply being practical as she always is. But, I didn't know her well enough back then and it worked for us!)

So, with curiosity and amazement, I began to get to know her and liked her more and more. She checked all "my boxes" of what I was looking for in wife. Looking back, it was shamelessly self-centered on my part. But, who's love interest in a person isn't self-centered in the beginning? (more on this later).

We began dating and saw how we were good for each other. We saw things similarly and enjoyed spending time together. Yet, there were enough differences to keep each other interested. I remember thinking to myself, "wow, people actually think this simply (not simplistic, of course) and practically in life. I know she was also intrigued by how I make things complicated and ask unanswerable questions in life. In the end, we began to like each other more and more, and our love grew from being mainly self-centered to one that was mutually beneficial.

After getting married in 2002, this love grew further. We began to help each other to grow as a person. We became each other's best friend. And we learned how to parent two kids together and serve God as best as we could. Our love was growing - but still in this mutually benefiting way.

A little tangent here before I return back to my love for Kathy. Recently, I've been thinking about love described in the Bible. And how the Greek word agape was used by the writers of the Bible to describe God's love instead of using the more common word of the day for love, phileo. It was as if they needed a new word for love that they were trying to describe and explain.

Another tangent here. It's like eskimos inventing more than one word for snow. For the eskimos who lived with snow all the time and needed to use it for many different functions, they had to come up with more than one word to describe what many of us would simply call, "snow". I can understand this linguistic phenomenon personally because of my Korean ethnicity. For example, Koreans, like many non-western cultures, have several words for "uncle". It depends on whether this older man in your extended family is from your dad or mom's side, whether older or younger than your parent, and whether married or not married. You see, in a very hierarchical and highly familial culture like the Korean, you need more than one word to describe what we might simply refer to as "uncle" in other cultures.

The Greeks certainly knew a thing or two about love and had few words to describe it already. But for the New Testament writers who were writing in Greek, they felt compelled to come up with a new word. One that described a love that was more than what fulfills one's important self-need, and even more than one that is mutually beneficial to those involved. It's a love that was other-centered, completely selfless and sacrificial. To the writers of NT, the love of God shown through Jesus Christ was this kind of love, and they needed a new word for it. Though they used these two words of love, agape and phileo, interchangeable at times, you can see how they took care to describe this new-found love of Jesus as carefully as possible. And it became the hallmark of those who sought to follow Jesus as their savior and lord.

Now going back to my love for Kathy, I have been asking whether I love her this way with God's agape love. Not saying perfectly but even in my general approach. I realized my love for her grew from being self-centered to mutual, but has it become sacrificial and her-centered? I'm not sure, to be completely honest. I love her dearly but... it's essentially tied to how much she loves me, how what she does for me meets my deepest inner need, how we are good for each other, etc... Could I really love her beyond these "reasons" for my love? Now that we've been together for 15 years, could my love for her actually start being agape? Again, not all the time (I already know it will not be), but at least at times, in my general mindset, and growing little by little daily, and yearly?

On this 15th year anniversary, I don't have any expensive gift to surprise her with (well, nothing would really surprise her at this point because she can see any credit card transactions I make. I suppose I can try to hide it from her using our emergency credit card but... I digress again!). I do have something for her though. I can tell her more than ever that I'm beginning to understand God's agape love and how I will now love her little closer to it. I love her and I've always loved her. But on this day, I pray that my love for her will mean something more than what has been till now. I'm not smart enough to come up with a new word for it, but I sure hope she will see the difference. Happy anniversary, my love!

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