Written By: Matthew Mangaran
To My Beloved,
Another year together. Another chapter in our story. Another opportunity to share my love for you. I’m excited to spend this day with you, especially during this time where love, joy, and peace fills the atmosphere. While it fills my heart thinking about how strong our love is now, I always enjoy thinking about how God, the Father, sent me to be with you.
You already know this, but I was after your heart before you were after mine. I would see you in the back of the church with your friends, hoping you would notice me. I knew your parents were the reason why you later served at church, but I was just happy you were a little bit closer to me. We had a good time in our little community chapel… until college when you left your hometown.
The distance! Oh, the distance. Mix that with the high demands and stress. I remember how much you would call out to me late at night. I would try to encourage you and tell you to be strong and take it one day at a time. Negative thoughts would continue to creep in, and you would say things that I knew you never meant. “Of course, you are loved,” I would say. “Of course, you would be missed.” Fortunately, despite the emotional roller coaster, you graduated, and we were ready to start a new chapter. Love. Marriage. Baby carriage(s). All was going well… until deployments when you left your new family at home.
The distance! Oh, the distance again. I remember how much you would pray, hoping that I would be fine taking care of the family. Of course, I would. Still, you were feeling helpless thousands of miles away in the middle of the ocean. However, you had other people on the ship to encourage you and to help share my love for you. It was just enough to get you home… until you had to go back out again.
As much as it hurt me, seeing you in pain because of being apart, the distance is what actually brought us closer. We had the opportunity to share more stories and have more conversations. Before each mission, we would talk. I would try to encourage you and let you know that the family is fine and that you should just focus on flying. When you finally returned home, you wanted to keep your pursuit for God, and I enjoyed that. You kept it going as we moved to a new duty station and found our new church where we would talk and share more stories. Eventually, you were full of grace and light! I was so excited about where we were at the time.
Unfortunately, we still had our ups and downs. Stories from the past would come up. You would bring up those drunken nights, making poor decisions. You felt bad the next day, but I always forgave you. I still do to this day. “I will never leave you.” (Hebrews 13:5 – “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.”) There was even a time when you pushed me away when your aunt died. I love her, and I enjoyed the time we spent together on earth. You didn’t see me through your tears, but I was still there. “I am with you always.” (Matthew 28:20 – And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.) I would whisper in your ears that she knows how much you love her and appreciate her and how she just wants you to celebrate life. Isn’t that amazing, though? Most people don’t like the thought of dying, but that right there helps us appreciate living. So, yeah, I tried to encourage you to be stronger and full of joy in order to be an example for those around you to celebrate life and to love each other!
Fortunately, you were able to move forward and not let past hurts, mistakes or obstacles hold you back. The past few years have truly been amazing. Yeah, the enemy continued to attack your thoughts with negativity, but you know the truth. This year, during Valentine’s Day, I want you to remember these truths: You are loved, and you give a lot of love to me and those around us. You do your best, through God’s grace, to protect, provide, and care for your family. You are strong and courageous. You are amazing. Happy Valentine’s Day.
With unending love,
P.S. Just like I love you, I’m calling you to love your wife unconditionally 😉 (Ephesians 5:25 – For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up His life for her.)