This is unlike any other “ideal” love stories you will hear from your parents or your leaders. The love story you’re about to read is a story of imperfection, of second chances.

Jeng and I met when we were still college students. I was a freshman and he was a sophomore back then. We were such good friends and both actively involved in our organization. We love God. We love the church. Eventually, we both decided to enter full-time campus ministry.

Hashtags were not yet invented then, but our hashtag would have been: #MeantToBe.

We started with pure friendship, until we started seeing each other in a different light. This was when we were already serving as campus missionaries.

It was so natural for us to like each other, and we both knew back then that we were ready to take our relationship to a new level.

The feeling was new to us since we both never had any serious relationships before. It was surreal that after waiting and trusting God for a long time, we finally have each other! It was not easy, having gone through all the pressure and insecurities that come with having no boyfriend or girlfriend during our teenage years.

It was a season of being #CheesyInLove.

We started well and with pure motives. But the next season proved to be challenging, #TheStruggleWasReal. We entered a relationship thinking that we’ve got it all figured out. We were wise in our own eyes. Our simple-mindedness and unguarded emotions led us to temptation and compromising situations.

These situations did not happen right away, but the fact that they happened surprised us. We were saving our first kiss for our wedding day, but we blew it. Thank God we were spared from doing anything more, but it did not mean that we were any better than those who went farther. It was all because of God’s grace that we moved away from that path.

We tried to make the necessary changes to avoid being tempted again. We tried all possible solutions to stop struggling. Guess what? We found ourselves trapped in the same situation. We failed over and over again. The more we failed, the stronger our guilt grew and the stronger we felt the need to justify our actions.

We needed help. No matter how much we wanted to hide it, temptation was eating at us and we knew sooner or later this will destroy us.

We finally decided to tell our leaders about our struggles. I wish I could simply say that after opening up our struggles, things went well and we lived happily ever after. But no, we were far from it!

The whole process of pursuing purity was so painful that we almost gave up. Our hashtag could’ve been #AgainstAllOdds. But we were actually wrong in thinking that it was us against the world. Our leaders played a big role in helping us overcome our struggles, which is why we made it to our wedding day and why we are enjoying each other and our kids today.

Jeng and I had several conversations about whether we should share our love story. A hint of shame still creeps in, wanting us to keep this to ourselves instead. But we realized that there is no shame in what God has already redeemed.

Here are some lessons we learned from this experience.

1. You are not too messed up for the Lord.

Perhaps you are struggling, too. Perhaps you are thinking it’s already too late for you. You have already gone too far and totally messed up. We hope this article finds you and reminds you that you can never be too far or too messed up for the Lord. You can turn to God anytime. No matter how much you try to run away, God will always be right where He has always been.

God gives us infinite chances.

The Bible is filled with stories of people who failed big time yet was given a second chance. Our story is a story of grace and second chance. You too can have that second chance! God’s grace is found on the cross and what Jesus did for us. It is sufficient for all your shortcomings and will never ever leave you unchanged.

2. You can find strength in the community of believers.

One of the biggest mistakes that we have made when we were starting our relationship was to do everything on our own. We were foolish to think that we could start a relationship without ever consulting anyone or seeking others’ guidance.

We are forever grateful to the people who stood by us in that season. They took the risk of offending us, told us the truth, and guided us with their wisdom when we were blinded by our emotions.

Do you have people in your life who are fighting with you? You do not have to fight your struggles alone.

Our prayer is for God’s grace to meet you where you are right now. May God’s grace strengthen you and enable you to honor Him in your relationships.

Discussion Questions:
  1. Are you part of a community that speaks the truth in love about your situation? If you are not yet part of a community, who are the people whom you can be accountable to?
  2. Are there past mistakes that you still feel guilty about and ashamed of? How does knowing the finished work of Christ on the cross help you overcome this feeling?
  3. Are there temptations you are facing right now? Who is a trusted person you can share these to? Ask that person to pray for and with you.

Jeng and Len Aguinaldo
Jeng and Len Aguinaldo

Jeng Aguinaldo is the Every Nation Campus Provincial Director. He and his wife, Len, who used to also be a campus missionary, reach out to students in UP Diliman and are part of the Victory Katipunan family.

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