Sunday, 13 August 2017

The love of Jedidiah and Angeline.

Is love enough? 

That depends on what you are giving up?

9 years ago, Laura Ashley heiress Ms Angeline Francis Khoo married the love of her life in a modest wedding costing only £1500. They now live in a modest 2-bedroom apartment in Paddington. 

No one from her side of the family came to her wedding. She only had 30 guests, and here's why.

Her husband, Jedidiah Francis, is a data scientist with a doctorate in statistics from Oxford University and a first-class degree in biology and business management from Queen Mary University. 

But all that was not good enough for her tycoon father, Tan Sri Khoo Kay Peng, who owns lifestyle brand Laura Ashley and the Corus group of hotels, and is rumoured to be worth about £200m. 

Oh, did I also mention that Jedidiah is from the Caribbean islands? 

So, when Tan Sri Khoo found out about whom his daughter was dating and her plans to marry him, he gave her an ultimatum, that is, choose Jedidiah and lose your inheritance or dump him and keep your inheritance. 

She chose Jedidiah and never regretted her decision since.

For perspective, this is what she is giving up - Her family lived a lavished lifestyle with estates in Malaysia, Australia, Canada and Britain. "One of these was the £30m Rossway Park estate in Hertfordshire, which had a 15-room mansion and two lakes on its 405ha ground."

Nevertheless, Angeline said:-

"I've been fortunate to have that perspective - you can have money and it's a blessing. It allows you to do things, and gives you options, but there are also things that come with it, such as control. Money amplifies negative characteristics and that can cause problems. To walk away from that was actually very easy. I didn't even consider it."

It should be noted that Angeline's mom, Pauline Chan and her father recently went through a bitter divorce and she was awarded £64m from the ugly split.

Further, Angeline is the fourth of five adult children. Her older brother has Tourette's syndrome, and her older sister and younger brother are on the autistic spectrum. 

Angeline and her other brother took care of their three siblings since birth. 

In the bitter divorce proceedings, it was revealed that her father refused to provide any financial support for her three siblings who needed help, thereby forcing them to apply for welfare assistance. 
She said: "(My father) told me he expects them to work and support themselves because that's what men do." 

Lesson? Just one.

After 9 years of marriage, Angeline said that her husband is "brilliant, kind and has strength of character."

I have been wondering, what is strength of character? What does it mean to have strength of character as a father, a husband, and a believer? 

But first, let me preface by saying that I believe whether you are rich or poor, you can have strength of character. 

It is not something that the rich are denied or deprived of. In fact, the fact that they are rich, making many right corporate/strategic decisions, and persevering to reach their goals, shows they possess strength of character, to some extent.

But to me, the strength of character that Angeline talks about (regarding her husband Jedidiah) goes further than that. It means much more than persisting for a material goal.

You see, wealth, power and fame are no guarantee of strength of character. Neither is poverty a sure sign of the strength of character. 

However, one quality that stands out whenever one describes another as having strength of character is love. In riches or in poverty, love makes the enduring difference. 

Simply, to love regardless, in spite of and without ceasing, demonstrates undoubtedly the strength of one's character. 

A mother's love, a couple celebrating their golden anniversary, and a father dedicating his life for his children show the strength of character led and undergirded by a love that never gives up.

And if God is love, then as a believer, to love the way Christ loved, to give the way Christ gave, and to live and overcome the way Christ overcame is what it means to have strength of character. 

Love in a marriage is transforming the way mindless acquisition of wealth, fame and power will never be. While the latter takes possession of you, that is, your time and your personhood, love sets you free from the competing anxieties and egos of this world. 

And while the love of money and the envy and bitterness of poverty entrap you, the liberty of love empowers you. It enlarges your heart to give, and make room in your soul for gratitude, for joy and for contentment that nourish deep within.

Rousseau once said that "man is born free, and everywhere he is in chains. One man thinks himself the master of others, but remains more of a slave than they are." 

Love indeed frees us from the slavery of our own possessive desires, and allows us to give of our life as a husband, a father and a believer for others just as Christ did at Calvary. 

These three declarations before Jesus heaved his last breath totally redefined love for me. 

"Forgive them, for they know not what they do." Love indeed keeps no records of wrong. Love forgives because only through forgiveness is one released to grow even deeper in love.

"Father, into your hands, I commend my spirit." Ultimately, love is about sacrifices. No greater act characterises love than the giving of one's life for another. Jesus remained faithful to his covenant with God, in the same way those who love the way He does remain faithful to the covenants they promise to uphold. For a husband, it is into the hands of marriage he commits his spirit. For a father, it is into the hands of parental bond he commits his spirit. 

And "It is finished." Love never gives up. Regardless of the trials of life, love overcomes. It brings to completion what it sets in its heart to accomplish. And for Christ, it is to give of Himself without looking back.

For there is no greater freedom than to be defined by a love that always put others above yourself. 

For where is thy sting - death, where is thy fangs - greed, where is thy claws - lust, and where is thy hold - pride, when we embody love and live in simple devotion to a life dedicated not to please ourselves, but our loved ones, our community and even occasional strangers.

Indeed, we free ourselves when we free ourselves from ourselves, that is, our insatiable appetites. And love is the key that unlocks all that. 

So, is love enough? 

Well, in a world of endless cravings and striving for things most viscerally tangible but impermanent, love is truly enough. 

Love in fact transcends. Love is longsuffering. Love waters a lifetime like a fresh spring. And love completes humanity. Cheerz.

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