At 45, she dreamt about her wedding. One year later she married the man in her dreams
Salt&Light celebrates this Valentine's week with stories of commitment, faith and the kind of love that refuses to quit.
by Gracia Lee // February 13, 2023, 3:23 pm
"The way she loves me reminds me of God's love for me, because it's only because of God that we can share this kind of love," said Josiah Teh, 60, who buys his wife a bouquet of flowers every month as a gesture of his love for her. Photo by Gracia Lee.
On the 28th of every month Josiah Teh buys his wife, Susan, a bouquet of fresh flowers to mark their wedding “monthsary” – a habit he has kept up since they tied the knot.
Josiah and Susan are not newlyweds, as you may assume. In fact, they have been married for almost nine years – or 103 months to be exact, Josiah noted diligently.
“To my wife: I thank God for gifting me with you to journey with me for the remaining years of my life. “
That’s over a hundred bouquets he has bought for his wife so far, though he admitted that he has missed some months in recent years.
Attached to the latest bouquet, which was gifted to her on January 28, is a handwritten note in Mandarin that succinctly explains the reason behind his faithful displays of love.
It reads: To my wife: I thank God for gifting me with you to journey with me for the remaining years of my life. Thank you for always caring for me. I can only send these flowers to express my love for you.
Though Josiah and Susan have been married for almost a decade, it is evident that they do not take each other for granted.
And as they relate the story of their unlikely (and amusing) romance, one gets a glimpse of why perhaps this is so.
An unusual Prince Charming
It had all begun with a prayer.
In her dream, the groom’s face was unclear, but she could discern that “he was bald-headed and had a tummy”!
Then 45 years old and single, Susan, whose two younger siblings are married with children, had come home from a family gathering one evening feeling particularly lonely.
Turning to God, she asked if He would provide her with a someone she could spend the rest of her life with, specifically someone “like King David, a man after God’s own heart”.
A month later, she had a dream.
“I dreamt that I was dressed in my wedding gown and my dad was walking me down the aisle. At the far end of the aisle was the groom dressed in white,” recalled Susan, now 58.
Though the groom’s face was fuzzy and unclear, there were two defining things about his appearance that stood out to her: “He was bald-headed and had a tummy!”
Waking up the next morning, Susan felt amused but otherwise did not think much about the unusual Prince Charming she had dreamt of that night.
A week later, a friend asked her if she wanted to be introduced to a potential suitor.
To him, love was something that happened only in the movies or in other people’s lives.
“He’s an ex-offender who has been in and out of jail, but he’s a changed man and has been serving at (Christian halfway house) Breakthrough Missions for almost four years,” her friend told her.
Susan, who at the point was working as an administrative staff in an organisation that serves ex-offenders, agreed to give it a shot. After all, he had turned over a new leaf and was using his time wisely to serve others, she reasoned.
Her friend arranged for them to meet at the man’s workplace, a café in Breakthrough Missions. When Susan saw him coming down the stairs, her jaw dropped.
“I recognised right away the bald head and the tummy. I thought: Eh? I’ve seen him before leh? In my dream! But now the face is clear,” Susan recalled, breaking out in laughter.
Though she admitted that she was not the most impressed by his physical appearance (“I didn’t expect to meet a guy without hair!”), she decided to give him a chance as she believed that this was no mere coincidence.
“I also didn’t want to hurt his feelings lah,” she added with a chuckle, placing a tender hand on her husband’s chest.
He didn’t think romance was for him
Unbeknownst to Susan, Josiah had not been so keen to meet her.
Until he met Jesus in prison and turned his life around, he had spent most of his life embroiled in a life of drugs and gangsterism. He was jailed 11 times, serving a total of 20 years and six months, and given 17 strokes of the cane.
“I didn’t want to be introduced to someone because I’ve hurt others in my past relationships and I also felt that I wasn’t that stable yet,” Josiah, 60, told Salt&Light in Mandarin.
Understanding the weight of the pain he had inflicted on his ex-wife and children, romance was the last thing on his mind. To him, love was something that happened only in the movies or in other people’s lives.
However, upon his friend’s persuasion to meet Susan, he obliged. At the very most, they could just be friends, he thought.
But when he finally met her, that thought slowly changed.
He was struck by her helpfulness as she looked out for the needs of others over the meal, asking if they wanted a drink and helping them to scoop food onto their plates.
“I realised that I did want to get to know her. There was some affinity between us and she was pretty also lah,” he admitted coyly.
Newspapers for a picnic mat
That marked the start of their journey together, though the initial few weeks were fraught with awkward – and in hindsight, amusing – dating bumps.
“He was very shy, very kalang kabut, very nervous. It was so cute, like a teenager on a first date.”
For one, Josiah made the mistake of asking her out on another date too quickly after their previous meeting.
“It was so fast, the next day he called me already. At first I said ‘okay’ but then after that I changed my mind and gave an excuse that I needed to take care of my nephew!” Susan recalled.
After a week of prayer, however, she felt peace to open her heart to him more fully. She took the initiative to ask him out for dinner.
He offered to pick her up from her workplace. It was a romantic gesture, she thought – until he showed up in slippers, carrying a plastic bag with his wallet in it.
“I was like, ‘Why this guy like that one ah?'” Susan said with a laugh.
Josiah also once planned a picnic date and said he would be bringing fried chicken. It was another romantic gesture, Susan thought once again – until he turned up with a whole chicken (“including the head!”) in a white plastic bag and laid out newspaper on the ground for a picnic mat.
“I will always remember this,” Susan said, roaring with laughter. “I had to show him pictures of a proper picnic mat and also let him know that you don’t really bring a whole chicken to a picnic. But that was him lor.”
Chuckling, Josiah replied: “I’m thankful she didn’t get scared away by me!”
Despite Josiah’s rookie dating skills, Susan found his awkwardness endearing. “He was very shy, very kalang kabut (confused and clumsy), very nervous. It was so cute, like a teenager on a first date, but at the time he was already 52 years old,” she said.
Her husband explained: “I never imagined that she would want to get to know me, so I was happy and also a bit afraid. It was like my first love.”
The no-frills proposal
As they continued dating, they found many things in each other to love.
She liked his tender and compassionate heart, as well as his desire to see his old friends come to Christ. He appreciated that she was empathetic and insightful when it came to helping him to manage his relationships with his family members.
They also bonded over their mutual love for Jesus and their passion to reach out to ex-offenders.
“Without Jesus as our matchmaker, honestly I wouldn’t have been able to score a woman like her. I wouldn’t even know where to go to get to know someone like her,” said Josiah.
Just three months after their first meeting, he popped the question casually in the car. The proposal was sans an engagement ring or flowers, but Susan did not mind. She said yes.
Asked why they decided to get married so quickly, Josiah quipped: “Once I knew she was a good woman, I didn’t want to let others have her. Quickly chope (reserve) first!”
Susan added that they had both spent time in prayer and felt peace and joy about the relationship. Another confirmation for her was that her family members were accepting of Josiah as they got to know him.
On June 28, 2014, the couple wed in a chapel in Breakthrough Missions, where Susan walked down the aisle to the groom she had first seen in her dream a year ago.
Josiah said: “In the past I had created a broken family. I never thought that I would get married again, but I’m thankful to God for giving her to me.”
The “third party” every marriage needs
Close to nine years on, the pair feels like they are still in their honeymoon phase.
She also attributed her joy in marriage to Josiah’s faithful acts of service, such as running errands for her and doing chores.
But their blissful marriage requires effort to maintain, Susan said, pointing to how they make an effort to spend quality time with each other, especially when life and ministry get busy.
She also attributed her joy in marriage to Josiah’s faithful acts of service, such as running errands for her, taking the initiative to do chores at home, asking her if she wants anything to eat and planning picnics – now done with more finesse than previously.
“He takes the effort to consider my needs,” she said gratefully.
To Josiah, it is the least he could do for his wife, who in many ways has opened his eyes to the simple joys in life.
“In the past, I would feel on edge every time I went out, fearing that I would be recognised by people from other gangs or the police. But now when we go for a walk with our dog, or on picnics, it’s not like that anymore,” he said.
“It’s very enjoyable to be able to live a simple life with the one you love. Sometimes when we’re out together I’ll give her a kiss and tell her, ‘You’ve helped me to realise my dreams.'”
“Sometimes when we’re out together I give her a kiss and tell her, ‘You’ve helped me to realise my dreams.'”
He also appreciates how she keeps him on the straight and narrow by calming him down when he is angry and providing good advice – for example, not to accept favours from his old friends lest he feel obligated to repay the favour in ways that may lead him back to his old life.
“In this time we’ve been married, a lot of things could have happened but didn’t happen because of her reminders and advice, and I thank God for that,” he said.
It is clear that the Source of the love that they share is far greater than what they could have mustered up on their own. Both of them point to God, the matchmaker of and “third party” in their marriage, as the foundation of their relationship.
Likening marriage to a two-legged race that requires teamwork to reach the finish line, Susan said: “What ties us together is God’s Word and His love.
“This is the constant reminder to me to love Josiah with my all, just as God loves us. He is a gift bestowed to me, so he is precious no matter what past he may have.”
Added Josiah solemnly: “We always remember that this marriage is orchestrated by God. The way she loves me reminds me of God’s love for me, because it’s only because of God that we can share this kind of love.”
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