Eugene Cho

“A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.”

On February 1, 1997, Minhee and I exchanged vows and committed ourselves to Christ, one another, our families and community –  the journey of loving, serving, and growing as followers of Christ and as husband and wife – in mutual submission to one another.

Today, we celebrate our 15th anniversary.

Wow. 15 years of love, mutual submission, forgiveness, and love.

I know that it is customary [and wise] to speak well of your spouse on your anniversary but Minhee truly is an expression and embodiment of God’s grace and beauty to my life. Our marriage – while clearly not perfect – remains focused on the three pillars I often share with others:

Passion.  Vision.  Mission.

Here’s our wedding photo that still continues to amaze people. Minhee looks her usual photogenic self and I’ve been told I look “very different” – so different that people ask if it’s her “first husband.”

wedding-003-copy.jpg

We’ve learned a great deal and have much more to learn. We’ve loved and have much to love. Couple years ago, I wrote a post and taught a sermon (with Minhee) about some of our best & worst practices and decisions in marriage.

Marriage is important. And while I’ve had the great privilege of officiating numerous weddings, I’ve also experienced the devastation of destructive relationships, marriages and divorce.  There’s just too much at stake to worry about your self-image preservation and projection of marital bliss.

And it’s not just merely for the sake of others. Marriage is important to Minhee and me. She was a counselor when I first met her nearly 17 years ago and after taking many years off to be home with our children, she recently went back to grad school and completed another Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy last year.  But this isn’t about being a pastor or a marriage counselor, marriage is important to us because we have a covenant with God and with one another as husband and wife.

You can watch the entire sermon below but here are the three biggest mistakes I’ve made in our marriage:

Solo Decisions & Convincing

This is pretty dumb and insulting. My wife and I are a team but there have been several occasions where I’ll basically make a decision on my own and then I’ll take it to Minhee and attempt to spin it as a group decision when what I’m doing is…trying to convince her to agree to my decision.

Who can resonate with this? Raise your hand.

A Secret – aka Lying

During the 2nd year of our marriage, I made one of my worst decisions that to this day, I’m not quite sure why I made that decision. Bluntly, I lied. I made a financial decision alone (see above) but this time, I withheld it from my wife until that financial decision backfired and I had no choice but to tell her.

The incident set us back and devastated Minhee. It wasn’t the financial aspect that she was distraught over but the fact that in essence, I had lied to her. Needless to say, we had some very intense conversations and I needed to apologize, repent, and re-build trust.

Don’t lie. And don’t have secrets.

Not being fully present

As a long time recovering workaholic, it’s easy for my mind to wander about ministry, cafe, church, ODW, my ‘to-do’ lists, etc. On top of that, I’m equipped with my smartphone – both an ally and an enemy. While I’ve gotten much better, I’ve made the mistake in my marriage of not being fully present when we’re together and that’s not cool.

Be careful folks. The smartphone can make us look like stupid fools. Not cool at all.

Love & Forgiveness

Through it all, we’ve learned again and again that marriage is a rhythm of love and forgiveness. Love endures. Love heals. Love redeems. Love reconciles. Love pursues.

And yet, we all know that our love isn’t perfect. We all make mistakes…which is why the commitment to forgiveness may be one of the most significant pursuits in marriage. In fact, I feel very strongly that you can’t love without forgiveness.

I deeply resonated with this quote from Ruth Bell Graham who was married to Billy Graham for 63+ years before her passing in 2007:

“A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.” ~ Ruth Bell Graham

So true. So true.

Here’s the sermon we taught together last year about some of our best and worst:


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22 Responses

  1. What a classy looking couple. Thanks for your ministry and for leading by example.

  2. Being a husband to one woman, my wife, throughout my entire life, and being a dad to my children — what an honor and privilege! I would never trade that even with the whole universe. Praise God who is the true designer and architect of this precious thing that is called marriage! Thank you for the post, Eugene.

  3. Jennifer Kay says:

    Happy Anniversary Eugene! I looked up to you as a kid and I still look up to you now. I really loved this blog post!

  4. Chris Park says:

    Just for some humor, Ruth Graham also said, ““No, I’ve never thought of divorce in all these 35 years of marriage, but I did think of murder a few times.”

  5. […] “A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.” (eugenecho.com) Share this:FacebookEmailStumbleUponTwitterLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  6. Drew A. says:

    Nicely put, and congrats!

  7. Tyler says:

    Well done. I’m 10 years behind and am always encouraged by those who have gone ahead of us paving the well toward a rich and healthy marriage.

  8. Jen Walters says:

    Happy 15th anniversary Pastor Cho and Minhee! Loved hearing your sermon together. We miss your teaching, encouragement and friendship. God bless you both in the 16th year of your marriage
    .

  9. Thanks for sharing this brother
    God bless on your marriage with you and wife!

  10. Jm says:

    축하합니다 to both Minhee and you.

  11. […] Click here to read Eugene’s post. Share this:TwitterEmailFacebookLike this:LikeBe the first to like this post. […]

  12. Jason says:

    Well said brother Eugene! Marriage is a partnership, period. We need to find that balance that makes it all work. Thanks for being so open about the topic, and honest.

  13. […] “A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.” (eugenecho.com) […]

  14. […] “A happy marriage is the union of two forgivers.” (eugenecho.com) […]

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One Day’s Wages

My Instagram

People often ask, "How does one stand all that rain in Seattle?" Actually, it doesn't rain that much. I like the rain. Keeps everything "evergreen" and clean. Keeps our air fresh. What's challenging is the gray weather. Give me a few more sunny days. 99 more days to be specific. 
Regardless, still love this city. Checking out Canada in case I need to move up North after the presidential election. Just saying, eh.

Downtown Toronto. Fascinating architecture. Amazed by the diversity of this city. We desperately want our children to not just be captivated by the beauty of creation...but more importantly, to the actual Creator of all that is good and beautiful.

Actually, we want and need this truth for our souls, too. What a privilege. This isn't possible without all those who give, pray, and support the work of @onedayswages. This week, I signed and mailed grants to three partner organizations totaling over $170,000. These grants will empower people by supporting maternal health care, refugee relief efforts, access to clean water, provide education, etc.

Sometimes, the brokenness of the world feel so overwhelming but let's keep running the race with endurance. Let's keep pursuing justice, mercy, and humility. Let's be faithful and may we be spurred on to keep working for God's Kingdom...on earth as it is in heaven.

Again, thank you so much for your support for @onedayswages! My wife, Minhee, and I stand on the shoulders of praying mothers. I'd like to take a moment to honor my mother-in-law. It's hard to put words together to embody her life but she is a very special, anointed person. I'm so blessed to have her as a mother in my life.

She was a devoted wife until she lost her husband to cancer, mother to three daughters, and later became a pastor. She became a follower of Christ as an adult and as such, led her her family to Christ. In her late 50s, she obeyed God's calling to go to seminary and be a leader in the church. She graduated #1 in her class and reminded us that it's never too late to follow a new dream or calling.

As she'll soon celebrate her 80th birthday, I'm especially grateful for the ways that she poured into and prayed over Minhee and her other children.  Even though she's officially retired, I'm inspired that the concept of retirement is not in her vocabulary.  She continues to serve the local church, evangelize and bear witness to Christ, and goes to the early morning prayer meeting at 5am everyday to pray for our family, our church, and for others. 
Jangmonim, we love and honor you. 어머니, 사랑합니다.

Someday, I hope that when my kids speak of Minhee and I...above all, they would say with integrity that their parents prayed for them and kept pointing them to Christ. On this Mother's Day, I want to take a few words to honor mother.

There’s a moment from a few years ago that will stick with me until the day I die. It’s regarding Sung Wha, my mother.

Minhee and I were at a point of transition, between working at an ethnic Korean church in the northern suburbs of Seattle called Lynnwood and launching Quest in urban Seattle. As I shared earlier, I was in desperate need of a job. I had a mortgage to pay. A pregnant wife. A kid at home. 
Then, praise God, after months without work, I finally landed a job.

My mom was in between jobs at this point in her life. She was in her late fifties, but she had such bad knees and degenerative hips that it was, and is, difficult for her to walk. My mom is like a human barometer—when a storm is coming and when it rains, her hips throb. Although my parents lived in San Francisco, she was visiting us in Seattle to encourage us in this difficult season.

As I prepared to go to work one early morning, I walked downstairs to put on my jacket and shoes, and forgot that my mother woke up early every morning to pray. In fact, she had been praying for months that I would find a job. “Eugene, where are you going?” she said when she saw me.

I hadn’t told my mother the news that I had just recently been hired for the janitorial gig at Barnes and Noble. I chose not to because I thought she and my father would be devastated. I didn’t want them to think that after laboring, sacrificing, and doing so much for us over all those years that their son had failed them.

But I couldn’t lie to her, so eventually I told my mom that I got a job and was going to work. “Great! What job? What are you doing?” “Um, I’m working at Barnes and Noble as their custodian,” I said finally.

Without asking another question, my mother got up from the dining table where she had been reading her Bible and praying. She slowly walked slowly toward me.

She approached me, then walked past me without saying a word, and I realized she was headed toward the closet. She opened the closet door, put on her jacket, turned around and said to me (in Korean), “Eugene, let’s go together. I will help you.” This is my mother.

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