Mary Tan lives in the Bay Area with her family. She was born in Taiwan, the daughter of Chinese immigrants, who first encountered Jesus Christ through missionaries in China. Though she can still recite Psalm 23 in Mandarin, she writes only in English. As a teenager, she dreamt of dancing with the Pacific Northwest Ballet, but eventually fell in love with her husband Joe in the San Juan Islands, where they’ve shared many boating adventures with their three sons.



In April, in the Bay Area, the sun enters the horizon zone close to 7 pm. Just before it dips out of sight, the harsh blaze is absorbed by the scoreboard, if you happen to be in the stands of Bob Kellogg Field. (Yes! Approval for a football season granted, in spring!)

In those brief sunset minutes, every shadow is wiped away with gorgeous apricot-colored light. Everything glows, as if expecting to be captured on film. I was handed a camera to capture such a moment of a beautiful friend and her husband. Looking through the lens as I stood over the couple, I thought, Oh no, the light has changed. I shifted from side to side to recover the light, yet the light remained filtered away on one of the subjects. Click, click, click… Finally upon sitting down, light returned…click click click. Got it!! Turns out I was blocking the light!

Don’t block My Light, Jesus impressed on me just before kickoff.

I am a recovering control-aholic. Whether it is controlling others’ perception of me, or helping to fix parent, child, husband, sister, friend, neighbor, or offering unsolicited advice on various situations. I am working on tempering my tendency to over-function.

The Light of the World planted the idea of not blocking His light. He was preparing me for what would happen two days later. After lunch on Monday, I found myself embroiled in a shouting match with my husband. I was fuming because I could not control the words coming out of his mouth. I was yelling in football game volume in our kitchen, because I could not get him to agree with me. One thing led to another, ending with the compost bin contents scattered on the floor. I had thrown it down on purpose. Middle son came downstairs to ask what was going on. Neither of us could give a good answer. Timeout. What made me livid was that my husband had already grabbed a broom and took over cleaning up my mess, his way. Argument dispersed temporarily to be resumed after we each cooled down.

A few minutes later, we texted and agreed to talk outside. We cleared the misunderstanding in conversational volume. Apologies were made. I stayed outside by myself as dusk descended on the garden, asking the Shepherd of my Heart, to gently shine light on me, and reveal what I couldn’t see. I skipped dinner with the family and missed the Baylor-Gonzaga championship game, returning inside after dark.

The next afternoon, we went on a walk. By then it became clear that I was to be quiet, and not use that opportunity to rehash my case. With the exception of the crunch sound of our steps meeting the trail, there was not a peep to be heard. Our white lab, Zeke, was exceptionally well behaved. The squirrels hid. Winged creatures even held their breath. Fast cars abandoned the road. Joe interrupted the wordlessness.

“Do you even want me on this walk with you? Seems like you want to walk alone…”

“No, I’m…just still processing what happened yesterday.”

After a thoughtful pause, he said he was doing the same. So we continued our crunching through the woods. Side by side, without words, each in our own heads. I continued replaying the tape of words exchanged yesterday, reminding the Lord, feeling sorry for myself, waiting. We meandered out to the clearing and open road back through the woods.

When we neared home, Joe again broke the wordlessness.

“I’m sorry, Mary. I’m so sorry that I accused you. I was projecting. Who am I to try to pick out the speck in your eye, when I have a log in mine? That’s what the Lord showed me when we walked by those big logs…”

I did not expect that at all. I did not need to defend myself after all. By that point I was already heartbroken over new revelation of how easily offended I was, how I clung to grudges by replaying them, just in case even God would forget how I was wronged. I was humbled by my own meager love. Meanwhile, my gracious Father spoke to His son, with stunning results!

This led to a calming and healing conversation in the garden, understanding, and sweet gratitude for one another. The Lord led us to complete reconciliation. This time, I went back inside to prepare dinner as Joe took some time alone with Jesus.

Thank you, Jesus, for the grace to get out of the way so Joe could hear the voice of his Shepherd and bathe in Your marvelous light!

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.”

1 Peter 2:9

Written by Mary Tan for The Anchor Journal

Catch up on last week’s journal entry!

Lots of Room

After hearing the last words Katie’s mom spoke were “I see many rooms and I want to go there,” she looked toward heaven to understand.