In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who
understands you. There just has to be someone
who wants to.
via mau-indy on Tumblr
via mau-indy on Tumblr
Note: Now here’s the post you’ve been waiting for ;) As usual, get your tea and most comfortable throw and read away – be prepared for a loooooong post that’ll complete the missing piece of his story #HisStance. Enjoy!
Unlike Stanley, I don’t have a running list of qualities I must find in a future husband where I actually take time to sit down, think them up, and write. “I’ve prayed for a girl that meets all those criteria for 7 years … and here you are,” he always says to me. I do make mental notes about what I want in a future husband over the years, but never go as far as detailing him out because, like Stanley, I also never thought I’d ever get married … but for different reasons. We’ll get into those reaosns
As far as my mental notes go, the non-negotiables have always been:
The big bonuses, a.k.a. my personal preferences:
If you look at today’s society, it’s practically impossible to find a guy who doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t practice free sex, and leans not on his own ego for his self-confidence, but God – all in one package. I just don’t want to settle down, knowing I’ll be going the wrong way, if the head of our family is driven by his puny and fickle ego. He could only bring me and my kids to anywhere but happiness if his attitude is always prideful and only relies on his own thinking all the time. So, even though this list depicts a very simple man, I myself find it hard to believe this man ever exists.
Keep in mind that up to this point, I was still a non-believer.
Now, here’s the thing: Ever since my last relationship ended, I took a conscious choice to remain single to figure out who I am and what I really want. This period lasted about 4-5 years, and I can say now that it was the most determining years of my adult life. even though I had the best intentions to improve myself, I had set up a destructive thought pattern in the personal development department. It goes something like this: Think of the ideal future husband in your head, and adjust yourself continuously so that you deserve him. The logic was that I can become my best, most attractive self if I acquire as many traits and characters as possible that my ideal future husband would deem attractive. It’s “What would non-existent unbelievably perfect guy do?”, much like how Christians keep asking themselves “What would Jesus do?”. And attracted men like my ideal future husband I eventually did, but the more I discovered amazing traits in the guys who pursued me, the more I desired to adopt these traits for myself, and the less I felt deserving of the care and attention of any man, or, for the matter, anyone.
Slowly, it became an automatic response: The moment an opportunity for happiness comes along, I backed out. I need to work on myself first, I always say in my mind. It’s almost as if I’m forbidding myself from happy, fulfilling relationships. The process of feeling less and less confident of my own self-worth was so gradual, yet so progressive. This thought pattern, as well as other major areas of my life at that time, has contributed large portions to my depression. Many of you longtime readers know that this was when I lost the desire to do the things I usually like, the will to keep working hard in college and at life, and to simply continue living. Another day, another failure to meet the ever-increasing standards I’ve set for myself – I even failed at just being a girl. As I’ve revealed before throughout the blog, I missed my menstrual period for 17 months, seen 2 gynecologists, both of whom prescribed me with nothing but changing my lifestyle to “reduce stress”.
The pinnacle of my depression era was the moment I came back to Jakarta for vacation for the first time in more than a year, in summer 2011. I arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport with ultimatums that I knew were going to break my family’s heart. Through the car ride I could only keep tearing up as I stared bleakly through the window at the familiar scenes of my hometown, knowing how my own child, if I ever have one, would feel if he or she would tell me the things I was going to tell my mother later when we reached home.
I told her I was planning to quit college, commit to volunteering in humanitarian works, and do freelance writing full-time. I no longer want her financial support, I no longer wish to burden them with my needs, I don’t need to get a blue-collar job, don’t need no dreams, don’t need no supportive friends, don’t need to get married, don’t need to be happy. I just need to make myself useful for the rest of my life. That way, in the end, my life would count.
Stupid, stupid, stupid. Thank God she didn’t respond in anger, but encouraged me to at least make the people around me happy, the people who are actually within reach, because the starving children in Africa aren’t guaranteed to become happy if I did committed myself to volunteer work. Despite her kind and wise words, I despised myself even more for making her so sad.
Keep in mind that here, still, I wasn’t a non-believer.
That same night was the night that completely turned my life around. After the talk with mother, I decided to take her suggestion to heart – the least I can do, even at the end of my life, is to make the people around me happy. According to her, one of the ways to make the people around me happy is to actually make myself happy. At that time, I thought it was an impossible task – who am I to deserve special treatment, even from myself? But it was the starting point where I began to engage with social life again, although I was done actively seeking future husband candidate at all, much less an ideal one.
That night, I caught up with one of my best friends over dinner. After that, we thought we should join some of his friends and acquaintances for a karaoke session.
Pretty casual, nothing fancy here. But who would’ve guessed I would meet my future husband there and then – At the most random and unpredictable place, during the lowest point of my life. And my future from then on has veered into anything but bleak.
The real story begins when he asked me to be his girlfriend. Stanley made it very clear that he is a Christian, and he neither pressured me to convert nor made any implications about it. He simply wanted me to know that he’ll always remain as a faithful and loyal servant of Christ even as we’re about to enter a relationship of differing faith. This was almost a week after he popped the girlfriend question, and the day after he clarified himself as a follower of Christ, I gave him the green light with a “yours truly” text message.
At that time, I was completely nervous, yet excited, just as I am now as we’re celebrating our first milestone. That was the first time in a long time I’ve felt deep intimacy and affection with a guy I actually admire. I guess out of it all, it was his loyalty and faithfulness to God, a non-negotiable of mine, that attracted me to him the most. Even though I haven’t had a relationship with Jesus Christ, I’ve always believed in the sovereign God … and that He’s always good. So if he’s serving the God I believe in, the sovereign God who’s omniscient and omnipotent, and essentially the largest, grandest, most magnificent entity in the entire universe, than I know my heart will be safe and secure with this guy.
If you ask Stanley, he always tells the story of how we met as if it’s his lightbulb moment of “She’s the one”. He’d also tell you that on the other hand, the only thing I remembered about him was “that bespectacled guy wearing that bright orange polo.” But today, we both agree that God’s hand was at work the whole time. Right from the moment He taught Stanley patience since he made his list, all through my depression era to work on my faith, all the way till He deemed my heart was ready to meet my future husband, till He deemed Stanley was ready to have his prayers answered … and his faith tested.
Overall, there are 3 problems we had to keep dealing with in the beginning:
Do you realize what’s the main issue behind these arguments? It’s called TRUST. And I didn’t have it.
It just boggles me how he can truly love someone as ugly and worthless as me. I’m nothing like the women he’s usually interested in, and I’ll never be like them. Over the years, the thing about trust that I’ve learned is that the more you give it, the more you gain it. I’ve always been slow to trust people in general, because people are people and they’ll find ways to break that trust. Perhaps not intentionally, but we’re all deeply flawed creatures. Yet this whole trust issue with Stanley, I found they all spring from the most important issue in life: I didn’t put my trust in God. Instead, I put it in myself … my fickle, fragile emotions. It’s no coincidence that I read a lot of woo-woo stuff during that time – loads of self-help books that teach you to “fake it till you make it” by sheer willpower, but gives no long-term solution. It was only through my rocky relationship with Stanley over the last 4 years, seeing how much I’ve hurt him because I kept pushing him away, that I began to undergo a slow, steady transformation.
Now I’m not trying to sound preach-y here, but we would’ve never gotten married if it wasn’t God who began his real work in me. He tested me from the tiniest tests to the big ones, placing me in situations where it’s blatantly obvious to put my trust in Him rather than working everything by myself. Today, I can say that the real and only solution to dealing with doubts concerning self-worth is a relationship with Jesus Christ. Take this relationship out of a man/woman’s life, and he/she’ll never truly trust himself/herself.
How do I know this? Well, because for the first time in my life … I feel truly, wholly, and completely accepted, flaws and all. There is no other God, or person, or entity in the world that can love you so much, He made it so easy and so convenient for you to love Him back. He compiled the whole truth about life in a book so you don’t have to look elsewhere and confuse yourself, He’s forgiven all your stupid mistakes from the past and the future so you no longer have to feel guilty and worry about later, and the most irresistible, almost too unbelievable truth of all … is the fact that He loves me so much, He’s willing to die for me. Me … a person I’ve only thought as a worthless nobody who wasn’t able to earn lots of cash to provide for the family who’s raised me and cared for me ever since I was young.
I thought majoring in the creative arts was a shame, but He asked me not to throw that passion away. Until I truly trusted Him and took His instruction to heart, He inspired lovely pigs in me. I thought the ideal future husband doesn’t exist, but He revealed Stanley to me just when the moment is right. When He had passed the patience test and when I finally realized I cannot make others happy if I’m not happy myself first. I thought I’m nothing but dust that take up space, but He tells me I’m His precious daughter, just as how my pigs are precious to me. I am accepted, loved, and entrusted with gifts that are uniquely shaped for His purpose – and He’s been so trustworthy to me, that I also stopped feeling the need to know all the detailed and organized plans of His purpose.
The same goes with my relationship with Stanley: I stopped feeling the need to understand why he can love someone like me, as I no longer feel the need to demonstrate my worth according to his affection. It also felt easier to tolerate the pains when I’ve freed up space in my heart from past burdens, and so pushing him away is no longer a good idea. I am washed, cleaned, and have gained a new identity in Christ, so it’s no longer relevant to question the worth of my old self.
Deep, deep down, I still think I don’t deserve Stanley. Sometimes I still find it hard to believe he exists – a guy who doesn’t smoke, doesn’t drink, doesn’t do drugs, doesn’t practice free sex, and leans not on his own ego for his self-confidence, but God – all in one package PLUS the bonuses. But who am I to judge? Just as I don’t deserve God’s amazing, unbelievably abundant grace, at the end of the day, the Lord is the only one who knows best.
And here we are, days from the big day that would forever change and unite us for all of eternity. I cannot wait for more conflicts, more arguments, more bickering, more disagreements, and more misunderstandings with Stanley, due to the differences between us that he’s already pointed out. The way I see it, we are more similar than we are different, as both our hearts have placed its full and trust in the same Lord our God. God clearly favors this marriage for a reason, and we can tell it’s going to be one heavenly ride.
Note: Hey, you. Lucky you for stopping by Stillwater today, because finally … for the first time ever, you’re reading the first ever guest post on the blog!!! And it’s none other than my hubs-to-be, Stanley, who’ll be sharing his side of our story #stance2015. It’s close to a week left before the wedding now, and I feel it’s the perfect time to reflect on how far we’ve come, because, let me tell you, it wasn’t easy to transition ourselves into the marriage milestone. We’re not just sharing this for our own introspection – we want to tell our story because it may help you figure out where you should be heading next in your current relationship, particularly you peeps who are still pondering whether the man/woman you’re with is someone you can’t live without. I promise, you will hear my side of the story after this, so stick around for the next 8 days ;) Let me know whether you’d like to see more collaborated posts like this in the future. Enjoy!
Before meeting Stacia, I have always thought that I would never get married. Because whenever I get heartbroken or get unrequited love from the girl I am interested in, I would always step up my expectations from the next girl I am going to date.
My list of criteria went like this:
1. Has to be tall
2. Has to be fair skin
3. Has to be adorable
4. Has to be slim
5. Has to have long legs
6. Has to live relatively near my house
7. Accept me for who I am
8. More importantly, has to love God
9. As a bonus, please be pretty …
I knew I was in trouble… I became critical with every girl I’m introduced to. I judged them before I even tried spending time with them… All because of the criteria I have set and I strictly followed them. I almost gave up….
But God is always kind to me. His favor never seems to stop, no matter how many times I have disappointed him. A girl was introduced to me… not as someone meant to be a potential girlfriend, but just as an acquaintance.
Stacia has fulfilled all the criteria, including the bonus, except the most important one: Does she love God or not? It turns out she didn’t… (at least not yet)
God didn’t stop there… In the past, if I found out the one I am interested in has a different faith, I stop pursuing. I didn’t want to be troubled with potential issues in the future that comes with faith differences. But this time, I couldn’t seem to stop thinking about her. I decided to take the risk – I confessed to her while making it very clear how serious and devoted I am about my faith, and will never leave Him no matter what.
After some consideration, she agreed to be my girlfriend. A feeling that I have not felt for almost a decade has finally returned to me and I forgot how it felt… a mutual love. What about the faith differences? Without me even mentioning anything, she followed me to church and started learning more about Him. Again, without me even saying anything to her, she decided on her own to get baptized, fulfilling the last the criterion I have set.
Even though being with her has made the happiest moments of my life, I have to admit that those are not easy and smooth-flowing times. We are two very different persons, from different family backgrounds, cultures, and mindsets. It was hard to be a bridge between the two parties. I have to be a good, respectful son and brother, while at the same time I have to be a loving, understanding boyfriend and now… a future husband.
We always argue due to disagreements that arise from our differing mindsets, differing social and cultural beliefs, and differing ways of life. It’s not an easy task to merge my 30-year’s worth of teaching and experiences with a totally different 25-year’s worth of teaching and experiences. We hurt each other a lot. We made each other cry. But what I love in our relationship is that God never let us become separated. He intervenes when the problems get too serious and reminds us why we are together. We fix our problems. We find solutions. We make up.
Time came when I have to make the ultimate decision… the most important decision of my entire life… The proposal. I asked God, family, friends, and everyone else about this. What to consider, what to think, what to prepare. I was planning to propose after 2 years of dating, but I decided to rethink and get prepared for another year just to be extra sure and clear out any doubts. True enough, I only became more confident about making her my wife as I love her even more, not like a girlfriend-boyfriend love, but a lifetime-partner love. I proposed.
Post-proposal didn’t make our relationship less harder. We fought about even more serious stuff, sacrificed more, stretched comfort zones, increased expectations, faced with greater responsibilities, and got to know even more about each other… the good and the bad and yet more differences. But having gone through all that is proof to me… a proof of commitment and love towards each other. We worry about each other and only want what’s best for both of us. It is tiring and frustrating at times, but we make it through it all, thanks to God who continually binds us to become stronger than ever. These days, instead of thinking of breaking up after each major fight, we calm down, try to understand each other, and work together to find a solution. Instead of thinking negatively about our differences, we think about how we can change, tolerate more, and adapt to accept each other’s differences. All this will not go this beautifully unless God’s hand is working amongst us.
And here we are… Just a few days from being married… Who would have thought that I would get married when I was still in my position and situation a few years back before I met Stacia? I was picky and difficult when it comes to love – I won’t consider any further if I can’t picture myself with a girl in the future. Who would have thought that I would meet a girl of my dreams who accepts me, cares for me, and loves me? Who else would take me on this adventure, to laugh and to cry with me, even sharing my burdens? It has been a difficult process, a journey with plenty of turbulence, but with God’s grace and strength, we flew past through it all and has now arrived at our destination, embarking upon a whole new adventure.
By Stanley Widjaja
A favorite from all the photos I took during our final technical meeting in Bali before the wedding. Something I know I’ll treasure during our golden anniversary. I can literally hear God saying, “Look at them. It was I who united them, in their powerlessness and in My strength.”
I mean, it’s 10 friggin’ days left!!!!!! Had my last gown fitting earlier yesterday, just received our senior pastor’s blessings personally, going to set up our bedroom later on this weekend. Me and hubs-to-be are completely freaking out right now. Like, facing each other, shaking the other’s shoulders with both hands, saying, “OMG babe, we’re getting married!!!” As if it’s just dawning on us.
Trust me, you don’t know where life can lead you the moment you surrender and let Love in.
It’s officially 30 days till the big day. As clichéic as this sounds, I can’t believe it’s finally happening. I mean, for real …
One moment you think you still have a long way to go before you become a wife. The next moment you’re going to be one in a blink. See, it doesn’t even occur to me that I’m going to have to be a bride first before I become a wife. I’ve gotten so focused about marriage and on how to foster and protect a good household that I didn’t realize … hey, we actually have go through the aisle first.
I never quite understand what’s the significance of a woman being a bride to the point where I looked up Wikipedia on it. Twice. None of the historical and cultural information ultimately tells me what’s the point of having over-the-top weddings … yes, I’d go so far as to say that my own wedding is going to be over-the-top, at least, for me. Every married Asian knows that your wedding is not just yours and your hub-to-be’s, but also your family’s – meaning, everybody has a voice. For ours, we’re going to have our “real” wedding in Bali, and 2 weeks later we’ll be holding another big banquet in our hometown Jakarta, although it’s a standard reception size in modern Indonesian culture. I told you at one point I’ve fantasized eloping … imagining everything that’s going to happen in the plan just freaks me out, and more than anything else, I really, really just want to hide behind my hubby-to-be the whole time.
But then what really struck me today (and yesterday, and for the past week … ) is the real significance of the idea of being a bride. Like, it’s actually a big deal. No wonder so many women have dreamt about it since they were little girls … since I wasn’t raised from a Christian family, I wouldn’t really know, or ever dared to dream about becoming a bride, much less a wife. The Bible says the church is the bride of Christ. When a bride and a bridegroom stands before the altar and say their I do‘s, they’ll no longer be separate parts of the church, but one stronger, more significant part of the body1 – from two legs into one, from Stanley and Stacia into Stance2. By choosing me to become his bride, le fiancé’s really put me on pedestal here … because he sees me as an individual worthy of melding with to symbolize Christ and his church, just as other Stances have been married in Christ. It’s got to be a pretty significant sight to behold, and this epiphany’s probably the sole reason I’m (finally!) getting particularly excited about the wedding.
Deep down, I still really just want to get it all over with, because with over 2,000 generations of wedding tradition comes a host of human-set values we “need” to follow, simply to pay respect to our family and homage to our culture. But hey … the months leading to this moment have made me much closer to Jesus than ever before. It’s made me realize how much I need him, and how much I need the church to keep me alive.
This all just means my introversion doesn’t excuse me from standing in the spotlight … I have to get my nails done, voluminize my hair, purify my skin, tone up all over, and get some really good sleep. It helps if you know you’re alive for an audience of One.
Should you start using that belonging of mine, I trust you’ll restrain yourself from using it to invade the privacy of my dear friends and family. God has blessed me with more than enough in my life, and from this incidence, I believe he’s trying to tell you that his grace doesn’t just stop with me – it reaches out to you. May you find it a blessing to have the opportunity to keep my property from now on. If you don’t, you can always pass it back to the cinema’s security to let me know you no longer wish to keep that property as your own anymore.
In the meantime, you can reach me here.
via Juleeanna Hallen on Pinterest
I want to make this a regular thing. You, me, tea, together, endless conversations.
If you’ve ever seen any description of the INFJ at all, you probably know they can daydream forever about worlds, infinity, and beyond. Well, since I can talk for hours on these philosophical stuff with close friends and that I only refer to a very few close people I comfortably call friends, I want to implement the same culture here on the blog: You. Friend. Now.
So here’s how it works: I’ll prompt a question, I share my 2 cents, then you tell me your thoughts.
To kick off our many talks to come, I’ll start with a classic:
My short answer: I’m not sure whether I care about being remembered at all, but I so do when it comes to the people who matter to me. In general, I want people to take notice of the genuine effort I put into my work, that in every contribution I make, I do it wholeheartedly and don’t have some secret agenda hiding behind the closet. But when it comes to the special peeps in my life … I want them to remember me as someone they love being around, someone who brings joy into their lives with my dry, sometimes weird sense of humor and especially through my product of love – just someone who’s caused them to leave the room in a more positive light than before I came in.
Fill me in. This can be our chance to get to know each other more.
30 Lebaran 2015 Japan + Hong Kong: The complete itinerary
29 What your celebrity birthday buds say about you
29 Photo diary: Snaps with celebrity wax figures
29 Photo diary: Overlooking the harbour from the peak
29 [JAPAN 2015] Day 7 of 7 | Tokyo: Artnia, Tokyo Tower, Akihabara’s cat cafe, and Kyushu Jangara Ramen.
27 Currently revisiting: The Sacred History + The Secret History of the World
26 Power up your look without heels, simple strategies to reduce stress, and practical ways to change from the inside out.
26 [JAPAN 2015] Day 6 of 7 | Hitachinaka + Tokyo: Summertime at Hitachi Seaside Park and a brief stop at Asakusa~
23 On repeat: Satellite
22 Counting blessings: 51-month carnations bouquet, collection of all previous bouquets, and how he got the piggy girl
22 Ways to reduce carbon footprint right now
20 Quick and homey veggie-based meals at Ananda’s
19 You are not your own.
19 The 5 different types of tea
17 What’s not popular: A sense of belonging + a culture of gratitude
14 こんあこといいな、出来たらいいな: Fujiko F. Fujio Museum
09 Ingredients 101: Jojoba oil
08 The cure for anything is salt water.
08 [JAPAN 2015] Day 5 of 7 | Urayasu: A day well-spent at Tokyo DisneySea~
06 How to be perfect
03 Currently reading: I Know How She Does It
01 Go to Beirut Lebanon to satisfy your tahini cravings.