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Tea time talk: What is love to you?

 

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Valentine is around the corner, and I encourage singletons and couplets alike to chat up, come clean, and be honest with yourselves with this question:


 What is love
to you?


My not-so-short answer: As a believer, I think the scripture’s famous verse about love is the very definition of it, and way more. The more part is the rest of the Bible, and the personal part is in my marriage.

Starting from the day we stood at the altar, we promised each other to put our relationship only second after our personal relationship with God, and that means the first above every other human relationships we have – including your own tumultuous relationship with yourself. Here’s what is and what isn’t to me: Loving your spouse is not a fleeting feeling but a moment-to-moment commitment, not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less, not focusing on a set of conditions but on making agreements, and not to be reduced to a definition but so much more to do with action. When he first laid eyes on me, something moved in his heart. But he didn’t depend on the vibes to last the marriage – he dedicates care and attention whenever he’s with me, even though he’s not a uni-tasker by nature (my love language is quality time). As for me, he wasn’t always the godly and upright man I’ve always seen in him, but I prepare food on the table and do the minimal house chores by the time he comes home from work, even though I’m a major mess (his love language is acts of service). Sometimes you’re frustrated with his shortcomings, sometimes you’re doubtful of his affection, and other times you’re afraid that someday, he’s going to stop appreciating you. But have you taken a good look at yourself lately? (So guilty). You see, the stuff in your head messes with you more than the actual marriage – if you would just trust his word on the altar without further question, as you do with God’s Word, you would serve him regardless of your own mental and emotional states, as you would unhesitantly obey the Lord. When you look back at the cross and at your husband and then back to the woman on the mirror (in that order), you can’t help but not not love him any less.

So yeap, love certainly isn’t all sunshine and lollipops and flying little piglets, but it’s worth all the time and energy and effort you put in, because you know what? In the end, it will all look beautiful and wonderful and pleasing in His eyes.

Now I want to hear from you: How do you define love?

Share your thoughts on the comments section below, and if you’ve already got plans (hubs and I haven’t), how are you going to spend Valentine’s Day this year? We welcome suggestions :DDD

 
 
 


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Photography by Daddy Tjeuw

 

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Nota Bene

 

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You’ve got to put on
your shield of faith, and
doubt your doubts and
believe your beliefs.

(Rick Warren)

 

 
 
 


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The goal of marriage

 

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‘Better Together’ was my engagement gift for hubby.

I truly believe the saying that goes, it’s better to stay single for the rest of your life than to get into a bad marriage. Compatibility alone doesn’t secure you lifelong marital bliss – in truth, every one of us is so different that we’re not naturally compatible with each other unless we’re willing to make the effort to get to know each other, find common grounds, form relationships, enter fellowship, and make an alliance. You are always going to have disagreements with people because of your differences, but if you commit to stick together through the test of time, both of you win.

There was a life-turning challenge that I took on recently, now that we’re a month into our marriage. During the first few weeks, we both responded to the incessant question “How’s married life?” with nothing but a candid “No difference than when we’re still dating.” It’s true. Even now, I can honestly say there isn’t much that’s changed if we’re strictly referring to our day-to-day lives. But if you rewind to a couple of weeks ago, something did took a huge turn. At least, for me.

Hubby and I went into a huge argument1 during the last days before we move in to our new home. I’m not here to speak details, but I was largely to blame. He showed anger, hurt, disappointment, fear, and sadness all at once. As he went on communicating his unmet needs and resulting feelings more, I began to understand the point … his point, the point of marriage, the point of us, him and me, together. Out of all the emotions he felt, I was quickest to respond to his sadness. If it wasn’t for this argument, I wouldn’t know I would get this sad if I see him sad. It was also this argument that finally changed how I see him. Since the day we stood at the altar, his feelings are no longer his own, just as my feelings are no longer just mine. Before walking down the aisle, I could hurt myself all I want and cry till dawn, and it’s still nobody else’s business. I certainly didn’t have to think much about anyone else’s pain, nor do I have to hold it together for anyone else, because it’s all about managing your own life and your emotions. But now, I realized that this kind of mentality is the very foundation that develops into a bad marriage2.

 

But while I was busy protecting my feelings and preventing myself from getting hurt, I couldn’t see the truth of the matter, that both of us are happier when we’re together than when we’re alone.

 

When I consciously chose to be single, I’ve set in stone to face the rest of my life with a one-person psychological thinking. I left no room for reliance and vulnerability. It took time from making this conviction to finally “opening up” to hubby, my then boyfriend, during our first years together, to trust him, communicate my needs, and to just stop being so difficult and egotistical. In the 4.5 years of our relationship before marriage, he’s constantly attacked by the guards I’ve held up so high around myself. Even though I was technically “with him”, I wasn’t at heart. The one thing I’ve never dared to hope for was believing in a safe and secure confidant, the kind of relationship I’ve always wanted to be in, but had decided then that it only existed in my dreams. Thing is I was okay alone, and that he was fairly happy by himself and his video games. But while I was busy protecting my feelings and preventing myself from getting hurt, I couldn’t see the truth of the matter, that both of us are happier when we’re together than when we’re alone.


Why marry? I asked. What’s the point? What’s the purpose of coupling at all? “So that we can build a harmonious family,” he assured me. What is harmony in the first place, you say? Harmony = Happy together, my husband reassured me. He then placed his hands on my shoulders and looked at me in the eye. “We are together now, no longer two, but one,” he went on. “So no one, not even you or me, can separate us.”

Funny how it’s only dawning on me now that I’m married – like, married married. And truth is, the sanctity of this union is at an all-time low in our culture today, so much so that you see more people making fun of the dreariness and displeasures of marital life (and consequently the glamorization of the cool, casual, and freewheeling single life) than they do emphasizing the true happiness as a result of the constitution. But know this: The key word of our motto isn’t the ‘happy’ – it’s our ‘together’-ness.

Just as you strive for win-win deals with others in your business, marriage takes teamwork. The challenge, living in the kind of society we’re in today, is to not let others woo you into thinking you and your spouse are so different that you cannot be on the same team. This also happens when you focus too much on the ‘happy’-ness than the ‘together’-ness, because what’s happening is that you’re letting your pride take the lead. This ego-based psychological system has broken hearts, ruined relationships, and caused unnecessary divorces. Because when one of you “loses”, it’s just personal pride that wins the moment, but you as one and as a whole lose more in the long run.

Thanks to our permanent union, we become better humans as a couple just as well as we are as individuals, because when I see him grin his widest grin, the whole world is alright.

 

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Drop me a message to order your copy of ‘Better Together’ :)

 
 
 


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 Footnote(s):

  1. and all married couples know … these arguments are joy opportunities in disguise []
  2. See: Psychologist Stan Tatkin Explains How to Pick the Right Mate [The Cheat Sheet] []
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Who to expect on your wedding

 

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If you haven’t already know, 10 and I had 2 wedding receptions to celebrate our marriage. The one we wanted was a smaller and much more intimate setting in Bali, whereas the other one was what our parents originally envisioned their children’s wedding day to be. Having gone through the once-in-a-lifetime experience twice made me learn a couple of things, especially about being thankful for the people who show up to give your marriage support. Whether you have 200 or 1200 people on your guest list, you can expect these people to be present on your celebration:

Expect loyalty. These people are the ones who you haven’t gotten in touch in a while, perhaps years or even decades, but show up nonetheless, wherever your destination wedding is held in the world, to just to congratulate you and your new spouse. These are definitely people you should keep for life – savor the friendship and your enduring history with them.

Expect to be overwhelmed with appreciation. Before you got married, weddings were just another have-to’s you have to cross off your list every weekend. On your own wedding day, you will be eternally grateful of the many, many people who actually want to be there. It’s clear when you’re standing on stage who are the people who actually make time and effort to be there for you – not for the free food, not for the Instagram-worthy photo props, not for the scenic destination of the wedding, but for the celebration of two souls becoming one.

Expect hoarders. In the same vein, you can spot these people almost immediately out of the room. They’ve been prowling around the perimeter near the premium food stalls for at least an hour before you see them getting in line toward the stage to give you, your spouse, and your parents a flimsy handshake – and it’s almost always with neither a word nor eye contact.

Expect indifference. They behave much like the hoarders when they’re in line to shake your hands, but at least these people know the whole purpose of the event (congratulating the married couple!) before they help themselves with the goodies.

Expect gossip. People are always going to talk, even when you give them something good to talk about. Unlike the hoarders and the indifferent people, gossipers look at you in the eye longer than you are normally comfortable with. Whether they’re eating their food or giving you a handshake, they’re usually standing close with one or two of their gossip buddies. You can always find them within 100-meter’s radius from the stage, the VIP area, the plasma TV, the screen, and your canvas images, whispering something toxic into each other’s ears.

Expect camwhoring. Lots of camwhoring. Right after the quick smiles and brief handshakes, they’ll get into their poses and start commanding your photographers to take multiple shots of them on stage with you. So brace yourself, because you and your spouse are their most visually-appealing props of the day.

Expect the uninvited. If you’re having a banquet (i.e. expecting more than 500 people), keep on the lookout for at least one stranger. Get your wedding organizer to help you guard every corner so you can catch the culprit before they walk out with the freebies.

Expect pleasant surprises. Much like the loyal people, pleasant surprises are those who remember the tiniest good things you did for them – so little you don’t even remember. You may regard them as an acquaintance, but they regard you as a buddy, and that’s more than enough reason to keep them for life. The most surprising factor of their presence was the total amount of gift in the red envelope: It’s infinitely more than the nothingness you did for them a billion years ago.

Expect sincerity. It’s rare to find sincere people within a lifetime, much less on a single night. So when you found one, you should keep them. These people are the ones who look you in the eye as long as the gossipers do, but immediately hugs you tightly and, instead of whispering among one another, they whisper personal wishes and prayers into your ears, probably tearing up while doing so, and also probably the one taking the most pictures throughout the event so you don’t have to wait for the photographer’s pictures to update your Instagram. Please note that these people aren’t always necessarily present physically at the wedding: They may come in personalized messages in wedding cards, in surprise customized wedding gifts, somewhere during the hours you spent on long-distance phone calls, at the end of an afternoon tea you had together weeks in advance, plus many more other forms of a genuine heart. In these cases, they’re the first to congratulate you again digitally after you’re officiated … all the more reason you should keep in touch with them for life.

Expect excuses. On the opposite end, there will be people who DON’T have children to take care of, a limb broken, or a family member dying who RSVP’d way in advance, but are a no-show on the day itself. Examples of lame excuses they’ll give you: “There’s no one else I know there!”, “My dog ate your wedding invitation!” or, my personal favorite: Just a message … not before the wedding, not during the wedding, but days after the wedding … with no reason but a “Sorry couldn’t be there” and expect the relationship is still the same as ever. There may be 1001 reasons to not be there, but there are none to not tell you personally that they would not make it there before it’s too late.

Expect major disappointments. It doesn’t hurt as much if the people with the most excuse weren’t the people who you identify as your friend. But the biggest letdowns are the first people you’ve always had in mind to be there, but didn’t. It hurts even more when you received no news, no response, none whatsoever.

Expect utmost gratitude. Despite the letdowns, you will be so glad that you’re one of the most blessed souls in the world who has the kind of love like no other. Not everyone is blessed with a life partner with whom they can make a great team, much less one who loves and accepts you for all that you are. Like the brightest star in the night sky, your day will be filled with people who’d suffer hours of traffic and heavy downpour, just to witness the rare occasion, and there’s no way to thank their presence other than by giving them back as a married couple for the rest of your life.

Expect the best from God … when you surrender to His will. And not just on your wedding day, but every day for the rest of your life. Here’s our testimony …

Me and my husband only had 2 weeks left to decide whether we wanted to hire a rain protection vendor as our backup plan. The Bali wedding was an outdoor venue, so we’d essentially be blowing up everything (literally everything) if it rains. The vendor gave us until it’s down to a week left before the big day to make our decision. They’ve even reduced their price for us. After giving it some thought, I told my then husband-to-be that I did not want a canopy, even though or super duper attentive wedding organizer highly suggested we should get one. I wanted us to put our trust in God instead of our own smarts. Ever since we got together, I’ve gotten through so many doubts about His will for us that by then, I had no more doubts He was the one behind our union. Rain or shine, I believe He would allow the best weather possible for our special day.

My husband agreed. And so, no backup plan whatsoever … even though counting down the 2 weeks was discouraging. The 15-day forecasts kept showing anywhere between 60%-80% chances of drizzles and thunderstorms on the exact hours we’ll be holding our holy matrimony and the reception, as if all the weather apps and forecasting websites were purposely trolling on us. They all (yes, all) showed the same cloudy forecast leading up to the big day … and yet, we worried less and less. As the days went by, our faith has only gotten stronger, with prayers of hope for the future and of thanksgivings in advance.

Saturday, November 28, 2015 finally arrived. I woke up without the slightest thought about the weather and only focused on the man I’m going to love for the rest of my life. It was a sunny afternoon filled with fun photoshoots and a happy tea ceremony, followed by a heartfelt evening of us exchanging our vows. We became one … under the backdrop of a beautiful violet sunset and a golden outlook of our future.

Then, the testing of faith begins. The hair and makeup crew were changing me into the nighttime look for the reception, and my new husband was staring at the stormy sky with a paler complexion than Edward Cullen. Nothing liquid has fallen to the grounds yet, just sounds and flashes of thunder from above. When it’s time for us to line up to be the last introduced by the emcee (after our parents and siblings), it was practically drizzling. The whole crew was running everywhere to provide umbrellas for everyone – adrenaline’s rushing, our hearts beating faster.

There and then, we closed our eyes, hands held tight, and spoke out our faith in a joint prayer. Right after we said our ‘Amen’ together, we opened our eyes to find the drizzling stopped. And just like that … the hot and humid air transformed into a fresh, dewy ambience that lasted through the night. It was a miracle.

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Enchanted: Destination engagement photography by Daddy Tjeuw

 

Today, I’d like to showcase one of the many vendors I’m eternally grateful for for our beautiful celebration. The name’s Daddy Tjeuw, a Jakarta-based wedding and pre-wedding photographer who’s excellent at doing what he does. It’s rare to find local photographers who master the art of using natural light to their full advantage, so we were blessed the day we discovered Daddy during our search for the perfect pre-wedding photoshoot. Without further ado, here’s one of the many series hubs and I totally loved:

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Tea time talk: Have you experienced love at first sight?

 

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How are you guys?!! It’s been a while now since the wedding and everything. I’ll share more about the details little by little, but since we’re on the topic of love … I’d like to hear more from you:


Have you
experienced
love at first sight?


My short answer: Yes, even though my definition of love today is completely different from my experience back then. It was more like an obsession, and it lasted for years. I’ve heard that it’s actually easier for guys to fall at first sight for gals than it is the other way around, but when the latter happens, and it’s the kind that’s unrequited, I can tell you that it’ll take something much, much bigger than yourself to open your eyes and make you realize you deserve better than you think. Whether it’s lots of time to heal or massive effort to move on, it ain’t true love if you’re blind to his flaws.

What about you? Have you fallen head over heels over a guy since the first day you saw him? How was it like for you?

Share your story. The lust, the letdowns, the Bill in your life. You know, we just might have crossed paths when it comes to matters of the heart.

 
 
 


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via Jen Huang Photography

 

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The perfect guy doesn’t exist.

 

The perfect guy doesn’t exist, so I stopped looking for him. I’m tired of guys who cheat, play, and lie, so I stopped hoping for a guy who would ‘get’ me.

But you see, the perfect guy DOES exist. More like a man than he is a guy, and he happens to be a god – the God. He’s been waiting on me since … well, let’s just say it’s been a long time coming.

This is the only man who’s ever walked on earth who is perfect – there won’t be another. He is the epitome of perfection, but he loved me, still does, and forever will do. He so does that he’s laid down his life for me so I’ll reunite with him after earth, and I have faith in him1. He’s the reason why I stopped looking for the perfect guy, but still have faith in love.

There will never be a guy on earth who’s worthy enough for me to give my complete love, care, and affection, because no one else is perfect other than the perfect man. As long as I’m just as imperfect, there will always be miscommunication, mistrust, and misunderstandings. I don’t know whether a guy’s going to leave me or forsake me, but he might2.

Even more so, there will never be a guy on earth who loves me so much that he’s willing to die for me like the perfect man – not ever. I don’t feel worthy enough to be loved that much, because I’m far, perhaps worlds away, from perfect. As long as I have imperfect thoughts, there will always be imperfect deeds, imperfect actions, imperfect behaviors. Guys would either get the truth or get the wrong implications. Even if there is a well-meaning guy who’s willing to die for my imperfections, his own imperfections would flaw his sacrifice, and that sacrifice would be next to nothing compared to that cross.

In the meantime3, in addition to sacrificing his life for me, the perfect man has also delivered me a man to unite with … a man with flaws and all, but is full of faith, hope, and love. This man will never ‘get’ me as completely as the man who died for me – not ever, but he’s willing to keep trying, just as much I’m longing to give my love, care, and affection for a man. He is worthy for me because I am worthy of the death of the perfect man, and I am worthy for him because he also believes and receives the love of the perfect man.

Yes, he is imperfect. But he was made perfect for me, and I for him, and from today onwards, till death do us part, we are going to let our love for the perfect man perfect us.

 

P.S. Every first-person pronoun (I, my, me) above are replaceable with second- (you) and third-person (he, she, it) pronouns.

 
 

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 Footnote(s):

  1. Hebrews 11:1 []
  2. Deuteronomy 31:8 []
  3. 1 Corinthians 13:12 []
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Nota Bene

 

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In the end there doesn’t have to be anyone who
understands you. 
There just has to be someone
who wants to.

(Robert Brautt)

 

 
 
 


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H – 2 | #HerStance: On trust, relationships, and how I came to know The One.

 

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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!

 

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Stacia’s side of the story #HerStance

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:

  1. Absolutely no smoking
  2. Absolutely no drugging
  3. Absolutely no bad drinking habits
  4. Is clean of HIV/AIDS, i.e. has never paid service to call girls
  5. Is smart, i.e. able to carry on intellectual conversations
  6. Is humble
  7. Is willing to put the sovereign God before me

The big bonuses, a.k.a. my personal preferences:

  • Has a marathoner’s built (taller than me, lean for stamina)
  • Has a kind face
  • Smiles a lot

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”.

 

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.

 

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.

 

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What’s your stance? What’s your his? Do you always see each other eye to eye, or do you disagree on everything? Here’s a challenge for you two: Share the love from both perspectives, from #HisStance and #HerStance, and your story might get featured on the blog! Simply tell it from both sides of the story (that’s the ONLY requirement) on the comments section below to win a chance to get featured. Can’t wait to hear from you lovebirds <3

 

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:

  • I always push him away because I think I’m worthless and can only hurt and burden him.
  • I didn’t want to deal with the pain that romantic relationships carry, i.e. I was still in the lifetime singlehood mentality.
  • He refused to give me reasons why he pursued me in the first place. He’ll never want to make them so tangible that’s it’s easy to find faults in me and eventually leave me.

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.