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.
So I’ve just gone for a gown fitting for my wedding dress recently. It’s going to be spectacular :) I remember the first time we actually got into hunting for the perfect dress; from the beginning, I made it a point to never have my fiance coming along with us. Just my WO, my mom, my bridesmaid, and myself. My mom (and his mom) thought I’m weird, since they claimed they always see the women in Chinese dramas dragging their fiances along from one vendor to another, asking their men how she can look best for him as his future bride.
First of all, I thought first look traditions span across every culture. I was wrong – turns out it’s a Western tradition. No wonder our Asian parents didn’t get it, because my fiance agrees to save the moment – “seeing you in the white dress” – for the big day. Even if I did drag him along to see dresses upon dresses, he’ll say “it’s nice” for everything, as he likes it best when I wear white. He even beamed when I was “forced”1 to try on a random, unflattering, overly adorned ball gown during our visit to a local wedding expo. So yeah … we’ll just save the best for when the time comes (likewise, I appreciate his complete trust2 on my aesthetic judgment :) ).
According to Bridal Guide, the myth claims that betrothed couples weren’t supposed to see each other before the wedding to avoid bad luck in the marriage. Well, not exactly bad luck. This whole not-seeing-the-bride-until-wedding idea sprang from the days when arranged marriages were the norm – the father of the bride was afraid the groom would call off the wedding if he’s already seen her, found her unattractive, and back out while he still can. Even in today’s weddings, if your long-time boyfriend decided turns into a runaway groom, it’ll cast a shame on you and your family. The original purpose of the bridal veil was also to cover up the bride so the groom won’t find out what she looks like until the very last minute.
My purpose for semi-continuing the tradition? Simple: To make his “wow” first look moment even more “wow” than I think it’s going to be. He’s been “wow”-ed a couple of times before by some of my wardrobe’s prettiest dresses, but the next few times of seeing me wearing them wasn’t anything close to their first looks. So yes, simple as that. To maximize the pleasant in his surprise, and by pleasing him it pleases me . Just look at the heartfelt reactions of these grooms:
Some of my biggest inspirations:
First Look… [Karly Borgholthaus]
75 Reasons to Have A First Look [Bridal Guide]
The First Look: Groom’s Perspective [Jasmine Star]
What do you think? When you got married, did you let him go wedding dress shopping with you, or did you surprise him on the big day? And all you single ladies, would you let your future husband know what to expect before the wedding, or would you “wow” him to the max? Share your thoughts on the comments section below~~
P.S. See #46 and #48 on BuzzFeed’s 50 most romantic things that ever happened.
via Karly Borgholthaus on Pinterest
1. I don’t have a dream wedding.1 I didn’t dream up a fantasy since I was 10 or anything like that.
2. The closest thing I’ve imagined about the supposedly “happiest day of my life” is that it’s going to be a small, intimate one.
3. This gives my wedding organizer (WO) a lot of flexibility to work with, yet far, far too many options for me.
4. Peonies or carnations? Camellias or Davin Austin roses? Can I have all of them? Can I have just a couple of them? What are the other options? I mean, I’m good with anything as long as it stays within the concept.
5. Umm, what’s my theme/concept again? Whenever people ask me this, I have no idea what to say. It’s like trying to come up with an elevator pitch, but you can’t put yourself into the metaphorical elevator.
6. Today’s wedding industry: One bride, a million decisions, infinite vendors.
7. Wow, before I got engaged I had no idea a dress alone can cost as much as USD 55,000, which you only get for rent. A lot of times I thought of spending the money on getting a down payment for properties we like instead. At least that we can sell for rent.
8. I really, really don’t want to think too much about the dress. But I have to, because it appears that most brides do, and that my mom and my in-laws and everybody else cares more about it than I do.
9. Turns out, bridal expos are nothing but a waste of time, especially when you already have an excellent WO at your disposal.
10. Hassles are the worst. As much as I wanted cascading flowers on my cake, I’m agreeing with whatever you say is more doable.
11. I really hate waking up early just to have a discussion on cakes. And flowers. And lights and everything else. The idea of having my makeup done early on D-Day always have me grunting.
12. And no, I’m positive I don’t need a USD 9,750 vellum paper-wrapped, double-board. custom-designed, premium paper-printed wedding invitation card that everybody’s going to toss except me and my future husband.
13. My secret wish is to have the whole family assigned as a team to plan the whole wedding for me, and then I’ll just have to attend.
14. That’s right. Most of the time, I wish there’s somebody else who can make all the decisions for me. Heck, one time I even fantasized about some other girl that would fill the position of a bride on the wedding day. She will be my face for the day, and then later on I’ll take it from there to live with my husband forever after.
15. I really miss having face-time with my fiance where it doesn’t concern the wedding.
16. The thought of elopement has passed through my head at least a million times.
17. Most of the time I wonder, why do people make such a big fuss about weddings? I’m fully aware it’s a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but the whole definition of “special” in this special day is exactly what makes each weddings unique and therefore, different. There are simple weddings and there are elaborate weddings. I just wish the spotlight on me is a little smaller.
18. If there’s one thing I’d want my guests to remember, it’s not the food, not the lanterns, not the lighting, not the centerpieces, and not even the dress – it’s the love that my fiance and I share and how it overflows the entire garden like the first golden rays of sunrise.
19. As the months drew near, I just can’t wait till the day is over. The pressure of all the attention, the pressure of wedding expectations, the pressure of having to be perfect for a full day. Pressure pressure pressure.
20. Heck with hair and makeup already. I’m up for any artist as long as it’s not too thick, not too different and just not not me.
21. I mean, for Pete’s sake I’m going to be someone’s wife. Like, for real. For good. For eternity. I don’t know how everything will turn out on D-Day, and by now you know I don’t give 2 cents on whether it’ll be a dream wedding or not, but this is not a dream and I’m so nervous, yet so excited for the ever after. Never have I imagined I would meet my soul mate, one that didn’t exist before he came to life, almost as if I conjured him up, and you know what … nothing else matters, because I am going to marry the man of my dreams.
Different people don’t always get along, much less opposites (at least, if we’re in it for the long haul). But differences aside, I think one of the reasons why people constantly argue is because we tend to want people to look into our circumstances more than we do assert our own perspective on the matter. We think that others get it from our viewpoint, but truth is, no two individuals see things the same way. We especially expect or assume this level of understanding from the people we believe know us best, and sometimes, these “Why don’t you get it?!” kind of arguments can leave a permanent scar.
If we stop for a minute and pull back to see things from the omniscient perspective, we’ll see how puny our own ego really is. It begs for your constant attention, its desires are fleeting. You can’t endow your full and complete trust into something so volatile. It’s so tiny and so vulnerable that it knows, it has to present itself as one ginormous vessel of pride. It pushes others around it to attend to its needs immediately, and while it’s capable, it’s not in its nature to become the first to shimmy out of its pride. It would go lengths to prevent others from seeing its small nature in all its nakedness1.
Now the billion-dollar question is, why not you be the first? Contrary to logic, breaking out of your giant vessel reduces neither you nor your existence. You’re just laying yourself bare – fully your small self and completely with your fragile thoughts and porcelain feelings. This way, people can see right through your soul. And this way, you don’t have to put the pressure on those who know you best to empathize with you. Stripped off your armors, it’s easier for you to get to the heart of one another2 without leaving scars, and that’s a good thing in His eyes3.