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Fairy Tales Are True : Our Engagement Story

I'm Stephanie May Wilson!

I'm an author and podcaster and my specialty is helping women navigate big decisions, life transitions — creating lives they love.

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With engagement excitement swirling like twinkling snowflakes around me, I’ve been thinking a lot about other trends that have ebbed and flowed throughout my life.

The Lipstick Gospel - Fairy Tales Are True : Our Engagement Story

I grew up on a steady diet of Disney. My imagination billowed as I twirled in flowy dresses. In my mind, no dream was out of reach.

We believe that when we’re young. We believe that all is possible, that we can be and do and achieve anything we want. We believe that love is true and real and that one day, when we least expect it, it’ll come riding up on a horse, handsome and kind.

But at some point as we grow up, our belief begins to change.

I've always believed in love, or so I thought.

And then I met Carl, and realized that surrounding my hope was a thick layer of fear. And protecting that fear was an even thicker layer of disbelief.

This man was too good to be true. I'd learned the hard way that this wasn't possible. He couldn't possibly love me, cherish me, tolerate me and want all of me the way he seemed to.

I tried to hope. I tried to trust him when he said I could. I tried to believe him as he dreamed about our future.

But deep down, I just knew—stories like these are the stuff of fairy tales, and I was too cynical and afraid to believe in them anymore.

We dated for over a year, knowing and talking about our desire to marry each other. Carl said we were on our way, but without much control in the when or how, I had a hard time fully believing him.

Meanwhile everyone around us was getting engaged.

I'd get a text every week or so from a happy couple wanting to share their news.

And every time, my heart got heavier.

Maybe fairy tales were true, just not for me.

Christmas Eve was the last straw. Two great friends of ours got engaged and I burst into tears immediately. Why them and not us?

I cried into my pasta at Christmas dinner, finally confessing to my dad and to Carl later on the phone just how hard waiting was.

And in response, Carl comforted. And he asked two questions. Do you love me? Do you trust me?

The answer to both was yes. And so, slightly soothed, I resolved again to trust and be patient.

Christmas day came without much merriment on my part. I showed up and went through the motions, feeling like my favorite day of the year was just a little less sparkly than I’d remembered it.

Carl was at his parents’ house in Indiana, and I missed him terribly. It felt strange to spend this holiday without him.

“This will be our last Christmas apart,” Carl whispered to me over FaceTime on Christmas morning. I nodded, trying not to cry, and mentally kicking myself for being such a baby.

And so when all of the presents were unwrapped and the excitement had wound down, I snuggled into the comfiest sweatpants I could find, and fell asleep while watching the Grinch—a last-ditch effort to get myself in the Christmas mood.

The Lipstick Gospel - Fairy Tales Are True : Our Engagement Story

After hours of lazing around, my mother finally insisted that I get up and get dressed. Shower, she told me, and knowing that I am a fan of the sopping wet messy bun, instructed me, rather ferociously, to dry my hair.

As I swiped on eyeliner, I thought about my mother’s strange request.

Why would she care what I wore to dinner, it was just our family right? 

And with a flash, hope sparked like a match in my heart.

What if Carl was here? What if he showed up from Indiana just for the night, just to surprise me? 

What if tonight was the night he was going to propose?

But I squashed the thought just as quickly. I'd been getting my hopes up for an entire year—crushed just a little bit more every time I turned out to be wrong.

Fairy tales like that just don’t come true, at least not for me.

I walked downstairs, fresh and toughened up from my personal pep talk.

And just then the doorbell rang.

My mom opened the door and there was Carl.

I couldn't breathe.

I ran to the door and threw my arms around him. I cried into the shoulder of his sweater and breathlessly listened as he told me he wants to be with me for every Christmas forever.

And then he dropped to one knee and with tears streaming down both of our faces, slipped the most magical ring onto my finger.

We all cried as my family hugged each other and welcomed Carl to the family, and laughed as my best friend burst through the door, a bottle of champagne in hand.

We toasted and ate our traditional fondue Christmas dinner, our faces glowing around the candlelit table.

And that night as I fell asleep, I realized I was wrong.

Even after mountains of heartbreaks, and feeling forgotten, and relationships that are too good to be true…

… there's that one time when it works out exactly as you were too scared to hope that it would.

Maybe fairy tales are real after all.

Oh, one last thing: don’t misunderstand the meaning of fairy tale. Fairy tale romance isn’t easy or perfect. The best things never are.

True fairy tales are full of courage and goodness, of overcoming adversity and fighting for love, even and especially when it’s hard.

And that’s the kind of love that Carl and I are working towards every single day, and this is just the beginning of chapter two.

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  1. Kaitlin says:

    Simply amazing. There’s hope out there for everyone 🙂 Congrats!

  2. Ashley says:

    I love this! Waiting and trusting can be SO hard sometimes, but when the person we’re trusting in truly LOVES us it’s a sure bet. What a great parallel to waiting and trusting in our heavenly Father. I appreciate your honesty about how hard it was!

    When my now-husband and I got engaged, it was a similar story. It was the Sunday before Christmas and my whole family knew it was coming. We were at the beach and his plan was to propose after church in a small chapel by the shore. That morning I rolled out of bed late, didn’t shower, and threw on the same sweater I had worn the day before. I remember my mom asking me if I wasn’t going to try to shower and get a little more ready. I remember thinking that was so strange… she rarely makes comments like that and I thought I looked fine, haha!

    Great story! Congrats to you both! 🙂

  3. Aw, I loved reading this! So much of it resonated with me in terms of wanting to be engaged and having it not happen yet, of knowing this is the man you want to spend your life with and yet being apart on Christmas, of fighting the war between hope and cynicism in my heart (and that one continues today, happily married). : ) Love to you, sweet girl. These are such joyful times, and I am sending you a giant hug. If you and Carl find yourselves in Nashville at some point, let me know, okay?

  4. Sara says:

    So incredibly happy for you both!! Hallelujah! Keep sharing your heart beautiful girl!

  5. sara says:

    this has been like watching a tv show, me wondering aloud to my computer or phone, “are they gonna get married?!”

    except this is real life, which makes this plot twist all the better. congratulations!

  6. Jessi Green says:

    congrats! so happy for you two!

  7. erin moffitt says:

    I loved reading this. I’m 26 and single, but I long for what you’ve shared about here. Thanks for reminding me to trust and let go of fear.

  8. Joe Bunting says:

    So awesome. Congratulations Steph and Carl!

    • Bev Spotz says:

      Congratulations, Stephanie!! We are so happy for you and know that God will bless your marriage!!

      Bev & Bill

  9. Elizabeth Swann says:

    How did you know he was the one?

  10. Laura m. says:

    Thank you for sharing this. I know I’m two years late, but I’m currently in the ‘pre-Christmas 2013’ of your story. Seems like everyone is getting engaged and here I am… 2.5 years dating… twiddling my thumbs. 😉 It’s encouraging to see others who have had a similar struggle, and to know it will pass.
    (And no, I’m not actually just twiddling my thumbs! I’m working to prepare for future wifehood… sometimes it just seems so far off!)

  11. Laura M. says:

    So here I am, 2 months since my last comment (which was already two years late).
    Last Sunday I spent the morning at church struggling with my frustration at not being engaged. I just wanted to make it official! We both wanted to be married some day, what’s the hold up?! I prayed and prayed for contentment all morning…and arrived home to my now-fiance on one knee! Praise the Lord for timing which now, looking back, was perfect. 🙂
    This post was an encouragement to me during the past two months. thank you for sharing!

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