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The humble authenticity of tea

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For the most part of my life, I’m more of a follower type of person. I am quiet, I don’t like noise, I avoid crowds, and love books. Tea has been my companion the whole time.

Then I fell in love with the wrong guy. And a whole series of wrong guys ever since then.

There was this one guy who has been telling me he loves talkative girls. Girls who excite, girls who ignite. You know, the kind of girl who just seems to captivate everyone as soon as she enters the room? My husband would laugh if somebody has that kind of first impression about me. I am not that kind of girl and will never be. That kind of girl is always open, always inviting, always smiling and strong and bold. She knows what she wants and she seems to always have an adventure waiting for her.

But let’s rewind. What happened there? With this self-proclaimed talkative-girl-liking guy, I began to develop superbad habits, thought-patterns, and behaviors that would grow on me that has led me to my period of depression.

It started creeping into your mind so sleekly, so gradually. The thought of impressing this guy. You want him to like you, but you’ve got nothing to like. Except, before meeting this guy, you want guys to be impressed by your intelligence, for them to just acknowledge that you have a mind of your own. You spend a lot of time reading books. You were still wearing glasses. You didn’t know much about makeup then. And you have all these great ideas and philosophies you like to talk about with your best friend, and you long for those deep conversations with the person who’s going to be your future husband. I know, girls are crazy to immediately think of some guy she’s attracted to as her future husband, right? Well, I think we all women can agree that we have a lot more to sacrifice than men when entering into a new relationship. So there you go – long-term thinking.

But that’s the problem. No matter how smart you are, he’s just not that into you. For a talkative-girl-liking guy, you’re out of his league just by being yourself.

So you try to be someone else. This girl. This bubbly, charming, drama-filled girl who smiles at everyone and super sweet. You’ve changed, friends said. She’s that kind of girl, gossipers said. I’ve started saying ‘never’ to myself, to let anyone come in beyond my extroversion margin, and so I have no friends left but acquaintances.

Still, this guy doesn’t like me that way.

Seasons passed, people moved, even the guy moved to another state in another country. But I still want to impress. Him, my teacher, my parents, my so-called friends, and this crowd, and that crowd, that stranger and everybody else. Everyone loves the extroverted girl. Everyone loves the class clown. And every successful leader seems to be an extrovert.

Over the years of masking this bubbly-girl role, of course you would attract other talkative-girl-liking guys. People who only see your surface, people who can’t see the real you. I wasn’t aware – throughout the time this talkative-girl-liking guy “rejected” me, I’ve also grown to hate loud, rowdy people. Empty cans make the most noise, right? But you see, they always captivate. They’re always under the spotlight. People like this talkative-liking guy see them. They don’t see me.

So I rejected these well-meaning guys one by one. It’s a whole line. Throughout the time, nobody knows I’m constantly angry, bitter, and sad.

Now that I’m musing about this, I realized, those are the days that tea has just as sleekly and as gradually ebbed out of my life. I don’t seem to have tea anymore. Who has time to sit and breathe and drink tea? The extroverted girl who’s running the whole world doesn’t have time to sit down and inhale and exhale and drink tea. She wakes up and impresses everyone without trying really hard, and I am trying really hard.

Don’t you see? That‘s the problem: The extroverted girl lived to connect. This faking-extroversion girl died to impress.

Let’s not go back to my years of depression because it’ll bore you to death. But at this point, my family wanted me home, close to them, so they can watch me stop killing myself off trying to impress everyone. I didn’t even know who I was anymore. I have no identity. Every natural thought that comes to mind I’ve learned so well to fight back and reject it. Good news is, things changed when I accepted Jesus Christ as my Savior, but that’s another story for another day.

 

Therefore lay aside all filthiness and overflow of wickedness, and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save your souls. (James 1:21 NKJV)

 

Slowly, gradually, tea flows freely into my life again. All natural, all pure and all naked. I don’t have that intention in mind, but it just so happens that whenever I’m at peace in stillness, tea is there. The mere act of slurping the thick liquor and taking in of its bouquet soothes me from the inside out. Slowly, gradually, substantially – in a non-stimulating way. It wakes me up. Wakes my senses, reminds me I’m still alive. I’ve forgotten how it feels to really live, and it took time – one teacup at a time. There is something about the drink that helps me recall those rich imaginations I once had before I went on my serial boy-crushing years.

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I believe it was not a coincidence that the first compliment my husband has ever given me was a candid and unassuming “Smart!” when I solved his minor problem during one of our first dates. Something in me felt a humble pride when he said the word I’ve so longed to hear. And just like that, he caught my attention.

What about my looks? My glasses? My makeup? Looking back at all those dark, murky years, I am even more amazed today that stripped off every article of artificiality, there is someone in the world who actually loves me for who I am – the quiet girl you’ve never noticed sitting beside you.


For more relationship stories, click here.


 
 
 


Stace


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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

 
 
 


Stace

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Photography by Daddy Tjeuw