Second Thoughts

Moving this blog. Possibly.

I hardly visit Tumblr anymore. I feel like it’s not really a place for deep thoughts and such, which is why I keep a blog in the first place. It’s not even that anyone follows my blog or that I give out the blog address to many people anymore. 

But yeah, I guess I am moving my blog to WordPress.

If I have the time to blog. If I can be bothered to blog.

If you are actually reading my blog still, you can maybe find me at: https://esteebebe.wordpress.com

As of now, there is nothing up there except the default post. We will see if I start blogging again in the future! 

Hello.

It’s been a long, long time since I blogged.

And guess what I’m going to blog about now…

Boys.

Or, specifically, one boy. Or man.

So…there’s someone I’m kinda interested in now.

We are still strangers at this point. Well, maybe acquaintances now, but I don’t think he knows my name, yet.

I see him around quite a bit, since we’re in the same ministry. He’s quite a prominent figure and in a leadership position too.

I’ve heard quite a bit about him from a friend, as he’s sort of her leader. Most of the things she’s said about him are positive. So I have a pretty good impression of him.

I noticed him before I heard about him from my friend, though. He was leading us in an activity that was mostly undertaken by older people, and I found it refreshing how casual he was even though he made a few mistakes. At the same time, he was a bit awkward, and I found that adorable.

I have no idea why he attracts me, because in the past I’ve only been attracted to guys who either a) are good-looking, and/or b) are very friendly and nice to me and pay me more attention. He is neither because a) he is extremely average-looking in terms of height and looks, to the point of being forgettable, and b) we haven’t even had a single conversation yet.

I just have a good, warm feeling when I think about him.

I’m not intending to tell my friend that he’s caught my eye, even though I could possibly leverage on my relationship with her to get to know him. I don’t want to exert any human effort in my relationship.

I’ve been praying that, if he’s really a good choice for me, that God would give me opportunities to get to know him better.

Somehow, I’m in perfect peace and rest about this. I get excited when I think about him, but there’s no anxiety, no desire to push on the arm of flesh. This is something new in my experience.

Fast forward to last Wednesday…

I went for midweek service with my friend, the one who knows him. We arrived early and got seats and just sat there chilling, there waiting for the service to start.

He came and sat a few rows in front of us with his friends, and greeted her when he saw her. He asked her who she came with and she pointed at me, but did not introduce me. He then waved at me, and I waved back.

After some time, my friend turned to me and asked, “You know him ah?” I told her I didn’t. She said, “Then why you wave at him?” I said, “Because he waved at me mah!” She pondered over this a while and said, “Maybe he recognises you…somehow.”

Actually I thought he was just being friendly by waving at me to acknowledge my presence. It would be quite interesting if he did recognise me, since there are so many faces, both new and old, in our ministry. He is in a different section of the ministry. Our paths have crossed a couple of times, but I don’t think he even saw me at those times. Also I changed my hair recently and I think it makes me look quite different. So if somehow I caught his eye and he remembers my face despite all this…. that would be really interesting!

Not sure why my friend thought so much of a simple wave. Haha maybe she’s picked up some of my interest in him? But I’ve only ever asked one question about him. Everything else I know of him is information that she’s volunteered.

Anyway, this encounter means that, if he didn’t know of my existence before, he does now. And that’s…interesting. Kind of exciting. I hope we get more chances to get to know each other. I feel a bit impatient especially now that something’s happened, even though it’s actually still nothing.

But I’m not gonna trust in signs and wonders anymore. Just because I prayed, and something happened, doesn’t mean it’s anything significant. I hope he’s not another wrong turn, another dead end. But God has always been faithful, even when I’ve been stupid and silly and willful in matters of the heart.

My heart wants to explode into confetti and glitter despite the fact that I KNOW THIS IS NOTHING TO GET ALL GIDDY ABOUT. I doubt he even knows my name. Maybe he doesn’t even remember me. Maybe when I do get to know him, I’ll find that he’s not suitable/ready after all, which has always been the case with my previous crushes. Although I’m hoping that for once, I’m wrong. And this is the start of a beautiful relationship.

Ok I feel silly saying that now, cos’ I don’t even have a crush on him, actually. What’s there to crush on when I haven’t spoken a single word to the guy? I’m giddy over the idea of this being the start of something, is all. It’s not really about the guy at all. Which is a mistake I keep on making over and over again.

Arrrrgggghhhhh.

I just have to let go, and let God.

Declaration in Faith :) <3

I am a Proverbs 31 woman. I am loving, prudent, gracious, wise, strong, brave, beautiful. I am a highly desirable friend, life partner, companion, and lover. When I speak, kings incline their ears to me, my words move their hearts to such an extent that they would offer even half their kingdom to me. Half a kingdom! That would make me their co-ruler, an equal. A queen.

I am in the right place at the right time. Favour surrounds me as like a shield. Favour drips off me like perfume; everywhere I walk is favour ground. 

I am chosen out of many beautiful women, because my beauty is something special. I am born for such a time as this, to accomplish my God-given purpose in Christ. There is power and authority in my words. No one can threaten or bully me. Nothing can stand against me. No weapon formed against me prospers. 

My husband is a prince among princes, a leader of leaders. He is a warrior, a king, a royal priest. He is a man of vision, a man of valour. He is bold, wise, gentle, strong, trustworthy, generous in words and deeds. He is a man of honour, a man of his word. He accomplishes great things for His God, with His strength. He is prosperous and successful, for God is with him. And he is so very handsome <3<3<3<3

I have exceedingly aboundant favour in his sight; when he sees me, his heart skips a beat, he cannot think straight, he is dizzy with love. I am precious in his sight, a rare pearl to be cherished. He wants to protect me, to love me, to provide for me, to sweep me away. He will make his intentions known, he will seek me out, he will chase after me. And he will still feel this way about me when I’m the mother of his children and a century year old! :) :) :) :)

Amen, so it shall be unto me!!! :D :D :D :D

Be Satisfied with Me

by St. Anthony of Padua
Everyone longs to give themselves completely to someone,
To have a deep soul relationship with another,
To be loved thoroughly and exclusively.

But to a Christian, God says, “No, not until you are satisfied,
Fulfilled and content with being loved by Me alone,
With giving yourself totally and unreservedly to Me.
With having an intensely personal and unique relationship with Me alone.

Discovering that only in Me is your satisfaction to be found,
Will you be capable of the perfect human relationship,
That I have planned for you.
You will never be united to another
Until you are united with Me.
Exclusive of anyone or anything else.
Exclusive of any other desires or longings.
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you
The most thrilling plan existing … one you cannot imagine.
I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you.

You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things.
Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am.
Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you.
Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry
Don’t look around at things others have gotten
Or that I have given them
Don’t look around at the things you think you want,
Just keep looking off and away up to Me,
Or you’ll miss what I want to show you.
And then, when you’re ready, I’ll surprise you with a love
Far more wonderful than you could dream of.

You see, until you are ready, and until the one I have for you is ready,
I am working even at this moment
To have both of you ready at the same time.
Until you are both satisfied exclusively with Me
And the life I prepared for you,
You won’t be able to experience the love that exemplified your relationship with Me.
And this is perfect love.

And dear one, I want you to have this most wonderful love,
I want you to see in the flesh a picture of your relationship with Me.
And to enjoy materially and concretely the everlasting union of beauty, perfection and love that I offer you with Myself.
Know that I love you utterly. I AM God.
Believe it and be satisfied.
So utterly amazed by this. That a Catholic priest living so many years ago (He died 1231, aged 35) would know about this kind of longing, and to have such a clear and intimate revelation of God’s love in response to this longing!
This is really apt for my current journey with God. It made me tear…especially the part where it says:
I want you to stop planning, to stop wishing, and allow Me to give you the most thrilling plan existing…one you cannot imagine. I want you to have the best. Please allow Me to bring it to you. You just keep watching Me, expecting the greatest things. Keep experiencing the satisfaction that I am. Keep listening and learning the things that I tell you. Just wait, that’s all. Don’t be anxious, don’t worry. Don’t look around at things others have gotten or that I have given them. Don’t look around at the things you think you want, just keep looking off and away up to Me, or you’ll miss what I want to show you.

That’s exactly what I was doing the whole of 2013: planning and wishing and looking at things that others have, and the things I thought I wanted.
So odd that a Catholic priest from the fourteenth century (?) would pluck the words right from my heart. It makes me think that people in the past really did have a revelation of Jesus. This is so full of grace and love!

Why I Love Worship

I forget myself. My defenses crumble. It’s like everything drops away and it’s just me and Jesus, and He’s pulling on all the strings of my heart.

Pouring His love in waves and waves upon me. I forget, momentarily, all my troubles and focus on His loveliness, which is dazzling.

When I can’t focus on a sermon, or read a devotional cos’ my mind keeps wandering to something else, worship is my only recourse.

Worship is like the deepest communion I can have with Jesus, I think. It goes beyond the music, the lyrics, the atmosphere…it reaches the very core of my being, to a place that needs no words, such that even groans and shouts are prayers.

Lately there’s been a ‘trend’ where entire bridges of worship songs are lyric-less and consist only of utterances like “Woah woah woah” and it doesn’t make sense, but often these are the times when I really feel the Spirit flowing. I think it’s really because true worship goes beyond lyrics.

It’s like how, with a shout, the walls of Jericho came tumbling now. It is a war cry, that releases all the chains of bondage. It’s like the language of tongues, in which we have no idea what we’re saying but are edified unknowingly. God doesn’t need words. He knows my thoughts before they’re even formed in my head.

Someone once told me never to say anything is better than sex if I’ve never had sex before. But seriously, I think it is. With sex, you’re just with a mortal person, and you might feel self-conscious and awkward and he or she might not be into it as you are.

Worship to me is the most intimate thing you can do fully clothed and in public. You can be in a crowd of 10,000 and be having the most intimate, life-changing moment of communion with Jesus. You are naked but fully clothed.

The high, I’m sure, is better than any drug-induced high. There’s no crash after the high, it doesn’t reduce you into a broken, emaciated mess. It builds up, from the inside out. 

Actually, I don’t love worship - I love how it always makes me fall in love with Jesus, over and over again. Bringing me back to my first love.

Honestly I was quite skeptical about this clip at first cos’…well, I don’t exactly have the best experiences with family.

My immediate familial relationships are enmeshed, marked with verbal and emotional abuse, manipulation, fear and paranoia. My extended familial relationships are basically non-existent, because my parents are largely estranged from their immediate families.

Because of this, I have always dreaded CNY and topics surrounding family togetherness and bliss during CNY.

But this… I couldn’t help but be reminded of my mom. This film showed another side of Martha - why she was so worried and heavy-laden. We see the challenges and stresses she faces, and how in her coping she has become naggy, angry, bitter and how her family cope with it. And how Jesus sees her, Jesus understands her, Jesus cares for her, and Jesus loves her.

How He must have looked at her with eyes full of love in the when he said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”

We tend to ridicule and judge poor Martha, but really in many ways we are all like her - worried and troubled about many things. Legitimately so, because in life there are so many things that are challenging. And we often don’t realise that all we need to do, is to sit at Jesus’ feet.

Every year we are encouraged to think of 3 wishes. I have my 3, of course. But this year, I really just want one thing. To walk in greater intimacy with Jesus. To know and experience His love for me.

To experience Jesus…Like the woman by the well, the one who had had 5 husbands and was currently living in adultery. Like the harlot at His feet, weeping and pouring out a year’s wages’ worth of expensive perfume on them. Like the woman caught in adultery, dragged out mercilessly to be stoned. Like short Zaccheus in the tree, who had to climb a tree just to catch a glimpse of Jesus. Like Peter the stubborn, gruff disciple, who denied Jesus 3 times and yet was later redeemed by love. Like the woman who had bled incessantly for years. Like the widow of Nain, whose husband had died and then so had her son. Like the couple who met Jesus on the way to Emmaus. Like the blind man who had his eyes opened by Jesus’ spit mixed with mud. Like the leper who was shunned by all and could not even hug his family, yet whom Jesus touched.

Every one of them had an intimate, life-changing encounter with Jesus, the very person of grace. The blind walked away seeing. The lame stood up and walked. The sick walked away healed of diseases that had tormented them for years. The dead rose up and lived. The sinners were received with love, acceptance, understanding and grace and no condemnation. Whatever they needed, He gave, and more. 

Jesus is so generous, so kind, so loving. And I have spent most of my life chasing after things I thought would make me happy: friends, a full, active life, a life partner…I spent the whole of 2013 foolishly doing that, and facing closed door after closed door. And now I finally see how much I need Jesus. I just want Him to fill me, fill all of my desires, legitimate or not, until I can say: Jesus, Your love is better than life and everything, anything, life can offer.

I cannot even want Him enough on my own; I need His help. To open my eyes, to compel me, to touch me deep where no one else can, to love me into wholeness, so that my only response is to love Him back.

Actually, it is a very primal, wild, yet holy thing, isn’t it? The most intimate, piercing relationship I can ever have, is with my Maker, who formed every part of my body with His own hands, who knows how many strands of hair I have, what my innards look like, how many drops of tears have escaped my eyes, every thought that passes through my brain. This intimate knowledge that no lover, no doctor, no parent will ever have.

The love of God is far more passionate, far more wild, far more invigorating, than any shade of grey. It makes the blind see, the lame walk, the dead rise. It brought the Son of God, the darling to heaven, to the gates of death and back. It stirs up an endless hunger, a thirst that cannot be slaked even if you were to consume all the food and drugs in this world, even if you consummated with every type of human, animal, and inanimate object that existed.

It would only leave you empty, broken. And even then, His loving hands would still piece you back together, mend you with His incorrigible, impossible, ridiculous love.

So in closing, I’m going to share 2 songs that I have been listening to and worshipping with on repeat, because they are exactly how I feel lately:

Awaken my soul, come awake
To hunger, to seek, to thirst
Awaken first love, come awake
And do as you did, at first

Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow
To overflow

Awaken my soul, come awake
To worship with all your strength
Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow

Come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade
Spirit come and fill this place
Let Your glory now invade

Spirit of the living God come fall afresh on me
Come wake me from my sleep
Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow
To overflow

Draw near to me for I have drawn near to You
And pull on the strings of my heart for I long to respond to You
All my love is for You, and all my love is Yours
All my love is for You, and all my love is Yours

Draw near to me for I have drawn near to You
And pull on the strings of my heart for I long to respond to You
All my love is for You, and all my love is Yours
All my love is for You, and all my love is Yours

I have made a place for You here, so come on, come on
All things are possible here, so come on, come on
I have made a place for You here, so come on, come on
All things are possible here, so come on, come on

Draw near to me for I have drawn near to You
God pull on the strings of my heart for I long to respond to You

倪安東 Anthony Neely [讓我愛她 Dear Death]

This song is about the a man’s desperate bid to Death to let him be with the one he loves. 

And at the end he says, “Even if you gave me 100 years it would not be enough - I love her.”

And I’m so glad Jesus saved me from the jaws of death. The song gave me a glimpse of His love - I felt his desperation, his anger, his helplessness at not being able to save his love. 

I’m glad Jesus was not helpless, but the price He had to pay was that of His own. And that He went all the way for me, dying in my place. 

And He did it because He loved me so much, I was worthy dying for. So that He could spend forever with me.

有点无聊,突然想尝试画画最近流行的直眉。一画就好奇怪,因为眉毛太强烈了,所以也画了眼影和红唇。
虽然不是画的很好(不够浓不够粗),也忘了在下睫毛上睫毛膏,但还蛮有趣的,我在现实生活很少有机会这样化妆吧?
照片是想尝试“疯女人”的状态,所以披头散发的。但好像就只有“凶”的感觉,或是想模仿名模的感觉吧,哈哈!
天啊我真的有够无聊。但很少有这么无聊的午后吧。是幸福的!!!:)
还有:喜欢我的双眼皮,喜欢我的鼻子,喜欢我的嘴唇。可以说出喜欢自己的长相,也是很幸福的!!!:)

有点无聊,突然想尝试画画最近流行的直眉。一画就好奇怪,因为眉毛太强烈了,所以也画了眼影和红唇。

虽然不是画的很好(不够浓不够粗),也忘了在下睫毛上睫毛膏,但还蛮有趣的,我在现实生活很少有机会这样化妆吧?

照片是想尝试“疯女人”的状态,所以披头散发的。但好像就只有“凶”的感觉,或是想模仿名模的感觉吧,哈哈!

天啊我真的有够无聊。但很少有这么无聊的午后吧。是幸福的!!!:)

还有:喜欢我的双眼皮,喜欢我的鼻子,喜欢我的嘴唇。可以说出喜欢自己的长相,也是很幸福的!!!:)

Happy.

Today, I am happy. 

Happy because I have a Christmas tree in my workplace, the first so far.

Happy because today, my work consisted mainly of Christmas tree and Christmas ornament shopping, followed by setting up and decorating said tree. Then taking pictures. This is work?

Happy because I am happy.

Happy because I have the capacity to experience and exude happiness.

Happy because it feels like finally, a year after the S saga started, my expectations have finally been laid to rest.

I may never really feel comfortable around him. We may never really be friends. Or maybe, I will never really be able to see him as just a friend because of the feelings I have had and still have for him right now.

And what do I feel for him right now? I don’t know… a fondness, I guess. What they call in Mandarin, “好感”. A soft spot. I am not immune from being moved by his person or his actions. 

Just last Friday, I discovered that I could still feel attraction towards him. All it took was less than a minute of conversation and him putting his hand on my back to get me to move further in front before praise and worship. Until now, I can still recall the pressure of his fingers upon my shoulder blade.

I was still kinda annoyed with him before seeing him that day, because I had wished him a happy birthday via Whatsapp and he had not replied. I thought it was a bit rude, because how hard is it just to say “Thanks”?

But then I forgave him even before seeing him, actually. Because he owed me nothing, and really my intention in messaging him was simply to bless him, not to initiate and engage in further interaction. 

For once, my motives were pure…or as pure as they have ever been. I didn’t want to wish him on FB because he already had like over 50 messages there, and I didn’t want my message popping up for everyone to see. And I thought,”看在我喜欢过你的份上。。。”

Not sure what the logic is with that, but anyway.

Unexpectedly, he replied me 3 days later. I pretended to be sad etc and he said he had been really busy and fell sick etc. I still thought it was BS, but then from our messaging history, I know that my messages have never been a priority for him to reply anyway. And besides, if I’d already forgiven him for not replying at all, it would be silly to hold it against him for replying 3 days late.

So we chatted a little but I left his message hanging because I didn’t know what to reply. And I had this feeling that even if I replied, his interest in replying me had waned and I didn’t quite feel like having that happen to me again. Days passed and I occasionally wondered if I should reply him. And then finally I decided that if I’m letting go of him, then I really didn’t have to try to get his attention anymore, and anyway it’s a bit ridiculous to sit on a message for so long. It wasn’t even like we were discussing very serious stuff or he asked me a question that really needed answering.

Today we chatted a bit again. Well, really because of my serving in the caregroup. I needed them to give me some info by a certain deadline and he was late. I pretended to be angry and then he teased me and I teased back, etc.

This is stuff that would have made my heart beat faster back in the day, but although I enjoyed the teasing and I was smiling at my phone at his responses, there wasn’t much emotional effect on me otherwise. At least not in the heart-thumping, breathless, cheek-flushing way it used to be. 

Oh. I forgot something really important.

Last Friday was his birthday, and we also had caregroup at his place. I am in charge of writing short encouraging messages on the holy communion sets, and my leader encouraged us to write things that we believe God is telling us or things that we are claiming in faith, because it’s likely the others are going through the same things as well. The sets are distributed randomly before holy communion.

So, in a bold step of faith, I wrote, “BLESSED LIFE PARTNER” on one of the sets, thinking, “Maybe I’ll be the one to grab that.”

Guess who was the one who got that set. 

Yes, S. 

He flushed when he read it out loud, and I was wondering if my face was red as well. I just couldn’t help but think, “How fitting,” and, “一切都圆满了。”

Indeed, it really felt like everything was coming full circle really neatly: One year ago I met S, and I thought he was The One for me. My designated life partner. But nothing happened despite my attempts to become closer to him. I’ve struggled with my disappointment, my resentment, etc. 

For the most part, I felt like I had more or less put down my burdens regarding S. But I would occasionally feel resentment towards him and/or my situation.

Until last Friday. Now, I’m not sure that I’ll always be so at peace. But I really felt that my Abba Daddy, out of His great love for me and also S, meant for me to be the author of that blessing for S. I knew that like me, S wants a life partner. Like me, S is still single (and bafflingly so). 

But it had to be me. If someone else had written that, I’d have felt stung. Betrayed. Jealous. Insecure. But because it was me, and knowing everything I have felt for S, all my hopes regarding him, I just knew that this was no coincidence. This was God.

S has been a long and prickly lesson on letting go and letting God. The more I tried to hold on to him, the more he slipped away. I chased after signs and wonders, and lo and behold they did happen, and so devastatingly often. Yet S remained far away from me. Then I realised signs and wonders led to nothing and so did my human efforts.

And now with this… to be the author of God’s promise to S of a life partner, to truly bless him out of the bottom of my heart with this, even if that person is not me. This was an exercise in letting go of S. Perhaps the final one, perhaps not. But an important one, nonetheless. 

It gave me peace. To realise that I could sincerely, unselfishly, bless S that way. Even if he didn’t even know that it came from me; that it was my handwriting. I am now content with blessing him from afar, and no longer expecting anything from him in return. 

This makes me happy. 

And then there’s Dr D. Another old crush. Someone I consider a friend, because I can be myself in front of him. I used to think it was something special, until I realised that it was really because he was so non-threatening as a member of the male species, and he was such a blank slate - in terms of communication, at least; because he has the curiosity of a child and will listen attentively to anything you have to say. 

I used to think his curiosity stemmed from interest, until I realised he treated everyone the same. Nonetheless, he has acquired ‘friend’ status in my heart, and we have a history of relatively open, playful communication. 

That is still special to me, because there are few (maybe none other) men I can be so confidently myself with. 

I just realised this recently, when I found myself using my feminine wiles on him. 撒娇。It came so naturally; I wasn’t even thinking. I had to get somewhere and he was stopping me physically, because he wanted me to help him with something. But I didn’t really want to because I knew he could do it without my help, and I needed to get to another place fast. And it happened.

Today, he helped out by putting the star on the tree. We were trying to figure out how to fix the star, and I felt a bit conscious because everyone else was just watching us and doing nothing.

And I thought to myself, “What beautiful fingers he has.” As always. Even now that my crush has waned, the sight of those long, slender fingers still move me. I have always had a bit of a hand and foot fetish.

Haha. I think it points more to the fact that I am a sensuous person. S’ touch moved me. The sight of Dr D’s fingers moved me. 

Later, M was telling one of our staff what a nice guy Dr D is, and furthermore, he is a doctor. I said, “Are you promoting Dr D to her?” and the staff said, “I think you promote to Esther lah. See if Esther is interested.”

To which I only said, “Errr…” Because - well, wrong timing. As much as I enjoy interacting with Dr D, I think he would drive me nuts if we were together because he is like a child. His innocence and curiosity move me, but it is those same traits that I know will repel me, once in a serious relationship. 

In any case, i don’t think he is even a Christian. And even if he were, his passive nature will prevent him from ever expressing his feelings. Which to me means the end of story already, because I need the guy to take the lead right from the start. 

So that’s that. But still, I am happy today. Mildly surprised that I can still find S and Dr D attractive, and simultaneously so. At peace that I most likely have no future with either of them, despite the conviction and intensity of my previous feelings for them.

For me, both of them are very special. Dr D is the one guy that I can completely let down my guard with, and that’s something that I strongly desire in my marriage. S is the first Christian guy I have ever thought was The One.

Both of them know nothing (at least if they have heard anything, it is not from me) about my secret affections. 

And that’s fine with me. They don’t have to know. They don’t even have to know how much I secretly care for them. These sleeping dogs shall rest in peace.

I am happy.

In Time With You

image

There you have it, my latest drama craze! It’s taken me a long time to write about it…and it actually ended in 2010, so I’m like, 3 years late to the party haha! But better late than never, for me anyway.

Watching this made me think a lot about life, love and relationships, and so I’m going to document my thoughts in this entry.

The Characters

image

This is Ariel Lin’s Cheng Youqing. I think a lot of modern working women can identify with her. I can, and I’m nowhere as much of a spitfire as she is. Just based on the first episode alone, where it’s her 30th birthday and her best friend Li Daren sending her a jokey email about “The 50 Signs of Ageing”, you know that the target audience is single, working women like me who are reaching the Big Three-O soon. And yes, it worked its charm on me like it was supposed to.

In the picture, she looks confident, elegant and mature, but as you quickly realise, she’s not all that put together.

She’s very much your typical ‘tough on the outside, soft on the inside’ type - step on her tail and she’ll roar real loud, but she won’t actually bite your head off. In fact, she’s often gracious to people who have hurt her before. She loves her family, is a bit of a klutz, often misplacing important things. She’s extremely hardworking and capable, but not very ambitious - like many of us, she doesn’t really know what she wants in life, whether it’s at work or in a man. She’s very attractive, but at her core is an insecure little girl looking for love in all the wrong places.

I have to say I didn’t really identify with her that much, though. Although I’m also a klutz and I identify a bit with her work ethic. I think it’s because I’ve never had a close guy friend like Li Daren, much less treat him the same way that she does (which can be pretty mean at times).

Actually, correction: I HAVE had close guy friends before, but I always ended up liking them, only to realise that they were never interested in me. That is why I completely cannot understand how she can have such a great guy - well, subservient guy - at her side, and one who looks like Chen Bolin no less - and not fall head over heels with him. 

Oh right, because he’s a doormat. And has been a doormat for the 14 years he’s known her. Which leads us to…

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Ah, Li Daren. So handsome, but so confused. And so floppy, with those sad puppy eyes. (Is it just me or does he look a bit like Qi Yuwu in this photo?)

I have to admit, this character irritated me more and more as the series went on, but all is forgiven in the last episode when he finally mans up and steps up to the plate.

And why was he so annoying? He was the perfect epitome of the saying, “Nice guys finish last”. In love, at least. 

That said, he is not as perfect as he seems. Nice guys can be cruel, too. We first see this in his passivity towards his girlfriend, whom he decides to be with simply because she was available and willing. She’s the one who chases him, asks him out, initiating all the hugs and kisses.

At one point she asks, “Are you going to make me be the one to kiss you even?” and she looked so sad at this point that I really disliked Li Daren at this point. Nice guys can make girls cry, too.

The worst part is he doesn’t even kiss her back when she eventually does initiate the first kiss, and stands there like a block of wood. And I thought, Omg what is wrong with this guy?! How can you resist such a cute girl?

But as it is, I’ve already concluded in my previous post that Li Daren is a unicorn. There is no man alive who can look so handsome, have a cute girl chasing after him, and still remain in love with his best friend who shows not the slightest bit of interest in him. For 14 years.

It’s really the length of time that makes this character unreal to me. A year, two, maybe even three years, I can believe. But I think any guy would eventually move on after waiting so long and gradually lose contact with their BFF once they find a new woman in their life.

Still, frustrating as this character was at times, his devotion and unconditional love for her is breathtaking. It’s the kind of love every woman yearns for. And that is the ultimate appeal of Li Daren. 

Seriously, just look at those dimples. Is it really that hard to like a face like that?

I haven’t made him sound very appealing, have I? That’s the thing about Li Daren: Apart from Youqing, he’s not a very interesting guy. When he’s around her, he comes to life. He is interesting, funny, playful, sometimes sarcastic. A lot of romantic and caring, although she sadly doesn’t see it.

In front of his colleagues, his mother, his sister, he plays his role well, as the responsible supervisor/employee, the responsible only and oldest son to his single and wilful mother, and the responsible older brother to his angsty rebellious wilful teenaged sister. Wow, talk about responsibility.

Actually, when you think about it this way, it’s understandable why he is so reserved and passive. He has almost no self, because at work he has to supervise his staff and handle difficult customers, and then when he goes home he has to handle his difficult mom and sis, who are so often at loggerheads. Tellingly, in the first episode, his sister says to him, “You are going to be controlled by women all your life.”

Indeed, it is scary and a bit creepy when you think about it; how much of his life he has allowed to revolve around Youqing. He could have gone to a really good university, but chose to go to the same university and take up the same major as her. 

A repeating motif in the drama is that of him trailing after her mutely as she storms home in anger, oblivious to his presence. I always feel so sorry for Li Daren when I see this scene. 

Another thing that constantly annoyed me about him was how close he often came to revealing his feelings, only to retreat and bite his tongue, or say something spiteful to throw her off and make her believe that he would never fall in love with her.

I saw a rather in-depth interview Chen Bolin did on YouTube, where he discussed the popularity of the character. He said something like, “It is Cheng Youqing’s cruelty that brings out Li Daren’s gentleness.”

And that is true. However, I also think that it is Li Daren’s passivity that gives free reign to her ‘cruelty’. There is no one-way relationship in this world, even silence and inaction speaks volumes. It is saying, “I allow you to do this to me.” 

We see a huge shift in the power balance when she finally realises that her best friend is in love with her. Suddenly, she’s no longer the headstrong and willful Youqing. She becomes vulnerable and shaken, and uncertainty besieges her. Her gay ex-assistant tells her, “Previously, you thought that he would never love you. But now that you know he is in love with you, all your defenses have crumbled. That means that you have feelings for him too.”

She drifts around Taipei like a lost soul, leaving him countless lonely messages on his voice mail. For the first time, he has power over her, as he invades more and more of her thoughts and she tries to rationalise away her feelings.

Throughout the whole show, there are many instances where we see Youqing considering the possibilities of a life partner in Daren, only to rationalise it away because he is her best friend, and as he has been saying for many years, he would never love someone like her.

It makes you realise that: Quite possibly, she has loved him for as long as he has loved her, except that she has suppressed the development of her feelings because she thought he would never see her that way. To such an extent that, even when he says things to her that only a man in love with a woman would say (such as “You are book worth reading over and over”), she chooses to see it through the lens of platonic friendship, when in actual fact he is practically confessing his undying love to her.

Perhaps, all her attacks on him are a subconscious ruse to get a rise out of him. All the running away and ignoring him are also subconscious tactics to make him chase after her. Perhaps, for 14 years, Cheng Youqing has been subconsciously trying to affirm her inner conviction that Li Daren will never fall in love with her, by often displaying her worst side to him. Afraid that he will fall for her, because then she would surely fall for him as well. And then what would happen to their friendship? She would lose the only man who has seen her at her worst and yet stands by her. The only man who knows her through and through and still loves her. That’s a terrifying thought.

And then I realised: Actually Li Daren is also cruel to Cheng Youqing. He thinks he is protecting her and their friendship by not revealing his feelings, but as his sister said, “It’s only a matter of time before the two of you become an item or stop talking to each other altogether.” 

It must have been difficult for her to comprehend: How can a man be so good to her and not love her that way? How can he say such beautiful things to her, and still not be in love with her? She must be very very undesirable.

Isn’t love such a strange and cruel thing? When you love, you are vulnerable. You allow someone else to invoke overwhelming, powerful feelings in you that many times you feel powerless against. Yet we all long to fall in love, to be swept away by passionate feelings.

Li Daren thinks that she does not see him that way because he doesn’t know how to sweep her away, how to say things like, “I cannot live in a city that is without you,” which her boyfriend Ding Liwei says to her at some point. He thinks that what she wants is that kind of romance, whereas all he has to give her is a lifetime of his genuine, simple love.

How wrong he is. In the end, that is all she wants, because her only condition for being with him finally is: Promise me that even if Li Daren and Cheng Youqing break up, you will still be my best friend. 

Personally, I think that’s quite impossible, but nevermind. We know we’ll never see Li Daren and Cheng Youqing break up, anyway.

When they are finally together, the both of them are almost unrecognisable; under the warm sunshine of Li Daren’s love, Cheng Youqing becomes coquettish, dependent. 名副其实的小女人。She was never like this in her relationship with Ding Liwei, even when he was making her all flushed and dizzy with his sweet nothings and chiselled chest.

Li Daren, having now gotten the love of his life, suddenly becomes confident, relaxed…secure. How strange, because you would think that he would be a little bit insecure. But that is the feeling he gives me when I watch them.

Li Daren and Cheng Youqing are both clearly imperfect individuals, but together, they are perfect. And whilst I don’t necessarily want a Li Daren in my life (I don’t want to wait 14 years for him!), nor am I a Cheng Youqing, the relationship of Li Daren and Cheng Youqing is definitely how I would like my future relationship to be. One in which we always have things to talk about, but also a companionship, a friendship, a partnership. Facing the world and its challenges together, supporting each other.

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And here we have Maggie, the cute girl who chases Li Daren and eventually gets him - in status only, but not his heart. Poor girl, she really did try.

Usually, I dislike the ‘third party’ who tries to get in the way of the two main characters’ coupling, but this character has so much pluck that you can’t help but like her.

She’s a naive, dreamy young girl who takes a liking to Li Daren the first time she lays eyes on him, but mostly because he fits her criteria of an ideal husband: Must be handsome, but not too handsome. Must work in the same office. Must not know how to chase girls (she was really asking for it with this one). 

I can’t remember the rest of the criteria, but they’re not so important. What’s so important is that Li Daren fits her list perfectly. 

I think Chen Bolin is really handsome, but somehow as Li Daren, he’s perfectly believable as “handsome but not too handsome”. If it had been, say, Takeshi Kaneshiro (whom Bolin has often been compared to), then he would definitely have been too handsome. But kudos to Bolin’s acting, in that he assumed the everyman aura of Li Daren really well. He was Li Daren, with the perfect amount of vulnerability and strength. 

Anyway, back to Maggie: Surprisingly, I found myself empathising with her character, because I have also once been someone’s token girlfriend. 

Notice that I use the phrase ‘token girlfriend’ in place of the more commonly used ‘trophy girlfriend’. Like the ‘token black guy’ in a TV show. Because you just have to have one, and anyone would do. Maggie is described by Daren as just being “okay” and he enters into a relationship with her because he doesn’t know how to reject her affections. Then he decides to try things out, just to see if he can accept someone other than Cheng Youqing.

Being a token girlfriend is a terrible, terrible place to be in, and I’m so glad I walked away from that relationship. 

The breakup scene between the both of them is heartbreaking, but also gratifying - because Li Daren finally gets the balls to do the right thing by both himself and Maggie - and that is to stop leading her on.

Like I said before, I think he was being cruel to her by leading her on with his passiveness. While it’s also true that a lot of times she had an idea of what was happening but was stubbornly in denial, his inaction and silence allowed her to continue playing out the fantasy in her head. 

Still, it’s not completely Daren’s fault that she allowed herself to be led on. In many ways Maggie is still very much a child. Like when she first withholds Daren’s secret from Youqing (that he loves her, of course), and saying that she is doing this to punish him. While I think what she did was right, the motivation was childish. 

Later on, at Daren’s farewell party (he had asked to transfer to Singapore), a drunk and upset Maggie finally tells Youqing the secret. Youqing is stunned, dazed, crushed. In a split second, her neat little world has been turned on its head.

A few days later, Youqing goes to seek clarification from Maggie, still unsure that she really heard the right thing. This is one of my favourite moments: Maggie telling off Youqing for denying her own feelings towards Daren, and expressing her anger at how both of them use their friendship as a shield, in the process hurting many of their past lovers for not being understanding enough toward their wonderful friendship. The look on Maggie’s face as she walks away, triumphant at first but quickly replaced by uncertainty, is heartbreaking.

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There isn’t really anything much to say about this character, because his only purpose in the story, it seems, is to make Youqing realise that the one for her is really Daren. Not much character development. He’s simply a type of the ‘bad boy’ that women are supposed to fall for and get heartbroken by. 

Final Thoughts

When I analyse the show this way, I find that there really are quite a lot of flaws. Eg. the weak second male lead, the creepiness of Li Daren on hindsight, and so on.

But when I’m watching it, I’m completely drawn in, and I think this is largely due to the good acting, the chemistry between the actors, and the way the whole show is pieced together into the final product.

I was in major dreamy mode for a couple of days after completing the drama, saturated with the sweetness of the last episode. Now that I’m back with my head below the clouds, I’d still say this is one of the best idol dramas I’ve watched.

Believe it or not, this is the first Ariel Lin drama I’ve watched (I’ve watched a couple of Ella Chen’s) and I think this is the most beautiful she’s ever been, having shed her baby fat. She may not be the most beautiful actress around, but she is very watchable, and the more you watch her the more you like her. As they say in Mandarin: 很耐看。Certainly that’s an important trait in a performer: the ability to draw the audience’s gaze.

Chen Bolin would certainly agree; he said so himself in an interview (same interview as mentioned above). I think the both of them have this charisma, but of course being a girl I was initially much more taken with Bolin and how you could read everything Daren was supposed to be feeling in his eyes and between his brows. Dude can act, and I’m certainly looking forward to his new works.

I think that this show is popular, and the Li Daren character is popular, because it showcases the kind of love that everyone yearns for ultimately: unconditional love.

Don’t we all want to have someone who knows everything about us, and still loves us? Don’t we all want to have someone with whom we can completely let down our guard, show what we are really like, and know that we are still loved? Don’t we all want to have someone whom we are oftentimes mean to and who yet does not reject us? 

Chen Bolin has said in interviews that he thinks that Li Daren is like a Jesus figure, in that he is a representation of a religion, which I assume is the whole idea of love. I cringe a little each time I hear it, because he obviously isn’t a Christian and has little idea what Christianity is about. Jesus isn’t simply a representation of love, Jesus IS love. There is no other figure in Christianity that exemplifies, personifies, love, the way Jesus does. 

But, I have to agree that in a way, Li Daren is like Jesus. Because only Jesus can love me unconditionally, in every moment. For all his patience and largeness of heart, there are times when Daren is selfish, even towards Youqing. There are times when Daren finds Youqing difficult to love. But Jesus has never been selfish with His love for me. And in His eyes, it is never difficult to love me, because His love is greater than all of my flaws, all of my sins, all of my mistakes. 

I watched a clip in which Bolin wrote some notes to the audience of the show, and he wrote something like, “Whether you are waiting for your Li Daren, or you are Li Daren, always be proud of your uniqueness and your flaws.”

And I thought to myself, No, I’m not waiting for my Li Daren. Because I’m not Cheng Youqing. And I already have been found by One who loves me more than he can ever love her. Nor do I want someone who is only able to love me with his own strength; I want someone who loves me with the love of Jesus.

And on this note, I shall end this entry. Good night! :)