Friday, November 17, 2017

The World's Wisdom VS God's

I've been craving some reading material recently and went online in an ardent search for brain food. Came across some really interesting titles in the science and math section. Economics. Each preview started out with so much promise. But I just couldn't bring myself to buy or finish any of them. Why?

Man has a billion and one problems. He also has a gadzillion probable solutions to all of them. He spends years, decades, centuries looking for data and answers, but he always falls short of perfection. Terribly short. 

I couldn't help but compare a lot of what I was previewing to what is written in the Bible. Truly, His Word tells us all we need to know. I found that there is more wisdom in two sentences of the Bible than in an entire exploratory essay on behavioral economics. Reading all those books and essays in college and even now was like watching a toddler trying to piece together a puzzle in the dark.

I'm not trying to say that I'm wiser than all these people or anything. Nor am I wanting to throw down the entire point of education/science/progress. But God's Word does present a much clearer picture than any of these books could ever hope to come close to, and I couldn't help but feel that I was wasting my time reading what some of these "great minds of our generation" were philosophizing at the moment.

1 Corinthians 1:20 says "So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world's brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish.

I felt foolish after stuffing my head with the world's wisdom. Not stupid, but foolish. 

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

One Month Into The Move

I should probably be sleeping, but my thoughts are keeping my tired body awake as usual. The move has been going very smoothly so far with plenty of answered prayers. If anything, the past four years of marriage and moving has truly solidified my belief that God ALWAYS provides EXACTLY what we need at exactly the RIGHT TIME. I wake up each day knowing that without Him, I cannot make a single decision nor get through the day.

A few things have been bothering me however.

First of all, this feeling that I need to get a new Bible won't go away. Yet I can't seem to get a clear answer on which version I should be getting. The one that I've used this whole time has some torn pieces and the publisher doesn't print the version anymore.

Secondly, moving back in with my mom has really put a strain back on our relationship. We do just fine when we are miles apart. But our polar-opposite personalities seem to throw us into conflicts every few minutes. I've been working on having self-control with what I say and how I behave when I am irked. However, it hasn't been easy and I find myself mentally and emotionally drained each day with no privacy and space to recharge. The good news is, we'll be moving in to our own place this week. Hopefully I can put that "privacy and space" to good use and start being a "good daughter" again.

Thirdly, I've been feeling (again, "feeling". All deez feelingz!) lonely in communities of people. This includes church. I just feel like I don't belong and that nobody understands. I don't feel like any group of people like or can accept the real genuine me at the moment. This feeling drives me to withdraw further. I suppose this is why I haven't been posting much on social media- because I feel like people just won't "get it'.

Is it me? Is this a temporary feeling? What are you trying to teach me here, Lord?

Ok as I typed that, this verse came to mind: "Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me." (John 15:4 ESV)


Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Leaving Pru

My resignation letter was handed in on the 1st of August. As I surrendered my work authorization card, I couldn't help but look back fondly on the past four years that I spent working as a financial consultant. The feelings of sadness and nostalgia took me by surprise.

All those days of doing roadshows and meeting up with people. The late nights spent studying for the exams. The synthetic leathery smell as I passed clients their new policy documents in a folder. The acquaintances made in Pru's bustling hallways and conference halls. The sense of accomplishment I felt after receiving my biggest paycheck ever. The sense of fulfilment I felt after completing a claim for a client. The profound sadness knowing that money cannot bring back a life or restore health.

I learnt so much about people, about myself, business, financial planning and about the world in general. I feel simultaneously older from the experience and yet younger by the passion this work has inspired in me.

Looking back, I now see that being a financial consultant wasn't just a job- it was a real privilege. I got a front row seat to the lives of people. I got to know them in a personal way that many others won't. I was paid fairly; according to my efforts. I had so much to gain in terms of knowledge and experience. I was making an impact.

Insurance agents have such a misunderstood role. I am glad that I was on that side of the fence once.

It has been a real privilege.

Thank you.

The Deepest Void

Today was an unproductive day. I did a lot, but accomplished so little. It did not feel good- that unpleasant, almost-there, half-past-six feeling. Yet I let it build up until I did something I shouldn't have done. Out of frustration, out of emptiness, out of hurt, out of discontent.

I should have run to Him, but I felt so unmotivated. Unloved, almost, I think... Then I heard the Great Counsellor ask me:

"Why do you feel unloved?"

I looked within and realized that I had been feeling upset recently because of the way certain people perceived me. I felt misunderstood and disliked. I wanted to explain myself to them, to explain away the feelings of insecurity and hurt, but I couldn't. I was seeking approval from men and not God. I kept seeking and seeking, not realizing that I was drifting from His loving gaze.

I distracted myself with fun things, but the pain remained. I tried to fill the void with food, intellectual stimulation, friendships and even my marriage and kids, but they did nothing but tire me out.

"Why do these people exist? The ones who keep misunderstanding me? The haters who keep hating despite not really knowing?"

The moment I asked that question, I heard His gentle whisper again...

"If not for these people existing in your life, would you come back to me?"

Yes. Without these so-called "haters" constantly appearing and reappearing in my life, I might have been stuck with shallow satisfaction gained from human relationships. I would have been deceived into thinking that men's approval is attainable and enough. But of course, that isn't true. The truth is, I am in desperate need of Jesus. He is the only one who can fill the void in me. He is the only one whose opinion really matters at the end of the day. Not even my own opinion has any place in this world.

Dear Jesus, help me to come back to You each time, and quickly. Let me not stray from your rod and staff because I need Your comfort. You are the only true source of peace and contentment in this world. Help me to seek You and find satisfaction in You alone.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Meaningful Conversations

After these past few weeks of constant meetups, I found myself craving deeper and more meaningful conversations. I get to have these every once in a while with J, but the problem is that he's not a big talker. It takes a lot of energy for me to tease out something more than a few sentences out of that mysterious mind of his.

When I say "deeper and more meaningful", I don't mean to downplay the importance of catching up. Sharing with each other the realities and going-ons in each other's life. But at some point, I do want to discuss topics less "anchoring" in nature. For example, "do you think mankind is really moving forwards or backwards?" or "is there are point to everything you're doing in life right now?"

I suppose to some people, such topics are neither deep nor meaningful. But they are to me, because these questions drive answers that lay the foundation for everything we do in life.

I want to know the essence of you- the whys behind what you do. The thought processes that simmer beneath the facade of how you live life or even what you wear.

But as the years grow and my social circles widen and recede, I've come to find that most people aren't good or even average conversationalists. And before I come across as being judgmental, the way I've found this out is mostly because of my own journey to become a better conversationalist.

I've since discovered that I am not a great listener. I let words fall on my ears, but I did not bother to clarify or mirror what people said before quickly forming conclusions in my mind, then responding to those (usually inaccurate) conclusions. Such listening habits led to many misunderstandings. And those misunderstandings are the basis of many a failed conversation.

In order for someone to properly reply to what I'm saying, they need to first understand exactly what I'm saying. That is a tall order for most of us today with short attention spans. I personally could take up to fifteen minutes to properly communicate a single point that I'm trying to get across. If someone came to a conclusion before I even reached the culmination of my point, it would be an opportunity for misinterpretation and unhappiness at being misunderstood on my part.

Also, the way in which we have conversations nowadays swing between two extremes- one, of not saying what you really want to say in order to avoid disagreement (because conflict avoidant types tend to feel that disagreement is the end of the world), thereby causing even more misunderstandings. The other extreme would be to speak too quickly and decisively without first ruminating over what you are saying.

I know very few people in my life with whom I can have a life-giving conversation with. The kind of conversation that you walk away from feeling all the better for it. It makes me sad that this is the case and I also wonder if I can be that kind of conversationalist with and for someone else.

Monday, July 03, 2017

The Joy Of Being Used

At the end of a rather long week, we were finally in bed before midnight for once. But alas, our plans to sleep early were usurped by a most terrible noise from the other side of our bedroom walls-- Yelling, screaming, punching, a child crying, furniture being thrown around and broken...

J was already asleep (within seconds of his head hitting the pillow no less) but I could hear L stirring in reaction to the loud bangs and my heart was breaking at the realization that our neighbors were having a violent domestic.

I poked J awake and we quietly adjourned to the kitchen, feeling sorry, sad, appalled and afraid all at once. We looked into each other's faces and knew we needed to pray for that family. So we stood there and prayed. We asked God from the bottom of our hearts to send His spirit of Peace into that household, to calm them with His mighty hand. God knows, we've been down that road before and it's such a dark place to be.

God truly works in mysterious ways. I know that had J and I not been through this ourselves, we would not have the same level of empathy and compassion for our neighbors as we now do. I probably would have called the police and gotten mad at them for waking us and our baby up. But I did not; not because I didn't want to, but because I knew that calling the police may not help them much in the moment.

I knocked on their door as the fighting grew worse and we heard the lady shouting about having bloodied hands and her daughter crying. She came to the door and I quietly led her back to my house. I sat her on my couch and poured her a glass of water.

It's so ironic that just two weeks ago, I had made her acquaintance by shouting at her through the kitchen window: "Were you the one who threw all those old clothes into the rubbish chute, thereby jamming up the entire thing? I can't open my chute door!" Needless to say, she denied the allegation, haughtily exclaiming that even though she's a Chinese immigrant, her Singaporean husband had told her where the appropriate place was to throw bulk refuse. 

I let all the bitterness in her voice wash away. Someone, or many people must have played the "China card" against her many times before.

But last night, we made a new connection and she told me that she appreciated our help. I went to bed that night rejoicing in all that wonderful and mysterious ways God worked to bring us together. After our conversation, I realized that I was in a great position to empathize with and listen to her. I also realized that our move to the US was delayed for a reason. It gave me such joy then to know that God is very active in our lives and using us in every possible imaginable way, at our own individual capacities. It felt wonderful to be used by the one God on high who sees all and knows all.

It's strange to note, but even though I slept at 2am, I felt more refreshed than ever.

Thursday, June 15, 2017

A Very Human Week

Just read a message from someone and feeling super salty because of the perceived false accusations, quick judgments and overall blindness in the whole situation. An immature self might have written a particularly stinging passive-aggressive Facebook status.

I knew he would see it and feel rather terrible about himself afterwards.

A few minutes later, I received a text from someone who just wasted two hours of my precious evening time. My fingers quickened to respond in spite, but a gentle voice stilled my movements:

"You who judge others, do you not call judgment upon yourself? You readily pinpoint negative traits in others; aren't you able to do so because you recognize them in yourself? RISE ABOVE LADY. You are a new creation in Me."

Ok. But I just feel so WRONGED all the time. When will justice prevail? I want them to know what they did and feel remorse! I'm done being the nice guy all the time when they don't even know I'm being overly nice.

"You hypocrite! If judgement came upon everyone today, would you not be similarly consumed? Is that the extent of your 'niceness'? What of my mercies to you every morning?"


Be still.

Let my words be few. You are in heaven and I am on earth. Let my words be few.


Someone asked me for a favor today and it required a small obligation on my part. Though I agreed, a part of me felt uneasy. I realized that I was feeling unhappy that I was now obligated to do something and that obligation took away some of my freedom. It took me by surprise because it was really a small matter and I might have asked the same favor of her. Yet there I was, internally rebelling (against what?) and suddenly brainstorming about all the things I could have been doing instead had I not been obligated.

That was the moment I realized how sinful my flesh is.

That rebellious flesh that only seeks my own will, my own gratification, my own desires.

This was the same rebellious spirit that dictated most of my stubborn, wilful, anti-authoritarian youth.

How can I ever break free from this body of death?!

"Thank God! The answer is in Jesus Christ our Lord. So you see how it is: In my mind I really want to obey God's law, but because of my sinful nature I am a slave to sin." (Romans 7:25 NLT)

Thursday, May 11, 2017

Tiong Bahru & Moving

I was just watching a traditional Chinese funeral procession go past my window. A few old folks came to their windows and took a peep too. These song lyrics came to mind:

Goodbye my friend it's hard to die
When all the birds are singing in the sky
Now that spring is in the air

Where I live now in Tiong Bahru presents an odd mix of people. There are two main groups living in the SIT estate. Either very old folks who still speak in dialect, or young rich expats. There are hardly any locals until you cross over to the newer HDBs along Boon Tiong Road.

Singapore as I knew it, as my father and my grandfather before me knew it no longer exists. The roads we used to know and the buildings now stand only in our memory. In the past, if you'd asked me what I missed about Singapore while overseas, I would have told you that I missed the people, the food and some places where I used to hang out. 

Presently, my loved ones are scattered across the globe. All the places that I used to hang out (which is the whole of Singapore) have changed drastically. The food I used to love in my childhood too, either closed down or had its flavor changed. In short, there are very few things here that I will miss. And I am sure that in five years time, most of those things will disappear too in the usual pattern.

I am sad but I know this world is not my home. My grandparents and great-grandparents did not come to Singapore because they thought they'd get rich here. They fled here to escape religious and/or political persecution from abroad, as refugees. Singapore wasn't even a country in her own right then. And yet the Lord has blessed us with growing material comforts over the generations, culminating in mine.

If they had not made the courageous decision to move, life would be very different for us right now. I probably would not exist.

I am still not entirely sure why God would have us move again to another continent. It seems as though we are drifting further away from our countries of origin. But what does that matter in the end? It is not the starting point, but rather the finishing line that we look to.
"By faith Abraham, when called to go to a place he would later receive as his inheritance, obeyed and went, even though he did not know where he was going. By faith he made his home in the promised land like a stranger in a foreign country; he lived in tents, as did Isaac and Jacob, who were heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God...... All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth. People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own. If they had been thinking of the country they left, they would have opportunity to return. Instead, they were longing for a better country- a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them." (Hebrews 11:8-10, 13-16) 

Monday, May 08, 2017

Thoughts On Life & Moving

Every single time I get an urge to write, I feel like creating a new blog. My hands start itching to pull out one of my many new and unused diaries. But I don't, because I know that after that first entry, the diary would likely lie unused for the next few years. I'd also forget the password to my new blog and never write another post.

So here I am, back again...

Life is moving at the speed of life. If I dwell on the past, it seems to move too quickly. Swing my gaze into the future and it seems to move at snail's pace. For this year, God's been really teaching me to live in the present. To savor each bite, to enjoy the rainy day at home, to look at the people I walk past daily. J told me that I always seem to rush from one place to another, only to melt in exhaustion at the end of the day. It makes everyday life seem so meaningless and miserable.

The thing is, I am always thinking about opportunities and possibilities. I never want a moment to go to waste, so I try to capitalise on every second I've got- only to end up wasting all of it because I never bothered to pause and enjoy the moment. Everyday is a GO day for me.

I've been thinking about why God wants us to move back to the States at this point of time. I enjoy my work and the community of family and friends that has been established here over the years. Logically, I know that it would be better for our family to migrate at this point so that we can raise our kids the way I believe I should. But still I long to know the deeper meaning. I want to know WHY this (God's) plan is so perfect?! From experience, I know God may reveal His higher purposes to me, yet this usually comes in hindsight. If I were to know the answer now, it would rob me of the chance to exercise my faith.

I am so grateful for the past six years spent here. I've met so many wonderful people and forged deeper friendships with both old and new acquaintances. I met my husband and had two children. I've changed so much as a person. I feel older and younger at the same time.

Part of me worries that J might pick a state to move to that I will dislike. Hmm... I guess that's why He wants me to learn contentment and enjoyment in the moment right now. Because if I can't savor where I'm at in life right now, wolfing bits of it down will eventually make me choke. Besides, J might make a choice, but I know it is God who directs our path......