My Small Village

When I decided to become a stay-home mum, I thought it was a job that suited me very well because I am an introverted homebody. I even had the nickname of ‘anti-social’ during my university days and the number of friends whom I hung out with regularly could be counted within one hand.

However just 6 months into my new job, the monotony of doing the same things over and over again and facing only a baby at home, made me realised that it was the toughest job I ever took on. Furthermore, most of my peers were either unmarried or had no children. I didn’t even have a smartphone which could take non-pixelated photos nor access Facebook. But I still manage to stay the course and persevere for about 7 years because gradually there were friends who came along to support me.

In my 8th year, my social circle started shrinking. At first I didn’t care much about it. But suddenly, my few close friends went back to full time work, some went back to part-time work and then others just stopped contacting for no reason in particular. All this happened in about 3 months.

My counsellor friend recently reminded me that ‘alone’ and ‘lonely’ have different meanings. You can be alone and not feel lonely. You can feel lonely even when you’re not alone. As an introverted homebody and anti-social person, I’ve always been alone. But for the first time in my life, I was alone and lonely. Loneliness is a terrible and scary feeling because it makes you focused only on one thing in your life – your negative self – all your weaknesses, past hurts, wrongdoings and fears. The loneliness then manifests itself as anger, envy, depression. And that was when I deleted my Facebook and Instagram accounts.

One day, God brought to mind a good friend – one who stopped contacting for no particular reason, and no longer active in the group chat. I was not in the mood nor in the ‘right mind’ to contact someone else but somehow I couldn’t stop worrying about this friend. Since she didn’t respond to my messages, I decided to write her a letter – a very honest letter – I asked how she was doing and I ended up telling her I had a problem. I think she was the second person (besides my husband) who would then know about my mental health state.

She read the letter and contacted me and we met, for one entire day. There was no drama of crying on each others shoulders, no aunty agony giving advice session but we had a very real conversation. After that meeting God brought to my mind a few other friends whom have been my support – actually only 2. But that 2 was enough to take away the focus on myself. I still felt alone but when I reached out to someone else, I didn’t feel lonely. I could live life again.

I can still count my close friends whom I can find support from, within one hand but now I’ve another hand for those whom I can reach out to. Even when you’re not okay, you can still reach out to others. It takes a village to “Live Life”, even it is a small village.

Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:12

For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them

Matthew 18:20 

A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.

Proverbs 11:25 

He lights up your darkness

(Note: I wrote this post on 16 July 2016 and then deleted my blog. I’m reposting it here again on my new blog to encourage others who are going through a difficult time in their lives)

During my second miscarriage, my regular gynaecologist was away on holiday and I saw the covering doctor instead. Since it happened just right after the first, I felt a little resigned to the situation but nonetheless still sad.

There were already signs of miscarriage so it was not a sudden discovery. But something hit me hard – the closing words of the covering doctor were,

You already have 2 children; so don’t feel so sad about it okay?

I left the clinic with those words in my head. The next few days, I started telling myself,

I don’t deserve to feel sad.

I already have 2 children.

I felt that by feeling sad, I was being insensitive to the struggles of childless couples. Also, I felt I was doing my children a disservice. There was no time to grieve, I’ve to care for my children, I’ve to be there for them.

But choosing not to grieve was the worst. I started watching Korean dramas to distract myself. It was a terrible passive activity that has no healing effect whatsoever. I started to have feelings of bitterness and envy. I decided I had to put a stop to it.

So I started to doodle and paint in the mornings when I was alone at home.  Initially, I felt that I was being lazy. Doodling and painting has no economical or tangible benefits! I should be going out to find more work, to do something constructive, cook more, prepare more activities for the children, so on and so on.

But the ever so encouraging husband told me,

You need to do it to find rest and then gain strength for the day

 

So I started painting. And as I painted, I starting grieving and the process of healing began,

I don’t have to feel guilty for feeling sad.

I need to grieve to heal.

During one morning while I was painting, I came upon this word,

“You light a lamp for me. The Lord, my God, lights up my darkness.” Psalms 18:28

No matter what you’re going through, whether you think it’s a big or small issue, take the time to rest in His word, take the time to grieve, and He will light up your darkness and heal your wounds.

he lights up my darkness

Jesus is in my beginning and ending

(Note: I wrote this post on 2 July 2016 and then deleted my blog. I’m reposting it here again on my new blog to encourage others who are going through a difficult time in their lives)

A long 6 month hiatus from blogging and I’m back. Most people start the year off with a bang, I started the year off with a break because of a series of events. The second half of 2015 and the first few weeks of 2016 were difficult. I had 2 miscarriages back to back, and then my grandpa passed away, my last grandparent in my family.

It’s interesting how when you suffer from a miscarriage, you immediately want to keep it quiet to yourself and people around you who know want to keep it hush too. I was wondering about that kind of reactive behaviour. Perhaps it’s because it’s a very personal and a private experience. But I realised the deeper reasons for me were guilt and shame.

When the miscarriages happen, the first thing I said to myself was,

It was my entire fault.

I was the one carrying the life.

I was responsible for that life.

And the guilt and condemnation worsens when well meaning friends (whom I appreciate a lot in every way) try to comfort me,

You haven’t been taking care of yourself enough.

You have been over exerting your body.

You haven’t been eating enough vitamins.

I wished that were all true, then I know what can be done to prevent the miscarriages. But unfortunately, the doctor says, they were random occurrences that could not be explained because I have 2 children already. And that made me think,

Perhaps God doesn’t want me to have any more children.

During these 6 months, I’ve been resting and pondering, pondering and resting. Meditating over this simple verse we usually learn when we become a new believer,

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” Romans 8:1-2

I didn’t cause the miscarriages and certainly God didn’t.

Then one Sunday morning, I heard Pastor Charles Nieman speak about the passing away of his wife and how he had been coping. He shared about a verse that we are all too familiar with,

“I am the Alpha and the Omega, says the Lord God, who is and who was, and how is to come, the Almighty.” Revelations 1:8

Jesus is in my beginnings and endings. He was there during the conception, he was there during the miscarriage. He was in it with me though it all, therefore there is no condemnation, no guilt and no shame.

He is in my new beginnings and he is in my endings no matter what experiences they are. And therefore I have hope because my hope is in Jesus.

I’ve asked God one more thing, I asked Him what is the purpose of this experience,

To bring hope to others. To bring Jesus to them.

I hope you feel encouraged by my sharing, I pray you will always hope in Him because He is in our every beginning and ending, in every moment, in the same instant.

alpha and omega

I missed you, my BFF

To me, there are different levels of friendship in the world: BFFs, inner circles, just friends, acquaintances, familiar strangers, and so on.

In my mind, I know that God is good. But in my heart, I’m not so sure if He is good to me. This thought has been nagging me for many years but I’ve never surrendered it to God.

I know I am a friend of God’s. But somehow I didn’t feel like I’m His best friend, like I’m not part of His inner circle of friends. The friend who hears directly from Him, the friend who is abundantly blessed by Him, the friend who is serving Him wholeheartedly in ministry. And I’m not in His inner circle because I’m not good enough or holy enough.

And these thoughts have been eating at my soul until my spirit broke down. For many weeks, I ventilated to God and wrestled with Him on how envious I felt of others who were blessed because they were part of His ‘inner circle’ and I wasn’t. And then finally one day, He spoke to me:

Was the woman at the well part of my inner circle? Was the woman with the issue of blood part of my inner circle? Were they good Christians? Were they holy? 

No Lord, they weren’t. In fact, they were outcasts. Women who have been shun by society. Women whom people think you wouldn’t consider them to be your friends.

But you did.

You reached out to the woman at the well first and she responded to You.

He had to go through Samaria on the way… Soon a Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Please give me a drink.” (John 4:4-7)

The bleeding woman was just someone part of the crowd and You healed her when she reached out to You.

She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” (Mark 5:28)

Jesus has always been there beside me. I just needed to respond, I just needed to ask, I just needed to hold the hand that has always been at my side.

Dear Jesus, I’m sorry I missed you. Thank you for being my BFF.

my bff

 

Meaning, purpose and hope

INFJS tend to see helping others as their purpose in life (www.16personalities.com/infj)

That’s a pretty accurate description of me and probably why I chose social work as my major in university.

Meeting up with my friends who are still in the field, reading about community initiatives that have been started from the ground and social enterprises making impact in society – I felt encouraged, I felt inspired.

But I also felt left out. Here I am making an impact in just 3 little persons’ life. Most of the time, I’m just too exhausted at the end of the day to do anything else, much less have the energy to help anyone else or serve in any ministry.  One thought led to another and then I started to think that what I do has no meaning and no purpose. Looking after kids and having a very administrative part-time job just didn’t seem to make the cut of making a difference in the community, I felt hopeless.

As I was wallowing in these thoughts, I met 3 people in a span of one week:

  1. She takes care of 3 grandchildren and her husband, who amputated his leg. She has to fetch her grandchildren to and fro school and they all go to different schools. And she’s expecting a 4th grandchild to take care of.
  2. He told me he quit his job as a bus driver to take care of his 2 grandchildren and wheelchair bound wife. He fetches his grandchildren to and fro school, and also brings his wife for morning walks.
  3. Every morning, she takes the public bus from Toa Payoh to Ang Mo Kio to fetch her granddaughter from school and supervises her homework. Thereafter she fetches another 2 grandchildren from school and prepares dinner, and then returns to her home in Toa Payoh by bus again.

Obviously God had a message for me:

Do such “work” that these 3 grandparents engage in count for as nothing?

I felt ashamed that I should think of their caregiving duties as not having any meaning or purpose.

So in 2019, with faith in my heart, I believe this path that I’ve chosen has a meaning and a purpose in my life. Jesus cleanse me from all these self-defeating, self-pitying, self-condemning thoughts and I shall have hope that whatever my hands undertake, small or mundane, has an impact in someone’s life.

meaning, purpose and hope_fotor