Do you’ve an irrational fear? I’ve an irrational fear of going mad. When? At the age of 40. Why? Because of the so-called ‘mid-life crisis’ that many people talk about and fear of. So I went for counselling and at the end of my second session with my counsellor, she left me with a word – FAITHFULNESS.
We sing it, quote the verses and even pray for more of it. But it has always been a vicious cycle – I don’t have enough faith, I need more faith, I’ve faith again and then I don’t have enough faith again and it goes on and on.
So I asked God why “FAITHFULNESS”. First, the famous hymn comes to mind, “Great is Thy Faithfulness” – It is not my faith but His faith.
Thereafter the famous verse comes up:
“You don’t have enough faith,” Jesus told them. “I tell you the truth, if you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it would move. Nothing would be impossible.”
Matthew 17:20 NLT
Jesus already knows and recognises that we don’t have enough faith. But even with faith as small as a mustard seed, we can move a mountain – It is not by our faith but by His power.
Finally a famous encouragement:
Jonathan went to find David and encouraged him to stay strong in his faith in God.
1 Samuel 23:16
There is no mention of encouraging David to have more faith but to stay strong in God and other translations used “strengthened”. It is not more faith but be strengthened by God.
Life is not a self-focused faith journey. Life is a GOD-FAITH journey – a journey where we are constantly looking away from ourselves and towards God, moving from our fears to focusing on God’s faithfulness. FAITH is my word for the year and may our faithful God strengthen us throughout this year.
One day, I had a dream in the day, maybe it was a vision or an imagination, or a subconscious thought:
I am running a race but at a leisurely pace because I tell myself to take it easy and not get stressed. So I take a break and rest on the green pastures. The rest is nice and relaxing, but I look back and noticed all the mistakes I made. I try to tell myself all the things I will make right the next time but I can’t seem to stop rehearsing the past. Finally I look up and I see everyone, even close friends, all running past me. I try to say “Hi”, but they seem to have no time to pause. I’m still resting on the grass and everyone is going so fast. I start to envy their speed, their progress in the race. I also get angry that they are leaving me behind. Then I start to wonder – will I still receive the prize?
ENVY. It was an ugly image of ‘envy’ – growing quietly like a weed, growing quickly. I thought I was just making comparisons or I was just a little jealous. But this ‘weed’ was competing for a space in my thoughts and it was corrupting my heart. It was messing with my mental health. It was time to cut it out of my life. As with any plant, this ‘weed’ has a root. I asked God again and again, what is the root of envy?
God told me but it took a while for me to acknowledge it. The root of envy is ‘fear’.
This ‘fear’ was no stranger nor an unfamiliar feeling. This fear had manifested itself in different ways before:
fear of letting history repeat itself
fear of making mistakes again
fear of never being good enough
fear of never feeling truly whole
fear of not being loved
fear of losing out
Thankfully, where sin abounded, grace abounded much more (Romans 5:20). God replaced that ugly image with His beautiful word:
No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.
Recovery is a continuous journey of discovering one’s true self, healing from hurts and learning contentment. The first thing I did was to start a ‘Gratitude Journal’, noting down once a day for 365 days, one thing I was grateful for. I needed to forget the past, I needed to focus on the present, on the here and now. I’m running a race, a race of His destiny for me, towards my heavenly prize.
God has created new faith pictures of me:
I am a new creation in Christ. Old things have passed away, all things have become new.
I have peace with God. Jesus’ love has cast out all fear, even the fear of failure
I am enough. Jesus is my more than enough.
I am the righteousness of God through Christ. Jesus has forgiven my sins.
I am God’s beloved. He is my good father and and His love endures forever.
I can tap on God’s unlimited supply. He supplies all of our needs.
There is a prize for everyone – there is a prize for me.
But like a weed, if you’re not watchful, envy can start creeping back in again. Only ‘hope’ can cut out fear and anxiety and bring forth LIFE:
Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord. For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out it roots by the river, And will not fear when heat comes; But its leaf will be green, And will not be anxious in the year of the drought, Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
There is hope. There is life. A life that is not struggling and striving with envy but living and thriving with hope. Green might be the colour of envy but green is also the colour of HOPE.
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.
For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them
A generous person will prosper; whoever refreshes others will be refreshed.