While the new year “feel” is still here, I thought I should get down to writing down the gains and losses in 2016 and my hopes for 2017. Briefly reflected on my spiritual birthday about a month ago, but didn’t get the time to sit down and write them down properly.
2016 was a year of many changes. So many that it felt as though years went by when it’s only been 365 days. Just the other day when I took a look at my organiser, I was surprised/shocked/stunned to realise that many events took place only this year. I would say 2016 was marked by two significant changes – a friendship, and graduation/start of work life.
In fact, when I went back to look at when was the day I decided to be committed in building this friendship, I was surprised to see that it was just last October. So the friendship had only been 8 months and it’s gone. In thinking of what to write here, I just did a flip-through of my organiser from January to December 2016 and I saw how a name kept appearing in the first 6 months of the year, and it suddenly disappeared in the second half of the year. Disappeared, entirely.
The realisation was, painful. That’s one of those friends that I valued a lot. If not, I wouldn’t have persevered in resolving each of those conflicts we had. I remember, in one of those fights we had, both of us couldn’t believe how I stood undeterred despite having harsh words hurled at me. We both agreed that anyone would have left under that circumstance. I was surprised at how I was, and I remember saying that I couldn’t believe that I stayed to talk it out still. If the friendship did not matter, why would anyone in their right mind persist in situations like that?
Each of those times we fought and reconciled, that feeling was sweet. We fought because of differences, but I’ll never agree that differences should be a reason for quitting a friendship. Certainly tiring when conflicts happened, nonetheless sweet when reconciliation happened. But this time round, tried but there’s nothing I can do with a wall erected.
The other thing that marked 2016 was graduating for (possibly) the final time as a student, and becoming a working adult. Responsibilities are certainly different, and to some extent, burdensome. I remember feeling overwhelmed just by the thought of that before work even began.
And then came challenges to my values and principles as a Christian. I had to take a step back – many times – to re-look at my values and principles. There were times I doubted myself and wondered if I’m just a naive fresh graduate with an idealistic world in mind. In fact sometimes I still do. I wouldn’t say that I’ve been in this long enough – well, it’s only been 7 months – to draw a valid conclusion.
It is also because of these challenges that I asked myself what it is that I really want in my life. To put it another way, what would make me feel accomplished? My director talked to me about getting to a managerial position before turning 30. Well, sounds great and why not? I certainly don’t mind that but at the same time, I came to realise that that thought didn’t really excite me. I figured that what excites me is seeing people grow, seeing people learn. Since the day that I worked part-time as a life coach, I’ll always recall the growth I witnessed and the sparkles in the eyes of those youths I worked with. What makes me feel accomplished would be adding value to others’ lives.
Still dealing with these challenges. And honestly, it’s been a lonely ride. Brutal as it may be, but the fact is most friends can’t be bothered. Mainly because they have their own lives to deal with as well.
And to be really honest, there was a period of time I even doubted the genuineness of the love in the church. These are definitely nice, good and well-meaning people. But sometimes I felt that most of the friendships in church are restricted to the boundaries of a cell group. Once we transit into another cell group, these people are done with being part of your life and they are gone. Very few would even check back. This is very different from the friendships I find outside the walls of a church. While I can’t say these friendships outside are about unconditional love (in that you love someone despite their flaws, weakenesses and even sins), these friends are at least people who look forward to going a long way with you.
But thank God, that I can say that there’s ‘very few’ who would check back rather than ‘none’ in His church. These were the people who made it impossible for me to tell God that His community is not genuine. I figured that a church that loves genuinely and cares for one another regardless of whether you’re in the same cell group or not is an ideal. We are rather far from that. But there are people who live that out. So I stayed put because my accusations couldn’t stand valid in view of these people that God has placed in my life.
I still wasn’t fully convinced until the day at Amanda’s birthday party. When I looked around and saw that those friends from church were the ones serving food and helping out with decorations and stuff, I saw that they were like family to her. It’s like as though they took Amanda’s matters like their own. These were not people from her cell group, so I guess, no obligations? haha But yes, that answered the challenge that I posed to God. Thank You God :)
Guess my conclusion is that while the church is not where God wants us to be, those of us who believe in that vision should continue striving to love others in that way. In the midst of struggling with that, I did find people who felt as torn by that as I did and it’s an encouragement for me to know that there are people who minded that.
So, those were the two major changes in 2016. Pretty tough I would say. But. As I wrote down in point form the things that took place and what I learned, I saw God in every part of the journey. How He allowed me to run away from Him because I hated where my thoughts would wander to whenever I stayed silent, how He pursued me by giving visions to a stranger and an acquaintance regarding me, how I had no one I could turn to but He’s always always there for me. Always. I experienced and learned what it means to call Him my Refuge, my Comforter, my Rock, my Anchor. My God is faithful.
Spent some time with God before this. One of the songs I sang to Him was Potter’s Hand, and I told Him honestly, I feel scared whenever I say to Him, “Mould me.” Because it seems like He always take that seriously. And it’s, more often than not, painful. I asked Him if moulding could ever be enjoyable – I have no idea man. So yes, singing that song to Him on Day 1 of 2017 was rather… nerve-wrecking. 2016 was already tough – yes to the extent that I actually felt maybe death isn’t that bad afterall because at least I’ll be done with the pains on this earth – so I can’t imagine a 2017 that’s as tough or tougher because I already am feeling tired. But at the same time, I trust my God, my Potter, the One who turns ashes to beauty, who picks my broken pieces and turn these into a beautiful art piece.
And going ahead, instead of setting a yearly resolution, I decided to set up checkpoint number 1 in March, for these 3 things:
- Establish a daily rhythm where time is set aside for God.
- In establishing that rhythm, have 2 days a week in which I exercise.
- With regards to that friendship, to let go and let God. I don’t know what this entails, honestly, but I asked that God lead me in that.
Beautiful Lord, wonderful Saviour
I know for sure, all of my days are
Held in Your hands
Crafted into Your perfect plan
You gently called me into Your Presence
Guiding me by Your Holy Spirit
Teach me dear Lord,
To live all of my life through Your eyes
I’m captured by Your holy calling
Set me apart, I know You’re drawing me to Yourself
Lead me Lord, I pray
Take me, mould me, use me, fill me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand
Call me, guide me, lead me, walk beside me
I give my life to the Potter’s hand