What a night

Although I’ve been feeling kinda tired just looking at my schedule for April, I was glad that I managed to squeeze in a meet-up with SE and Cass this week. With SE, the meet-up was delayed since mid-March because both of us took turns to come down with fever haha but those incidents also made me realise that there are people like her whom I really, really, really want to meet – even when I was sick and strengthless. As for Cass, she’s someone that I really miss from the previous LG.

Last night, she shared with me about a, in her words, “sad story” that happened between her and someone else. As she went on with how even though that person claimed to be alright, there’s a sudden change in the way they’ve been conversing with each other in their texts. I was listening and nodding with much empathy, because I could understand how that feels. All that sucky feeling and confusion yes, I know how it feels. But was trying to keep my mouth shut because it’s about her now and not me. So I just kept nodding.

Before we parted, we exchanged our prayer requests. Glad that I had the courage to summarise for her the identity crisis I’m facing at the moment. And while she shared her first prayer request, she mentioned that it’s confusing now because if that person had admitted to being angry or something, then at least she knows wht’s going on and not feel like she’s kept hanging. To which I blurted, “I KNOW RIGHT.”

Lol I guess it’s that glad feeling of, “Finally someone comprehends how I felt then.” But of course, I wouldn’t wish that someone else goes through the same thing, but but it just so happens that someone else understands. She responded to that with a pat and said to me, “I can empathise now.” Empathy can be truly comforting sometimes.

After she left, I was on my way to the car park when I came across a guy who’s busking with a guitar. I was just walking past and didn’t pay much attention to him, until I heard him sing about what seemed like… redemption. And I confirmed that suspicion when I heard him sing about the cross. 

He gave off a “Joel vibe”, but likely younger than us. At the end of his song, he started sharing about his struggles with pornography and how he found hope and strength to change through Christ. I stood there for a good 10 minutes, just watching him share and sing. A little awkward because I was the only audience. But who cares, if that could encourage a childlike heart that simply yearns to glorify. 

He reminds me of me, the past me. The one who would go the extra mile for God. It didn’t feel like it took much effort then because I was driven with passion. When I saw him, I really wished that I will have that boldness and that childlikeness once more, to testify for Christ. I stood there and prayed for this guy here. He carried on singing and from that unfamiliar melody, lyrics and progression, it seemed like he was singing his own songs to God.

Bless him, Lord. He’s such an inspiration and encouragement. Such a heart is hard to come by. He must have encountered our God.

What a night

Ideas

I’m noticing a shift in myself these few days. Been a little more motivated to make changes to the status quo. Like, my mind would begin to explore new ideas when I wake up or when I bathe. These are mostly things that recently began to bother my life, in the practical sense of things.

I would think of possible solutions to all these things. From the end goal, I would back track to the methodologies and fundamentals that I need to find out or settle. This makes me feel like the kid part of me is coming back to me. This kid used to day dream about the most absurd technologies to extinguish a little of the sun because it’s too hot, or invent an ice bed that automatically knows how cold my body needs to feel (as you can see, I really dislike feeling hot), or how I can invent a bed that either delivers my breakfast to the kitchen to me on my bed or deliver me from my bed to the kitchen without any fuss on my part in between. Absurd I know, but even up till now, a small little part of me still believes that if someone would take my ideas and run, they could just happen in reality.

When I was at that age (like maybe primary school age), I thought I was too young to make any difference because I lack funds, resources and skills. The older me now affirm my younger me in that HAHA. But now that I’m at this age, and with a little experience, awareness and some bit of resources, I would think putting some resourcefulness into the new ideas (not the absurd ones but the current ones) might just bring me to make the changes I want to.

Another thing I need though, is perseverance. Lost it some time ago, somehow I don’t exactly know how. I need to get it back. Perseverance to see a project through, even when those around me are losing strength. I think these ideas are possible, just need perseverance. Come on, make the difference that you want to!

It’s 12.40am. Still awake even though I have work tomorrow and even though that means I would be sleeping before 11pm. But just wanna pen down these thoughts, and also want to get something going. I’d better get something rolling before the excitement wears off. Having a good start is important too :)

Ideas

Future

The last class of the day was a module that makes me feel like it’s preparing me for my future career. At least 55% of the graded assessments is related to that. I was surprised still, when the invited speaker, who was one of those who fought for this course to be birthed, spent half the time talking to us about our career. I will say that this man believes in our potential more than we see it ourselves.

But anyway, some of the things he said made me think a little more seriously about my job search. I appreciated the fact that he encouraged us to do what drives us, and he shared that money and fame were never behind what he set out to achieve. By the way, I think he has achieved pretty much, nationally and internationally. At the same time, he also talked about going abroad, because the sky is limitless when we step beyond this island here. I began to let my mind run a little wild and to try to imagine the possibilities. Manager of XXX, Director of YYY or CEO of XYZ… At the back of mind, I’m like, “So what?” No what. Not quite appealing, so I returned to reality.

The talk about making progressions in my career and having an end goal in life made me dwell a little more on what do I really want to do. Declaring that I have reached my quarter-life crisis is a little lame and not beneficial, so instead of whining about that, it’s better to just start giving the next few years some proper thoughts. Thought about the things I like to do and the things that I’m good at. Not done with this yet, but hopefully in time to come, I will figure out what it is that I would want to do.

As for end goal in life… Not wealth nor fame. Was just telling God that I’m glad I have one less struggle in life to deal with :P I hope that in time to come, this part of me wouldn’t change. What excites me at the end of the day is this: People. I like seeing changed lives. And I do believe that each of us has something to offer to another, just as how someone else once walked past us and offered us something that changed part of us. As for now, and I hope for all the rest of my life, if someone was to ask what do I want to see them changed to be, I will say that Christ-likeness is the most perfect life to imitate.

But then again, there are still things that I can’t quite figure out myself when it comes to how I deal with people. For example, how I think I have a limited capacity when it comes to loving and caring for people. I mean, that doesn’t really support my end goal very well. But well, shall take time to figure it out. Told God too, whatever career I end up in, I may or may not see what He wants to do through my life, but whatever the case is, He has the say. My current end goal is still not precise, so I hope that God will shape it in time to come.

Worshipped God with this song as I thought about these things. I think I can relate more with this song now than in the past. The first time this song left a deep impression in me was when a friend shared part of the lyrics to give thanks to God for his IB results. I made it my aim then, to be able to sing “In every victory, let it be said of me, my source of strength, my source of hope, is Christ alone” in the following year when I receive my IB results.

Now that I look at this song again, I guess I can identify with it more. In these 4 years of my uni life, I would say that God blessed me with more than I had ever imagined myself having/doing. One thing would be the influence He has given me, when what I was concerned with was just giving whatever I have to reach whoever I can for Him. Can’t really express this well, but I guess I’ll liken it to a person who keeps count of each step that’s taken. Just wanting to make sure that a step is made, and then the next, and then the next… without actually thinking too far ahead. But by the time I lift up my head, I’m surprised by what I see. The part of the song on priding myself on battles won and counting successes like diamonds, for once, I see such successes in my life. And if I be careless with my heart, these would be the things that I do.

But, this song will I sing, and acknowledge that all I have comes from God, and above all these things is the grace I freely received through Christ. I realise and I like how the second verse goes on to focus only on this grace, because this grace alone is worth my attention. More than anything else.

Even as I embark on this journey, a.k.a. starting my career, I pray that I remember what really counts in life.

Future

My First Time

Today our worship team had the privilege of having Pastor Sidney Mohede over to conduct workshops on different aspects of worship. It was a long but definitely blessed day that we had with him. At different points in time, I felt this deep sense of agreement with what he was sharing. These were mostly concerning our hearts rather than the technical aspect of music.

One of the valuable things that I’ve gained was the love for God that He talked about. Man, I have much to say about this, but I’m going to skip the details and go right to the point. In the context of some claiming that there is insufficient time to practise our craft for worship, he said, “You only go the extra mile for the things you love.” Absolutely true! My mind just went on and on searching for instances of that in my life, be it towards God or anything else that I really love, and I saw what he meant. He went on to say that “A lot of times it’s not because we got busy, but that we forget why we do what we do.” He kept returning to his point on remembering how it was like the first time we were asked to serve in a worship team – weren’t we filled with so much awe, excitement and just wanting to give our best?

I recalled my first time. That was in December 2013, for NUS Ministry Camp. I was in the midst of preparing for my exams on the day of rehearsal. I vaguely remember that on that same day, there was also a ministry worship session, so there was worship practice for the session earlier on in the day. Felt discouraged from the practice, went back to my books and tried to concentrate, but after a while it was time for the worship session, and then back to the books. I didn’t have a proper time to study and all I wanted to do that day was just to study and not do anything else. The time that I was supposed to leave for worship rehearsal for the camp came, but some others from the band were still studying. So I continued studying while hoping that they had somehow forgotten about it, or something, just let me study! Another reason for those feelings was also a feeling of inadequacy – I mean, the practice for the session that consisted of just me on the guitar and the 2 worship leaders made me feel bad enough and then I was to play in a band?! The thought of playing in a band for the first time and hindering everyone’s progress was just… Can I not?

Well, the rest got up and was ready to go in the end, and so I dragged myself along. I reached the venue, did the set-up as they guided me along, and I just waited for instructions on what to do next. Like, really, I had zero idea of what’s supposed to happen and what I was supposed to do. One thing that comforted me, though, was when I realised there was someone else who was just as new as me to this band thing, so I was glad that I wasn’t alone.

The worship leader started off the rehearsal with a time of worshipping and praying. The keyboard played on while I just continued to remain where I was. At that moment, I surrendered it all to God. What overcame me was this eagerness to just worship God, to remain in His Presence. There was then this realisation that the fact I was there was… grace. Like, come on, given how limited my skills were, no one in the world looking at technicalities would ever invite me to play in their band. But the invitation to serve came because of God’s grace in allowing me to serve Him in that capacity. That is privilege, my privilege to be serving my King! And there is also the leader’s grace to extend that invitation to me to serve in the camp in a worship band, even though they have heard me play before and know where my weaknesses lie. God really touched my heart as I realised these things, and I was just so ready to pour my heart out to worship Him. Was just filled with so, so, so much awe for my King! All the fears and inadequacy I had faded away in that instant. That evening, I received a lot of help and assurance from the band leader as well – this is grace as well.

That was my first time serving my King in a worship team. I hope that as I continue to serve in the band, I will continue to have this awe and reverence for my God, for my King. I hope I will continue to love Him in this way, that all I know and is natural for me to do is to just give Him my all and to pour it all out.

While I’m currently still a guitarist new to the worship team and probably haven’t really experienced what it means to forget why I’m serving, I think an area of application for my life right now would be to practise guitar as I did before. Nowadays, to be honest, I practise and push myself only when there is a need to (e.g. playing a song that the worship leader requested). Practice has become a “I have to” rather than a simple “I want to”. It used to be that I kept on practising and pushing myself to master something well because I was determined to use the guitar to worship God. That was like almost everyday, and an hour would just flew by without me realising. That was how eager I was to worship God with the instrument I had in my hands. The session today was a good reminder for me to practise not just to play in a worship setting as in for cell group or service, but that I practise because I just want to worship God with greater skills. It’s not about what techniques I can pull off, but it’s the spirit of excellence in striving the best for my King because He deserves it.



This alabaster jar is all I have of worth
I break it at Your feet, Lord
It’s less than You deserve
You’re far more beautiful
More precious than the oil
The sum of my desires
And the fullness of my joy

Like You spilled Your blood
I spill my heart
As an offering to my King

My First Time

Friendships

Again. Yeah, no idea how many times I’ve used this as a title in these years of blogging. It’s been a recurring theme from time to time. This time round it’s back again because I came across this site and randomly clicked on articles until I came to one on friendship. Talking about the site, I’m starting to like it more because of how it portrays (sometimes painful) reality – that many people wouldn’t have talked about – in an entertaining way. With the exception of certain kind of language sprinkled in the articles, I quite enjoy reading the articles. Usually I won’t bother with long articles like the ones the site has, but well I’m done with three of these in one sitting. Not saying that the articles are all-encompassing by the way, but what they bring up are some reality put right in your face that may be worth some sort of consideration.

Anyway, back to this topic of friendship which one of the articles discussed. I wouldn’t promote this as a friendship manual, in the way friendships are categorised and all. Well, I’ll not confidently agree to the fullest extent with the article partly because I’m not exactly in the right frame of mind to think critically about this now and also because I dislike how many of my friends agree with the fact that it’s harder to build deep friendships as you get older. I mean, okay I get what you guys mean, but I will still want to make an attempt at it? Don’t really want to shut out this possibility by telling my mind that “life’s like that”. But yes I do enjoy seeing friendships from the author’s perspective and the analogies used help me to understand what he’s trying to say (while being entertained by him).

Going through the first three-quarter of the article with that 10 categories he came up with certainly made me feel that there’s a degree of over-dosage of pessimism in this friendship thing. If these are facts, and some parts of me feel like some of these seem so, I probably will be entertaining thoughts of dropping friendships in my life, because it just seems pointless and yet effort-demanding and time-consuming. One of the things that struck me in particular was his point on non-parallel friendships. At the age that I am now, I admit that such thoughts – like what’s going to happen when we start working (and get really busy with our jobs) and when some totally absorbed into their married lives – actually come into mind. I mean, look at the adults – I see few who have friends that they hold on to. Or at least that’s the conclusion I’ve made about adults’ friendships since young – I used to think adults have no friends. Well, not really looking forward to such a future.

Thankfully that guy reminded me that those 10 are just people who fall into his quadrants 2-4 – I really almost forgot about this. Thankfully there’s still a more optimistic hope for those friendships in quadrant 1. I laughed as I read those 10, but at the same time agreeing that such friendship actually do exist, sadly. I’m glad that the friendships he categorised under quadrant 1 exists as well. While I may not agree fully with the article (sometimes emphasis are necessary), I would say that one takeaway I have is that I’ll think over the way I handle my quadrant 1 friendships more.

I have never believed in the idea of ‘friends forever’ though I do work on some friendships as though I am striving for that. I will invest my resources to help things work for as long as we can. Quadrant 1 is where these friends belong, even though my quadrant 1 is really, really, really small – says the INTJ haha.


I’ve been wanting to say this but have been holding back because I couldn’t be sure of the validity of what I am about to say, so I went to check on it. And here’s it – I still don’t believe in certain ideas of seasons in friendship. I’ve been hearing this thing in recent years, and lately it has bothered me enough to nudge me towards asking another friend if this was something talked about in any church service, just in case I’m missing something here. The reply I got was a no it wasn’t, and I was surprised because this idea seems to be perpetuating more than I am willing to accept.

No doubt that friendships have their highs and lows. There are exciting times when a new friendship is blossoming, times when confusion kicks in (for instance) about how much you can trust this person or how will things work out from this point on, times when frustration sets in due to friction, and times when issues are resolved and you find yourselves closer than before. Random thought that just came to mind – things that come close occasionally comes into contact and produces friction from time to time, right? (Not a Physics major here but it just sounds interesting) Anyway yes, if that’s what “seasons” in friendships are referring to, this is something I can agree with.

What I can’t agree with is when certain types of examples are being used to explain seasons. I’ve heard things like “Oh you know, sometimes we are no longer in the same school, same ministry, so we spend less time with each other and we are no longer as close as before.” If being in the same setting/life station is likened to one season, and moving on into different paths is likened to another, I cannot agree with this.

Friendships may be formed naturally or not. Over time a friendship is built, and if this friendship is important to me, I won’t let things be carried anywhere anyhow by any breeze. I believe that friendship requires investment – and investment is not necessarily cheap and easy. It takes effort, it takes time. And sometimes it takes a fair amount of pain. This means that a question that I’ll ask when we are no longer in the same school, for example, is “So what?” Yes, there will be fewer opportunities since you may not get to bump into each other as often. Wait a minute, if a friendship is established only by bumping into each other, maybe I can understand why it doesn’t sustain after both of you are being put into different places. The thing is, a good and cherished friendship doesn’t just happen to exist like that. It takes some intention there. Like you know, ask your friend out, share about your life… And if intention is key, then I don’t see why being placed in different places matter much in whether the friendship is sustained. Well, maybe we are busier than before and have more of other things to take care of now – then, we make time.

It’s about how interested we are in making things work I suppose. And it takes two hands to clap. Sweeping every change in friendship under this blanket called “because circumstances changed” is… just, too easy. Also to me, building good, quality and genuine friendships isn’t anything less than necessary. Look at how the Bible talks about friendships. David and Jonathan being an example that many of us know of, Proverbs 18:24, Proverbs 27:5-6, Proverbs 27:17, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Ecclesiastes 4:12 and a few more (extracted some of these verses from some online sources). Friendships build us up be it in the way we enjoy each other’s company, edify each other or even in reprimanding each other. To quote Got Questions Ministries, “… a friendship is a relationship that is entered into by individuals, and it is only as good or as close as those individuals choose to make it.

That being said, it seems like I have high expectations of my close friends. I’m not denying that. Not too late to quit being my friend by the way hahaha. But yes, my belief still remains after all these years of doing friendships as that a good friendship is worth investing in.

Friendships

Camp that day

Did an overnight camp at the zoo the other day. Brought the 10-year-old kids all around, shared with them what I know, and tried to listen to their stories about anything and everything. At the end of the camp when I sent them off at the bus bay, there was something in some of these eyes that would make a heart melt.

Those eyes tell you that you’ve just made a small little difference in their lives in that short 20 over hours. I may just be doing my job, and maybe try to drop words of inspiration (I try la) here and there, but to them it means more than that. At least when I was a kid, my student care teacher or my zoo guide meant quite a bit to me by the end. And I always felt that those adults don’t understand and they come and go just like that :( But haha anyway, I think I saw a very sincere and loud “thank you” in those eyes.

It’s often what I see in eyes like that which gives me a sense of fulfilment in my work, especially when it comes to working with children. For some reason, I realise that I’ve unknowingly gotten myself involved in quite a few children-related stuff. Like, being a facilitator here, being a workshop trainer elsewhere and teaching kids guitar every 2 weeks. No idea where this is leading to, but yeah… shall see.

Not the kind who squeals over how cute kids are usually. But I was a kid who was always upset with how adults treat kids and I told myself that I am going to be different when I grow up, and have more empathy towards kids. I believe in the potential of these kids too. What we do for them as adults can make a difference to the path that they eventually tread on in the future, simply because they look up to us and are ever-ready to follow what we say to them.

I’m going everywhere but well… This reminds me of a conversation I had with one of their teachers during that camp. She’s quite young, like 25 years old, just graduated from university last year. And well you know, WX sometimes ask difficult questions that hardly anyone asks, yeah even if they are strangers… I asked about how she feels about what she is doing and where her motivations lie. Love the answer that came!

She said she enjoys being with these children. Although she doesn’t like how teachers don’t get paid more for making trips with students like this one (while leaving their work behind as it continues to pile) or even overseas trips that require them to take time off their own holidays, she finds value in getting to know her students more by spending extended time with them. She likes how students tend to become more comfortable with her after such trips. She also said that she prefers to teach in a classroom setting rather than a tuition centre – though the latter provides a somewhat easier and higher income – because being in a classroom allows her to impart moral values and character that are important to life to her students. Whereas, teaching in a tuition centre will not allow her to do that, because students come in only for a short 1-2 hours each week.

I’m glad that I had that conversation with her about her job. It may be tiring, especially when you actually signed up for a teaching job but in the end there’s a whole load of admin duties behind that, but she sees a value in what she does. Always glad to hear from people who aren’t doing things just for the sake of doing things but do things with passion. And in this case, her passion involves making a difference in the future generation. Quite encouraging to meet someone like that outside of my own church’s context. I mean it’s good that I see many lead encouraging lives in church, but it will be quite sad if this church is the only place to find such people. There’s got to be more.

Going to be my turn to enter the working world soon. Entering into my final year this coming academic year. I’ve always told people that I’ll enjoy working more than studying (not really the kind who enjoys studying by nature), but now I think I’m starting to feel that… not-really-fear-not-really-worries-but-something-like-that. At least when I’m still in school, I can still have quite a few other commitments during internship periods, and at least I had the choice to work where I like. But when it comes to starting work officially, I’m not sure if I’ll still have the same privileges. Hope that when I graduate I won’t be stuck in some bohhh-rring office all day long. Even if you pay me a lot a lot to work in an environment that leads me to rot on the outside inside every side, I may want to reconsider that job man. While I’m still young and have energy to be pursuing passions and the things that I value, I hope I make good use of this time that I have.

Camp that day

Get up and run again

A few days ago, mom conveyed a message from Ps XH to write a thanksgiving note to my previous church for their 17th anniversary. Haven’t gotten down to writing it because…

But anyway, so mom wrote hers. Part of the response to her note that came in was this:
“青年人方面我只请到慧敏写,希望 [琬軒] 能写,尤其她住最远却最早到教会参加晨祷…。谢谢。”

One of the first thoughts that came to me was this – that’s pretty impressive. Impressed with the young but fervent teen then, but at the same time I couldn’t help but to ask myself, “What happened then?” I still remember that the leader, whom I’ve always loved and respected, once asked me, “What happened to you lately? You used to always be the first to be here, but now you aren’t even always here.” Elaborating on this part of the story isn’t the point of this post, so if you wanna know what happened, come talk to me about it.

But anyway, the point is that that kind of fervour was something that people remembered about that kid. Even when this didn’t surface in my mind when I’m asked about my experience there, it’s something that they reminded me about whenever they talked to me. By the way, I still love God and I genuinely do. Question for myself is, what changed?

I wonder, if there’s a weekly prayer meet like this in Hope, will I give my best to be there? Even if no one asked me to, even if no one expected me to, even if no one cares if I’m even there or not. Will I rise in the early morning at 5.30am again to seek God, just to seek God? Will I have that resolve, that determination, that eagerness?

Maybe, physically speaking, my body is no longer used to waking at 5.30am like how I did everyday in secondary school. But I’m wondering if this is just an excuse I’m making. Well maybe I’m busy now and stay up later into the night? Staying up nowadays is true, but much of it by choice actually. So if I actually do make an effort to rest early so that I can rise early, well. Being busy… I think I was more occupied with commitments and events than I am now (if you think I’m busy now, try asking me what I used to be up to from Monday to Friday each week lol).

On my way home just now, I kept asking myself, so what changed? Taking things for granted, complacency, eager feelings faded… all these came to me and all I thought was “maybe”. But suddenly, the word “passive” came to me and mm…

Passivity could quite likely be a cause. Been getting so used to getting fed, have people so nicely gently tactfully invite me for events (like prayer meet, fellowship, outreach), have people pasting reminders all over so that I am made aware of what’s going on and when’s this and that. For instance, when I first got here I used to find it odd that cell group leaders have to remind us that there is prayer meet coming up on this particular date and time. I even questioned the sensibility of doing that, and wondered what the rest were doing if they were not paying attention when announcement about prayer meet was being made. But guess what? I haven’t been aware of the past few prayer meets until my cell leader informed me about it, which by then, a lot of times I had already made some other plans. There was once, not long ago, when my mind just went, “well you didn’t tell me earlier, so it’s not my fault that I can’t be there”, and then the next thing that came into my mind was, “why wasn’t I paying attention to announcement, and why am I not keeping track of the fact that prayer meet is on the last Friday of every 2 months?” Good questions, no answer. Didn’t even bother to give much of a second thought about them.

No excuses, but I’ve just got to be more active when it comes to the things of God. It’s not about having the best attendance, serving the most, speaking up the most in LG, being there all the time, but to simply pay attention to the things of God because it matters to Him, and because it matters to me. My passivity makes me feel like these things lost their importance – because if things were important to me, I would be sure to catch them. And if I don’t like the gaps that I see, then I better be prepared to stand in those gaps, and to encourage others to stand with me. I can’t just be talking about how much I dislike these gaps and just be hoping someone else does something about it. That kid didn’t used to be so passive; if there was something she saw a value in, she would go out of the way to pursue it. Even if that meant lining up alone outside the Indoor Stadium, even if that meant joining external Christian organisations to take part in what the church was not involved in, even if that meant having to talk to Christian strangers so as to learn from them, and many other things.

Come on WX, you’ve got to get up and run again.

Get up and run again