On one’s accord

Some years ago, I heard of a bold claim that there is no point in praying that we will have the discipline to seek God regularly. The rationale was that there’s no point in asking God to help but to simply #justdoit. I wasn’t comfortable with that idea. Kind of just made sense of that discomfort only today. 

What a boastful claim, isn’t it? To claim that we are – by our own efforts – able to draw close to God. Firstly, God really doesn’t have to come to us just because we seek Him, but that He wants to – at the same time, I’m also a believer of God remaining silent at times for His purposes. 

Secondly, what makes us think that it is anything but grace that even captivates our hearts to draw close? I believe that without grace, this wretched soul here will never desire for God. It is this grace from above that opens my eyes and softens my heart to what He is extending to me.

It’s pride to think that there is even a single part of our lives that we don’t need God’s intervention. By extension, prayer is not so that God knows what we need – He knows. Prayer is in fact our acknowledgement, our surrender, of saying that I can’t do anything by myself, and I need God. The fact that I woke up with my heart beating, and is now typing this post is grace.

On one’s accord

Trust Issues

The issue isn’t so much with dynamics, like what you had claimed. If it had been the differences in dynamics, the friendship would never have begun, and much less to say last a year. What’s more – that’s a lame excuse to ruin a friendship.

I suspect, it is an issue with trust. You would not trust others to be sincere. Sincere in speaking truth. Sincere in loving. Sincere even, in making mistakes. Not that the sincerity of mistakes ought to serve as an excuse for the hurts they bring, but what if that’s what repentance and forgiveness is about? And that’s where each of us have found grace and reconciliation with our God?

You would also not trust that your friends love you. Love as in that it is patient, it is kind, that it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (1 Cor 13:4-7). Despite seeking unconditional love, you would not allow others to love you for who you are. By that I mean the good and the bad, yes even your flaws and weaknesses. You keep it to yourself – your struggles, especially. You insist that it’s between you and God, but I can say with certainty, it is not. All of us may not be perfect in love as God is, but we strive and we desire to dispense as much love as God empowers us to. This, is the community that you always spoke about, the community that you gave your best to bless. And this is the community that God has given to each of us, and He calls it important.

Perhaps, anxiety kicked in when the friendship developed. I don’t know, was there a concern when someone comes closer and might see what is in you? Your boundaries haven’t always been that wide; they expanded through time.

These are at best guesses, to be honest. We wouldn’t know unless you say it. There are people who would care – really they would – but they can’t do anything because you wouldn’t let them in.

And if you want to brush the issue off just with a “dynamics difference”, that does no benefit to anyone. Including yourself.

Trust Issues

The Road Not Taken

Studied Literature for a few years in my life. I didn’t always like it, but some day I began to. I’ve no idea when and how that happened. I began to like poems as well. For its brevity but also for the richness of meanings they bring out through simple lines, rhythms, diction, rhymes, and all sorts of things.

Amongst all that I came across, I’ve always liked Robert Frost’s The Road Not Taken since the first time I looked at it. It’s been 8 years. I guess it’s because I see how my life pans out on roads not taken. It started off with venturing into IB out of curiosity. Got rejected by Medicine and thought since I only had one dream, it doesn’t matter what else I do, so I decided to go into something almost unheard of, something that’s less of studying – Environmental Studies. And now, working as a wildlife consultant – though I honestly don’t feel like one.

In this course, I experienced trekking through thick undergrowths. Our professor taught us to shuffle our feet as we walked, so that snakes would hear us and turn away from us. Yeah, while some of us might be curious which species would appear, the risk was too great to bear. As for me, I guess I would say I am adventurous only within the boundaries of guaranteed safety. So I felt a little nervous at times when we had to trek through tall grasses. Even now when I work outfield, I would still choose to stay on cleared paths if I have the choice.

Was just thinking to myself, why do you take the road less taken? Especially when you are not aiming for the goal that lies at the end of such a path. Or rather, you don’t even have a dream you’re headed towards anymore. The road less taken would mean that it’s not cleared like those well-trodden ones. It’s gonna be thick and filled with many unknowns. Who knows, if a figurative snake might just sneak up and strike you? So why take the risk and tread on such a path when you are not heading anywhere in particular?

I thought about this for a while before coming to a conclusion. It’s because that path that’s so well-cleared that many are on it and they know where they are headed towards, well, the destination is not what I want. Maybe sometimes it’s easier to know what we don’t want rather than what we want. So what if I reach there ten times faster than others did, so what if I stand out in that place, so what if I do relatively well there? If it doesn’t mean much to me, then why bother wasting time?

As for the road less taken, I don’t know what lies ahead. To be honest. Ever since I got the letter informing me that I wasn’t accepted into Medicine, there goes my sense of direction. It’s just taking one step at a time, wherever that takes me. Seems a little silly to go onto an unknown path just because the prospects of the other one is not desirable. To risk it all. It’s as if, there’s this tinge of hope that there might be something desirable lying at the end of these uncertainties.

Yet, I remember, to pray that I’ll not be alone, that I’ll not be leading the way. But my God be leading and going before me all the way. You know when you trek together, the one who goes ahead leaves a trail. The tall grass lays slightly flatter than those surrounding it. Whenever I trek, I’ll always watch out for where people ahead of me had stepped on, so that I could step back into the same spot. Reason being, if they have stepped on that patch and nothing struck them, there’s a higher chance that that patch is safe. Even if there was a snake nearby, perhaps the shuffle from their feet or the crunch of the leaves had warned the snake of our presence and made it slither away. (By the way, snakes are timid in that they would go away and not attack unless they feel threatened.) 

So if my God goes before me, I just have to watch where He steps and take that path. The journey’s gonna be safe. As for the destination, trust that He who knows it all loves me and wants the best for me.

The Road Not Taken


Found Him wherever I was today.

This is one of my favourite songs by Corrinne May. When this was presented at HY and HX’s wedding today, it touched me as though it’s my first time hearing it.

It’s funny how in many things that I read, He’s been speaking to me about my struggle to understand. Or rather, it’s struggle to trust, Him. As the I listened to the song, I was reminded of one of the things I had read in the past week – Genesis 16. Three characters, all made a mistake. That’s so messed up. Sarai and Abram took things into their own hands (Gen 16:2), Hagar’s attitude was wrong too. What I saw when I read the passage though, was that God was there with Hagar. God was there with Sarai. God was there with Abram. He loved each of them and reached them personally even though Sarai trusted herself more than she trusted God, even though Abram took Sarai’s advice rather than held on to God’s promise, and even though Hagar – who was brought into this picture for the wrong reason – looked on her mistress with contempt (Gen 16:4). And His purpose prevailed at the end, still.

I found it difficult to fathom God’s love when I read that. You’d still love and pursue even when someone’s wrong? What I initially felt was unfair turned into a… – isn’t that how He loves me and embraces me each time I’m wrong as well? This is the God whom I serve ah. So what if I’m right and someone else is wrong this time round? He still loves them anyway. This is the God who dispensed this same love and grace towards me when I fail.

He writes straight with crooked lines. It’s honestly hard for me to see how He’s writing straight and righting this mess right now, but. It’s so hard to understand this love, how His plans work. But He’s really capable of turning messes into beauty like what He did in Gen 16.

During worship just now, Sam spoke to those who were in need of hope, something else (can’t remember) and an aim in life. All three were what I needed. It was like a, ‘You talking to me?’ moment. Received it. Thanks!

You’re never gonna let
Never gonna let me down

You’re good good, oh

Sang these verses during worship as well. In the recent weeks, a part of me doubted. You called me here, and things don’t seem like they are going well. You won’t betray me, right?

As I sang those lines, I found new hope, new faith to place my trust in Him. I remember just a few months ago, I thought to myself that simply because He is a good God, we can trust Him no matter what happens. Because He wants good for us, because what He does will be for our good. My good good God will never let me down. Never. I can trust Him in that.

Perhaps, it is that He found me wherever I was. So amazing!


Back. To responsibilities.

Back from three back-to-back trips, from Hong Kong to Ipoh and finally Taiwan. Thought I would be exhausted from all that travelling by the time Taiwan came, but nope the excitement was still there when I flew to Taiwan.

I always find it strange that something that feels as if I’ve waited for years to come would pass by and then I’m left with a little lesser to look forward to. I still feel this way about Taiwan this time round – strangely not feeling the expected exhaustion from the back-to-back travelling. It’s my fourth time in Taiwan but this is the first time I’m feeling this… I MISS TAIWAN :( Was already feeling it during our last few days there because I realised that my next trip would probably be in another 2 years or so.

Feeling really strange about returning here actually. Missing Taiwan is probably only a part of the reason. Maybe travelling with a good friend is another. And I’m wondering, too, if this has to do with this sense of responsibility that I feel like I’m returning to.

Starting work in less than a week’s time. And this time round, it’s no longer going to be a short-term, part-responsibility, kinda thing like in internships/attachment/volunteering. Stepping into the working world as a full-time staff this time round. Not just that, but it also feels like I have the load of the family to carry as well. Which, I feel less than ready to do so. And I also wonder, how many of my peers or predecessors actually face this same responsibility the moment they enter into the working world – or do they learn to take care of their own load first? It’s a redundant question to find out though; it’s not like the answer would change much.

I used to desire responsibility along with the sense of trustworthiness associated with that. It started off with convincing my parents to let me hold on to my own passport when we travel, having the permission to hold on to the hotel room keys, etc. Small little things like that made me feel like an adult, like I was trusted to know what I was doing. Lately, though, I’m starting to feel a little tired of taking charge. I can, and I guess people do trust me to do so to some extent, but I no longer wish to.

On the way home, I wonder if the carefree-ness in Taiwan was something I missed as well. Waking up whenever, going wherever, planning our own spending like we only had 10 days to think of (which is not bad at all as compared to planning years ahead). And not bad, since I planned most of the trip, I get to go wherever I want to hahaha okay not really, but planning this trip really made me put into practice what it means to consider someone else’s needs. Tweeted during the planning stage that the thing about planning a trip is that my mind is always on the other person’s wants and needs. Things like will the person be too tired, will the person enjoy this, does this make financial sense for both of us, etc. Not too sure about how successful my assumptions were on Karen’s wants and needs, but I really tried really hard. But still, I get to do things that I wanted to as well :p At the most, I only had to think perhaps 7 days ahead, to tweak the plans a little, but most of the time really just… be curious and do whatever. At the same time, I had my friend helping me with things like calculating our shared expenses, cracking our brains over that sometimes, getting the camel-me to drink water, sharing my camera-burden blahblahblah. All these carefree-ness and all are quite unlike life back here I guess.

Ohwell, shall take things one step at a time I guess, since there’s nothing else I can do about it – lol sounding so resigned. But yeah, missing the time in Taiwan, badly :(

3.28am, time for bed! (and hence not checking through what I’ve typed)

Back. To responsibilities.

Hamster Ball

These few days I have been wondering how I will define a close friend. Because I wouldn’t say that spending a lot of time with someone makes me feel close to the other person, but then that will most likely rule out others whom I don’t even spend time with. So, if I have close friends, what makes them my close friends? Oh yes, talking about this, I get quite uncomfortable answering questions like, ‘Are you close to so-and-so?’ Two usual scenarios. 1, No, but I can understand why that person asked (usually because they see us hanging out much) and yet I can’t explain why the answer is no. 2, Definitely, but I shy, really, honestly.

And just now while I was in the shower, I think I’ve found one way to understand how a close friend is defined in my… heart? Yeah, mind has got to try and understand my heart sometimes, so this is one such attempts.

I remember a friend, who seems more introverted than I am, telling me about the hamster ball concept. She said that she is like a hamster that stays in a hamster ball which has a very guarded entrance – meaning that she doesn’t allow just anyone in. And I so happened to be one who had the privilege of entering, and had her tell me about me being in her hamster ball. I felt privileged, but at the same time, I didn’t quite understand this concept. I thought it’s probably something that a very introverted person has, and I didn’t think that I have one as well.

But it seems like I do have one. I discovered mine while in the shower just now. The persona that most people see, is the one who opens the hamster ball, steps outside while my hand closes the door behind me. Out there, I raise my tone a little, joke about myself, learn to laugh at things people enjoy laughing at, learn what engages people, learn to tell stories in a way that excites them, learn to look like I’m totally thrilled by their exciting stories. It’s true that I had to learn all these things in my growing years – I was once that kid in the corner who went into self-isolation because I didn’t find the things people talk and laugh about interesting. (Oh by the way, this is not about turning hypocritical. I maintain my values even though I may change the way I present myself. As much as possible, I try to not be any nicer or any nastier than what my values say when I’m with peopele. To me, utilising a persona is about rising up to the occasion to meet the needs of it. It’s like, giving a presentation requires me to speak in a tone that doesn’t put people to sleep, stand and move in a way that doesn’t distract people and excite them to follow me on this journey of uncovering what I believe.)

And I get tired after a while of being in my “engaging mode”. Sometimes the crash is so bad that I will feel really down, and I will call for an official time-out from those I need to account to. This will be the time that I return to my hamster ball, while leaving people out.

Yet, at the same time, there is this tiny-until-I-can-use-one-hand-to-count group of people that I not only don’t mind them entering, but in fact want them to enter in here. We can sit here and not do anything, we can talk about everything, or we can even go out, whatever and I’ll be happy. These people energise me.

These are friends whom I share my hamster ball with. These are those that I don’t have to raise a tone to engage; I can talk in my monotonous voice and trust that they won’t be bored by me. These are those that I don’t have to learn to do stuff to impress them, but simply be myself. There are things that I don’t always tell people, like for various reasons such as not wanting to stumble people, or that I simply don’t find a need to explain so much about myself. Yeah, a lot of times people assume things about me and I let them because it takes effort to explain. I don’t know if they will really listen anyway and sometimes it just doesn’t bother me that they don’t really understand certain things about me.

But with these friends that I share my hamster ball with, I find the need to explain I guess. One of the things I tell them about is why I do what I do. Sometimes, there’s a real inspiration behind what I do. Other times, I do things despite the questions and considerations in my head. These are those that get to hear those questions, my dilemmas and all. I trust that they know where I’m coming from and hence will not condemn me when they hear these things. I trust that they will think over these questions with me, with empathy. And if there’s a better way to think about it, they will show me how. Or if they understand where I am trapped, they will ponder over it with me while we remind each other of what is important here. Such trust allows me to tell them the raw (i.e. almost unfiltered) thoughts in my head.

Friends whom I would like to have in my hamster ball even when I need a break from the rest of the world… I guess this is how I personally define my close friends.

Close proximity, and hmm yeah, there’s a higher possibility of these hurting me. I mean, you are already in my hamster ball, where else can I run to if you are to bring a knife along? And to be honest, I am pretty scared of that happening even as a new friendship approaches this stage of closeness. Many ‘what if’s start come to my head, and I’ll be like okay should I step back? I admit I have trust issues.

Which, is why to love is to be vulnerable (Lewis, 1971), isn’t it? And there, I find something new again as I search this quote up to credit C. S. Lewis for it. Thought I had read it well the previous time, but I guess I had not seen what comes before that.

There is no safe investment. To love at all is to be vulnerable.

Interesting. Because, friendship has always been something that I will invest my life in. When it hurts it really does though. To love isn’t always natural, but there are times that require deliberation and making a conscious decision. To love.


Hamster Ball