The Miracle of Being Broken

As the semester draws to a close, I am thankful for the stories that began in Sydney and continue to be written still. The characters interwoven across each other’s pages and the plot twists that take us all on a ride no short of adventure. Thankful for the new encounters with love and the challenges to seek greater possibilities. The interactions over coffee and microwaved takeaways or the mealtimes in Asian restaurants, knitting our souls together in the harmony of love will remain close to my heart for a long time. Time and again, the privilege of heartfelt conversations see the unveiling of our broken memories, steepest letdowns and suffocating helplessness; as if we have lived our lives being told to sweep under the rug our truest of emotions and water down the real experiences that have shaped us into becoming. With the gentleness of the morning rays and warmth from the winter sun embrace, will you take a walk with my thoughts as I propose that we are broken for a miracle?

Our lives are littered with brokenness – our memories are shattered with disappointment, hearts broken by betrayal. Unexpected turns in our lives, like flower vases lifted high to be admired then carelessly dropped to the ground. One moment we are celebrating milestones that far exceeded our imagination, and in the next we are watching the broken pieces on the ground, wondering how could this be? How do dreams turn into nightmares? Fullness into emptiness? Long roads turn out to be dead ends? Which pain would be more tolerable, we wonder – if we stood amidst the fragments of our hopes or if we bent over on our knees to pick them up with our hands?

Our world is crowded with brokenness – look around you and see the souls lost to anxiety, hear the unspoken thoughts about everyday worries. Do you not see? Our desperate immersion in temporal distraction? The tears we don’t know how to cry? Can you not hear? The joyful songs that have left our voices? Our childhood ambitions have been hidden to be forgotten, and the hopes that once were have been abandoned to “be realistic”. We have fallen short of the people we once dreamed to be: tapping out of the ring for an indefinite water break because the fight to become better versions of ourselves seems impossible. Our deep desires to love and be loved truly are doused by the intoxication of discouragement. We are bruised and broken by the punches hurled by the everyday crowd telling us to settle down and settle fast.

As if the days of our lives had been written into a book and we have chosen to stop flipping to the next pages because of the brokenness that had been spilled across numerous pages now. We have lost count of the occasions of stumbling and falling, feeling cornered to despair by the broken pieces scattered all over. Afraid that the subsequent pages would spell depths of brokenness we had never known before, we have decided to stay on the same page. And perhaps, you and I have been on the same page of our stories for a while now. We have been reciting the story of our brokenness far too long, we can remember every word from the lies spoken to us – “You are not good enough”, “You will never make it”, “You are struggling alone”. Our souls are starving for the truth, but it starts with turning over the page believing that the story has yet to end. There is more.

In this age where vulnerability is shunned and authenticity is rejected, we are all too afraid that the shattered pieces of another’s life will remind ourselves of our own. We are afraid to see our own reflection in the brokenness of another’s life, terrified to unwrap the bandages we have desperately bound around our bleeding hearts of hurt. Our joy is held hostage by our refusal to recognise our deepest pain. Part of being alive is to acknowledge and embrace our brokenness, to bravely lift up our sorrows and hurts for healing. The startling suicide rates are testament to the cries of this earth, our throbbing hearts of inexplicable pain and the desire to numb it all that we cannot put into words. On days that we are honest, we know little about where we are headed and what all this is for.

Dearest One, you were never meant to do this alone. Your struggle is real and the pain is searing, but there is no wound that is incurable, no sense of loss that cannot be redeemed. The lost time of your youth? Lost memories with your family? Lost relationships with those you still miss today? We are all people of brokenness – what matters is Who we place our broken pieces in the hands of. My life was transformed radically the day I came to know Jesus, He was unafraid of my own brokenness and mess, that I myself had did not dare look at. Just as I expected another one to scoff at my weaknesses or brush off my sadness as “a phase that will pass”, He spoke into my life with compassion and picked up the broken pieces, saying I love you. Little did I know then, that He has a track record of turning beauty from ashes and creating testimonies out of trials. One of His biggest miracles of feeding the 5000 men and their families with just 5 loaves and 2 fish began with His breaking the bread. The miracle of our salvation comes from the breaking of His body on the cross at Calvary.

The Miracle begins then, when we place our broken pieces in the hands of a loving God of miracles. Our souls are parched dry with hopelessness and the Hope for our hearts has never stopped knocking: will you let Him in?

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“Jesus took the five loaves and two fish, looked up toward heaven, and blessed them. Then, breaking the loaves into pieces, he kept giving the bread to the disciples so they could distribute it to the people. He also divided the fish for everyone to share. They all ate as much as they wanted, and afterward, the disciples picked up twelve baskets of leftover bread and fish. A total of 5,000 men and their families were fed.” (Mark 6:41-44)

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Easter: There Is Food For The Hungry

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Breathe deep, slow down. As we savour the weekend in gratitude of the well-timed break, do you hear the grumbling of your soul? Do you sense the hunger of your spirit? Hungry for rest, longing to enter a safe embrace that protects you from the hustle. Hungry for freedom, longing for a refuge from constantly striving to prove yourself. Hungry for love, longing for a faithfulness that promises forever and keeps it. This piece is for the hungry; it’s for you and me, and all willing to confront the calling of our souls.

We live in a day of endless scrolling, mindless busyness and reckless pursuits. We are fueled by short-term pleasures: the cheap thrills and the expensive things. We are restored by the diesel of entertainment – episodes of a drama series, sequels to a movie and levels of a video game. We are sustained by our outfits of the day and incoming likes on social media. People’s praises, our expanding portfolios and the notifications on our phones all like breeze that brushes our faces. We are tempted to believe that they are here to stay, but they time and again reveal themselves to be distractions just passing by. Day after day, we return to the solitude of our souls, hearts and minds. As our heads lower to the pillow and we stare into the ceiling (if only we consciously put aside our phones that distract us), we are with ourselves truly. Then, the question arises, ‘What is this life for?’, ‘What is all this worth?’.

When we are quiet enough, still enough; we find ourselves thirsty after drinking, hungry after eating. The stomach of our souls have been corrupted by our misfeeding and the desires of our souls seem ever unsatisfied. But just as there is physical food to our stomachs and physical rest to our minds, perhaps the impending dissatisfaction points at a greater source of fulfilment. The nights of loneliness and the days of meaninglessness are all clues to a greater place of purpose. And just maybe, it hints that we are looking in the wrong places.

For all who are hungry, Easter points at the bread of life that tastes of rest, of freedom and of love. All in one, the goodness is saturated. The connection to its nutrition is a relationship that leads to fullness that is never hungry again. We so often settle for the lesser option – the nachos without cheese, popcorn without salt, peanut butter without jam. Don’t miss out on this one: the gift is the Giver.

Easter says, the hunger of our souls points us upwards. Not leftwards to the chocolate Easter eggs or rightwards to the bunnies hopping, it points us upwards. Not even forwards or backwards, because we would be bumping into each other. The out-of-the-world hunger is satisfied only by a similarly out-of-the-world source – this is why nothing we try from this world has a taste that remains past today and sustains beyond tomorrow. We are pointed to the cross on which the One who so loved you died and the tomb from which He rose again three days later. The hunger is real and the questions are valid, but we get lost in the search. The food exists and the answers await – not in this world, but out of it. Do you believe? 

Listen, nothing is without worth and neither are you. Everything with breath and place on this earth is created with a purpose, including you and I. It is this purpose that gives us worth – just as a jug is worthless until it is used to contain water and a watch useless until it is worn to tell time, we are living in fullness only when we are connected with purpose. Seek purpose wholeheartedly. Look upwards, to the only One who has the answers to your purpose. Look to the One who not only says He would give His life for you, He did. 

Easter is about Jesus, the Son of God, who died on the cross so you and I might live full lives of eternal worth. It is about the victory He has won over your past, present and future fears, insecurities and anxieties. Easter is about He who knows you fully and loves you completely, that He looks into your darkness and says “let there be light”. He looks into the mess you’re in right now and says “here I AM”. The promise has been delivered, not to be withdrawn. What will you say – do you dare believe? 

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Broken, Loved and Beautiful

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“You have an irreplaceable role to play in this world and important purposes hang on your life.” (Captivating by John and Stasi Eldredge)

The lingering disbelief that many have towards this truth is evidence of the long assault on our hearts in this broken world. Growing up with absent fathers and overworked mothers, we have presented ourselves bare first to our families and then everywhere else, in search of a love that satisfies us. All appears futile. We strive in every possible sphere to prove ourselves (to ourselves and) to the audience of the world – our planners are filled and every commitment is a search for affirmation, asking “Am I good enough now?”, “Am I beautiful enough now?”, “Am I loveable enough now?” Underlying the insecurities is the critical question of “enough”. Our hearts are broken, dreams broken. Our vulnerabilities have been trampled on more times than one and we wonder if the brokenness has any room for fixing anymore.

This one is for the Beautiful One behind the screen, this was written specially for you. The pursuit of perfection is misguided and our understanding of beauty has been corrupted; my prayer is that you open your heart to the endless waves of gracious love that surrounds you and open your palms to receive the contentment that comes with starting from ‘I am enough’. Receive the promise in every sentence – broken, beautiful and loved one.

You are a recipient of love. Look all around you: at the friends who shower you with endless care and the family that protects you in your most fatigued of times. See the gentle smiles of those who care for you and feel the warmth from the hugs you receive – not just physical smiles and hugs, but the ones you see with your heart, and experience with your eyes closed. Allow them to embrace you. Let the fond memories of hearty laughter and joyful days affirm you: you are loved. You are deeply loved. You are loved not because of what you do and achieve, but simply because of who you are.

From the day you were born and even before, you were loved as you are today. You have inherent worth and beauty, you are precious in your being. The beauty you possess is a light that radiates from within, it is in your soul. It invites those around you to rest and brings life to the powerless or weak. You are that beautiful. And you are so very loved.

We have mixed up our starting points and destinations. Too often, we begin from a place of “I am not enough” and strive to prove ourselves worthy of love, thinking the destination lies in hearing a close one say “I love you”. Misguided, we wonder, “When people see all that we really are, will they still say “I love you” and mean it wholeheartedly?” We question, “Do they love me because of me or because of what I do for them?” The truth is, there is a love that sees all of us and says, with a compassionate smile and a humble heart, I love you. This was the voice that was present even before you were born, it persists today and will continue to forevermore.

If you are here reading this today, I want to tell you that you are already loved with that love – the one that fully knows you and fully embraces you. You were not made to live in fear or endless striving. Just by being (and without doing), you are loved. May you find the courage, then, to live in every moment with the starting point that “I am loved and I have nothing to prove”. Watch your life transform as you come from a place of enough.

We are in a world vulnerable to emotional assaults of different forms – the temptations to compare our lives with others, the contest to prove ourselves more productive than all around us and the passing remarks that seem to tell us to “try harder”. We are imperfect people offering imperfect love, and that’s okay. Forgive others and forgive yourself. Forgive the cracks and brokenness, forgive the tears that stream uncontrollably and the times you felt you fell short. Forgive the number of times you have given your hearts away with high hopes only to be disappointed. Broken again. Our cracks are where light shines through and it is our brokenness that makes a way for true beauty.

Remember this: you are protected by a shield of love, you are loved and you are blessed unconditionally. Let the truth be etched in your heart that this is enough and you are enough.

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Celebrate 2017: Way, Truth and Life

Creatures of habit, craving pattern and crafting stories, we try year after year to form relationships of correlation and graphs of linearity with the happenings of the year. As with the passing of each year, the countdown to the next deserves immense celebration – in an age of extreme poverty in many parts of the world where children barely live past the age of five, in the midst of the refugee crisis that reshuffles the geographical placement of people all over forced from their homes by circumstances, and in a time of amplified busyness that suffocates our minds and souls; we truly have to count our blessings in making it to yet another year. For years, I have ended the year with a piece that celebrates the year (see for 201420152016); this year I am convicted to depart from the compilation of achievements and memories that will fade away in a matter of time. I have been assured of their brevity, realizing how little these trophies and titles amount to who I am.

Shifting the focus unto the lessons of the current that I am learning in this season, my prayer is that this piece will inspire you to consider: What are the lessons that you can be learning in this time? How are the happenings in this season impacting your character that will last over time? Let’s fix our gaze on the things that will remain valuable and even more so with the passing of time, as we step forth into the new year. It is with immense privilege of sharing my story from this season that I write this piece. I overflow with gratitude towards the infinite grace that I am a blessed recipient of, coming with a heart of lightness and rest: I celebrate 2017.

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I am learning that the way is not always easy. Difficult roads lead to beautiful places – unexpected twists and turns sometimes lead us on a vertical drop to rock bottom, but it is in the valleys that we uncover our solid foundation and revisit the very basis of who we are, of what we believe. Departing from home was an emotional challenge, the safe harbor and its beauty too close in sight that I was reluctant to let go of the comfort. Who I was and what I believed had become so strongly associated with this place I called ‘home’ that a single step beyond its boundaries evoked fear and hesitation. The truth is, who we are is an exploration of a place so deep that it is independent of our geographical placement: the accent, the pace of footsteps, the humidity and the food all too unsubstantial to fill the crux of our identities. They are only the wrapping paper of a beautiful gift; to keep it wrapped is as silly as to receive a wonderfully wrapped present only to leave it unwrapped for years and years because we are content with the sparkle and glitter of the paper. Or because we find the task of tearing apart the tape and paper too much of a hassle. In all this time, the wondrous gift beneath awaits. Unwrap the present – just as the work of unwrapping the paper is necessary for the unveiling of the gift, so it is with the uncovering of our innermost selves. It is in the confrontation of difficult situations that the unwrapping of our captivating souls begin.

In 2017, coming to Sydney for my university studies was one of the most difficult decisions to make but it saw, too, the birth of countless miraculous beginnings that remain the best decisions of my life. The bravest decisions take faith: we don’t have to completely understand or see all of what lies ahead fully (this is impossible for most decisions we make daily anyway). We have to take the step and trust the way. The first step of faith has taken me to unimaginable adventures of wonder and I am walking on the way still.

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I am learning that the truth is to be seeked. We all have an inkling of truth: when we think to ourselves a “got to be” statement (“there has got to be more to this”, “what she’s doing has got to be wrong”), we are preaching our convictions of truth. The promise is that the truth will set us free and as we long for freedom in our lives, we are all called on a journey of seeking truth. The oblivion that blinds us is the greatest enemy to our freedom: it threatens our full and abundant lives because it evokes indifference. When we are oblivious, we are unaware of the broader perspectives that lie beyond our mobile phones, beyond our daily conversations with friends who are like us and way beyond our homes or families. In that oblivion, our understanding and knowledge end at the borders of our devices and an illusion of vastness is created by the endless scrolling of our feeds. What we feed grows and when we feed this oblivion, we are growing a sense of indifference – it is where we don’t know, and on top of that, we don’t care. Indifference nips our search for truth at its very roots because we have no concern about what is true.

In 2017, I was inspired to search for truth. If truth is truth, it is absolutely true. Truth remains true regardless of people’s sentiments and thoughts, it remains true in spite of popularity and not because of it. The truth that stands firmly with certainty is a safe place to put my trust and confidence. I am learning that to take ownership of my story is to take on the responsibility of living one in truth. This determination does not end at its declaration; it only begins. As we decide upon the end of oblivion and indifference, we have to declare the beginning of our search. It is wholehearted devotion that says, “I’m all in.” I wake up these days declaring, I don’t know what lies ahead today and this day is filled with uncertainty but I will be thankful for every breath and actively seek out what is true in every moment so I might live fully in truth.

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I am learning that the life of fullness is worthwhile. Our lives are these and our lives are now. They are what they are at present; all at the same time, they encompass what has past and hold hopes for the future. There is a story of a man named Nehemiah who lead workers in rebuilding the fallen walls of Jerusalem a long time ago. As he assigned people to work on the different parts of the wall, he called each of them to work on the part of the wall that was closest to their homes. Perhaps, if we consider experiencing fullness in life as the grand project of building a wall, where we have to start is right where we are. We have mastered the ‘ideation’ part of concocting the masterplan – we have some idea of what we want our walls to look like – we almost meditate on it with longing every single day. We are meditating on them as we look with yearning at the Instagram posts of others’ or as we make “if only” statements that point at our future. What we have overlooked all too often, though, is that act of building that wall. The grandness of the project all too daunting, we settle for imagining.

Dreaming is easy, we do it every day. Doing is the challenge and yet without which, living does not even begin. We remain in mere existence. The life of fullness awaits our willingness to start where we are and do what we can. Transform your dreams into actions – extend the dream of a lasting relationship with a commitment to love those who are already around you, extend the dream of attaining a job that “changes lives” with a commitment to influence those already in your circles, extend the dream of becoming that person with a commitment to grow the person that you are at present. Make a promise to do, the dreaming will come to fruition. As we step forth bravely into the new year unsure of what lies ahead, may commitments pave the way to unwrapping the greatest present of this Christmas season: the gift of our lives.

Life Is: To Love and To Be Loved

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The countdown to returning to the sunny island we call ‘home’ begins. It was just months ago that we packed our luggages, bid our farewells, (maybe) shed our tears and embraced our loved ones; vivid memories at the airport still remain. At milestones as this, the fleeting nature of time confronts us and somehow takes us by surprise each time. Shouldn’t we have arrived at enough milestones as such to realise that our lives are like fog – here for the moment and gone in the next? Shouldn’t that realization compel continuous pursuit for greater? From the earlier days in Sydney, I had been seeking ‘love’ that I knew ‘had all answers’, that ‘always makes a way’; the ‘love’ that fills us with joy and peace, ‘love’ that builds character. Preceding years of service and volunteerism, convicted me of the incomparable value of ‘love’ that I yearned to be the foundation for my life.

Months on from leaving home, I discover the truth that we all receive an incredible love that my words do little justice to. My prayer is that reading this would encourage you to, too, seek true, pure and complete love that exists instead of settling for the counterfeit love that hinders us from that which is authentic and immeasurable.

Love is not selfish

In primary school, idle afternoons would be taken by poor movie choices, consisting mostly of chick flicks. Each of which provided an inaccurate and incomplete illustration of ‘love’ –  friendships were littered with betrayal and backstabbing, while the so-called ‘love’ between the couple that eventually gets together was more often characterized by attraction and affection, nothing more (think Mean Girls, High School Musical or Easy A). As my female peers (and now myself) enter university, there has been increasing pressure to seek ‘love’ in the ways of the world that we have been taught. We hear stories of “who’s entering the upcoming pageant”, “who’s dating who” and “who’s done it already” within the first weeks of university. No one talks about it aloud but within, fear and insecurities brew – What if I don’t find someone? What if I am unlovable? What if there’s no other way to love but this? But since when did being attached and engaging in sexual activity become measuring sticks for love and ‘lovability’.

These lies compound and we so often settle for the selfish love that is not love. The opposite of love is not hate, it is selfishness. ‘Selfish love’ is an oxymoron, for true love does not demand its own way. Love is not self-seeking. Today’s relationships (both boy-girl relationships and friendships) are so often premised on how the other can meet one’s emotional and physical needs – the increasing co-habitation trends in young couples are reflective of our taking one another on ‘trial sessions’, to see one’s fit to meeting our own needs. Friendships are no longer about sticking it out with each other through the ups and downs, but about the unspoken transactions. Until we commit to learning love that is not selfish, we are nightmares to be friends with or to date; betrayals and heartbreaks waiting to happen.

How many of us truly enter the relationships in our lives seeking to serve the other person wholeheartedly, instead of considering what we can gain from the relationship? Have we chosen selfishness over love that is not selfish?

Love is complete acceptance

For some part of my life, my frizzy hair was a source of great insecurity. Growing up amongst girls with long and straight hair made me think that my curly hair was unusual rather than unique. It is rarely discussed, but I came to find out from vulnerable conversations that every person struggles with some part of their appearance or their character – it is a shared human experience. Each of us, if asked for a part of ourselves we hoped to change, could most definitely come up with a list immediately. There is a difference, though, between wanting that change from a place of love (seeking growth) and wanting that change from a place of resentment (seeding destruction).

Especially in the Asian context, we are taught to treat ourselves harshly as a form of discipline towards change and betterment. There is, though, a discipline that comes from love that begins from a place of complete acceptance. Think of someone in your life whom you are certain about his/her love for you and consider this – in your imperfection and many weaknesses, this person has chosen to love you and loves you still. Does that mean that he/she will not want you to seek development and growth? Does that mean that he/she will love you any less when you change because you pursue a better version of yourself? One who truly loves you will love you too much to let you remain the way you are and instead, compel you with that love of complete acceptance to become better and better every day.

I have lost count of the number of times my emotional vulnerability has been taken advantage of in relationships. Over time, I have come to learn that those who truly love me not only protect and cherish it, but support me in learning to harness empathy as a strength. Love rejoices in our gifts being brought to light and tramples upon injustice. Are we pursuing the best version of ourselves every day from a place of love or resentment? Are we assured that we receive unconditional love even if we are imperfect and we will change? Or is conditional love taking the guise of true love, limiting the greatness that you were made for?

Love is life

Let’s ask ourselves, “What in this life is worth dying for?” because that same thing would then, be worth living for. Our futile pursuits that lead us deeper into emptiness assure us of the many things that are not worthwhile – our grades, achievements, travels and even memories will fade away in the matter of time. This strategy of elimination, though, is not quite time effective especially considering the fog-like nature of our lives. The dissipation is already happening; with every moment we draw closer to the end of this life.

We are all on our own journeys towards the truth of what this time on earth is meant for: for a long time, I had been lost in the roundabout busyness that our world draws us into. Today, I feel more alive every day and the turning point started in the moment I decided to make love my one calling. Throwing aside the things that were hollow of meaning, so that I had two hands empty to embrace the calling to love. I challenge you to do the same – reject the counterfeit love of this world and seek love, truly – then watch your life be radically changed as was mine. One that is not selfish and accepts completely, truly. I look forward to your testimony of life change, write to me at shng4630@uni.sydney.edu.au.

“Many of us live with incredible tension and anxiety because we think that our dreams will come true if we just get the right degree, if we just meet the right people, if we just get the right job. We assume our happiness is tied to our success, and our success depends on our performance. So we sweat and struggle and scheme and strategize, and we wonder why we aren’t enjoying life.” 
 Judah Smith, Author of Life Is ­­­­­­_______

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You Were Made For Greater

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What if I told you you were made for greater? You were made for greater. Greater than the unending busyness, greater than the relentless routines and mindless pursuits. You were made for greater than travelling to that job you don’t enjoy every day or studying the subjects you see no purpose in. You were made for greater. There is something greater in store for you than the endless scrolling through social media and the conversations that bring you more emptiness than fullness. Greater than you can even imagine and certainly greater than the greatest you think you’ve experienced. This piece is about the greater in store for you, inspired by a recent read Greater by Steven Furtick and the fires we are to start setting should we want to uncover the promise of something greater.

Set fire to our silliness

‘What is your passion?’ is the buzz of the generation. Left, right, centre, we are told to ‘follow our hearts’ and ‘pursue our dreams’ – we are the generation walking on the clouds, seeking something greater but getting lost in rollercoaster rides of adrenaline and burn out. Worse, we are confused and mislead in the false dichotomy of passion and practicality. Say this world we live in were a mansion, we feel like we are taking a gamble whenever we decide which doors to open and which others to close. The door of practicality appears to bring us into a room with cement flooring of stable ground but white walls of meaninglessness; vitality is lacking. Peeking through the slit of the door of passion, there are radiant colours and music plays but we fear that the ground there will not hold us. ‘It’s impractical’ or ‘You’re going to fail’ are the criticisms that hold us back from that first step that could make all the difference.

The greater life that we were made for though, is a mansion of open doors one after another – a myriad of colours painted on the walls and diverse types of flooring await our adventurous steps. There are many more doors than just two, passion and practicality are characteristics (that can coexist) not categories (that are mutually exclusive). There is more than enough room in this mansion to try and fail, if we only tried. Too often, it is not our intellect protecting us from regret but our fear preventing us from revolutionary. In the words of Steven Furtick, the real danger we experience in this generation is not that of losing our lives but of wasting them – wasting them for anything less than the greater we were made for. How greater looks for every person might differ, but we all start from the same place – setting fire to our silliness.

The silly things we do in this life are many. We hold onto our pasts that leave no room in our hearts for the present. We chase perfection to please. We spend more time doing things that mean less to us. We settle for less. We let irrational fears be our excuses. We let the people who don’t value us be our measures of worth. We are less aware of our convictions that shape our everyday lives than we should be. We are slaves to our silliness – making room for greater calls us to set on fire silliness taking up the rooms of our hearts.

What irrational fears and doubts are you holding on to? Who are the people who are telling you you are anything less than strong and courageous? Which commitments are you dreading more and more, to bring yourself to? How are you spending every moment in this precious life?

Set fire to our souls

In Youth Corps Singapore, we speak of the ‘fire in our bellies’ to refer to the innate passions that tug at our heart strings. It is that social cause that brings tears to your eyes, that sport that brings you to your feet, that topic of conversation that brings adrenaline throughout your body, that art form you could indulge in for hours and lose track of time. It takes different shapes and forms for each person but one thing is for sure – the mention of that fire enlivens an inner spark, warming our hardened hearts as if bringing us to life for the first time. It only takes a spark to get a fire a going and I encourage you to be mindful of the everyday conversations and choices you make, for they give you clues to what your spark might be. There is light in each of us, a spark that isn’t meant to remain as it is – like the sizzle from a match that strikes against its box, it is purposed to be thrown into the stack of wood to light ablaze the bonfire.

When was the last time you were excited about something? When was the last time you got lost in time because you enjoyed doing something so much? When was the last time you left a conversation fuller than you were before it? Let’s find that spark and set fire to our souls, the greater life awaits.

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I Am Deeply In Love: The Search  

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20 years old, I am an aspiring Occupational Therapist and an eternal dreamer convicted in changing this world one impossibility at a time through faith, hope and love. At the end of this brief, impermanent life, there would have been countless interactions and experiences I may be remembered for but above all, I hope for my life to be testimony of a love that few have tasted or seen before. When asked what did she do or how did she live, I hope for the resounding consensus to be that “she loved”. First in the series of three, here’s the story of (1) my search for a love that would fill an emptiness within and (2) how I’ve now found something I want to remain in for eternity. Everything about my life from this point is (3) part of the pursuit.

The Search

Months ago, I was welcomed into the embrace of Sydney to pursue my university education. Departing from a place I had called ‘home’ for the first 19 years of my blessed life was uncertainty-filled. Home had been a place characterized by familiarity: a sense of love, peace and significance. I close my eyes and I can trace the roads that line the town, I know the exact shade of orange that colours the seats of the public buses and the footsteps of my fellow Singaporeans are in resonance with my heartbeat. The subtleties of our culture (the accent, topics of conversation, measures of ‘what is meant to be’) had seeped into my subconscious. Home was grasped tightly in my palm and as natural as breath; this place was abode to game-changing initiatives, advocacies and movements I had the privilege of fighting alongside fellow dreamers in.

Before leaving for Sydney, luggage in hand and warm hugs one after another as I bid farewell, I vividly recall a sense of fear accompanied with contentment. The thought then was “Wow, what a splendid 19 years of life; I can’t quite imagine how anything in Sydney can bring me anywhere new or anything more fulfilling.” Fears arose from the disgruntling knowledge that there was emptiness – that in spite of boundaries transcended, challenges overcome and all things achieved; the fullness I had expected had not come.

If that place I’ve called ‘home’ and built a life in cannot fulfil me, how can anything in foreign land? If everything so many have only dreamt of is no antidote to enduring emptiness, what then is the meaning of this life? There was a yearning, a longing and a searching; one with little knowledge of what exactly I was looking for at all. Every day had been filled with incessant busyness, achieving things and ticking off endless lists of ‘what I have done in my life’; people have been met, touched, inspired and indulgences in different forms of entertainment for that occasional breather all did not suffice. The emptiness was real and the grumbling of the soul grew louder.

I am deeply convicted that this life calls that we each ask ourselves the essential question, “What is it that without which, we have no reason to live?” And in seeking that answer, we find out what is worth dying for, that is also what is it we are living for. You are not alone – all of humanity has to struggle and continuously ask ourselves these questions to decide what every breath we take is worth. All other pursuits we embark in are truly subordinate to this pursuit for eternal, lasting worth.

The promise is that if we seek wholeheartedly, we will find[Jeremiah 29:13, NLT] The search had begun.