I really had not realized how long it’s been since I’ve written anything for a blog. Life happened, and somehow I didn’t feel like writing about it. But now I am writing, not because I have time (it’s the start of a four-day long weekend today), but because I need to
Recently, I’ve been reflecting about my life and what I’ve accomplished so far, and I think I have accomplished a lot of the small stuff. No, I have not invented anything to cure illnesses, or traveled the world, or graduate from PhD (although I’m flattered that my professor thinks the research I’ve done for my MSc thesis was similar to what were done for a PhD–that’s a comment I doubt I’ll ever forget), or solve the issue of poverty. No, the “small stuff” refers to my personal dreams and ideas, and even if they seem unimportant to others, they aren’t to me. If I were gone and someone’s going to describe how I lived my life, I would want them to say that despite my inner struggles, I was happy with how I’m maturing as a person.
- Learning to Rely on God
I have always struggled with maintaining a relationship with God. I was inconsistent, sinful, impatient, and a whole lot of other things. But for so long, I’ve always wondered if I would ever get to a point of my spiritual life wherein I prayed everyday and for everything. A lot of role models were around me, but why couldn’t I be like them? I grew up in a family of Christian believers, so it was pretty much normal for me to go to church every Sunday. But I did not read the Bible as often as I should, nor go to small groups every week.
For a while back, I did go to small groups, where I met a group of wonderful people who simply enjoyed each other’s company and the Word of God. Friday Cell was the highlight of my week, until it wasn’t. I don’t know or remember why, but I simply stopped attending, and life took over. I went through college, internship, graduate school, and work without realizing that I shouldn’t have stopped attending small groups. I still don’t have one in my current church, but I plan to find one that I could be comfortable with.
What I am working on in my spiritual life is reading the Bible and prayer. What kickstarted my prayer life and Bible reading was when I was so down and depressed with my work. I found a full-time job in a relatively big Taiwanese architecture firm, which is quite difficult for foreigners who don’t speak any or much Chinese.
The first few weeks were terrible. My Chinese was apparently not good enough to understand what the project manager was asking me to do, so there were a lot of miscommunication between us. Then I was deemed “slow” in producing the required drawings because my OS was Chinese, as well as the computer software (they were using a CAD software I’ve never heard of, and its functionalities were not very similar to AutoCAD despite the project manager’s claims). But still, I rallied on to keep my job. When I was later assigned to a different project (with a different PM), I thought things were going to get better. It did not. I was given a project that had a lot of requirements and no one was teaching me how they do things in Taiwan. There was no senior designer to ease our transition between projects, and that was like a red flag to me. I had considered resigning before my three-month trial period was up, but I was afraid of the difficulty of finding another job. So I did the only thing I could–I prayed. And then I read a short daily devotional about losing jobs. I had not lost my job yet, but my emotions were a jumbled mess. I found comfort in the passages and the wisdom in those devotionals. Then I continued on to other short devotionals of similar themes, until I decided around the end of 2015 that I will try the one-year devotional.
My unhappiness and dissatisfaction at work led me to look at things differently–to adopt a Christian worldview of what I was doing. Even now, I don’t know if what I am doing makes sense or contributes to a greater good, but I am a little happier than I was last November. Since I’ve started praying to God for improvement in my situation, I’ve realized that God does give what you ask and need. I learned to ask for strength, courage, patience, wisdom, knowledge, safety, and good health enough for a single day, and God delivers. I really don’t know how I’ve survived all these years without really asking for those, but once I realized how important it is to make my requests known, I decided to pray for it daily. When I was especially tired and bothered, I would ask for rest and comfort, and I received it.
These may be very simple things to others, but for me, these were things I needed to get through every single day of my life. I am blessed to live as I please, but I hope I will never take my life for granted again. In light of recent events, I learned that I need God more than anything else, and just knowing that God is on my side makes all the difference.
I’d been reading about Joy Mendoza’s blog post about Courageous Caitie (who went to passed away two days ago–there goes another saint and another party in Heaven!), and what struck me down to the core was the quote from Philip Yancey’s book:
“Christ is God crying I am here. Because of Jesus, we have the assurance that whatever disturbs us, disturbs God more. Whatever grief we feel, God feels more. And whatever we long for, God longs for more.” (pg. 54 – 56)
At this time wherein I’m experiencing an emotional rollercoaster, I am comforted that whatever I’m feeling right now, God knows it. I was at dinner when I first read that phrase, and I almost burst into tears in front of my friends (but I managed to hold it back as best as I can) because it made me realize that I’m not alone in my journey of uncertainty. As I am writing now, I’m letting all the tears flow out because I realized crying does not only involve the eyes, but also the abdomen. And since a major surgery on my abdomen is in my near future, I doubt I will be allowed to do anything to cause movement in that area. But I digress.
The initial fear and anxiety I’d felt last week is nothing to the grief and confusion I am experiencing now. Having researched about ovarian cysts and the possibility that it could be malignant drove me to think about life and what I would be leaving behind. I immediately compared myself to April Carver (played by actress Italia Ricci, who is also in the Supergirl series) in Chasing Life, who found out she had leukemia just when she was just starting out on life with her dream job. The doctor’s diagnosis is not as scary as that, but it could it well be if the cyst turned out to be malignant. Just when I was figuring out what to do next in my life, my life was turned upside down. It made me think about whether I was ready to leave my life and the physical world. I doubted my own faith for a few moments, but the only answer I had for that question was “If it is God’s Will, then so be it.” Of course, I worried about my family and friends that I would leave behind (plus the bulk of stuff I’ve acquired my entire life, hahaha), but I realized that if I were to leave this earth early, I’d rather “let go and let God” handle things. And not only on days that you think about mortality, but every single day of your life.
Just because we have free will doesn’t mean that we always have to do it our way. Human beings are ignorant on a lot of things (I’ve learned from grad school that the more you learn/discover things, the more you realize the amount of things you don’t know), while God knows everything. I may have struggled and doubted myself all my life, but faith in God is the only response to life trials that makes sense to me. There was nothing to lose in putting my faith and my life in His hands, but everything to gain. Recognizing that we don’t always have the power over every aspect of our life, I’d rather give control over the One who does have power over everything, the One who knows what is best for me.
I may not be the type of person who can spout whole Bible verses from memory, but I can remember songs well enough (this goes to show how often I listen to music). Babbie Mason’s “Trust His Heart” is a wonderful song that reassures me that God knows what He’s doing (I always cry when I hear the song, even right now). It is usually through songs that I remember God’s promises–promises He will fulfill because He loves us the most.
I do not blame God or anyone for what is happening in my life (well, maybe myself, but just a bit–for not going to a doctor until something was really wrong), but I am comforted by the promise that God will never leave us nor forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6). It may seem like the trials we face are too much, but be thankful that you have them, because their purpose is to make us a better person, a better believer. The only way you lose in life is if you give up and turning your back on God.
It may feel like cowardice to let someone else fight your battles, but it’s not. Letting go of your pride and admitting your weakness is the bravest thing you can ever do. At this point in my life where I have to consider what to do and what I would be physically able (and not able) to do after surgery, the reality of being an invalid for the next few weeks or months is starting to sink in. And being used to doing a lot of things myself (laundry, prepping or buying food, dressing up), I will be left with no choice but to accept my friends’ and family’s assistance in everything until I am well enough to resume normal activities.
Compound that with the distinct possibility of losing certain portions of my body, I am nervous, hesitant, confused, scared, among other things—I don’t know how to react to everything. I don’t know how I could make the big decision that will impact my life after this (I believe this is part of what they call “adulting”) and not regret it. I can only pray that God will lead me to the right decision–His Will for me. I don’t know if His Perfect Will means full recovery without losing stuff or the end of my life (I am hoping it’s the former), but as long as it will glorify God, then I’m okay with it.