Safe Space   Leave a comment

I am very fascinated with the idea of safe space. It took me months to findly establish a safe space with my counsellor. How I came to trust her, that she makes me feel like I can tell her my deepest and darkest secrets. The thing is, she doesn’t just have conversations with me. It is her sympathy and her calmness that relaxes me, making me drop my shield down.

I have thought about others who I had thought to have made a safe space for. Yet, as time passes, I realised that creating that space is much more difficult than I had imagined. The building of relationship itself is very exhausting. The idea of becoming vulnerable, the possibility of getting hurt, is tiring. The pain of facing the music can be too much to bear. My desire to be heard and my fear of rejection are intertwined, and I am very conflicted at some of the relationships I had built up. The truth is, everything moves so fast that sometimes, we forget to breath and we don’t allow the time to feel and to process what we feel. I am sometimes so confused at where things are going that energy drains from me because I try to internalise my feelings at the same time that information is being fed to me.

I have been thinking recently about whether or not my relationships are in a safe space or not. I find myself really hard to trust others with the part of me that has been hidden away for such a long time. I don’t know if I know I can trust others with my vulnerability. The defensive mechanisms in me guard that part very well, and it doesn’t let most people in. 

Posted July 4, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

To Hear or Be Heard   Leave a comment

I hide behind a pen, or more accurately a keyboard, with which I use to be heard, for my voice to be heard, for my story to be heard. It may seem like a cowardly act, and perhaps it is what I feel, or I am hiding something. Because I hide behind some sort of smokescreen, I have the chance and opportunity to lie and to hide my real self. Perhaps, that is true as well. I don’t know.

The other night at Bible study, someone mentioned how sometimes they feel lonely, how Christians don’t seem to have time to “doing life”. Sometimes, I get the feeling that we are so busy doing things, you know going about getting to know people, but we don’t stop and listen to what is being said. We are so busy trying to each other information that we drown out voices and we drown out words. All that’s left is just empty shells of relationships.

I often ask myself two questions. I still have not found the answers to them, and as much searching as I do, the less sure I am about my actions. The first question is, am I doing enough to accommdate others? I don’t think of it as a sacrifice because I want to spend time with friends, to be able to do life and to encourage each other in our Christian walks. The second question is, am I actively listening to others? I feel like we are being bombarded with so much information that we strain to shout our voices for others to hear. But amongst the noises, we fail to hear the voices of others.

I wonder what real relationship looks like. I guess I long for it. I often have such a high expectation of myself that I feel like I want to be important for someone else. That I am needed and that I am loved. I know that God loves me. I don’t need a lecture in that. But it doesn’t quench the physical and emotional desires of this life. We are not created to be lonely creatures, as much as I would rather. I canmnot ignore the need to relate to others, to be in community with others.

So where does that leave us? Once again, I have no answer. But I do hope and pray that I will be more willing to give a part of my soul and space to allow others into my life and to sympathise and empathise with others in both joy and sorrow.

Posted July 2, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Where Hope and Despair Meets   Leave a comment

I have been recently thinking about my faith and my depression, how the two interacts and relates. I haven’t found an exact answer yet, but I have come to a few realisations.

Perhaps the biggest one of all is how God carried me through the climb through depression. I am in no way full cured or recovered. However, looking back on the past, I have seen how far God had led me and how tightly He is holding onto my hand. Like a small child walking on the road of life, I fall often and a lot, but God, like a father, holds onto my hand. I still fall, but He always pull me up and never let go of my hand. It made me realise how much I need Him. How dependent I am on Him. Without Him, I honestly don’t know where I would have been now. Possibly six feet under the ground. He is the reason that I am still breathing and fighting.

We had this discussion at Bible study last night, I know I initated it, about the church doing more for those who suffer from mental health issues. I know that there is no one-method-for-all solution, but I had hoped to get the ball rolling and people thinking. There is an old Chinese saying that the frog at the bottom of the well has a limited view of how big the sky is. That reminded me of a comic I saw about what people may think about “fixing” mental issue. It involved a man at the bottom of a well in total darkness. He calls out for help, a friend comes and says that he will find help. The friend came back with a ladder and lowers it down into the well. The man says I can’t find the ladder, but the friend says from the top of the well “what are you talking about? The ladder is right there.” This is the thing. Sometimes, we think we know a solution, tells it to the “patient” and then leaves. How would have the man in the well know where the ladder is since he cannot see at all? If we don’t go down the well, extends out our hands and lead them up the ladder, they will just still be stuck at the bottom.

I believe the only advice I can give to people is just to be available and listen. If we can cry and laugh with them, that’s even better. Sometimes, that is only the best thing to do. Only then can we create a safe space for people to be vulnerable in. But also with regards to where hope and despair meet, I think the only answer I can think of is at the cross. Because Jesus died on the cross and used His blood to wash away our sins, we can then have hope that one day, in the future, when Christ returns, we will be in a place where there is no pain, no hurt, no pain, no tears, no darkness and no despair.

Posted June 29, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

The Greater Scheme of Things   Leave a comment

It’s almost been a year since I’ve acknowledged my SSA. Over the course of the year, I have come to realise that I have gotten this somewhat wrong. 

I have made it all about my problem and how I struggle with same-sex attraction and how I have dealt with it. But recently, as I learn about the struggles of others around the world, I am beginning to wonder where I am focussing my energy on. Is it that important? To me, it is. But in the grand scheme of things, I sometimes wonder if this first-world problem of mine is small compared to what we need and what God’s will and design is.

I think about how we complain about rights that we have or don’t have. Our rights to marriage or love, our rights to die, our rights for more holidays or vacation, our rights for cheaper material goods, and etc. But those who are complaining about these, including me, often or sometimes, have a narrower view about what is “right”.

I think about the feminist movement in western society, but than remember those women who are forced to marry when they were not even teenagers. I think about women who are thrown acid upon when their husbands are angry. I think about women who had to be shone away from community because they have a “defect”. I am not saying that we don’t have problems here, because we do, but in the greater schemes of things, why do we complain more than we are grateful?

When I think about those who advocate for the right to die, I actually think about those people who wants to live but may not be able to because of war, disease and poverty. I remember the orphans who have nowhere to go because their parents are in jail or died, and the state had forgotten about them. I also think about the animals who wants to live but because our human greed, we mistreat them for our own gain.

I think about the workers in developing countries who are living off of less than $3 a day and in terrible and often dangerous conditions, who have no voice to speak up. I think about those greedy people, who in pursue of money, is willing to risk the lives of others for their own personal gain. 

It also dawns on me that we can talk about marriage equality and right to love, but yet there are more than 20.9 million adults and children who are trafficked into sexual slavery. How can we talk about freedom of love when so many people are in bondage of modern slavery?! 

On the surface, we are a bunch of hyppocrites who demands equal rights and human rights, but behind closed doors, we are the ones who keep supply coming by demand. Do we really understand what “right” is? People had said thst culture and tradition dictates some of these behaviours and that it is accepted. If our rights come from culture and tradition, how fluid is our human rights? Ultimately, our morality decays and order becomes chaos.

I don’t know the practical solution to these problems. But I do know that God has the say on what is right and what is wrong. We need God. As much as mankind can try to deny the existence of God, or the fact that we need Him, the fact is, without God, we have no hope to stopping these problems. They are all consequences of sin and the broken world. Only when we trust in God, the death and resurrection of Jesus, we learn that we can be different and we can change. As much as there are so many problems in this world, there is also so much good in this world. God’s grace has been amazing. When there are problems, there are people who are fighting against those problems. God’s soverignty can be seen through the work that is being done in this world.

Now, we soldier on, fight the good fight, and wait patiently for the day when God returns to take us to a place where there is no hurt, no tears, no pain and no despair.

Posted June 24, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Shuo’s Random Rambles   Leave a comment

I am back with another instalment of my rambles. I don’t know. I just have the urge to write, but is drawing a blank about what to write. Although I admit, I guess there are things that I don’t necessarily have the energy for at the moment. It is not that I don’t care about them, I think it is that I care too much, and if I don’t take my distance from them, I will get sucked into an emotional roller coaster I don’t want to be on. 

I guess I have been thinking about the last 12 months or so. So much has happened that sometimes, I still can’t believe it happened. Sometimes, I think to myself, I can just wake up to the real reality. But one thing I have learnt is to not to focus on my problems that intensely. Sometimes, or most of the times, I forget about God’s soverignty and God’s grace amidst all of the hurt, the pain and the weight of the world. We mostly just see the darkness that sin has caused. But if we look carefully and intently, God has given this world so much beauty, so much grace, that it is impossible to not stand in awe of it all. 

There is a time for everything. But if we force our timing, we may fall worse than imagined. Yet if we listen to God, realign our desires to His will, God will far exceed our expectations and transform us in ways we can’t even imagine.

Posted June 19, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Shuo’s Ramblings on Gender   Leave a comment

Last Saturday, I went to the 2017 Equip Women’s Conference. I have to admit, when I first went, I wasn’t sure what I was getting into. Yet, as I heard the talks, I begin to think and to overthink about the one topic that popped up in my head. It is also one that is causing controversy wherever it goes.

But before I go into anything, there is something that have been bugging my head and my mind just can’t get around it. We, humans, are not perfect. We make mistakes, we do things that we regret, we are sinners. As a Christian, I believe that this is very important to note and to acknowledge. If you don’t acknowledge the fact that you need God’s help, then Christianity becomes pointless to you. Even as I write, people are constantly trying to prove God to be on their side. We think we are better than God. We believe that we know what is best for us, and we know how to live a life that is worthy of whatever end-goal we think we have. We are always trying to find loopholes in the Bible. We take in what we believe is correct, then ignore or dismiss the parts that don’t agree with our values.

Here is the follow-up question. How we know what is right or wrong? We claim that everything in this world is on a relativity scale, or a spectrum. If that is so, then why do we believe that killing is wrong and giving is right? Who is to say our morality is correct or not? If we don’t have an external source of standard to follow, then how to do we set our moral code? I could just be saying that I think murder is the right thing to do, because there is no such as thing as absolute morality, despite whatever law says.

I believe the same can be said of gender. People have claimed that they don’t want to be defined as male or female. Okay, my question is, how do you decide what constitute as being male or female? Our culture and society have so bombarded us with what they perceive as masculine or feminine. Boys should like sports, cars, and play with guns, while girls should play with barbies, loves makeup and fashion. If this is the view of what the world thinks of what female or male should be, then I figure it is a very narrow view of what gender is. In Genesis 2, God created man and woman. If gender is neutral, then why bother with male or female in the first place? God’s original design is to have man and woman in this world. Everything that happened afterwards is because of the Fall.

All of this, all the modern concepts that we have, including gender fluidity, is because we live in the sinful, broken and fallen world. All of this doesn’t change God’s original design for humanity. We believe that we know the best because of our own pride. Adam and Eve ate the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, so we now believe that we know what is good and what is evil. But do we really? I mean, our emotions are fluid, our thoughts are fluid and even our values are fluid, so how can we know what is best if it changes all of the time?

I read a book recently called The Brain that Changes Itself. I have been thinking about the neuroplasticity of our brain and how it can be rewired when one part doesn’t function correctly. In the same area, the same I believe goes for our tastes and emotions. This is why cognitive behavioural therapy is often used to treat mental disorders because we believe that it is possible to rewire our brains and change the way our mind works. Social media and digital technology has already done that to us by making us more focussed in our online selves than our real selves.

Lastly, I think it is important to understand where your identity comes from. We have the wilful ability and control over our behavioural choices. How we feel should not determine what is justifiable behaviour. If we put those things in place of our identity, we will be putting a limit on our identities that is bound by human behaviour or desire. But we are so much more than that. If you believe that you have sinned, and God sent Jesus to die on the cross for us, and places God as the king of your life, then your identity should be found in Christ. We should trust that God’s sovereignty in all things is for our best, because after all, He created us. We cannot just take the good parts and kick out what we don’t want. It is all of God who should be glorified and worshipped. The God who is graceful, loving and merciful, but also just and righteous.

Posted May 30, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Shuo’s Rambles: Singleness   Leave a comment

This world has its share of problems. One of them is the worldly view placed on romantic love and marriage. Marriage is a blessing from God, but it isn’t a concrete thing that God will give to everyone. We are all born single, and will most likely die single as well. A large chunk of our lives are spent without a significant other. I am not saying that love is bad, but I do believe that this world puts so much worldly perspective on it that we can lose sight of God’s plan for us.

This world is built on a “making me happy” engine. The general attitude is to do whatever makes us happy. On one level, this mindset is not wrong. But if we think about it deeper, what does this happiness actually mean? How do we define happiness? Or joy for that matter? If we want to define happiness as any other emotion that we have, then its fluidity is ever-changing and our viewpoints of happiness changes as we feel or see fit. Defining our own happiness seems a bit like defining our own moral rules. How do we distinguish between right and wrong? How do we know that killing or stealing or lying is wrong? If there is an universal moral code, who makes up that code? Followers of Christ understand that is God’s plan and His words, but what about the atheists?

Back to the subject at hand, many people believe that love is the way to happiness. But they are thinking about romantic or sexual love, the physical intimacy between two people. But when we put our happiness towards that, and then don’t find it there, what happens then? There are so many single people out there that is bought into the mindset that life is only fulfilling if and when you get married (regardless of gender). To those people, they have placed that particular kind of love as the ultimate happiness. I see it on Chinese’s television with If You Are the One, or even US reality TV such as the Bachelor.

If this mindset is so right, then what does it mean for those who are single? Are they not complete? Are they unworthy of love? Are they unlovable? If we focus on the idea that we need to get married, we may spend the rest of our lives chasing a dream that may never come true. The world has put so much emphasis on our relationship status that it fails to see the other aspects of life that married people actually miss out on.

If we are unlovable, then God wouldn’t have died on the cross for our sins. Love comes not just from romantic love. It is true that we are created for relationship and we need to be in relation with others to survive. This means that one of our basic needs is the need for a sense of belonging. What many doesn’t realise that first and foremost, God created us to be in relationship with Him. The atoning sacrifice was executed out of His love for us. This is not just some erotic love, but love that is agape. Even when we were sinners, Christ died for our sins. (Romans) Secondly, God created the church to partly, I believe, to fill the need for belonging and acceptance. It is there to reflect of God’s love for us, with the gift of friendship and family through the church. We are God’s children so our love for one another should reflect that.

I constantly have to tell myself that I am first and foremost a follower of Christ. I also constantly forget that. Sometimes, I think to myself, why has God not given someone for me, I actually failed to see what God has provided for me. If my identity is in Christ, then how I should live should be to keep running towards Him. When I make Him the centre of my life, I realise that He is enough for me. I look at the church today and I see the positive things of being single. We can become more focussed on God’s ministry to others outside of our family unit, more so than married couples. I have actually thought of in the future, I can let go of the life I have here in Australia and go to the nations where help is needed. If I was married and with children, my responsibilities towards my family may not allow me to do so. But being single, that decision comes much easier.

Learning to be content in God sometimes is so hard. I have these kitchen floor moments where I break down and think about some of the emotions that are left unsaid. The possibility that my same-sex attraction may have to live with me for the rest of my life. Sometimes, I don’t know how to live through it. In Psalm 46, I love a verse that tells me to quietly be still and wait for the Lord. Contentment is hard to come by, but when you find it, you realise that there is a much bigger picture than just us in this life. What is that compared to eternal life in God’s kingdom? When I muster the energy to listen to God, I find myself refocussing my desires to His will. God gave up His life for us, so why can’t we give up our lives for Him? 

Posted May 13, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized