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

From the Bottom   1 comment

It has been a year since I first opened a really big can of worm. So much has happened that it seemed like a really long roller coaster ride of emotions. There were points at which I really wanted to give up on my journey. But God didn’t let go of my hand. I am thankful because I look back now and saw God carrying me through those really dark times, being my light and my path.

I often sit there and reflect on all of this. I still remember the first reactions I get when I tell people about my depression. “Just be happy.” I was really annoyed at the time when people tell me that. At first, I doubted myself about my ability to think rationally at all. Was my depression just an illusion I had put up so I can make other people feel sorry for me? Did I want to be cured? Throughout the past six months, I have learnt to accept that depression is something that I will need to work on for the rest of my life. I believe it has the real potiental to come back, but I am hopeful. I am not in a scary cocoon alone anymore. 

I had learnt a lot of lessons the hard way. I had cried more than I ever had cried before, and there were so much heartache that came with that. But in the end, to see God’s grace had always been with me, I am beginning to understand the road that I walked on was worth it. Depression made me utterly dependent on God. I was desperately in need of His love, His mercy and His grace. He was faithful in His promises and He delivered me through the valley and through the pain. I now understand that God won’t necessarily take our pain away, but He will give us the strength to endure through it.

In counselling, I am learning aboilut myself. In a small way, I was conflicted about that and putting God first in my life. I had to do a lot of self-reflecting to come to the realisation that self-discovery isn’t about how to get everything we desire. It is about God, but in three layers (so to speak). First, it is about gratitude. God created us. We matter to Him and that means that we are important. As we learn more about ourselves, we need to learn to be thankful to God about the way He made us. We are specifically designed, so unique and so detailed. Secondly, as I said before, self-discovery makes us understand that we are not perfect and we need God. Lastly, it gives us insight to learn about how God has already given us the ways to grow, to learn and to cope. More importantly, we learn through ourselves how do relationship with God and with others.

I cannot imagine what my life would be like, or would have been like, without God. Perhaps, I would have died a long time ago. But I do know that I will continuously run, stumble, get up, run, stumble, get up, run again towards God. I will continuously forget and fail, but God will never forsake me, and that is the most assured thing that I can take comfort in when I am at the bottom of the valley again.

Posted May 8, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

God’s Story   Leave a comment

Sometimes, we give ourselves too much credit. Our pride can blind us from the truth. We believe that we are the most important thing in the world. I think about where society as a whole is headed. The rise of social media had shifted the focus towards individualism and the me-world. I don’t mean that individualism is necessarily bad, but when we make the point of making us happy first is somewhat a dangerous mindset. Social media, although having some good intentions, is essentially about self-promotion. As a human being, our need to be seen and heard are very real, but when that consumes us and takes us away from Christ and serving Him, that is where we need to stop and really think about what we are doing.

I have heard a lot of people talk about “my story”. I am in fact someone who think of it as my story. That I am the protagonist or the hero. Look, I don’t believe it is wrong to say that we matter, because we do. God created us for a purpose. We all have stories and experiences to share. But when I make the story of my life just and all about me, I am denying the real truth. My pride as a writer wants to take all the credit for my story. But that means that I am not acknowledging God’s soverignty, nor am I glorifying Him. 

We may think that our story is all about us, but truth be told, without God, we wouldn’t even exist. Without His soverignty, we will not be where we should be. Without His grace, we should have beem given the death penalty. I read the stories of the Bible, how Moses led the Israelites out of Egypt, how Joshua led them to the Promised Land, how Paul was imprisoned for the gospel. The real protagonists of these stories are not Moses, Joshua or Paul, but God Himself. It is God who orchestrated the stories, how He gave them the capacity to trust and follow Him. 

I look back on my own life. I see the points of which at my most desperate times, God was the one who saved me. All of the steps that I have walked on, He guided me. He knew where I was to go to, and even in my depression, I believe that He was alongside me, silently holding my hand even when I couldn’t feel it. In my struggles, He becomes the one who I learn everyday to turn to, because on my own, I wouldn’t have made it. But with God, I keep on perserving.

I write, not to tell my story, but to tell the story of God. To tell the story of how God saves, loves and guides those who are weak, who are lost, who are sinners.

Posted April 25, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized

Finding, Searching, Seeking   3 comments

Learning who I am, how I process information, thoughts and emotions. Today during counselling, I had a minor revelation regarding self-discovery. I thought it may be more appropriate to use some pictures to illustrate this discovery.

The poker hand is held on by both hands. The cards are unseen and the hands are covering the joker card. I see the cards as parts of me, personalities of me that unite together to become me. I am holding onto the control of my personalities and emotions. If I let go, the cards will fly about and end in disaster. Perhaps I should let go with one hand. That way, I can spread out the cards a bit more so I understand who I am but remain enough control not to let emotions to overwhelm me. 

More importantly, I realised that emotions are like a card game. If you don’t look at your cards, you won’t be able to be truthful about the emotions that you have, and make the right decisions regarding which emotions you show to the world. And those emotions will affect how the game is played and how we respond to the other emotions that others show us.

The staircase represents a road to recovery from depression. I sometimes feel like that I can’t get up the stairs alone. We all need support at points in our lives, especially in times of darkness and despair. We may feel guilty or shamed to ask for help, but we cannot walk the journey alone. There is hope at the top of the staircase, the green leaves and the promise of a better future. More importantly, by letting others help us, we become more appreciative of helping others.

Sometimes, I feel like I am trapped inside the house. There is a sense of security in hidden in my own thoughts and not letting others in. Other times, I feel like I am locked outside of the house, with no way of getting into some of my thoughts. I feel like I have thrown away the keys to my heart, deliberately locking up certain memories and thoughts. But what I crave is to open the door and come and go easily between the inside and the outside. In order to do that, because the keys have been misplaced for so long, the only way in is to slowly break down the chains, window bars and the security door, all of which are defense mechanisms I have learnt to keep myself “safe”.

Finally, a journal with scrunched up paper. I see it optimistically as the start of a journey towards recovery and management of depression. I have started to process and to acknowledge my emotions, although it is still a work-in-progress. The book in the background reads “Man’s Search for Meaning”. How appropriate as I try to understand myself and learn how to do relationships and build trust with others.

I hope these illusions are useful to you. Everyone will see different things in them, but I found them to be insightful and helpful in my own search for meaning.

Posted April 24, 2017 by shuoli85 in Uncategorized