I can’t find another reason why I shouldn’t be here
I just want to live like something is worth the wait
When I look to the cross
All I see is Your grace
Your blood paid the price
You are all we need
There is nothing but You, God
Nothing else in this world
You are creator, saviour and king
The greatest one of all
There is no one but You, God
No other name compares
You are healer, anchor and rock
In You we are made new
The weight of my sin has been redeemed through Christ
The power of Your love flows through me like a river
My life in Your hands I give
Change and restore my soul
In this life, there is no one else
You are my salvation and life
Nothing but You
Nothing else in this world matters
Nothing but You
Let the name of God be lifted high
The struggles of a Christian who has lost their way in the valleys of depression.
I don’t particularly like walking long distances. I find it exhausting and somewhat unfulfilling. What I particularly don’t like is going through the mountainside, where the treks usually go uphill and downhill. Many people like going downhill because it is easier. However, I hate going downhill because I always fear that if I slip going downhill, gravity will pull me into a serious tumble down the mountainside. Going uphill may be tiring, but the chances of getting hurt are less than the other way around.
So why am I talking in metaphors? It is because I feel like sometimes, my life is like a very long walking trek through the mountain ranges, sometimes uphill, sometimes downhill. And when you are walking downhill, that feeling is not particularly good. I don’t think anyone wants to walk through dark times. No one in their right mind would want to feel helpless, defeated, worthless or drowning. No one in their right mind would want to think about ending their life just for the sake of it. I don’t particularly want the feelings I’m feeling. Yet, somehow, I stuck myself with those thoughts sometimes. In light of National Mental Health Week, I would like to share with you my journey of struggling to fight for light amidst the darkness.
I think our past experiences and history are an important part of who we are because these experiences shape our mindset and roadmap. It is important to learn from the past while trying to not blame it for where we are in the present. I spent a good part of my childhood sitting at the windowside dreaming of how I could be like the children outside that are playing. When I look back now, I felt like I was a caged bird longing to break free of the cage and fly with the other birds, with no restraint and no boundaries. Yet, I felt like I could never hold courage in both hands and break free from that bondage. I honestly don’t know how deep that experience affected my mindset, but I am sure that it affected the way I viewed the world, and ultimately life itself.
During my late teens to uni years, my perception of the world had been shaped by so many factors that I don’t know who to blame, if any. I tried to convince myself that it is not my fault for being like this, that it is society and other people who had made me this way. But two years ago, I found out that it was a really dangerous way to think and live. I was so
disillusioned that I began to hate the world we live in and the life I am living. I hated all the wrong things that are going on in my life, all the wrong going on in the world, and how helpless I felt. I hated the people around me, how fake they are. At that point, I felt like death was so much better than living because it seemed like a quick and easy solution to my problems. I felt connected to characters like Holden Caulfield from “Catcher in the Rye”.
So what changed? Sometimes, I feel like I want to say nothing, because sometimes I feel like I can’t see what is ahead. Words, even encouraging words, are like empty promises to me because I can’t see the future clearly. The only thing I feel like that is holding onto me is God’s grace. I am not trying to discourage people, but merely retelling my current emotions. I am not perfect and I call myself a great sinner. I feel like I am still a kid learning to walk and run and how to distinguish between the light and the dark. I still need God to remind me everyday that even if we feel like we are alone, He will not forsake us. I still feel overwhelmed, and sometimes at my lowest points, I still wonder if death seems like a so much better escape than reality. Have I really changed? Have I really grown?
So, the past few weeks, I have thought a lot about what has happened, what will happen and ultimately have been reminded of some important lessons that I’ve learnt.
Firstly, I remember clearly an episode of Buffs the Vampire Slayer, in Season 3’s “Earshot”, that Buffy was trying to stop a kid from killing everyone at school. The kid, named Jonathan, says for her to stop calling him like friends. They are not. Buffy reply, “I don’t. I don’t think about you much at all. Nobody here really does. Bugs you, doesn’t it. You have all this pain, and all these feelings and nobody’s really paying attention.” Later she adds, “Every single person down there is ignoring your pain because they’re too busy with their own.” That really stuck with me. I think about how much I can pretend that everything is okay, that I can put up a facade for others to see. I think about people on the streets, how many of them are really showing their true thoughts and feelings? How many are just going through their own thing because they have all got problems of their own. How can I put my pain and struggles ahead of others when we are all in need to be saved? I am not better than anyone else, my selfishness probably only comes from the fact that I wanted the attention and I wanted the pain.
Second, I heard this song today and it was very encouraging to me. Ryan Stevenson’s “Not Forgotten”. It talked about “Nobody knows the mountains we’ve been climbing; Nobody sees the valleys we are barely surviving…We are not forgotten; We are not alone; He is holding us and He’ll never let go”. It really puts things in perspective that sometimes, when no one else understands our struggles, God sees us from the inside and He is here for us. Sometimes, in the midst of affliction, as Romans 12:12 says, the only things we can do is to patiently wait for the Lord and to continue our prayers to God.
Lastly, I learn that it is not about a quick fix. Death may seem like an escape but in the end, it is an act that is trying to blame our responsibilities onto those we leave behind. It is only through truly recognising that we need to change our mindsets can we then find hope in dealing with problems. Not only that, we need other people’s support. They don’t need to be some great medical intervention, but at times, we need people to say that it is okay to be struggling. That especially for a Christian, it is okay to sometimes not being able to see your faith, that it is okay to fall into the valleys of despair and helplessness. We need not people to tell us that everything will be okay in the end, but just need people to hold us in times of grief and pain. What people need are compassion, mercy and love. We may very well in counselling, medicine or other professional help, as well as spiritual beliefs, but we do need people alongside us because sometimes, we cannot see the light or dark ourselves and need guidance.
So I am still on a journey of self-discovery, learning about who I am as person and in God. I am still on a journey to finding light in a dark place and fighting for that light. I know that I have God on my side and He can do more than I can ever do for Him. He leads me day by day on the journey of climbing the mountains, but I know that whatever my faith may look like to me, His faithfulness means that He will never let me go.
So I close with an excerpt from one of my favourite stories: The Lord whispered, “My precious child, I love you and will never leave you; Never, ever, during your trials and testings. When you saw only one set of footprints, it was then that I carried you.”
Taken the Myer-Biggs test and no matter when I do it, the results are the same and it is pretty deadly accurate. I am an introvert. Contrary to popular belief, while I can talk a lot at a social gathering, it takes too much energy from me. I prefer a small circle of friends and lots of time alone.
I am definitely led by intense feelings and important values and ethics. I prefer the big picture with too many ideas that may not all be realistic. I hope that what I value will be reflected in the writing that I write, and that if ever I withdraw into “hermit mode”, a friend will pull me back into the real world.
2. Accounting is not my thing.
Many people may not be aware that as an accountant, I am not all that thrilled at being one. This is one of those things which I believe that I was doing it just because of other people’s expections of me, and what I expect from the world. Interestingly, I have learnt that even though I may secretly despise the numbers, I have come to learn to enjoy a few tasks that accounting has to offer. However, should the passion ever arises that there is a job out there that I can finally have the courage to go after, it will be bye-bye accounting.
3. I love turtles
So it may not be a surprise to people when I tell them I like turtles, but many people raises an eyebrow and ask why. It doesn’t seem like a fierce or cute animal to fall in love with. But turtles are strong and they have a lot of patience, which I admire. I mean, what else gets go live 120 years and can still swim in the water. Turtles are gemtle creatures until you piss them off. Then they snap at you with their mouths and you better watch out. Otherwise, who wouldn’t want to be friends with Crush from “Finding Nemo”?
4. Romance is overrated
Seriously, just because I can write about romantic things doesn’t mean I am romantic. In fact, I am the complete opposite. I pretty much despise it. I think people get this idea into their heads that romance is the only way to stay in love, and to spice up a love life. But I find that it is overrated and sometimes, it doesn’t work. Romance only enhances a feeling, but true love is more than just a feeling. It is a choice, an action and a desire to truly want the best in others. Romance are just a way to show off to yourself.
5. Dreams of Another Childhood
Let’s talk about something serious. I often dream of what life would have been like if my childhood was different. Why? Because I spent a good half of my childhood “trapped” inside my house while I watched other kids play outside in the sun. My parents at the time thought of making money is way better than my desire to have fun, so while they were out at their jobs, I had to stay inside the house and not go out until they are at home, which is usually at night. I guess a part of my personality and introversion comes from the summers spent alone, staring out the window, dreaming of the days where I can freely fly in the open sky.
6. Punctuality is important.
One of my pet peeves, one that only a few of my friends don’t so, is people being late. I understand if you are stuck in traffic, but once you are in the habit of always being late, it gets a little bit annoying. I pull my hair out, but unfortunately, many people I know still run late. I learnt to lower my expectations but I still refuse to change agreed times or be late myself (if I can help it).
7. Secretly wanted to be a spy.
Not really. But I have a bad habit of stalking people on Facebook, and in general. Sometimes, I deliberately seek information about other people. Don’t get me wrong, it is not like I sell the information to the CIA or anything. Sometimes, I feel too proud and want to be “in the loop”, like I know everything that is going on. Feel like a spy sometimes. Yet, often, I feel like I accidentally stumble upon info about people. I know it is a bad habit, and I try to stop stalking, but at times, my curiosity usually gets the better of me and I just wanted to know. However, sometimes, the information is not a good one and I feel like I rather not know than know.
8. Sleep is my friend and enemy.
I love sleeping. There is much comfort in getting rest and replenishing energy. I used to love sleeping 10 or 12 hours a day. Dreams make sleep more interesting, because I usually remember them and I try to figure out why I have them. However, recently, sleep has turned into an enemy. I never have a single good night of sleep anymore. I feel that sometimes, my subconscious is overthinking too much and my dreams always wakes me in the middle of the night. Now, I feel tired during the day as well and it is really tiring. Maybe because I’m getting older, I don’t need as much sleep. I don’t know.
9. Publish a novel.
I dream of publishing a novel. It is one of the few dreams in my life that remain unchanged. I hope that before I die, I can publish one novel, to write down one story that I want people to read and to be inspired or encouraged, or even be aware of and help change the outcome. When people ask why I write, I usually tell them that it is my way of telling my story, my way of communicating. Now, I feel like there is more than that. I write because I want to usw my words to help transform the lives of others for the glory of God and for His will. It is not just about me anymore, but about what I can do to make the world a better place than before.
10. Belief as my strongest strength.
I took the Strengthfinders test a while back, and my first strength is Belief. I sort of always knew that my values and beliefs are important part of who I am, but I believe that knowing and following God deepens that relationship. I fear the day when I would stop believing. It’s like seeing the things that go bump in the night and then believing that they are not real. I have seen God at work in the world, I don’t think I can ever look at the world the same way again.
I will leave you with my favourite Bible verse. I hope it will inspire you in your life as it has inspired me to live my life. “Be joyful in hope, be patient in afflication and be faithful n prayer.” (Romans 12:12)
I have a hard time deciding whether I should trust other people or not. Sometimes, I find myself too invested in other people, and trying to make others happy, that I forget the most fundamental thing. That it is ultimately God that matters. But sometimes, saying it is far easier than doing it.
So I understand that everyone has their own lives to live, and in a way, I respect that. Everyone also have their own problems to worry about and to go through. But when in the darkness moments of your life, you find no one available willing to listen to your troubles, you would be feeling a little rejected. It is times like these where I tell myself not to put my hope in people, but to turn to God. I know that is the right thing to do, and I know that it is God carrying me at my lowest points of my life. But I can’t help feeling a bit outcasted because as much as I want to rely on God, as humans are relationship-oriented, I long for someone to give a hug and to tell me that I am not alone. Sometimes, I feel like my walk in God is a lonely road. Everyone seems to be happily ahead of me in their Christian walk.
I don’t know if I am being selfish or not. It is not like my problems are more important than the next person’s. Sometimes, I think to myself that God allows us what we can handle. But then, why do at times, I feel like I can’t handle it? Sometimes, I feel like I am doing the wrong thing by hanging out with people because I feel I make people feel uncomfortable, pressured or forced to take on my problems and responsibilities for me. Maybe I really need to dig myself a deep hole and let it swallow me whole. There are times when I feel like packing up and moving to an foreign place and starting all over again. I can pretend to be someone else, to leave all my past and troubles behind, and to start again. I know it doesn’t work that way but the thought is a bit comforting. Yet, I can’t imagine letting go of the people that I have already met, that I have already developed a relationship with.
So really, I still can’t decide what to do yet. But I do know that God will never forsake me. I may be feeling very lonely sometimes, but in times where there is no one but me, I can be contempt with the knowledge that God is crying with me through my pain and He is watching over me.
I welcome the silence
Only time of night
When I can hear my thoughts
It swallows me
I feel like I can’t breathe
I realise that it is true
I am broken
Lord, I come to your throne
On my knees and empty-handed
I come naked and broken
Nothing without Your grace
Change and renew me
Take me into Your embrace
Lord, when I have nowhere else to turn to
Your love sustains my soul
I have nothing to offer but myself
Change me for the good of Your glory
For the tears of my pain and hurt
There is nothing else but God
I have always wondered what exactly “humanity” is. I think I have found a small part of what I am looking for. Because of sin, we are a selfish species. I know that in the beginning, we were created for good, but the act of sin made us selfish as a whole. Sure, some of us may be more generous and kind than others, but all of us has a degree of selfishness, and related to that – pride, within us. Let me talk about a few things:
It hurts when someone has to go through a situation, especially if it was through violent or malevolent means. There is no doubt that those responsible are selfish in doing the act. Yet, when a victim, or their loved ones, says that they cannot forgive those responsible, in some ways, that is selfishness. I am not saying that those responsible should not bear the consequences. But I remember this quote, to forgive is an act of compassion. We forgive not because the other person deserve it, but because they need it. I try to learn to forgive all the time, not because I particularly wanted to, but because I don’t want to be chained to a cycle of hatred and anger. Forgiveness does not need two people to tango, it only needs one to take a step of courage and faith. Showing forgiveness is not to dismiss the grief or the pain, but to help bring peace and grace into a broken world.
Okay, so the minority group has lobbied for marriage equality, and in the US, the Supreme Court had made it legal. You may think, equality means that everyone is equal, right? No selfishness there. But really, what do these people want, if not for their own gain. If we really talk about equality, shouldn’t people be allowed to marry whoever they want, including children and their blood relatives. Hey, why not expand that to people marrying animals, or even better, to objects, ideas and concepts. Then, equality is really there for all. Not only are they changing the definition of marriage, I wonder if they have thought about the consequences of this, how it would define family, divorce, possibly humanity in general in the future.
I myself cannot escape the clutches of selfishness. I have no one else to blame but myself. Sometimes, we complain that God is responsible, or other people made us this way. Truly courageous people learns to adopt themselves in the situation, not the other way around. I feel like I cannot do that. Look at those who harm themselves. Are they not wanting attention as well as release from pain? Do you honestly believe that people enjoy pain? I believe that people do these things because they need attention, they feel to be loved, to belong, and to matter. But even in suicide, the act is selfish because we want release for only ourselves and leaves the responsibilities to someone else.
I don’t know the answer to selfishness, because our sinful nature will always allow us to look after ourselves for survival. So if we need to hurt someone else to survive, we would probably do it. I find no answer but God. But it is not an instant answer, nor is it an easy fix. It takes a whole lifetime of mistakes, grief, guilt, regret and pain, but with God, true humility is possible. I don’t exactly know what it entails, but I believe the first step is to come empty-handed to the throne of grace, and ask God to help change our mindset, so we can change our behaviour. Perhaps, we need to ask God to break us into pieces so He can then remould us into people of His Kingdom.
In an episode of the supernatural television show Charmed, the characters were each infected with a deadly sin, from the seven deadly sins. Now, we need to understand that on the surface, six of the seven deadly sins are committed because of selfishness. Sloth is about being lazy, anger is about protecting self, envy is being jealous of others, lust is about satisfying our sexual desires, and gluttony is about over-indulging ourselves. So, in Charmed, the only way that the characters can break the spell of the infection is by doing something for the sake of others. While each of the other sins was broken as characters become self-sacrificing, the one who was infected with pride did not break the spell. Why?
Let’s look it another way. I have seen many forms of worship, each has its own positive and negative points. I am not here to decide which form of worship is the correct one, because I don’t know. I do understand one thing though, that is learning about what worship should be. I have heard many times some worship leaders prompt the attendees to experience God, be spiritually filled with the Holy Spirit. This is good, because I believe worshipping God will allow us to experience God, but I think this should be the blessing that is resulted from our worship, not the goal of why we worship. My first church was a pretty normal Anglican church and we do not raise our hands in worship. Now going to another church made me realise that doing things differently sometimes make me feel uncomfortable. When I kneel in worship, I feel very awkward and lowly. Sometimes, I feel silly raising my hands up. Yet, I have come to realise something. IT IS NOT ABOUT ME. It is not about how uncomfortable I feel, because I am not the subject of the worship. If I can sing it out loud in words, why should I not follow in action? I am not saying that other forms of worship is wrong, just that when we do worship, we should be clear about who is the subject of worship, and whatever we feel should be the result of that action.
Sometimes, I feel like I do things to make me feel better. Like wanting to give a gift to someone. Sometimes, I know that my intentions come back to me and making me feel like I am important and that I can do this. In truth, I think that kind of thinking is not very Christ-like at all. My old lecturer once said that we can give without love but we cannot love without giving. Yes, love can be selfish and blind sometimes, but that kind of love is emotional. Yet, the love that Christ showed is beyond emotions and feelings, it is action God chose to do and the attitude He chose to have in facing us. God chose to send his son to die for us even when we have turn our backs on Him. That is the choice of love. That aside, if we truly are giving out of agape love, we should be thinking about how our actions can benefit others, not about how this in turn can make ourselves feel good. I guess despite however I feel, I need to learn to give without expecting any emotion in return. It is not just about the physical rewards, but also the emotional and mental ones too.
I think one of the biggest mistakes we sometimes can make is understanding the following sentence. GOD LOVES YOU. One of our pastors spoke on this topic a while ago and it has always been a challenge to follow at times. Why is that sentence wrong? Because that sentence makes us as the focus subject. That sentence itself is not wrong. God does love us. God provides us with blessings, physically, materially, financially, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. But some churches put too much emphasis on the fact that God will bless you, that it makes faith in God all about what God can do for us. God does love us, but he may not be concerned with how comfortable we are. As some of us, including me, are sitting under a roof with a positive figure in our banks, many are struggling even with the freedom to worship God. Yet, God loves us just the same. God loves the rich and the poor both exactly the same amount. God loves the free and the captive both exactly the same amount. God loves us, but what we do with that love is important. I don’t think God’s intention is for us to do nothing with His love for us. I believe that God loves us, so that we can be like a hollow tube that allows that love to flow through us unto others.
Sometimes, I think we can feel like we are more important in the kingdom of God. In truth, I think God doesn’t actually need us to do His works. That was proven when Satan tempted Jesus in the desert. If God had wanted, He could have easily did the work by the power of His words like he did in the beginning. Instead, God chose to partner with us. In my opinion, I think God did it not because he has to but because He loves us. Partnering with God in proclaiming the kingdom of God on earth does something in us, like we are thrown into the refiner’s fire, working to test us so that we become more Christ-like.
It is not about me. It never was. Sometimes, I get it wrong. I don’t know the answers to the questions in life. But I am beginning to see a little piece of heaven, because I believe that part of who we are is not what God can do for me, but what we can do to glory God.