Tag Archives: church

A FISHBOWL & A HEAVY HEART

3 things that I’m thankful for:
A shoebox of my own in just under a week
An inspiring church that’s just a 10-minute walk away
A job interview

Yes, I took a leap of faith and upped and came to New Zealand, just as I’ve said that I probably would in my previous post. I’ve loved every moment of it since my arrival – the temperature (a steady 14 – 18 degrees), the sights and sounds, and just the convenience of moving about. Oh, and the public library!

But the real struggle is when you’re here on a mission, and not just for a vacation – the game changes. It’s been 17 days in to my little adventure but I am still trying to find that spot of calm, that peacefulness of knowing that ‘everything will be OK’. I knew it would be tough to attempt settling into a foreign environment, but I didn’t have a gauge on the extent of it until I embarked on a job hunt for a full-time position. It’s been tough. Sending out more than 10 applications only to hear back from just a couple sure leaves a dent in your self-confidence. But on the flip side, it has also reminded me of how blessed I’ve been for all these years. Back in Malaysia, I had jobs that were waiting for me. While I was in the midst of my college degree, I was referred to a small creative consultancy that did amazing works for one of the world’s largest shopping malls. I interned with them and eventually became a full-time hire. I worked there for seven years, and when I resigned, I immediately had something else to take on. I did not actually have to go through a job hunt.

So here I am now, actually experiencing what would be my first job hunt in 29 years of my life.

While the calm is taking a while to set in, I have made conscious effort to try things I otherwise would never even think of – applying for an assistant store manager role with kikki.K, for instance. Haha! Yes! I am very aware that I do not have the experience for that role, but what the heck, right? It could only go two ways – a. they won’t hire me, or b. they’d love my enthusiasm and train me for it. (ps: I’ll give an update to this if they reply me.) Also, I’m practising letting go of things and events that I really just have no control over – whatever happens after I hit the ‘Submit’ button on every application I send out. I’m almost a control freak, if not one already. I don’t like the feeling of not being in control of things be it my finances, schedules, or my future. And this leap to Hobbit Land has definitely stretched me in a lot of somewhat uncomfortable ways. But, I try.

I try to look on the bright side. I feel very grateful for everything I’ve achieved so far and know that other people have to struggle up much bigger hills than my own. But sometimes, gratitude and optimism can only get you so far. Gratitude and optimism can’t satisfy lingering doubts, or tell you what it all adds up to – or if it is meant to add up to anything at all. They don’t soothe the voice that keeps prodding and asking, “What are you doing? Do you think any of it really matters?

The voice wants answers, but I haven’t got any. I just keep going, ploughing ahead, and hoping to God I can pay my bills, while I watch the days and weeks flit past. These 17 days have sometimes felt like an exercise in contortion. They have sometimes felt like I have twisted and wrapped myself into strange shapes to continue on. Sometimes I have felt like I have become someone else entirely: the kind of person who doesn’t think about anything other than the achievement of goals, not their meaning. The kind of person who is committed and confident and sure. The kind of person who believes, intrinsically, in what they are doing. The kind of person who is not afraid.

When you go to bed after hours of being someone else, your head feels as full as a fishbowl and your shoulders feel as heavy as your heart. Instead of relaxing, you find yourself trying to reconcile the distance between who you think you are and who you need to become to get by. I have tried letting go. I have tried resigning every conceit I have about myself and just accepting that I need to become someone else for good. But every time I have tried to let go, I’ve found some small part of myself clinging determinedly to the remaining strands of who I imagine I am, or who I imagine I should be.

So I carry on and hope that, in the end, it all works out.

17 days in to this adventure have definitely done a very good job of pushing me out of my comfort zone, right into something I knew very little of. I’ve got a loooooong way ahead of me, and a lot of praying (and crying. Haha!) to do, so wish me luck and keep me in your prayers.

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RIGHT OR REAL

Which is more important – to be right, or to be real?

I think it is a tough question. And an even tougher one when you’ve got a certain faith to uphold.

I was appointed advisor to my church’s youth group, which I didn’t want at all to be – well, I must admit I was a little excited in the beginning, until real problems hit home with my youths, forcing me into a place of re-thinking my position, let alone the influence I had on them and the moments of contradiction that stood out like a sore thumb between myself and the other youth advisor, which I’ll just refer to as Ms. C throughout.

If every Christian were either one of these – liberal, or conservative, I’d probably be a blaring liberal, which then of course means I’m open to probably a million things a conservative would outrightly deem hell-bound. Let me be clear on one thing though, while I may be open to these things, I do not condone them. Not at all. It’s just, I’m more accepting of it, than a conservative Christian would likely be – which then makes me think, for a fleeting moment, if I am in any way compromising the values of what being a ‘little-Christ’ truly means to begin with.

I’ve had youths (a mix of Christians and non)come up to me with their life’s doubts, drinking problems, lustful desires, suicide attempts, boyfriend/girlfriend matters, esteem struggles and they all bear one similarity – they can’t go to Ms. C because she’s really strict and ‘holy’ (in their very own words). So here they are with me, often at a table over casual drinks (the occasional beers for the wild ones) and with not much of a ‘Godly advice’ prepared up my sleeves, as many would expect of an ‘advisor’. All I do is listen. And they are surprised that I am not the least bit surprised at how bad/horrible/un-Christianlike their problems are. And then I ask them questions like ‘do you want something to eat?’, ‘how’s your parents?’, ‘how’s school/college?’, ‘have you seen this video that’s gone viral on Facebook?’ We laugh. We cheers. They let out a huge sigh of relief.

Then I dig deeper – their choices, their plans for the road ahead of them, their respect for the opposite sex, their thoughts on their struggles. In and out of conversations, I assure them they’ll be alright, and that they are not weird or anything of that sort. And whether or not they are Christians, I can never stress enough to them that everything they struggle with does not and will not make them any less of a Christian. By the time we leave the table, they are fully aware that their decisions/habits/addictions/doubts are wrong/right/perfectly normal, and I feel like my job as an advisor is half done.

I check in on them every now and then to see if they are coping just fine, and more drinks if they aren’t.

I try to help these youths know and realize the importance of being human first, and then you times that by a million to know what’s it got to like to be a Christian – a species that the world is quick to crucify, and slow to accept and forgive. The thing with the world today is that people often forget that Christians are humans too and they fall short just as easily as everyone else. And the last thing I want these youths to become, is the exact replica of the people who once judged them, let alone call themselves Christians.

I always tell the youths that nothing should be taboo, especially in the youth group that they grow up in. Because what the church doesn’t talk about, doesn’t mean that the world will not either. I’d rather they hear it from a godly place first, than to go outside an collect a beingful of twisted ideas and narrow mindsets.

All these said, Ms. C has her points with all the godly advice that she dishes out. But just maybe, our respective approaches differ on many levels. Hers is to teach them what it means to be a Christian first, while mine is to be human.

Many, if not most Christians, would probably not agree with my approach, I suppose. They feel like I’m missing the point of being a youth advisor to a bunch of youths, at church.

For me, my idea is this: even if they don’t eventually go out there as Christians, I want them to stand proud as one heck of a person anyway because they have met one who accepted them for who they are, and what they’ve been through.

I might not be by the books right, but I sure hope I stay as real as possible to the people around me.

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