Short testimony// ‘coming out’

I realised I always feel pretty lost after receiving exam results. It’s never (too) ‘bad’ (at least, not unsalvageable. I do get Cs). I think that generally I’m a pretty good/average student (depending on how you look at it; this measure is in comparison with people around me). I think back to when I was 12 and 16; remembering a piece I wrote at 16, I wished I won’t do well for the national exam since I felt like I didn’t deserve good grades – didn’t work hard enough and hence I want to do badly so I’ll ‘wake up’ and ‘make use of my potential’. Now, I suppose I’m pushing myself much more, but many times whenever I get back a good grade, I’m kind of equally unhappy? I think about the meaninglessness of success and constant dissatisfaction: that I can and should be doing better, how other people do better without working as hard, random things like applying for a scholarship or something (but then doing that would give me stress, is it worth it?) etc.

I suppose I just question a lot about existence and purpose.

My main aim in life is to create eternal things; only 2 things I’ll be able to keep for the afterlife: my relationship with God and the souls that I ‘save’ to heaven. But there’s also other stuff/references, things like ‘making sure your works will stand the test of flames’ (Works: purified or fried https://bible.org/seriespage/9-works-purified-or-fried-1-corinthians-39-15 I take this to mean concepts like whether your work is genuine or not, are you doing it for yourself or for God etc.)

I’m doing a series about ‘sharing the gospel’; something else I struggle with is being explicit about my faith. I’m not very good at that. I thought that perhaps I shall write it out today, for future reference/or whatever purpose it may serve (for others/friends to read, to know about me? Wow, haha my blog is turning into something more personal than I had initially intended it to be).

Demise of a former self: (I’ll not elaborate too much, just bringing across the highlights)

An important turning point occurred when I was about, 17? I had fallen away from church when I was about 13/14 due to some issues (mostly about people there, which I still am finding hard to completely overcome).

Anyway. I went to a new school. Despite not going to church during those couple of years, I still believed that there was a God somewhere out there and I wanted to go back to church. But it’s very difficult to get back into the habit once you have not gone for so long. During those years I was thinking of changing churches (still do, sometimes) but I wasn’t very disciplined about doing so and committing to one. Eventually I ended up in the same church that I grew up in, because of many reasons like it being easier (my parents go there, there are countless articles about the negatives of church hopping and the consumerist culture – going to wherever gives you the most pleasure, instead of being engaged in building up a church. Taking instead of receiving etc.).

I decided to go (back) to church because of people I met, actually. Strangely, while ‘people’ was the reason I stopped going to church, they were exactly the same reason why I started going back. A different group of people though. I left because of a flawed community in my church, but I went back because of Christians I knew in school. I saw how they were passionate about their faith, how they lived it out, how they were happy, content and thriving. Teachers, students, who became friends and mentors. Good influences. I saw how their faith made them better people, and I wanted that for myself.

I’m a very different person than I was before and it’s hard a lot to reconcile that difference, especially since I have quite a lot of close friends from my pre 17 y/o self. I missed opportunities to tell them about this change.

I remember many people telling me that I’ve changed for the better: I used to swear in every sentence. I used to have ‘more angst’. I used to be a lot more stubborn, seeing things in black and white. I became a nicer person, I care more about my studies, I cleaned up my language etc. Without faith, I wonder if I would have done other ‘darker’ things: excessive partying/drinking/smoking/taking drugs hahaha I’ll never know. Maybe I would have ruined my life. Or perhaps not.

I can’t attribute it all to faith. It’s also part of growing up; meeting new people, being in a new culture where everyone around me was so sensitive. I couldn’t be as ‘disciplined’ and ‘harsh’ without people taking offence. Change comes about due to many causes.

I didn’t like it when people brought up these differences in me. Sometimes (often, it felt like), they did it in a mocking manner, like I’ve become unrecognisable, that I’m ‘holier (better) than thou’, they don’t know who I am anymore and we can’t connect? I didn’t want to lose my friends, so I’ll downplay the positive changes. I didn’t talk about going back to church, about these new good influences in my life (perhaps they weren’t popular, people would judge you if you were close to teachers? I don’t remember anymore). But I think these ‘good’ changes were tied quite closely with faith even though it didn’t seem like it.

I want people to know (I wish people knew) exactly how much faith means to me (because I can only think of

I guess I’m writing this as well, to remind me of the deep love I had for this, the passion and enthusiasm I had for topics regarding faith, at a time when I feel detached/lost.

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Alternative lifestyles// ‘coming out’ (hahaha)

A friend of mine really liked ‘Harriett’ and it surprised me, since no one has given me positive feedback about that post before. (‘Harriett’, to me, stands for the ideals in society which we uphold but do not actually live out). I talked to another couple of friends yesterday about alternative lifestyles (minimalism, zero waste, vegetarian/veganism, more recycling etc) and realised that they didn’t have many friends who practiced those things.

I write a lot about the ironies of life, how we say we treasure certain things, but yet we don’t actually behave in that way: prioritising work life balance, but we spend lots of time at work, how we enjoy travelling, but it remains little more than a dream, my country brands us as ‘clean and green’, but our trash and recycling levels are a joke. I think much of it has to do with fear? We would love to be different and make a change, but the people we look up to who are doing all these things seem so ‘extreme’, ridiculously ‘capable’ – we think no matter how hard we try, we would never attain their level of success. Think about those kids who make their first million at age 12 or something. Or even closer to our personal spheres: I can think of some people my age whom I see balancing work/spiritual/school/social life spectacularly and I wonder why can’t I do the same.

I wrote this post because I want to cross this boundary of inaction. I’ve been watching these videos and I like the philosophy behind it. I like the concept of consuming less, because I have more than I need (in fact, too much, and I’m still looking for ways to cut out more things from my life) and I feel that my consumption has many implications and issues – environmental, social justice, waste money, doesn’t bring more joy etc. I like the concepts of veganism/recycling/less waste simply because of the (purported) benefits (environment, justice etc – yes I know it’s not a perfect solution, some argue that vegans promote idk more monoculture or wtv, but hey, at least it’s trying to do something) and honestly, I don’t think it’s very hard for me to give up these things: I don’t love meat that much, my family already recycles (I want/need to learn to cut down on plastic bag usage). I’ve become a closet ‘minimalist/vegan/alternative lifestyles mentioned above’ etc, but I don’t behave that way in front of my friends, feeling unease about how my choices would impact them (I guess it’s rather Asian to not want to ‘create inconvenience’ for the people around me/stick with inertia). Sure, I agree it’s about compromise and balance, but I feel it’s important for me to assert some individualism and let people know more about what I care/stand for.

I suppose I’ve not done so because of so many reasons.

  • Judgement – strange because I wrote about how I think most people want/care for these things (our environment, animal/human rights etc.) but they see these lifestyles as inconveniences/ people just trying to be ‘hipster’ rather than actually caring for these things. I won’t want these labels to make up my identity. [I think there can be so much more to be said for this point, but I’ll leave it unelaborated]
  • Fear of failure – I’m definitely going to mess up, and I still do. I’m not perfect in cutting out all waste/all animal products from my life. Saying this stuff would make me accountable for it, people will ask ‘I thought you won’t consume ______’. Of course I’m not going to be perfect at this, but it doesn’t mean I’m not going to attempt to do so.

I suppose writing this is meant to help me embrace my difference and assert myself more. And learn to fear less.

[I’ll also like to say that I’m not sure where this will take me, how sustainable this would be, if it’s just a phase in life or something I will live with, but this is me, at this point in time. People are transient and will change, life is not a ‘race to define yourself’. While I’ll like to say I’m ‘experimenting’, I don’t want to be half-hearted, I want to commit as much as I can and see how this would change my life, before evaluating whether or not I would want to continue leading such a lifestyle]