Jan 25, 2009

Beginning Anew

It was the eve of Chinese (Lunar) New Year. I was busy online, searching for some Bible verses. My dad yelled at me over a small matter – I had not taken my shower. That incident actually triggered some series of incidents that happened right before New Year 2009.

I was all stressed out. People threw me with the resolution question, which I had no idea how to answer. I had nothing in mind then. I did not know what I wanted to do or achieve in another new year. I only knew that I did not accomplish much in year 2008. Each time I came across the same question, there was only fear.

How could I not feel afraid? I left behind days of failures, sorrows, bad memories, hurts… so much failure that it overshadowed the victory I’ve known. When I looked forward, I could only see darkness, loneliness, perhaps more failures that sent me a paralyzing fear that I could not resist. I tried my best to avoid this popular topic whenever I could. However, this unnecessary worry and stress continued to worsen till the eve of New Year.

On the night of New Year’s Eve, our parish organized a dinner cum countdown party for all parishioners. Right before I left for church that night, I had a quarrel with my dad. Again, over some small matters (which I can no longer remember today). This time, the very last bit of hope I’ve been holding on to so far shattered to pieces. I had to put on a mask of joy while keeping anger and sadness suppressed inside. At the end of the dinner and before another event by the youths began, a friend asked me to stay close to the stage while they were performing as they needed my “help”. I suspected it to be another prank and of course, I would not be so stupid as to agree on being their “victim”, especially not that time when I was struggling with the anger deep inside. I left the party before it started. Another group of friends called to ask me out as I was on the way home. They were in a pub, getting ready to count down. They knew about my anxiety and advised me to go out, have fun, forget about the past, and get ready to face the future. How could I ever enjoy myself when I was totally immersed in my past failures and hopelessness? I said no.

At home, I locked myself in the room, tried to relax myself as I chat with my other friends online, but unfortunately, nothing worked. Tears started to flow. I could not contain it anymore. I broke down totally at the Lord’s feet.

"…Father, I’ve failed through and through. I failed loving others. I failed loving You. I failed to show that I truly love You. I failed to keep my promises to You. I failed You! Father, I no longer know how to face tomorrow... Help me…!"

Amidst the tears, I remembered the messages the Lord has spoken to me a few days ago through my friends...

Be firm and steadfast! Do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord, your God, is with you wherever you go. – Joshua 1:9

God is faithful and will not let you be tried beyond your strength; but with the trial he will also provide a way out, so that you may be able to bear it. – 1 Corinthians 10:13

Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name: you are mine. Because you are precious in my eyes and glorious… Fear not, for I am with you… – Isaiah 43:1-5

My grace is sufficient for you… - 2 Corinthians 12:9

The fireworks then were at their full blast. Watching the firework display, my tears subsided, the inner storm gradually quietened. I dozed off and woke up the next morning feeling that my burden became lighter.

Although a tinge of fear still exists today, it is no longer as tremendous as it used to be. I used to ask the Lord why He did not change the others so that they would cease giving me so much problem. I was wrong all these while to think that way. "For others to change, I must change first." This is one of the favourite sayings of our parish priest, Fr. Stephen Lim. It is time I change myself.

Today, I'm starting my life anew again. I updated the outdated to-do list I used to have, renewed my pledge of love for the Lord, and offered up my whole self and all my dreams and deepest desires for His glory alone.

"I can do everything through him who gives me strength." – Philippians 4:13

Happy Chinese New Year to all who celebrate the Lunar new year!

Note from the author: I had to pluck up great courage to have this personal sharing posted. It wasn't easy to reveal the shame and pain I experienced. At the weakest and most hopeless point of my life, I usually prefer to pour everything out to the Lord in prayer and in tears. That is why I've never shown my sorrow in the public. I have to agree that it is not easy to confide in and love someone I cannot even see, but faith tells me that He has been always there for me and has never left my side. Thank you, Father God.