Top Stories

Sign Up for our newsletter now.

I was my own villain

by Amedee Goh | 30 May 2018, 8:41 PM

I grew up in a volatile household where, like a time bomb waiting to go off, seeming peace would be met trouble. When my mum was pregnant with me, my dad requested to have me aborted. And throughout my childhood, he would intentionally hurt me too.

He was physically abusive to my mother at times, and frequently verbally hurled insults at her. It made me fearful that the same would happen to me. This led me to avoid getting too close to anyone in my friendships altogether.

While I was well-liked within my social circle as I grew up, I was never the goody-two-shoes girl people thought I was. In my eyes, I was pretty much an awful person on the inside – a villain, almost.

Because of my stormy household situation, I longed to release the anger, bitterness, hatred and jealousy I harboured deep within me. I envied my friends who seemed to have complete, happy families and frequently compared their lives to mine.

As a young person, I hid much of these pent-up feelings inside. I never trusted anyone enough to tell them my “secret” feelings. And while I did not terrorise my peers, I found myself putting on a superior front to my classmates, finding ways to manipulate and control them to my favour.

But in my late teens, I began to meet people who called themselves Christians. They seemed so different from me. They wore their scars on their sleeves and were real with one another about their faith and struggles. I kept asking myself, why am I different? So I decided to accept Christ too.

I remember going down on my knees and simply telling Jesus, “I don’t think I know You at all. In fact, I don’t know anything at all. But the Bible says You save. I’ve seen it in the people in the church, that could only be You. So help me with my feelings. Help me to understand.”

Yet, life as a Christian was still on the surface for me. The tension in my family was too great for me to bear. When my mum contracted tuberculosis, a saliva-transmitted disease, my father chose to distance himself for fear of his health. The emotions I kept inside could not be suppressed anymore and I lashed out at my dad.

But my Christian friends helped me realise it was time to grow up and let go of these childhood frustrations. And so I decided to work out my problems with Him little by little.

Painfully, I revisited memories from my past, the hurts and pains, everything. I prayed again, “Help me to let go of what I cannot control anymore – the things in my past. Lord, Your yoke is easy, so take my burdens.” And He did. Each time I feel these feelings inside me fester, I prayed and they left.

Of course, there were times I simply gave in to pity parties, yet slowly but surely, the old wounds disappeared once and for all. I do think about them at times, but they no longer have any hold on me. I also keep a close group of friends who are there for me and cover me in prayer.

I also notice that for a person who used to bear grudges easily, I’m find it easier to let go of emotional burdens. Of course, it all still takes some time. I began to open up and let people around me into my struggles, knowing that they care for me and would not hesitate to speak truth into my life.

I still do struggle with the desire to have control, especially when things go south. I may do things to fix the situation, which I usually regret, and end up feeling guilty and unforgivable. But the Holy Spirit has helped me tremendously in avoiding time-consuming battles inside my head – He is gentle but firm, and never condemning. Each time I fall, He helps me up.

“You were taught, with regard to your former way of life, to put off your old self, which is being corrupted by its deceitful desires; to be made new in the attitude of your minds; and to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” (Ephesians 4:23-24)

Because of God’s faithful growth and guidance, my faith has been made much stronger; and as time passes, I find out more about what freedom in Christ means.

By His grace, I wouldn’t say anymore that I’m a villain, but I have come to realise that the greatest enemy, at times, is yourself. As fallen humans, we all have darkness within us. Mine manifests in a cruel, hardened heart craving control.

Yet thanks to all that has happened in my life, I can proclaim that Jesus saves. I may not be able to overcome darkness on my own, but with the Holy Spirit, as well as the saints who are my friends – and now even my family – coming alongside me, I can press on forward, overcome my fallen nature and reach for the prize (Philippians 3:14).

Conversations

We Recommend

THIR.ST TALKS: Life as a Singaporean missionary

by Wong Siqi

Culture

One Thing Gathering 2018: You too are God’s one thing

by Thir.st

Culture

I never thought I’d be a victim of sexual assault

by Jane Tan

Culture

Porn is killing me

by Mark Lee | 14 August 2018, 11:48 AM

I am locked in a battle for sexual purity and I am dying in it.

Time and time again, I watch pornography.

Time and time again, I diminish a female – reducing her to just her body and nothing more. Time and time again, I let my gaze linger on women. And the whole time, there’s always this quiet voice inside me that I try to silence in the moment. There are many things this quiet little voice says to me, but the one word I hear the most is “fight”.

I will not mince my words. Every encounter with porn has sliced sinews of my soul off. In this battle for sexual purity, I have become a maimed soldier.

Whenever I am tempted, this scene plays in my mind: I’m in that quiet room in my soul where I host God, and I find that Satan is leaning on the doorway, waiting. He was chatting with God, but now he turns to me.

“Oh, is this the one you were talking about?” Satan gestures lazily at me. “Yes,” comes God’s reply.

“You know, he looks really familiar. Ah!” Satan snaps his fingers as an evil glint enters his eyes. “He most definitely came to pay me and my friends a visit last night. Or was it this morning? Or 5 minutes ago? Hard to keep track really …”

“I know what he’s done,” replies God calmly.

Satan scoffs. “And still You call this one Your son..? A precious child of Yours?”

“Go now,” commands God.

Satan pushes himself off the doorframe lazily, making to move away. But before he does, he turns and smiles at God: “You’ve an even softer spot for losers than I thought!”

Then he walks, striding towards me lazily. He wraps an arm around my shoulder, pulling my ear close to his mouth: “Pathetic. Absolutely pathetic.” And then the old snake is gone.

“Mark, what Satan said about what you did is true. But what he said about who you are is not.”

Now I stumble across the doorway, my knees suddenly weak and my breath ragged.

The weight of my sins and all the wrong I’ve done have turned my soul to lead. I trip and fall face-first on to the ground, and when I pick myself up, it’s through tear-blurred eyes that I see God in front of me – His arms extended to me.

“My son,” He says, “come here.”

I shuffle closer, and then His arms encircle me. Now I cannot help but cry and cry as the weight of a thousand and one sins is lifted as God holds me close. Lead turns to gold … to light. It is a torrent now of tears and thoughts, and wails where words simply fail.

“Why?” I eventually manage, choking and sputtering the word out. “Send me away, God. I don’t deserve this love. I’m not even sure I want this love. Even if I say I do, nothing in my actions reflects that I actually do. Everything Satan said was true … I’m sorry … but he’s right.”

I hang my head. I really am pathetic.

There is sadness on God’s face for a moment, but then He smiles. “Mark, what Satan said about what you did is true. But what he said about who you are is not.”

I lift my head a little. God rests His hands on my shoulders: “You are not pathetic. You are precious to me.” As the words enter my ears and sink into my soul, deep calls to deep, and something stirs within.

That was truth. Even after all I did? And all I might still do against You? You’d still call me Your own, Your precious son?

God smiles even more fully now and nods. “Remember, even while you were still a sinner, I sent Jesus to die for you. You are loved, my dear son. And you are fully forgiven.”

Then God holds out a closed hand, clasping a scroll. “I have a mission for you today, Mark. Will you accept it?” I peer at the scroll, but I can’t see what’s written on it. Then I look to God – and I see it.

Hope.

God hopes. He believes in the good that may yet come out of me.

In spite of all the pornography, objectification, lust, lies and failures … there is hope. My hand is shaking, but I put it forward – palm up.

“Yes, God. I’ll do it. I’ll accept this mission.” He smiles and lays the scroll in my hand.

I open it up and read the words there, “I want to know Christ – yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, attaining to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:10-11).

I stare at the words, and they stare back at me.

In spite of all the pornography, objectification, lust, lies and failures … there is hope.

“Mark, will you die as Jesus did, and will you believe that I can raise you from the dead?”

There is a painful lump in my throat as I try and speak, and an even greater one in my soul. Something is telling me to run – that only pain and trials await me on this path. A voice within screams at the stupid, un-fun and unnecessary decision I’m thinking of making!

The shrill voice seems to be making more and more sense. But hadn’t I just said I would accept God’s mission a few moments ago? Somehow those words of certainty seemed far far away now.

“I’m not strong enough – I want all of it!”

I manage to look God dead in the eye for a moment before it is too much, and my gaze drops back to the floor. But still my yelling continues, “What this world has, the pleasures that others so joyfully experience … I want it all. I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry … I’m not strong enough.”

And then I’m running, tripping over myself, rushing to get out of that room.

Mark.

My foot was just about to cross the doorway. I turn around and God is there, holding an open hand out to me. I know.

In a firm voice, God tells me: “I know that you’re not strong enough. And I know what it is that you want.”  Then his voice drops to a gentle whisper, “But I am strong enough. Stronger than the world. And I know what it is that you truly need, my son.”

And there I stand, at the doorway of my soul, with a choice to let heaven in or to run away to hell.

I whisper my apologies pathetically as I close the door on God. The hypocrisy splashing onto my soul is acrid, bitter. I call Jesus, Lord – and yet I run from Him and deny Him? The sadness in God’s eyes when I closed that door on Him bores into me.

But before I can examine the damage to my soul, I find that I am now surrounded by the pleasures of the flesh – soothing and sedating.

There is no problem. There is no problem. There is no problem.

Or is there?

I think what Satan would want me to think is that there really isn’t a problem. But if there really isn’t a problem, then why would I write this? If I truly believed that I would never experience God’s victory in the area of sexual purity then why would I bother writing this?

I know (or at least I think I know) the risks of writing something like this, but what really is at risk? I am dying, after all.

Clarity has come upon me as to the courses of action I can take. I can live the remaining life I have left enjoying all the worldly pleasure I want. Perhaps with enough pleasure of the flesh or whatever else Satan brings my way, I will indeed find my soul inoculated from the pestering cry of that still small voice.

Fight. Suffer. Die. And after it all, be reborn in My Name.

Some bloody and bruised soldier I am, with badges upon badges of failure. Yet, God so help me: I’m choosing to stand up again.

I want to say no to the pleasures of pornography and the worldly pleasures of the flesh.

I believe they do not and cannot ever satisfy the soul. God alone is not only capable but willing to fully and truly satisfy my soul. Life and life abundantly as Jesus promised is something that can be realised.

Maybe you’re like me, and you’ve realised that you are dying too. Maybe you also know that God has won and will win in your fight for sexual purity. Maybe those are just words to you now, and not a lived experience. That’s where I am now, at least.

Some bloody and bruised soldier I am, with badges upon badges of failure. Yet, God so help me: I’m choosing to stand up again. And I will fight for Him in this battlefield of sexual purity. I’m not a saint, I’m not even a soldier at times.

But I am a son. A son of the Most High God who hasn’t given up on us yet – and never will. So far be it from us to give up on Him.

I haven’t tasted God’s victory over sexual purity yet, but I know my failures take nothing away from a God who is all-victorious – even over death itself. So yes, I’m dying. But I’m dying to self, and to a God who’s already beaten death and calls me His own!

So I have hope when I look to the times where I can really choose and trust Him to bring me into real living.

Perhaps, by His grace and mercy, this very day, this very hour, in this very internet window … I might say that indeed I die, but because of who God is, I truly live.


This article was first published on Mark’s blog, and is republished with permission.

Conversations

We Recommend

Culture

I never thought I’d be a victim of sexual assault

by Jane Tan

Relationships

What a girl looks for in a proposal

by Wong Siqi

Culture

The slippery slope of addiction: From pornography to prostitutes

by Augustin Cheng

Studies

Are you a 5% student?

by | 13 August 2018, 10:47 PM

Being a 5% student is one of the running jokes I have with my friends whom I serve with in church. The reason being this: We don’t spend much time in school during the term. And even when we’re in school, we’re usually attending meetings, having meal appointments, or planning for church ministry.

It’s only in the final weeks of the semester, with impending essay deadlines and exams, where we pull all-nighters as we scramble to cover one semester’s worth of content within a couple of days.

But as I approach my fourth and final year in university, my friends and I recognise that while we may responsible leaders in church, we’re certainly not the most model students around. And therein we have a problem.

Granted, it’s hard. Most of us, whether we’re involved in church ministries or not, are part-time students and full-time jugglers.

We juggle all the expectations we have of ourselves and those that others have of us – be it parents, friends, university, extra-curricular activities, and as we proceed, we just hope that we don’t drop anything.

I’m always thankful for the flexibility of university life because not only do I get the freedom to attend classes that I am interested in, I’m also in control of my schedule and should be able to plan for the amount of time/effort required for each t0-do.

But with a college student’s schedule that fills up so easily and quickly, the time/effort allocated for each item is often far underestimated. What happens then?

Most of us end up constantly arranging and living our lives according to our shifting priorities – myself included. What demands my attention now? What is the most pressing issue I must settle?

And who else gets me when I say that studies very easily becomes one of the last priorities throughout the semester, simply because nothing is due that urgently? The stack of recommended readings only ever seems to increase in size.

Chasing priorities in life, however, leaves us drained and physically exhausted quickly. And to replenish our energy, we “borrow” time from yet another priority. Again, it’s usually our studies that take a further hit.

It seems understandable to skip a couple of lectures or tutorials here and there – we will catch up on the work eventually, right? Yet we only have a finite 24 hours a day, so whatever time is lost, is gone, never to be seen again.

Each of us is a multitude of identities: We are students, we are leaders, we are team-mates, we are sons and daughters, we are brothers and sisters. But how easily we forget that we are also, most importantly, bearers of His name.

Wouldn’t it be alarming if our classmates looked at our indifferent attitude towards school and asked, “Does this mean that as a Christian, you will have no time to study?” Perhaps we must consider that our testimonies as people of God must measure up wherever we go – from church, to family, to school.

There just might be a need to take a hard but truthful look at your school work to evaluate your attitude – and corresponding efforts – towards this station of life that you’re in. Are your mediocre results because of a lack of revision? Did you write this paper the day before the deadline because of poor time management?

Here’s a big one for many of us: What is your class attendance like?

As Christians, we have the privilege of grace that surpasses our weaknesses and inadequacies even in school work, but we also have the responsibility of bearing a good testimony for the sake of Christ (1 John 5: 10) – in the school as much as we are in the church – or all the more so!

God is just as present when we are in school as when we are in church.

Bearing good testimony therefore involves honouring the standards of the educational institution we are in because that honours God as well. God is just as present when we are in school as when we are in church. Why else will be given this sphere of influence with this group of people – for such a time as this?

He will not waste any means – yes, even the least exciting classes we’re stuck in week in and week out – that He can use to save some. That is, those who cross our paths because we are where we are.

In the new, upcoming semester, my challenge to you, whether you are a freshmen or a returning student, by all means possible, is to be a good testimony for Christ in your schools.

Hopefully from there, you will find it easier to plan a schedule that honours God through all your commitments: A 100% student, 100% Christian.

/ samanthaloh@thir.st

Samantha is a creative who is inspired by the people and stories around her. She also loves striped tees and would love to pass her collection down to her future children. Currently level 1127 on Candy Crush.

Conversations

We Recommend

Relationships

What a girl looks for in a proposal

by Wong Siqi

Culture

A letter to my 25-year-old self

by Joe E.

Do Good

Some save Batam: Taking the heart of Singapore beyond our shores

by Joanne Kwok

Relationships

When I traded God for my boyfriend

by Wendy Wong | 13 August 2018, 2:50 PM

It didn’t happen immediately. It was so gradual and subtle that we were completely oblivious to it – blinded in our love for each other.

It didn’t start out this way, of course. Even before we started dating, we intentionally sought the Lord’s will on whether we were right for each other. We prayed earnestly as we grew closer, as friends first and then later, tentatively, as partners. We encouraged one another with God’s Word, and prayed together regularly.

But over time, things changed. We became more emotionally intimate as we shared our innermost thoughts and secrets, our hopes and dreams, our fears and memories. We began meeting more often, and for longer stretches – from a weekly Sunday afternoon to the entire Sunday. The importance of the day slowly shifted away from Sabbath rest in our Saviour, to outings and meals with our significant other.

We were doing all the “right” things

And we started trying to find every possible opportunity to spend more time together, like staying out later and later on Sundays – the only time we could meet for a full day due to my irregular work hours. We couldn’t bear to be apart from each other, and when we were apart, we would long for when we could next see each other.

This led us to spend more time with each other, and less time with the Lord and other loved ones. Our once-quiet evenings spent in prayer, worship and reading God’s Word were replaced by nights talking, texting and video calling each other. Dates together even began to take precedence over meet-ups with friends and meals with family.

Slowly and almost imperceptibly, our love for each other had started to eclipse that for the Lord and those around us.

The most frightening part of it all was that we weren’t even aware of it happening.

We were doing all the “right” things: We prayed together, sent each other Bible verses and prayer requests, attended church service together, and even had an older accountability couple to mentor us. Yet our hearts were not right with the Lord.

We really didn’t think we were spending all that much time together. After all, there were couples who met each other daily. Yet it wasn’t so much the amount of time we spent with each other, but the level of priority we had begun placing on each other.

While we often spoke of putting God first, our actions showed otherwise. We no longer loved the Lord with all our heart and all our soul and all our might (Deuteronomy 6:4-15). We started to stray away from Him, instead choosing to turn to one another for love, joy and comfort.

We began placing ourselves in precarious situations that presented overwhelming temptations to sin.

… it wasn’t so much the amount of time we spent with each other, but the level of priority we had begun placing on each other.

Though we had intended for God to be the centrepiece and cornerstone of our relationship, our actions pushed Him to the very corner of the picture, as we fell deeper in love with each other. 

Our hearts were so deceitful: We were barely aware of how we slowly but surely drifted away from the Lord and towards idolatry, innocently clothed in relational love.

Yet God can’t be a footnote in our love story – He must be Lord over all.

Through a series of incidents, God revealed how we had strayed away from Him.

This included one particularly painful episode, after which my boyfriend and I spent a month apart to repent and reflect before God, under the guidance and counsel of our accountability couple.

Even though it was painful to be separated, our time apart forced us to remember who we were before there was a “we”. It gave us breathing space to hear God’s voice again, and remember that our identity was not merely a girlfriend or boyfriend – but a redeemed child of our Heavenly Father, saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ.

As I sought the Lord, I realised I had come to love God’s gift more than the Giver Himself. I learned to ask myself:

  • Who do I yearn to spend time with?
  • Where do my thoughts wander to when I have nothing to do?
  • To whom do I turn to for love, satisfaction and pleasure?
  • If the Lord were to take my boyfriend away one day, how would I respond to Him?

In short, I was confronted with the question: If all of life is meant to worship God, who was I worshipping in my relationship: God or my partner?

Even though it was painful to be separated, our time apart forced us to remember who we were before there was a ‘we’.

God showed me that I had traded Him for him, and that I was seeking and deriving love, joy and fulfilment from my boyfriend. I quickly learned that these are gifts only our Maker can give in all His fullness – something no mortal man can give.

When my boyfriend failed to live up to my expectations, I saw how I had placed him on a pedestal above the King of kings. When he inadvertently hurt me, I realised how much hope I had placed in him, rather than in the Shepherd of my soul. And when we were apart – physically, emotionally and spiritually – I realised how much I had come to adore and even worship him instead of God.

After the month was up, my boyfriend and I came together to reconcile and pray with one another. Since then, God has been teaching us, through every victory and struggle, to turn our gaze on Him. We’re still learning how to love God first before each other, and to gently point one another back to the Lord when tempted to idolatry.

Although our story is far from over, I know that our God is with us and in control. And this gives me a peace and assurance that He is ever-present even – and especially – in the midst of our struggles and sinfulness. More importantly, God has promised us that just as He has saved us, He too will sanctify us completely in His faithfulness (1 Thessalonians 5:23-24).


This article was first published on YMI.today, and is republished with permission.

Conversations

We Recommend

Faith

Are we striving or thriving in our journey of discipleship?

by Yue Fah Yong

Relationships

The math of friendships

by Fiona Teh

Do Good

Some save Batam: Taking the heart of Singapore beyond our shores

by Joanne Kwok

Money

God will always provide

by Joey Lam | 13 August 2018, 11:24 AM

Recently, I had the privilege to spend an afternoon with Joseph Chean, national director of Youth With A Mission (YWAM).

As we had tea at his place, I asked questions and listened to the stories he shared. Just before our time was about up, I asked the question of how Joe was able to provide for his family without a regular income.

He replied, “I count it my privilege to not be salaried.”

That line blew me away. He counts it a privilege to have an irregular income? I also receive an irregular income, always unsure if I can pay off the housing loan at the end of each month. And I can tell you that the uncertainty is never comfortable. I concluded that only someone from YWAM would have the faith to say such crazy things.

“You see the door there?” Joe said to me as he gestured to the main door. “One day the tiles there cracked. It popped up. It got so bad that it shaved off one inch from the door.

“So I called my contractor friend in and asked him to help me fix it. I said I only have 15k. He took a walk down the living room and told me that when he starts knocking the tiles at the doorway – the rest of the tiles across the living room would also pop up.

“Then he told me he needed to knock down two walls as well because the tiles are underneath the walls. I said I only have 15k – he said don’t worry. The bill at this point is already 50k. Then as he was renovating he made one last suggestion to change the lights and fans. The bill now amounted to a total of 65k.”

That meant Joe now needed another 50k to cover the renovation costs.

I count it my privilege to not be salaried.

I listened as Joe continued his story, “One day after speaking at a church, I was talking with a friend, and he asked how the renovation was coming along. I knew I could disclose the details to him because he also doesn’t have much money.

Just then, there was a lady sitting at the front and she overheard our conversation. She came over shortly after and offered to give me a love gift to help with the renovation cost.

“I told her that the conversation wasn’t meant for her and I didn’t know her well, so I couldn’t accept her gift. She insisted on helping a little, and I relented, giving her my bank account number.

“One week later, as I was driving on the road, I received a text from her. I had to pull over to read the text carefully. I couldn’t believe what I was reading, so I gave her a call. I said thank you so much for your generosity, but I think you made a mistake. You said you would help out a little, but I can’t accept this amount.”

“How much did she give?’ I asked, eager to know the answer.

“50k.”

God sees us our situations and meets our needs.

I sat there with my mind blown. 50k? Who would ever give 50K just like that to someone they barely know? That’s a lot of savings. And Joe reminded me this lady wasn’t some millionaire as well – she lived in a HDB just like him.

After a short pause to let me retrieve my jaw from the ground, Joe continued: “So this was what she said to me, ‘Yes, I did intend to give you a small amount to help out in the renovation cost. But as I was about to transfer five thousand, God whispered to me and asked if I would give fifty thousand, to show His love to Joe, his wife and his two daughters. And I obeyed.’”

I was again astounded by God’s abundant love, and a woman’s obedience.

Till this point in my life, I’ve not saved up 50k before. If I was in that lady’s shoes, I am not sure if I would have yielded to God’s prompting.

Joe then looked me in the eyes and said, ‘That is why man does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”

That shook my entire spirit and gave so much more depth to that verse (Matthew 4:4) I hadn’t seen before. Those words have the authority of the Creator of this universe behind them, and express the very heart of our eternal Father!

“So there’s 15k left right? When the renovation was finished and the bill came to me, I saw that my contractor friend had waived the costs for the lights and fans.”

I realised that meant Joe still had that 15k from before. “Yes. The entire renovation was paid for by Him! And that is why I count it my privilege to not be on salary. Who am I to receive such gifts?’

Wow. God sees us our situations and meets our needs. Somehow. But always.

God will always provide. That’s the line I hear from so many elders who have served Him for decades in full-time ministry. I always struggled with that line: I thought it was just something people said to workers who don’t have regular incomes and could use some faith.

But when I hear Joe’s story, along with all the other accounts of God’s real and faithful provision, I can’t help but believe it a little more each time.

He is faithful to provide. I serve a living God who sees my needs and walks with me daily.

God sees us our situations and meets our needs. Somehow. But always.

By the way, Joe sat his family down after the renovation, explaining all that had happened to his wife and two daughters. He presented two options to them: To keep the 15K they originally had … or to give it away.

They decided as a family to give it away. Shortly after, they found someone who needed a scholarship. Joe wrote him a cheque, explaining to him the story you’ve just read, and offered him the choice of taking up the financial help.

This person, who at the time was in great need, struggled deeply. How could he take from Joe, another missionary who doesn’t have much to begin with? But after one month of struggling, he received Joe’s cheque.

Freely receive, freely give.

This isn’t just another story, it’s about God. He is in control, an artist who brings His children together, weaving a glorious tapestry.

Conversations

We Recommend

Culture

Cloudy with a chance of breakthrough

by Fiona Teh

Faith

5 steps to impact your neighbourhood

by Lum Weng Kiong

Do Good

“The Greek word for go, means go”: Canon J John on evangelism, hope and lifting roofs

by Gabriel Ong

Studies

A note to the freshmen

by Ann Ng | 10 August 2018, 5:43 PM

It’s the time of the year when universities are once again filled with the cheers and excitement from the new batch of freshmen.

It’s a season of new beginnings that many people look forward to and anticipate. As a final year student now, walking past the orientation camps in school, I recall that starting university was exciting … yet something I was apprehensive about.

Will I get to make new friends? Will I like my course of study? Where will this lead me to? These were all questions I had in my head. I remember googling seniors’ blogs, reading about their orientation experiences and module reviews and seeing where they are at now in life. All of this actually overwhelmed me, rather than giving me any assurance.

And even after 3 years in university, I am still learning and do not have perfect advice for my juniors. Nevertheless, there are 4 things close to my heart that I wish someone had shared with me at the start.

4 HANDLES FOR FRESHERS

1. Know that you are loved

My first university orientation camp was a culture shock to me. As an introvert, meeting 20 new people in an orientation group was very intimidating. Coupled with being forced to shout cheers in a language I could barely recognise as English, I felt out of place most of the time.

The seniors were friendly and caring but I often found myself questioning if I was loud enough, competitive enough or even pretty enough for others. I felt the strong need to impress people, even if it meant being someone I was not. I desired to be well-liked, I wanted more friends, I wanted to be loved …

“For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.” (Isaiah 54:10)

I was not a Christian then, but had I known that God loves unconditionally and deeply, I would have felt much less need to impress others for this false sense of worth. Now I know my identity and security is in Christ alone, whose love is even more steadfast and everlasting than the mountains and the hills.

In 3 years of university life, I’ve experienced disappointment, heartbreak and rejection. But through it all, God’s faithful love never failed – I am treasured and you are too!

… had I known that God loves unconditionally and deeply, I would have felt much less need to impress others for this false sense of worth.

2. Chase God’s Kingdom

In university, everyone seems to be chasing something: Grades, leadership positions, internships, life partner … Sometimes all of the above at once!

Having friends who are go-getters, I was pressured to believe that the more things I chased, the better I was at making the most out of university life. It’s not wrong to seize opportunities for personal growth. But I realised along the way, I lost sight of what is ultimately the most important thing – God. I had lost sight of His purpose for me.

“Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:2)

Our minds and hearts are wired to be most satisfied when we pursue God. If I could redo the past 3 years of university life, I would want to focus more on chasing God – reading His Word, speaking to Him and serving Him.

3. Surrender to Him

“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” (Psalm 46:10)

For all my coping mechanisms with stress in university, this verse that my senior gave me proved to be the most reassuring thing of all. As much as I wish to control how my life will turn out, I know that a lot of things are out of my hands. The question is whose hands is my life in. So it was encouraging to know that as long as we are walking with God, we only need to trust that He will fight for us.

What grace to know that God is with us!

4. Reach out!

If not for the Christian friends who continuously reached out to me, I would never have known about the good news of Jesus and received Him into my life.

So reach out. Not just to fellow Christians, but also non-Christians.

I learnt that it might not necessarily be a formal thing, like joining an evangelistic community in school. It can be as simple as being intentional in conversations with others, and by lifting God high through your actions and modelling His love to those around you. You will never know the full extent your life can impact someone else’s when you let Christ to work through you!

These were handles that would have helped me, had I known them before starting university. Now that you do, I’m praying that you will end up learning even better lessons at the end of your university life, as you desire and pursue God!

Conversations

We Recommend

THIR.ST TALKS: Life as a Singaporean missionary

by Wong Siqi

Culture

Cloudy with a chance of breakthrough

by Fiona Teh

Culture

There is a generation gap, and we need to deal with it

by Joey Lam

Article list

I was my own villain

Porn is killing me

Are you a 5% student?

When I traded God for my boyfriend

God will always provide

A note to the freshmen