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What if I’m just a calefare?

by | 12 October 2017, 3:48 PM

As you scan the crowded bus for a seat, you see a familiar book cover. Ah, somebody’s reading the same book as you! At the cinema, the crowd’s in-sync surround-sound laughter triggers a split second where awareness meets detachment – you’re again reminded that we’re not all that different.

We co-exist in the same time and space, together with a lot of people. We are passersby in the blurry background of a stranger’s story – hundreds of times a day – but that sense of vagueness is easily broken by a smile, a collective chuckle in a movie, a “today weather very hot ah“, a shared interest with a fellow human …

These connections tug on our heartstrings to the extent that you allow it. And if you do, the music that it makes cannot be ignored. There is something grand and poetic about our existence –  listen close enough and you’ll hear it. 

But life is never easy to navigate. It’s like buying furniture from IKEA, you have to assemble it, put things together. And you cannot opt for assembly service.

Top of the World” by the Carpenters was my favourite song growing up. Back in the day, home printers weren’t a thing yet so I would hand-write the lyrics on paper and sing my heart out to it.

“Such a feeling’s coming over me, there is wonder in most everything I see.”

That was my favourite line (if I really had to choose one) from the theme song of my childhood. When I first stepped foot into primary school, I was that kid who was always filled with wonder and ready to conquer the world.

And you can probably guess what’s coming next.

The rose-tinted lens through which I saw life began to lose its sheen. Nothing seemed to be happening for me anymore.

I didn’t feel as special as I used to, my family was falling apart, and I was lagging behind at school.

The new recurring theme of disappointment in my life made me consider if perhaps I was born just to be a film extra – a calefare, a nobody – in the grand scheme of things. Maybe I just wasn’t main-character material.

Yet in my heart, I knew that it wasn’t so. There was a gulf that had to be bridged – one within my very conscience. How could I possibly feel like a nobody and a somebody at the same time?

“You’re nobody till somebody loves you
You’re nobody till somebody cares”

(Russ Morgan, Larry Stock, and James Cavanaugh)

These lines are from the famous pop song first published in 1946 and made popular by Dean Martin. It’s one of those things that sound like a truism. But is it?

If a child came up to me, crying, saying that he feels unloved, I probably wouldn’t tell him that there is a possibility he might be right, even if I felt that way about myself sometimes.

I would ask him about his parents, his friends and his family. And even if the evidence shows that that child is indeed unloved by all the people who should have loved him – we know in our hearts that he should be loved. 

Some of us would rather be convinced that we are not nobody, but isn’t there greater comfort in knowing that we’re loved by somebody?

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

God, the King of all Heaven and Earth, fought to be our somebody.

Regardless whether you believe in God, the fact remains: God loves you and so gave His life so that you may know His love for you.

And if there’s even just a smidgen of hope in your heart that you are not nobody, despite what circumstances might suggest, would you consider the possibility that it is because God – the greatest Somebody – first loved you? 

Even before your parents could, even before anyone else did, He loved you.

When someone says that “Jesus died on the cross for you”, it can sound quite jarring. I used to think that it was a bit uncalled for since I didn’t ask Him to die for me! But if Jesus didn’t die for us (John 3:16), we cannot say for certain that He loves us.

Would you consider the possibility that it is because God – the greatest Somebody – first loved you?

We are all valuable because God first loved us. And that is the firm foundation for our worth, one worthy to build our lives upon (2 Thessalonians 3:5).

What are the things that give you a sense of security in your worth as a person?

Is it a big loving family? A great group of friends (#squadgoals), a 10/10 spouse, or a promising career?

If there is even a chance – no matter how slight – that those things may fail you, then it is at best shifting-sand when compared to the security that God’s love promises us.

“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Knowledge of this Love frees us to persist in wonder, no matter what life throws at us.

You’re somebody because God loves you!

/ fiona@thir.st

Fiona is secretly hilarious. One of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs.

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So you just became a Christian

by | 20 October 2017, 6:20 PM

Dear New Christian,

Welcome to the Church family! I’m glad you’ve chosen to follow Jesus and committed yourself to growing alongside a community. It takes tremendous courage to plug yourself into a new environment, but now you’re probably wondering – what next?

I’m not sure what your impression of the Church is, but some common impressions I’ve encountered are that Christians are “holy-moly” and spend a lot of time together. Maybe you think Christians are a bunch of “nice” people, or maybe you’re still convinced Christians are out to convert everyone they see. I hope this letter gives you a more accurate picture of the church life that awaits you.

UNCOMMON PEOPLE WITH A COMMON GOAL

For starters, it’s good to note that church life does not limit itself to the physical location of the church building. Instead, church life happens when people are assembled around Jesus and His Word (Matthew 18:20). Yet, the people who gather in His name are not perfect – in fact, we’re all far from it!

The Bible tells us that God reaches out to all kinds of unlikely people – some of Jesus’ followers included fishermen (Matthew 4:18-22), a Samaritan woman (John 4:7-41), a tax collector (Matthew 9:9, 10:3), and prominently, the “ex-Pharisee” and apostle Paul (Acts 9:1-19).

Likewise, be prepared that your church will probably be filled with “unlikely” Christians. Perhaps you even count yourself one too.

Imperfect as we all are, we are on a common journey with the same end in mind – we have thrown off our old selves and put on our new selves,

If you still have your doubts: The Samaritan woman had five husbands (John 4:18-19). Tax collectors in Jesus’ time were regarded as the worst of sinners, often categorised along with prostitutes (Matthew 21:32) because they often charged extra taxes and took the money for themselves (Luke 19:8). Paul, prior to his conversion, was a persecutor of the church (Acts 8:3, Philippians 3:6) – the man was recorded to be “breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord” before his conversion.

Nonetheless, imperfect as we all are, we are on a common journey with the same end in mind – we have thrown off our old selves and put on our new selves, and are on a journey of renewal as we grow to know our Creator (Colossians 3:10), and to be conformed to the image of His Son (Romans 8:29).

SHARED IDENTITY IN OUR SAVIOUR JESUS CHRIST

You’ll meet Christians who have grown up in church since childhood. Hence, you may be wondering whether second-generation Christians have it better, having grown up in the faith and being familiar with Christian life since young.

On the contrary, having attended Sunday School even as a preschool-aged child, I’ve wondered if you have it better – you have come to faith out of conscious choice and understanding. While I have come to own my faith for myself, my first exposure to church as a young child meant I didn’t fully understand the Christian faith then.

Hence, there have been times when I wondered if those who come to faith in adulthood are more aware and appreciative of God’s grace in their lives when He called them to Himself.

In Christ, old divisions and wrongful attitudes of superiority and inferiority no longer exist – we are all united in the common identity as children of God.

In reality, the length (or lack thereof) of our Christian journey does not matter as much as the fact that we are on this journey of faith together as a family. I may have been in the faith longer than you have – nonetheless, God shows the same generosity towards us as we persevere in faith (Matthew 20:2, 13-14).

Furthermore, in Christ, old divisions and wrongful attitudes of superiority and inferiority no longer exist – we are all united in our shared identity as children of God, despite our apparent human distinctions (Galatians 3:28). None of these affect a person’s qualification for salvation and service – God does not judge significance as the world does!

WE ARE ALL WORKS-IN-PROGRESS

Though I have been a Christian for a long time, I am still a work-in-progress just like you. The work God has been and continues doing in both my life and yours, will only be completed when Christ returns again (Philippians 1:6).

Because no one is 100% Christlike (yet), you may be surprised to discover in the course of interacting with your new family that we are all 100% human. There might be moments of tension or disappointment in someone. I find it useful to separate my faith from the people who embrace it – whether they exemplify Christ in their actions should not affect my belief and trust in Him.

In view of this, we are both called to hold firmly to God’s Word as we await Christ’s Second Coming (Philippians 2:16). Meanwhile, regardless of when we have accepted Christ as Lord, we are not to continue it in our own strength (Galatians 3:3), but to continually follow Him in steadfast love and faith (Colossians 2:6).

Love and blessings,
Me

/ eudora@thir.st

Eudora found herself writing on public platforms by chance. Apart from writing, she likes many random things, including spoken word poetry, adult colouring books, tea, stationery and fresh, clean laundry.

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The scars that can sing

by Arielle Ong | 19 October 2017, 5:51 PM

23 April, 2011 is a day I will never forget. It was the day that marked the end of my mum’s four-year-long battle against breast cancer. She was 59 years old that year.

It was a battle that didn’t quite have a happy ending. I still don’t understand why it happened, but at the very least it allowed for Mum to receive Christ as her personal Lord and Saviour. More importantly, it is the battle that taught me what it means to live in total abandonment and obedience to the Lord’s sovereignty.

I use the word “battle”, because it aptly describes what the four years journeying with her through her cancer journey were like. Ever since she was first diagnosed with breast cancer in November 2006, I prayed every single day that the Lord would heal her completely.

From initially interceding that her condition would not be terminal before her official diagnosis, to praying against a relapse – I faithfully prayed every single day.

 

I grew up wondering if Jesus would save my mum, because she used to always scold Him. She used to tell me that if I ever went to church, she would disown me and never let me come home. She used to turn up the TV’s volume whenever people from church came to our house to share the gospel with her.

She finally accepted Christ in 2007 after the Lord saved her from a life-threatening viral attack during her first bout of chemotherapy. The attack was so serious it confined her 11 days at the hospital.

But God graciously saved her. She was touched by the Holy Spirit when my cousins shared the Gospel with her at the hospital. I wasn’t around, but my cousins told me that my Mum cried like a baby, and then they led her in the Sinner’s Prayer.

After she was discharged, she said she would like to go to church. It was a 180º change. On Easter 2009, she got baptised together with my Dad.

But I still feared she would relapse. Despite my anxiety, I continued to pray every single day for the Lord’s complete healing to come upon my Mum.

Unfortunately, my Mum really did fall prey to relapse. My nightmare came true on 16 October, 2010, when Mum was diagnosed with advanced stage cancer as her cancer cells had metastasised to her lungs, liver, brain and bones.

I remember it so clearly because we got the news one day before her birthday. She was so composed, but I broke down. I couldn’t stop crying as I scolded her for not taking care of herself better to prevent the relapse.

Deep inside I wasn’t angry with her, I was simply devastated by grief. Mum chided me for crying and said there is nothing to be upset about. She said that because she came to know the Lord, she had been blessed with 3 good years.

It totally put me to shame. I had been a Christian for much longer than her. Though she was suffering and dying, she still gave thanks to the Lord.

In fact, I never saw her shed a single tear after she learnt of the bad news. Sometimes I wonder if she cried herself to sleep, when no one was watching. But to my knowledge, I never saw her cry, not even at her deathbed.

My mum was admitted to the hospital just before she passed on during Easter weekend in 2011. In those three days at the hospital, she was surrounded by loved ones.

I’ve heard of people saying that Christians do not fear death, and that death can be a joyful thing. I think my mum was a great example. Not only did she bravely not cry, she even told us not to be upset. She was even cracking jokes and making all of us laugh.

The good humour was in part due to her jovial nature, and also the fact that she was no longer lucid as her body was intoxicated by her failing liver. Looking back, that was an aspect of God’s grace. It would have been so much tougher for us all if she was sobbing and weeping.

In the early morning of 23 April, when the sky was still dark, she asked if it was morning already. Mum remarked that it was “so bright” and that she could hear Somebody calling her name. I knew that was the Lord calling her Home by name. It was a Saturday.

I asked the Lord why He hadn’t brought her home on Easter Sunday itself. He led me to a specific verse that matched the date – 23/4.

“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” (Psalm 23:4)

Reading this verse, it brought to mind my mum’s peace and faith, instead of fear, even to the point of death. It was His way of assuring and comforting me that she was safe with Him in Heaven.

Yet, deep inside me, I have to be honest that there was period where I resented God for taking my mum away so soon. Her passing left me in a rut as I struggled to understand and accept her death: Why didn’t divine healing happen, even though I’d prayed for it every single day?

It has been more than six years since her passing. Sometimes, all I can do is to trust and have faith that the Lord has His purpose for it all because I can’t deny His goodness and presence through it all. Many divine moments marked my mum’s faith journey, so many that I was even able to write a book on them.

But the grief resurfaced twice, first when my dad had a heart attack in 2015, and again during his surgical procedure in 2017. I was worried about him, but it was the grief I hadn’t dealt with when Mum passed that felt overwhelming.

The night before my dad’s surgery, I felt the Lord asking me: What if the worst happens to your dad, what would you do? Would you abandon your faith in Me altogether?

I told God I would certainly be upset if I lost my father. But I also said that I could never abandon Him because He has been so real to me. After all He’s done for me, I told Him I trusted Him the most.

In that moment, I found peace.

If there’s anything I’ve learnt, it is that some things are just not meant for us to fully comprehend. It’s a horrible cliché, but that really is when faith matters: To be able to trust in God’s sovereignty through it all, though you do not understand the whole of it. And maybe never will on this side of eternity.

Is it normal then to doubt and question? Yes, the Bible is filled with a lot of characters who did, even the most holy of prophets! Questioning and doubting doesn’t make you any less of a Christian – not unless you decide to walk away from your faith altogether. But does walking away really change anything?

“He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)

Though I have my occasional struggles with sorrow and faith, a part of me believes that the Lord is preparing me for something. These two quotes from the book The Colour of Grace really spoke to me:

“Nothing can hurt you if you can understand that whatever you are going through is your invitation to participate in the redemption of the world.”
Father Thomas Keating

“If scars could sing, their songs would be of triumph.”
Bethany Haley Williams

My mother’s journey remains a story to be told. Her passing has certainly enlarged my capacity to love and allowed me to journey with people who are going through similar trials of trauma and grief – something that I never thought that I’d be able to do in the past.

God sent His boats when I was stuck on the shore of my grief, disappointments and pain. I can imagine Mum smiling at me from Heaven; I know she would want me to continue living life to the fullest for Him.

These scars of mine will continue to sing with triumph, because my dear mother has found eternal life in the arms of Jesus.

“All that I am, or every hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.”
Abraham Lincoln


The author’s name has been changed to protect her identity.

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The day I lost my dad

by Jolynn Chia | 18 October 2017, 1:06 AM

I have been a control freak most of my life.

My core belief was in the importance of control. If I lost control, I’d lose everything I’d ever worked for and wanted. I believed I deserved everything I had because I’d earned them with my very own hands. I didn’t have a personal relationship with God then, and it was a false sense of security.

That life fell apart the day my Dad had a heart attack and passed on.

Even during the funeral, I was still trying to control every aspect of it. I had to. Who could blame me? My Mum was so depressed she couldn’t do anything, my two younger siblings barely knew what was going on and my relatives were either overseas or busy with work.

In reality, I was reluctant to do anything because all I really wanted to do was to sit at home and cry.

I especially hated having to arrange the funeral because I found Dad’s sudden death unbelievably ridiculous. He was just cycling two days ago, and he had never complained of any heart issues. I was so angry at God. How could He punish me like that? Why?

I tried my best. I wrote the eulogy while settling endless administrative matters. I hosted guests whom I appreciated but could not welcome heartily because I had just lost my parent and felt utterly deprived of space to weep. I was exhausted sharing anecdotes of my Dad to people who might not have met him in person. I even tried to ensure that the eulogy was delivered calmly, yet mildly humorous so as not to bore my audience.

Control, control, control. I didn’t sleep a wink.

But even in that dreadful week, God showed His faithfulness to me. Every day, I received encouraging and comforting text messages. Friends and church mates whom I thought I never had a connection with came regardless and grieved with my family and me.

The second night, I dreamt of my Dad queuing at Heaven’s gates. And when choosing the Bible verse for my Dad’s plaque in the niche, my sister and I searched randomly on the Internet until we chose Daniel 12:3 for its beauty. A week later, I found out that chapter features the archangel Michael, which is my Dad’s name.

“And those who are wise shall shine like the brightness of the sky above; and those who turn many to righteousness, like the stars forever and ever.” (Daniel 12:3)

If you’ve ever had to purchase a niche position, you’d know that the eye level ones are the hardest to get. All the eye level niches were crossed out from the availability chart by the time we received it.

Nevertheless, the day we went down to the columbarium we learnt that the number “0414” was the only eye level niche not taken up. April 14 was Good Friday, the same week my Dad passed away in. I think he would have liked it. It was a divine gift.

I knew all these things happened because God wanted to reassure us that even the suffering of life is part of His divine plan, and He is with us every step of the way. He would never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6).

But this truth felt far away on the darker days.

I came to harbour a quiet bitterness towards people who did not understand my pain. I mean, how many people in their mid-twenties have had experienced their parent dying overnight of a heart attack with no warning signs at all?

How many people could truly comprehend, empathise with and relate to the deep regrets and self-hatred I had in my heart? How many friends could I cry with? How many people saw how it fractured my life?

Even my Mum and siblings had different ways of dealing with grief, oscillating between denial and distraction.

My grief was uncontrollable. It would come like a thief in the middle of the night, in the day, during bus rides.

I did not trust that anyone would understand my experience, and most people understandably did not have the courage to probe. My grief was uncontrollable. It would come like a thief in the middle of the night, in the day, during bus rides.

But just when I thought the darkness would never end, God mercifully brought two sisters-in-Christ who had similar experiences to journey with me. They graciously saved me from falling into the Devil’s crafty lie that no one cared – not even God himself.

“For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39)

Over the months that have passed, God has met me personally in my grief and hopelessness. He’s been there in my loneliness, purposelessness and anger. I can say this with all my conviction: It has been an arduous process, but He has not let me go. Though my whole world might fall apart – I know I will never fall out of His love.

As a former control freak, I’ve now accepted that I cannot control everything that happens to me. But I do know that all that has happened is of His divine will, and I’m letting that be enough.

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I’m way too bad at goodbyes

by | 9 October 2017, 4:20 PM

Sam Smith says he’s too good at goodbyes. Me too.

I used to pride myself on being the stronger person – that I’d be the one who would get over a relationship faster. I’m the one who feels less. I’m the one who loves less. I’ll get out before it’s over.

In the game of relationships, I had to be the better player.

But in the pursuit of proving myself, I forgot to ask: Even if I win, what’s the prize? So I found out the hard way, one day, when it was Game Over and I didn’t get to say goodbye first.

Player 1 left, and I was left hanging.

Everything people said about breakups was true. There’s nothing more maddening than to have clichés come true in your own life. I finally understood why people use the term “heart-wrenching” – it felt that way.

Even the air I breathed felt thinned out – it was suffocating, and I didn’t know if I could ever recover as all the lights in my world started to dim.

I wanted time to stop. I wanted everyone else to stop what they were doing. How could life go on like that?

But on the outside, I tried my best to function. I smiled, I ate, and I worked. But with my bedroom door closed, in the very room where I heard him say goodbye, I could barely manage to stand.

For days, I laid on the floor in my room because I couldn’t do anything else. I don’t think I’d ever felt this much pain in my life. I was angry and I was mad. But I knew I had to stay alive.

So I ran to a quiet room – to meet with God. It sounds like a cliché, doesn’t it – “Yeah, go to God.” But it was the only thing I knew could save me from the overwhelming grief that threatened to swallow me up.

I sat there with a box of tissues. I didn’t ask for answers, I didn’t even ask why it had to happen. I simply asked for His presence.

God didn’t show up like a genie, because my pain didn’t go away immediately. He didn’t come in a rushing wind, or in any dramatic fashion, and my heart was still in pieces.

But in my brokenness, I saw my desperate need for God. God was my lifeline and I refused to let go.

You will cry a lot, but don’t let go.

My road out of the confusing fog of pain was a long one, and it wasn’t always clear if I really was walking out of it. But I was thankful for the drab routines. It was in the winding journey of showing up for work and my small conversations with strangers that life began to form again in the shell of a person I had become.

Everything in me screamed for isolation, but God knew that I needed people. So at my new workplace, without even mentioning my newly-broken heart, I began to experience healing – just by being in the company of people.

In the months ahead, I learnt to laugh again. And I learnt to feel. The raw and fierce pain wrapped up in my heart helped me to empathise with others who are also hurting, others who are also in pits of despair of their own.

In the messy aftermath of aborted relationships, failure and regrets are never far away. But I now know that grace and mercy are also never far away.

There are days when I felt like I’ve moved on, and then other days when out of nowhere, my old friend grief comes by and reminds me of the things I don’t need. Don’t you wish for complete closure? Don’t you want more answers? You’re a failure!

When anxiety wants to take over and replay the unpleasant memories, I’ve learnt that the only way out of it to refuse going down that path.

Unlike Sam Smith, I don’t think I need to be good at it, but I have to say goodbye.

Heartache is always just one ingredient in the nasty concoction of lost love. In the messy aftermath of aborted relationships, failure and regrets are never far away.

And from my own experience, I know that grace and mercy are also never far away. It came in the form of work that kept me occupied. It came in the quiet knowing that I’m going be okay. It came in my resolve to want to be okay. It came in God’s outstretched arm to me.

I don’t know how He did it, but God used every bit of my pain to bring me closer to Him. It wasn’t wasted. I could have easily gone the other way – further away from Him and deeper into the grave of self-pity – but I’m grateful that He saved me from that.

The girl who wanted to be good at goodbyes was simply afraid of being unloved. I used to believe that I wasn’t worthy of love because I’m not pretty enough. I believed that who I am wasn’t enough. I believed that I had to carry my family baggage of divorce forever. 

I wanted to be proven wrong – to find someone who would never leave. I had to learn that that’s a job only God can do. He alone can love us perfectly and give us worth.

When everything fell to the ground, I was destroyed. But bit by bit, over 6 months, God spoke His truth into me. He relaid my foundation when He told me that I am loved by Him, no matter what happened in the past.

He got me to rethink the notion that I had to carry my family baggage forever, because it just wasn’t true. So I surrendered it and finally accepted the new life that He gives, and left the old one behind – for good.

So … I don’t have to be good at goodbyes anymore.

And neither do you. If you’re going through a similar experience – you’ll be okay, because God loves you, and His love is a dependable one (Romans 8:38-39). If you doubt that God loves you, ask Him to show it to you. Let God– not another woman or man – prove it to you.

/ fiona@thir.st

Fiona is secretly hilarious. One of her dogs thinks so too. She loves a good chat with strangers, store assistants, and fluffy dogs.

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I’m an introvert, but I won’t let that be my excuse

by | 9 October 2017, 4:17 PM

I’m a claustrophobic introvert and it’s pretty obvious.

Me-time is my favourite time of the day. It’s when I just lie on my bed and read, or watch some YouTube videos. Just me and myself.

Needless to say, the days I dread most are the days when I have gatherings or events to head to. People. Humans. They drain the life out of me.

My closest friends know this: I hate socialising and meeting new people.

For instance, I was on my way to a church retreat after work one evening, when the sudden thought of having to interact with many strangers scared me. I made a U-turn and headed home instead.

I love solitude and silence. Left to my own devices, I would just stay at home forever — and I know I’m not the only one.

THE FRIEND WHO GOT AWAY

I got to know Janice (not her real name) in JC. We quickly became close friends because we were so similar. Janice was easily exhausted from being surrounded by people and overwhelmed by the tasks she had to do.

She began skipping classes once a week. Then it became twice a week. Eventually she was just never in school.

She kept retreating to her safe space and comfort zone.

I love solitude and silence. Left to my own devices, I would just stay at home forever — and I know I’m not the only one.

It became increasingly frustrating for us as her friends because we were constantly trying to track her down. We had to call her at home every morning to get her to come to school, and every night to make sure she got her homework done.

There was Project Work to do, and there were SYF selections coming up. But Janice just stopped showing up.

She ended up repeating JC1, but eventually her escapism got the better of her and she dropped out of school altogether.

No one from my circle of friends in JC has managed to get into contact with Janice since.

THE INTROVERT’S ESCAPE

I totally understand the motivation behind Janice’s tendency to run from everything.

My current workplace has an “open desk” concept. That means there aren’t any cubicles or partition. Also, the office is basically housed in a renovated storeroom, so there isn’t exactly a lot of space.

I’m sandwiched between people and our team isn’t exactly the quietest and tidiest one around. It’s an introvert’s worst nightmare.

So when the option to work offsite came up, I jumped at it immediately. It felt like cold water for a thirsty man.

I was more productive at home. It was tidy, quiet and spacious. I got more things done and I saved time on commuting and lunch breaks. It was a win-win situation.

I rationalised my decision with the cold, hard statistics I could see tangibly. I mean, being in my comfort zone helps me!

Until I realised that it was becoming poison for my heart. On the days when I had to come into the office, I was filled with dread and frustration. I couldn’t wait for the day to be over so I could quickly get home to my safe place.

Work became merely a routine of tasks I had to complete. I didn’t know what was going on in my colleagues’ lives and how they were doing. Constantly retreating to my comfort zone, I switched off my interpersonal skills completely.

But it wasn’t supposed to be like that. Whatever happened to team spirit? Whatever happened to being there for one another? What happened to relationship building?

WHY I SHOW UP

Eventually I decided that I would show up in the office every single day. Even on our stipulated offsite days.

If I continued to stay in my comfort zone, where was the reliance on God? Where’s the room for God to move in unthinkable ways? Where’s the trust in God?

It would be so easy to live my life the way my personality would otherwise dictate. But I can’t let my introversion be my excuse that keeps me from living life to the fullest.

I still don’t go to gatherings as often as my friends would want me to, but I try. It’s difficult, but I ask God for help. For strength. For patience. For endurance. For joy. I ask Him to expand my perspective, that even in overly-social functions I can find meaning and purpose over sheer reluctance.

It would be so easy to live my life the way my personality would otherwise dictate. But I can’t let my introversion be my excuse that keeps me from living life to the fullest.

Maybe I’ll bless someone with my presence. Or maybe, I’ll be blessed by something someone will say to me.

I choose to show up. Not because I am obligated to. I know that doing things out of a spirit of obligation will eventually burn me out. But I see the greater picture: Christians can’t be light in a dark world without showing up. I cannot be a light in the world by hiding at home (Matthew 5:14).

Jesus first showed up for me.

This is why I choose to lay my introversion down at the altar. This is why I show up.

/ christina@thir.st

Christina is a designer and a writer. She is an INFJ who loves matcha, beautiful typography, good books and sad music. She also dreams of raising her own pet penguin one day.

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