12 years with Seets: What I’ve learnt from this feisty chilli padi
Diane Leow // February 26, 2021, 11:55 pm
All photos courtesy of Diane Leow.
About 12 years ago, I was invited to a Christmas party. At the time, I was living overseas, but I was in Singapore for my break and had no Christmas plans.
What I didn’t realise was that I’d meet a whole bunch of people, including a girl holding a digital camera, enthusiastically asking everyone to take a photo with her. My initial reaction?
Who are you and why do you want a photo with me? What I didn’t realise was that in her head, she thought I was incredibly rude for not saying yes.
We became fast friends after that night. Even though we lived oceans apart, we set regular dates on MSN Messenger – when it was still a thing – and spoke about everything under the sun: boys, food, school, life.
Above all, we brought questions about our faith to each other and tried to make sense of life as it unfolded.
It’s at this point I want to say: I’ve had 12 years with Seets, but even if you’ve had five years, two years, two months, or if you’ve never met, your pain is valid and it still matters.
It doesn’t mean I hurt more and therefore deserve more attention. You have a safe space here.
In the past few days, I’ve had to confront the fact that I have lost one of my best friends.
I will never get to wake up to a “good morning!” message from her. My children will never get to meet Auntie Seets, who would no doubt have loved them and spoiled them. We will never get to sit at Adam Road hawker centre to have our favourite BBQ stingray, or to head overseas and take silly pictures while planning to hunt down the best fried chicken money can buy.
What brings you pain about losing Seets? I’m going to pause for a couple of seconds for you to have the space to have a think.
Those who know her, or know of her, would know that the Christian faith is a central part to Seets’ life, but it wasn’t always this way.
It truly has been my privilege to walk alongside her for more than 10 years and watch how miraculous God is – and how He has shown up time and time again, even when I didn’t think He would.
For those who aren’t familiar with Christianity, a few things are key.
We believe that God is not an angry or distant being who delights in suffering here on earth.
If we choose to bring our pain to Him, He will show us how to view it in a new light…
On the contrary, God sent His son, Jesus Christ, to earth as a way to connect with humankind, who – if we would admit – can be very stubborn and not want to submit our lives to a God who cannot be seen.
Jesus died for our sins, even the things we think aren’t sins, because God knew we could strive to be a remarkable human being and still need saving.
Seets and I, and I’d like to think 99.9% of all Christians, have had trouble with leading a Christ-like life a lot of the time.
We’ve spent a lot of time debating over how God views suffering, if prayer works, and why being a Christian seems simple but also difficult at the same time.
There are many things I could say tonight, but I have somehow managed to condense them into three things – three ways we have seen God’s glory in Seets’ life.
I’ve tried to find a definition for God’s glory and this is my favourite, from writer and theologian John Piper: God’s glory is the source and sum of all full and lasting joy.
GOD IS NOT INDIFFERENT TO OUR PAIN
I first caught a glimpse of God’s glory through Seets’ brokenness.
There was private pain too – when she struggled with singleness and grappled with her identity and sought to bring reconciliation within her family.
I think it takes a brave soul to be able to confront her pain when most of us would want to run from it, as far as possible.
When she had to start wearing a wig, she’d do so with much joy, even if it did bring lots of questions.
Is God interested in my healing? Will anyone love me the way I am? Will I ever have a full head of hair ever again?
All of us here who have been touched by her are a testament to her commitment to constantly lay her worries and questions to Jesus – even when she didn’t feel like it, even when she felt lame for doing so, even when she wasn’t sure if she was going to ever get an answer.
She taught us firsthand that God is not indifferent to our pain. And if we choose to bring it to Him, He will show us how to view it in a new light, and in turn reflect the light towards others.
It is why we are here today.
EVERY LIFE IS WORTHY OF GOD’S LOVE
If you’ve known Seets for awhile, you will know she was – and I’m still getting used to the past tense – a feisty chilli padi.
Her fierce love for everyone around her meant she was absolutely on your side, and anyone in her way would face her wrath. She would not hesitate to tell you what she thought and seldom lost sleep over what others thought of her.
The Seets we know in the past few years hadn’t lost that spark. The breadth and depth in which she loved was absolutely remarkable.
She made sure people who were isolated were seen. She never failed to remind her girlfriends that they were beautiful and worthy of a good love. She defended the honour of those who had their reputations sullied.
She took that feisty energy, quite literally asked God what to do with it, and transformed into a powerful woman whose words were not just accurate but also personal.
She knew Jesus, too, had his moments of anger, and never felt she needed to change on a fundamental level.
What she wanted to change however, was what people thought of God, and she would not stop to show them what it means to be Jesus’ hands and feet.
How far would you go to show someone your love – and God’s love – today?
There are many examples I could share about this, but this comes to mind.
My own father is not a believer. After he met and got to know Seets at my wedding, he often asked about her and reminded me to look after her as much as I could.
In 2019, I casually mentioned to Seets that I was thinking of inviting my dad to church for Christmas as my husband would be acting in our annual production. Without missing a beat, she said: “Tell him I’ll go if he does.”
For context: Seets was in the middle of her first round of chemotherapy for breast cancer and didn’t even attend my church. She was weak, didn’t have much energy, and honestly had better things to do than attend church for the sake of my father.
I told her it was okay, that she didn’t have to. But she said: “Every life is worth it. Your dad is worth it. Just tell him I’ll be there if he comes.”
Every life is worth it. She said it.
How far would you go to show someone your love – and God’s love – today?
I’ve known and loved Seets for a long time, and here’s how she will live on in me.
She always saw the best in me and called it out whenever she could.
She made sure I knew what my gifts were, and that I made a plan to share it with the world – not for fame nor fortune but for a bigger cause – to let people know that I love them, and that they are loved beyond anything they could ever imagine.
DEATH DOESN’T NEED TO HAVE A LASTING STING
On Tuesday, the day she crossed over from this life to the next, I could not fall asleep. After scrolling through Instagram for hours, I finally decided to pray.
When I closed my eyes, I saw a vision that I believe to be from God.
It was Seets, with long flowy black hair and a cool pair of glasses. Her left boob, which had been ravaged by cancer, was back!
She was full of life and running through hills, in a place I believe to be heaven. It’s almost as if she went to sleep one day and woke up the next in Jesus’ arms.
Like my friend Jasmine said: “We can imagine her going, ‘Hellu! It’s you! Yay!’”
Seets’ transfiguration into a whole and healed version of herself taught me the last lesson – that death doesn’t need to have a lasting sting.
That all her questions eventually found their home when she returned to her heavenly home.
Is God interested in my healing? Yes.
Will anyone love me the way I am? More than you could ever imagine – on both sides of eternity.
Will I ever have a full head of hair ever again? Yes, my love. Yes.
Seets is not gone. She has gone home, and is probably exploring heaven right now, hunting down the best nuggets and worshipping Jesus.
She lives on in you and me.
How will you honour her life? What will you commit to doing in the days ahead? What will you pursue to make your time here worth every minute?
She’d want you to know: Jesus was always the better thing.
She’d tried everything to satisfy that thirst, but only God’s love quenched it through it all – through the questions and the pain.
I love you Seets. Say hello to Jesus for me. I’ll see you soon.
This eulogy was first delivered at Seets’ funeral service on February 26, 2021 (Friday) and has been adapted with permission.
To leave a tribute or read Seets’ news articles and stories, visit @abetterting on Instagram or the website created by her friends to remember her life together. Please keep her family and loved ones in prayer during this time of grief.
THINK + TALK
- Will you bring your pain to God and invite Him to journey with you through it?
- How can you show someone your love – and God’s love – today?
- What will you pursue to make your time on earth worth every minute?