“Beyond my wildest dreams”: Taking small steps towards my calling in mental health
This World Mental Health Day (October 10), we recognise the importance of mental wellness and remember those who may be struggling.
Athel J Hu // October 8, 2020, 2:23 pm
In February, I resigned from my job as an instructor with a local university, setting my heart to embark on an amazing journey of adventure with God.
The plan? Start a social enterprise to offer mental health courses and workshops.
The nudge came at a time when I was flourishing in my career, having been among the rare few who received a promotion to my current position. I felt that the Lord’s favour was upon me.
I even thought to myself: “My teaching scores are great, and I even got to write a new subject on mental health and the kids are loving it. Isn’t this what you have always called me to do Lord?”
But Lord’s intent was clear when He spoke to me through Haggai 1:2-11, which tugged at my heart since last December.
“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your panelled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” (Haggai 1:4)
I knew that I was running away from the work that He truly wanted me to do, choosing instead to stay in my comfort zone.
Though I found much joy in my calling of teaching what I love, sowing seeds and grooming the next generation, deep down inside I felt a sense of emptiness. Something was amiss.
I was busy and had been receiving high scores for my teaching. But the additional load of administrative work was draining me out, and I began to feel that I wasn’t getting the desired outcomes I expected.
BIGGER, BETTER DREAMS
It was then I started to understand what the Lord meant by:
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house.” (Haggai 1:9)
Ever since I started my mental health advocacy work last September, the Lord has never stopped showing me that there remains much to be done.
While I really enjoyed engaging with my students, I came to realise that there was a need to educate the general public on mental health.
During a conversation with a good friend, she also brought a new perspective to Haggai 1.
Although the context for that passage was how Haggai was urging the returned exiles to reconstruct the temple, the call to “building the house of the Lord” reminded me to turn my focus to being concerned with the Church.
I realised I had to raise awareness of mental health among Christians in particular, especially when there was so much misconception on the topic within the community.
In prayerfully seeking the Lord for a name for the social enterprise, I was led to name it Mentidote, which carries the meaning of a “mental health antidote”. Combining the words of “menti” and “dote”, it also encapsulates the idea of loving and caring for a person’s mental health.
My vision for Mentidote is to see a world where everyone knows how to love and care for one’s own mental well-being and that of others, instead of a world where people are hurting.
That is why our logo has this tagline: Healing Hearts. Mending Souls.
INTO THE DEEP I WILL GO WITH YOU
When I thought that I was only good at teaching and academic research, He has revealed to me through this journey that He has given me more talents.
Many times the Lord also spoke to me through different passages in His Word, such as the story of Moses (Exodus 4:10-13), reminding me that He isn’t looking for people who are capable, but people who have the heart to serve Him.
I felt the Lord was affirming me that it was time to venture out into unchartered waters to minister to His people in the area of mental health.
He also assured me that He will provide, steering me onto paths that I could get more stable forms of income.
He opened doors to other institutions to teach part-time right immediately after I tendered my resignation, and showed me that I could pursue other aspects of my dreams such as writing and publishing.
Not only that – He orchestrated divine appointments, reconnecting me with several entrepreneur friends whom I have lost touched with. Even the founder of Emmaus Strategies kindly responded to me when I reached out after reading his testimony on Thir.st.
All of them offered valuable advice that helped me in the process of getting my startup off the ground.
“Pay attention to the people God puts in your path if you want to discern what God is up to in your life.” – Henri Nouwen
From my cousin who came alongside to help me incorporate the company, to my former students who volunteered to help me out, I am thankful that He has provided people to guide me along. I don’t think I would have been able to step out without their support.
I knew this had to be the Lord’s work since a large part of my inertia stemmed from the fact that I’m not business-minded at all.
The Lord also showed me what exactly I could do for my social enterprise, such as conducting mental health workshops since the public may still be resistant towards counselling.
Even before COVID-19 struck, the Lord specifically told me to run online courses and workshops for accessibility and cost reasons, so I was in awe when everything went online as a result of the pandemic.
The situation also enabled me to get sources of funding, which I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to get.
GOD, THE GREATEST VISIONARY
Looking back, things have been extremely divine!
I recall how I had attended a prophetic art exhibition in December 2018 when an artist prophesied over me as I stood by her painting. Anchored on Ephesians 3:20, her work was titled Beyond Your Wildest Dreams. She sensed the Lord was calling me out for a social cause, and that He had granted me many talents.
After resigning from my job and embarking on my social entrepreneurship journey, the Lord again spoke to me through the painting, which is sitting right in front of my bed. He told me that the prophecy is coming to pass right before my eyes.
When I did my first talk and panel discussion with Singapore Youth for Christ earlier this year, I also received positive feedback. That was another affirmation from the Lord that I should continue to focus on building mental health literacy among the Christian community.
“Beyond my wildest dreams” definitely describes my life of late.
I am reminded to stop finding excuses for feeling inadequate like Moses did – for the Lord does not call the qualified, but those who are willing and have the heart for Him.
I am trusting that as I take little steps on this dream journey with Him, He will reveal the next step, every step of the way. Indeed, He has never failed me.
As missionary Hudson Taylor has said: God’s work done in God’s way will never lack God’s supply.
My adventure has only just begun, and I am looking forward to ride on this rainbow of dreams with Him!
THINK + TALK
- Is there anything that God may be calling you to step out in faith to do?
- In what areas have you seen God’s fingerprints in your life?
- What does it mean to concern yourself with the business of God and build His kingdom on earth?