by Wei Lynn Tan
When I heard about SOCL, I was very hesitant to sign up. Would I be able to really make it through a 10 day retreat? It felt like too tall an order for someone who had only recently begun to take her faith life seriously. However, it was by God’s grace that I received the reassurance that I needed through a prayer from a beloved sister in Christ. In retrospect, it was God’s call to me to come back home to Him through SOCL. I hadn’t realised how much of a toll the semester had taken on me, physically, mentally and spiritually. I thought that I more or less had it all together. I felt that God was done with me, and that it was just up to my strength and willpower to strive towards Him.
In the first few days of SOCL, we had several paraliturgies about claiming our identity as children of God and receiving the Father’s love. These sessions were very meaningful and I was almost dehydrated from all the crying I’d done. I thought to myself that I’d gotten it all ‘out of my system’ and that I was already good to go by day 3. Listening to other people sharing and testifying also made me feel as though my problems were insignificant in comparison. I came from a whole family that was Christ-centred, had parents and friends who loved me, so how could I complain? Subconsciously, I began to put a positive spin on all my sharings, giving glory to God for all the blessings he had showered me with. In itself, that was not wrong, but this act of pretending I was totally fine was constantly on my mind and there was a heaviness in me that I could not explain. Through a passing conversation with a fellow community member, I was asked, “how much of this is what you know in your head, versus what you believe in your heart?” I was taken aback by the question, it was one I had been asking myself, but to have it voiced to me forced me to face it. I realised that I had been receiving a lot of head knowledge the last few days, but my heart was still closed to God. It really hit me that I was not allowing myself to be vulnerable to the Lord and open to receiving His love. I had put God in a box, thinking that He only had so much to give, and that He had to give it to those who were most in need – of which I was not included. SOCL really showed me that it was okay to be weak – that there’s nothing too insignificant; God truly knows me through and through.
Prior to SOCL, I was also convinced that I could do it on my own. That it would just be me and God and that would be enough. But through SOCL, I have been humbled to know that I cannot walk this journey alone. I truly experienced the beauty of community, and have come to realise how integral a part it plays in my journey with Jesus. Knowing that there are people to carry me to the cross when I am unable to do so myself gives me so much reassurance. I am truly filled with hope as I embark on this journey with my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ, to build God’s kingdom.
God has really given me new eyes, in the way I see myself, and others around me. He has showed me that He will come to me where I am, and will speak to me in ways that I understand – all I need to do is to be still and listen. I am challenged to place my pride and need for self-sufficiency at the foot of the cross. To come to Jesus in my most broken and vulnerable state, for there is nothing that He does not already know about me. I really want to praise God for pursuing me relentlessly and for revealing areas of hurt where His perfect love heals.