Cheryl Fong (above photo, left), 28 years old
I am a cradle Catholic but not brought up in the faith. I grew up in a traditional Chinese household where achievements such as doing well in school were valued, and where mistakes and disobedience entailed being scolded and caned. I thought I had to earn love through doing things right and I strove to seek the validation of those around me. Even though I became more active in church at age 16, I struggled to see God as loving and I felt God’s love had to be earned.
I bore anger and resentment towards myself when I did not do as well as expected. I saw crying and being vulnerable as a weakness, and disliked sharing my feelings with others. I also had a distorted understanding of what love is, and resorted to physical intimacy in my relationship as an outlet for my frustrations. I reckoned that as long as I did not cross the line, there was still room for me to return to God. However, I was always overcome with guilt and I feared that He would reprimand me, and so I ran further away. Running and putting up a front to appear as if I have everything together was exhausting.
Having seen the transformed lives of friends who had attended SOW, I was curious. I entered SOW hopeful because of the support from my bosses, but part of me was still doubtful due to the lack of a personal relationship with God.
During SOW, I learnt about the Father’s love, and went through an activity where I, the prodigal daughter, returned into God’s loving embrace. I broke down as I was being prayed for and told that I was very loved by God. God also gave me the grace to see that I had grown tired of relying so much on myself and that it was okay to not be okay. Crying is not a sign of weakness, but of humility and trust, and allowing God’s love and comfort to enter my heart.
God revealed to me that my heart was restless because I pinned my identity on other things. He also revealed that His love for me is unconditional and unwavering, despite the many times I was self-reliant. I realised that my turning to physical intimacy was a lack of trust in God’s ability to help me through my struggles. God’s love for me is freely given to me, and all He wants me to do is to allow myself to be loved, and to bring my struggles to Him. God has so much more to show me about what love is. He is not an angry God, but the perfect expression of love. Slowly but surely, I learnt to place my identity in Him alone and not in my achievements.
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Since these encounters, I’ve grown to be more open to God’s invitation to let go and let Him take the lead. There are times I still struggle, but God continues to invite me to surrender my self-reliance and struggles to Him. Instead of chasing after what the world says I should be, I now desire to develop a deeper relationship with God. I enjoy giving thanks to God each day and especially important on bad days when I feel like running away. The simple acts of praying and journaling also remind me that God is faithful and with me in my struggles. I am also learning to share my feelings with trusted individuals even though it is still a struggle for me. Sharing my struggles allows me to bring things to light and receive God’s healing. My fiancé and I have also committed ourselves to pursuing a life of chastity, and to be bold in talking about our struggles and speaking truths to each other.
“I am chosen, Not forsaken, I am who You say I am.” (Who you say I am, Hillsong).
God has always loved me, and I no longer need to seek love and validation from the world, but to turn to God and accept His love wholeheartedly.
Brothers and sisters, God has illuminated the darkest areas of my life and showed me my beauty as a child of God amidst my brokenness. Will you allow Him to be the light that shines in your darkness?
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