read our stories of faith
Once I realized that the end of the retreat meant the beginning of my journey in polytechnic, I was anxious and overwhelmed. I had heard stories from my friends and relatives about the secular nature of the school. I was scared of the challenges that were to come, whether my priorities would change, whether my friendships would change, whether I would change.
Instead, I sought to fulfil myself through the worldly pursuit of my grades, my achievements and my social life. I told myself that as long as I attained these worldly treasures, I would be satisfied. However, although I attained some of these treasures, I found myself still searching for this fulfilment – this joy that would last – but never could I find it.
As someone who had always rejected Christianity, it would have been unthinkable for me to set foot in a church. Somehow, I was called to the Church and attended the first mass of my life, RCIY, and was baptised on 10 April 2021. Looking back, it still amazes me how much things have moved in my life since I opened myself up to God. How was someone so faithfully unfaithful led to faith?
On days where I wasn’t dozing off during mass, I would cross my arms during homily waiting to see if the message would speak to me and it almost always never did. My first 2 years of university life were spent being consumed with studies, CCA (Aquathlon – a biathlon consisting of a swim and run; I was in the executive committee for 3 years) and leading an overseas community service project. There CLEARLY wasn’t time for God. Or so I thought.
There were many instances where the desires I had for my life did not pan out in the way I intended, often being told by Jesus that he had different plans from that of what I had for myself. One of the toughest moments was the abrupt end of my dream of becoming a pilot in 2018. As a result, I always struggled with the question “so, what’s next for you?” as it always seemed to be changing.
Back then after graduation, like all other fresh graduates, I was so excited to begin working life. Endless assignments and studying in school had finally ended and the beginning of tasting “freedom” as a working adult was so exciting. Ambitions and pride of securing my first job in a popular graduate program also began to cloud my own vision of what God really wanted me to pursue as a working adult.
When the haemorrhaging woman stretched out her hand to seek healing, Jesus stopped to look at her and she was healed (Mark 5:25-34). Unemployed with a potential cancer diagnosis, this is a testimony of how Jesus stopped for me and invited me to walk and trust in Him. As I worried about how my life would look like, Jesus never let me succumb to my fears. Instead, He outdid my fears and gave me so much more…
Being baptised as a Catholic since I was born; others have always taught me that Jesus was something important in my life. But despite going for catechism class, confirmation camp and weekly masses; I never really understood what it meant to be in friendship with Jesus. As such, like the crowd in the story of the paralytic man; I chose to love Jesus from a distance, observing Him from afar.
Of course, living a life in Christ has not always been a bed of roses and glamourous. Often, we had to forgo many things in life, wear crowns of thorns and struggle with doubts and criticisms from others. This is the cost of discipleship expounded by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. In the words of St. Peter, “Lord, to whom shall we go?” (John 6:68)
COVID19 certainly has been challenging time for each of us…and to deal with the aftermath of lockdowns and restrictions has been a common experience shared by many. For myself, I am also subject to the uncontrollable circumstances, and have found myself facing one of the biggest challenges which I find increasingly difficult to evade – and that is the first community at home, my family.
Despite growing up in a family of 4 children, loneliness was an emotion that I often felt from a young age. My parents’ relationship was rocky as I grew up, and as the eldest of 4 children, I often felt the need to be strong for both my parents and my three younger siblings. In school, I struggled to forge close friendships with my peers due to some encounters with bullies that left me feeling excluded.