by Joanna Ong (right)
Since childhood, I have always been told that if I do my best and try hard enough, God will do the rest and I will do well. This seemed to be true in my secondary school days as I did well academically.
However, when I entered JC, my grades started to suffer. I struggled to keep up with my studies, and to do well in all areas of my life, from grades to CCA. As I put a lot of my self worth into my grades, I felt very put down when teachers would pass me my test papers and ask what happened. I felt like no matter how hard I tried, there was no progress. This brought me into an endless cycle of pushing myself extra hard to do even better the next round, not meeting expectations, being stressed out and then pushing myself again. After seeing my preliminary exam results and feeling greatly disappointed and stressed out, many lies came into my head about how I was not good enough and that no matter how hard I try, nothing would work. I wondered where God was in all of this. I felt like I had no hope of doing well for A levels. I spoke to my mentor and I was reminded that God had good plans for me like it says in Jeremiah 29:11, and if I felt like I did not have strength, He would give me the strength. Although this kept me going during A levels, it did not sink in deeply as I still made a lot of plans as a safety net. I felt that if my grades were not good enough, what good plan could God even give to me? I had to depend on myself to get the grades that the world said was good enough.
During SOW, God revealed to me how my constant need to know what was going to happen next and to be self-reliant, had pushed me further away from Him. During one of the sessions in the school, we were asked if we were following Jesus, or if we were trying to get Jesus to follow us and our plans. This struck me because I realised that I had become so self-reliant that I had closed my heart to trusting and relying on the Lord fully in all aspects of my life. I feared letting go of my control, and trusting God to be my safety net. During an outpouring of the Holy Spirit session,, I desired greatly to fully trust in God and to surrender my fears, worries, burdens and hurts to Him. As I was prayed for, I felt a sense of joy and peace. I knew in my heart that I need not be afraid of what the future holds but instead, that the Lord only wanted good things for me. His plan may not be what I expected, but there was a reason for all that has and would happen. I let go off the life I was clinging onto so tightly, and chose to trust in Him. In my heart, I already knew that I wanted God to be my safety net and let my self-worth rests in Him.
As I rested, I saw an image of the skies opening to show God looking down at us with such great joy. There were angels blowing their trumpets and praising God. God reminded me that nothing was impossible with Him, that I did not need to be afraid to trust in Him because He would always catch me when I fall. I felt the immense joy God felt when He looked at us, and how He was so happy that we were saying yes to Him. I realised that God was so powerful but so loving. He would walk with me through every trial and joy, all I had to do was to trust Him fully. He was a God that would never leave me. I knew that nothing in this world that happened would change the fact that I belonged to Him, I was His child. My grades do not define who I am, but only His love for me. And that is enough. All I needed to do, was to trust in His plan for me. Even if the waves crashed over me and told me all the lies, I would know that I was safe in His arms.
Since then, my perspective has changed. Gone are the desires to constantly be one step ahead of everyone because of the fear that my life will fall apart if I don’t plan. Instead, I feel a renewed sense of freedom and a stronger faith to keep trusting in Him. Now, even on the tough days, I’m conscious of the lies that the devil likes to overwhelm me with. Like “if you fail to plan, you plan to fail” and “you are not prepared enough, you NEED to have everything in control”.
Instead, I claim the truths that Jesus has a plan for me, that I don’t need to be in control and have knowledge of everything, and that I am enough. The expectations of others do not define me, my grades do not define who i am. I am a beloved child of God and I trust that He is holding my hand as I walk this journey of life all the way. Jesus wants to reach out His hand to save you from the storm, will you take His hand and trust Him?