#OYP200FOR200: Self- to God-Reliance (Jacqueline)

By Jacqueline Chong, Anchor Community 

From one of self-reliance to that of relying on the Lord: Wounded by the false image of what it means to be a woman – WEAK, I had built up a fortress around me, willing myself to rely on my own abilities and constantly prove my worth to those around me, including God. Through God’s grace, I learnt that being vulnerable with the Lord is not a sign of weakness, but that of strength. I desire to entrust my life and all its uncertainties to Him, and allow Him to be in the driver’s seat of my life.

Hi everyone, I am Jacqueline, and I have just completed my undergraduate degree in London. I used to characterise myself as an individual who is self-reliant, self-sufficient, and to a certain extent, self-made. I first came to know Jesus during Catholic Youth Day in 2019, where I made a commitment to get to know Him and start a relationship with Him. I thought that I was well acquainted with Him, having spent more time with Him in prayer, becoming more involved in the Anchor Community (Singapore Catholic Students studying in Europe) and my own university community. However, my relationship with God was built on unsteady foundations and would change, dependent on my mood. It was easy to sit and pray when there were few uncertainties, but each time I had to make important decisions, such as whether to serve in my university catholic community, which modules to take, how to lead my CG, or whether to attend a retreat, I found myself making these decisions first, then lifting them up to God, wishing that he will approve them, and never listening to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. As such, I came to attend the School of Christian Leadership (SoCL, a discipleship school for university students) only because my internship was unconfirmed. I entered with the mindset that I already desired Jesus, and was just there to equip myself with the necessary tools to serve the community. 

Oh, Jesus certainly had other plans. He desired for me to let go of my self-reliance and trust Him. He desired for me to retile the foundations of my relationship with Him. He sent me the first hard truth: Only when I was ready to admit my inadequacies could He reveal His truth to me. For the first five (of 10 days of the school), I constantly willed my heart to be open and receptive to the Holy Spirit’s promptings. However, each night, frustration grew as although I could convince my head that God is great and I am his Beloved, I had great difficulties in believing it. I realised that I was scared to let Jesus into my tomb and into all my ugliness. 

It was revealed that this stemmed from my false image of what it means to be a woman – WEAK. The Holy Spirit revealed that all my life, I have tried to fight this image, to be brave and courageous in all that I did, and to ensure that I never appeared weak or incapable to anyone around me. I started to build a fortress around me to shield myself from feeling, and these walls were reinforced in the situations I placed myself in. Furthermore, each time I gained recognition for my achievements, I became more convinced that I could do this alone, and I did not need to let anyone, including God, into my heart. 

The Holy Spirit revealed to be on Day Five, that vulnerability does not mean weakness. Instead, it stems from strength to entrust my life to God, in spite of the uncertainties that come along with it. Over the next few days, I learnt that only by being vulnerable and co-operating with the Holy Spirit could I accept God’s grace. I learnt that it is alright to be a work in process, and I affirm the truth that being whole is not being perfect, but instead being aware and choosing to live under the grace of God. 

Jacqueline with her SOCL group – our first fully-online SOCL!

A year after SoCL20, I am still tempted at times by worldly success and the desire to appear successful to those around me. There are still times where I wrestle with the Lord to gain back control of my own life’s trajectory. However, through small reminders, such as truths that I have penned down and stuck on the wall, through faith conversations with those around me, and spending time praying and being silent, I know from the bottom of my heart that God is with me, and that His plans are the best plans. The desire to choose to live under His grace far exceeds the temporary satisfaction and gratification that the world can offer me. I know that my journey of transforming into God’s new creation will be trying, having to slowly unpick the lies that have governed my life. But a year on, I am still excited to start anew, for I am reminded that his mercies are new every morning. 

Surely each of us have our own tombs that we are ashamed of. But the Lord reminds us that we are his Beloved, and that he loves every part of us. I challenge you to trust that the Lord is working slowly but surely in your life. Are you willing to take the first step into the unknown? I challenge you to say YES.