by Vivien Mak (above photo, middle), 19 years old
Before coming to the School of Witness, I was contented with life. I didn’t discern about coming to SOW or made any big sacrifices but was pressured by my older brother. So I signed up and told myself if I get in, I get in. Thus, I found myself on this 2-month journey, completely unprepared and with no expectations.
Growing up, I decided that the best way to live was to be independent and depend on no one emotionally. I didn’t need anyone or anything because I knew what’s best for me and I could trust only me. This was because when I was in primary 6, I was hurt and betrayed by my close friends. One day they decided to stop talking to me without any explanation. Once, I was coincidentally walking behind them but they accused me of stalking them and being obsessed with them. This left a deep wound within me. This was compounded by the harsh words I received from my eldest brother and father growing up. To protect myself, I decided it was safest to keep my inner thoughts and feelings to myself, and relying on my strength alone. I was enough for me, and I didn’t need God.
During the week on wholeness in SOW, I struggled badly. The sessions and reflections dug up old and painful events in the past, and I really struggled to trust God and accept His love for me in those periods. I started to feel anger and despair at God as I felt that I had already reconciled these painful moments on my own but now God wanted me to relive the pain again. To cope with these hurts, I always chose to belittle my pain, telling myself that others had greater hurts than I. To be told to leave this mindset behind was difficult. Upon further reflection, I knew I had to face the truth that I needed healing from these hurts. However, I kept running away from God’s love because I felt unworthy.
One day, I saw a vision of myself lying paralysed in fear. I felt like a lost cause, unable to open my heart to Jesus, unable to surrender control because of the walls I had put around my heart that I didn’t know how to take down. I had unknowingly let these hurts affect my perception of God. One night however, as I laid on a bench, I saw a clear night sky full of stars. For me, it was a reminder of God’s promise that even when I felt like I couldn’t move, He meets me where I am. Truly, when I wanted to be quietly forgotten, Jesus demanded that I be seen. His relentless prodding finally pushed me to take the first step to Him when my cell group carried me to the cross during a paraliturgy. He spoke truths through them over me and broke through my walls of unbelief to rely on Him. I felt peace and hope, and that Jesus leaves none of his beloved behind to fend for themselves, including me. I realized that wholeness is not about being completely healed and free of pain, but in surrendering the pain to Jesus.
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Now looking back, I see how God has always been faithful. The things I thought were achieved by me, were actually achieved His strength in me. I have come to realise that He is my safe place where I can rest before I continue to take on the world! Jesus wants to do great things for all of us, but first we must allow Him to. Despite the discomfort, I have learned to pray to surrender things that weigh my heart down. When in the past I thought it was useless to surrender, I now claim that every time I pray for surrender it gets easier to trust in Him. I try to live excellently in bringing joy and love to those around me for His glory, and I continue to walk this journey with Him. His promises remain unbroken, and as He has shown me my sky full of stars, I hope you can also start to see your own sky full of stars too!