by Matthew Ng
When I first entered the working world, things did not go very well for me in terms of my faith. After years of being involved in ministry and youth work in church, I swore to myself that work was going to be the priority from then on and I was convinced that I would simply have no time for church. I often felt drained and exhausted by work and gave myself excuses not to pray or even attend mass. Sunday masses felt like a drag and I was simply going through the motions, my mind constantly swarmed either by work or ideas to get away from work. Weekends were a time to just crash and relax, while the rest of the week was centred on work. There was no time for God. So, as time went by, my life spiralled out of control. My relationships consequently suffered because my whole life became all about work alone. I felt like I had lost my sense of purpose and God was simply missing.
In time to come, I realised that I needed to find my way back to God. I remembered that my friends from University had created a community where they could continue to share their faith with each other. I sent an email to an old friend of mine, which led to me attending my first ever 1 Peter cell group meeting. And from that day on, I never looked back.
Being in 1 Peter has really been a daily blessing to me.
The community has been more than a social support group and more than just a group of friends. It has been like a family to me for the past three years. Being in community really calls for a great sense of accountability and vulnerability. And this has given me an opportunity to grow my faith even as I live amidst the realities of the world. I have been able to break out of my own comfort zone and share about the deepest struggles I face, without feeling judged or criticised by my brothers and sisters in the community. And as I opened myself up to others, I saw a change in my own spiritual life. I was no longer living just for myself, I was living for others. And it was true, because every authentic testimony and sharing would have the power to touch the person listening to it and bless them. The community has allowed us to grow together. We acknowledge each other’s struggles and we share in each other’s joys. But most importantly, we continue to assure each other that we are loved by God.
Each of us comes from very diverse backgrounds. Yet, we share the same faith. It is the belief that we are all called to be Jesus to each other and the faith that Jesus is walking with us in our joys and struggles. We do not simply get together for a drink to ‘forget our problems.’ We listen, support, pray for each other and lift each other up. If there is a need to ‘push’ each other along, we do so. But we always remember to put God in the centre of it all as we are just His instruments.
Being in a community has definitely changed the way I look at my faith. God is no longer just one of my many priorities. I have realised that I need to be constantly rooted in Him, both at work and also at rest. My faith is no longer just a Sunday obligation, or about forcing myself to serve in a ministry to feel like a ‘good Catholic’. Beyond that, I have grown to love myself for who I am – my weaknesses and my strengths, and I have grown to also love others for who they are. I have also been inspired to discern my own personal vocation seriously. 1 Peter has been very blessed in terms of vocation. I am not simply talking about religious life, but also the singles and married members who are equally committed to the faith.
Now, I look forward to the end of each working week, not simply because of the weekend but because I will to meet my community on Friday evening. Being in community has really allowed me to see life as more than just living for myself and my goals, but an opportunity to share God’s love with others each day.
I thank the Lord for gifting me with such a blessed group of brothers and sisters.
How my life has changed!
To find out more about the 1 Peter community, please click HERE.