Apr 24, 2014

Christian Fellowship: A Reflection

Today we had an NUS UTown VCF (Varsity Christian Fellowship) praise and worship gathering. I felt pretty awkward initially since I barely knew anyone other than the few Yale-NUS people there... the seminar room filled up... but when praise and worship started, man, it was fantastic. And seamless - the sound system worked perfectly. (Neil Chan led the bulk of it - hey hey hey! But it was nothing about him and who he was at all. He was a mere servant, a fellow lover of God and worshipper, one leading us all in articulating our dedication, and his honed talents were God's tools.)

The professionalism, the seamless transitions and unbroken flow of worship. God's presence, and the love of the people, were so tangible. What distinguishes an average dull gathering of Christians from a powerful session is simply God's presence. The best thing about it was that I felt so free in my worship. The lights were off and we were standing, and I felt free to express my love for God in my own way. Some hands were raised, some weren't; some stood a little further away to give themselves more space; some eyes were wiped; voices were loud in song. I could lift my hands if I wanted, I could stretch them all the way, it didn't matter at all. And I was reminded of the NUS VCF camp in December '12, and how much I loved the praise and worship there too. Not overly intense, and not rigid; comfortable simply because it gave you the freedom to worship as you wanted.

And that's how it should be after all, since NUS VCF is inter-denominational and you have to let people worship as they're used to, as long as their hearts are directed towards Him.

I was like, wow, and this is what a campus Christian Fellowship needs to be like. We youths are full of passion and energy, and look at God's presence in this place, and everyone's hearts. CF sessions need to be run with 100% devotion and focus - can we give God any less? And when the hearts of the session leaders are closely knit with God, they can channel the flow of the Spirit to everyone else.

I felt a huge conviction in the midst of it all. CF needed to be like this. The worship had to come back to a place of freedom and genuineness; CF needed to be able to direct all our hearts and will back to Him. And then I felt such a burden, so guilty, so regretful, that things weren't as strong as they should be right now. That we were still experimenting and lacking a concrete direction and action plan.

And then we sang Our God, and the bridge goes And if our God is for us, then who could ever stop us / And if our God is for us, then what could stand against? And I was reminded that as long as God was in control of this CF, as long as He was always at the centre of it as our inspiration and guide, as long as His will was what was most important, then this would not fail. CF would still be able to work towards directing hearts to Him, towards helping the Christians here grow in spiritual depth, and in love for God and one another. God will lead the way, God will lead the way. And we are green and new but we don't have to figure this out alone.

Apr 21, 2014

Compassion without action is useless

The worst feeling is when you share someone's burden in your heart, yet cannot do anything to help. I felt that so acutely today. Pris sprung into action, knew the things to do, called for tissue. MMJ was already on his phone, giving out the what and where. And all I could do was sit there, wishing I could do something. What's the point of compassion when it cannot translate into action?

"Why don't we all go for a break now," she said, and we all filed out because it was the right and respectful thing to do, in stunned silence. After a while commotion started picking up again, people wilfully moving on, but the toilet conversations were still of care. And I couldn't ignore the weight. She noticed me standing there and came by with a "hey, you alright?" and gave me a long, very long hug. Ten minutes must have gone by, and I stood there motionless, soaking in the sturdy warmth of another person, letting her strength become my own. People walked by. Laughter. Coffee. I hope he's fine, I said, but it was more than that. It was a regret at not being able to help. And look, wasn't this ironic. It wasn't me who was in need, and yet I became needy when I should have been able to help a need.

I thought back at all the times I was in pain, and someone around me knew exactly what to do to relieve it. Mostly my parents. But it made all the difference in the world that someone could help me when I was completely helpless. And I wished I could do the same. I wished I could get over myself, get over my own anxiety and step into summoned courage because someone needed it.

I'm saying this here because I don't want to fall back on my commitment: I will take up a first-aid course this year. I will get over my own fears, fight the trauma and the nausea that another person's discomfort causes me to feel, and be useful. So people say I'm a very compassionate person but all that goes on within yourself is useless when it can't translate into anything positive on the outside.

Apr 18, 2014


“I looked across the expanse of my shame, the ocean of disobedience; Christ took my hands and said “This is not for you to see, look to Me.” and I did, and I was made new.”

T.B. LaBerge; Go Now

Apr 10, 2014

the Dalai Lama's what's up

(on happiness)
We are sustained in this great quest for happiness, it seems to me, by hope. As an old Tibetan proverb puts it, The next life or tomorrow - we can never be certain which will come first. But we hope to go on living. We hope that through this or that action we can bring about happiness.


(on independence)
We find modern living organised so that it demands the least possible direct dependence on others...This in turn encourages us to suppose that because others are not important for my happiness, their happiness is not important to me.

Apr 4, 2014

Why We Continue To Love

[this was from a couple of weeks back; things have changed now, but i felt i should post it anyway]

I am such an emotionally dependent person, and I get hurt a lot from it. It's very painful, and the process is accompanied by a lot of self-anger and bitterness and tears. I'm getting much stronger now, but it has been a journey of so much pain these past many years.

Yah, in Part 1 of Shackles, was desperate to be loved: she couldn't live without someone else, letting every ounce of life and hope hinge on him. And it's very ugly, and I don't like that image, and I don't want it in me.

The night I broke down in a friend's room, she said that I was beautiful precisely because of my huge love for my friends, and it was a part of who I was. Your ability to love is a part of your identity. Don't let other people affect how you love. That struck me. Most of the time people tell you not to bother loving someone who doesn't seem to love you back. But this time, it's about giving to people simply because it's a part of who I am. Their response doesn't matter.

It's like how we can depend on God's love because it's His nature to love. We can be holy or rebellious, but we know He always loves us the same anyway, because His love is based on who He is, not what we do.

I happened to talk to someone else about it. She said she admired my ability to let myself be vulnerable, but I said it isn't a choice; it's something I'm trying to fight to break out of.

She said: it's not completely ugly. Yah isn't completely ugly when she desperately loves someone and lets him crush her heart. This sort of vulnerability forces pride to disappear. We depend on another person to come alive again. This sort of love is self-forgetting: you give so much of yourself that you forget yourself. "This love is holy in this way, but I will also remember that there's always someone whom if I choose to be vulnerable to, will not be cold, and will reciprocate many times over."


There is a certain loveliness to walking barefoot on road and pavement and sand. My shoe broke today. (I spend 90% of my life within a single building and it has to break when I’m out.) But I’m enjoying being aware of the grains that greet my feet, the dust and gravel walking with me. Being a part of my surroundings, feeling the earth I trod on. Shoes are safe but sterile. Don’t cut yourself off from sensation.

salman rushdie: shame

He was wandering aimlessly, brooding upon the narrowness of his possibilities, when the earthquake began.
At first the mistook it for a shudder within his own body... He stood stupidly in that vitreous downpour of broken windows, unable to shake off the feeling of having imposed his private turmoils on the world around him, resisting the insane compulsion to seize hold of someone, anyone, in the milling, panicky crowd of pickpockets, salesmen and shoppers, to apologise for the trouble he had caused.

Apr 3, 2014

starting with the man in the mirror

A couple of days ago, I saw myself reflected in the tears of a fifteen-year-old. I told her that sometimes we like to think that our lives will straighten out in a couple of years; give it some time, and we will find better people, we will have a better time. But often these problems are actually within ourselves. And if we don't find a way to resolve the whirlwind inside us, the problems will never end. We will never find that relief.

It's like you're constantly trekking through tough terrain, your bare feet getting blistered and cut, and the only hope you can cling on to is that the ground will be less harsh on you eventually. But maybe it never will, and your feet will always hurt. What you can do is put some shoes on, do something within your power rather than wait for better things to come.

No, I'm not there yet. I'm still working on it. Trying to put my energy not on hoping for better situations, but on changing my attitudes. It's not going as well as I thought, but I'm still trying, fighting hope about things and people, gritting my teeth, pasting reminders all over my wall, hating being weak.