2014 has been one difficult year of setbacks after setbacks. Yet, through each of these setbacks, I begin to understand myself better; like an onion, each setback peeled off a layer that revealed something new about myself to me. Yet, just as I thought I am beginning to understand who I am, something else will happen and I will get thrown off once again. This is one frustrating and necessary process if I truly seek a breakthrough in my life. I try not to hurry myself but anyone, just ask anyone, anyone who knows me will know just how impatient I am. Despite all these, there remains much in 2014 to be thankful for. I shall share here the 5 thanksgiving items or else this post might just go on forever. 😛
P.S. As I was catching up on sermons by Paul Taylor from PBC, something he said, quoting Scott Grant, struck a chord with me: “Don’t waste your crisis. God could be showing up to show you something.” [In-exact quote]
1. God’s Provision
Transiting from full-time work to part-time work to a full-time break in these coming three months is nerve-wrecking. No doubt it is a blessing to be able to get a time-out and still able to maintain my current lifestyle, yet it hasn’t been easy. In fact, it feels so much easier and intuitive to give in to fears, insecurities and anxieties, and run back to work. You know, it is funny, but I think I now know how the Israelites feel after leaving Egypt. Yes, there is excitement, there is liberation, there is freedom, and there is also nothing, a sense of emptiness, a loss of identity… and instead of waiting for God to show up in His time with His will, I attempt to go my own way and very often missing the point. Through the past few months and even now, I can see how God has provided for this season of my life even before I realise I needed this, building up a storage of resources, both tangible and intangible that I can now call upon to support me during this rather awkward season in my life.
2. Family & Friends
It is true you know, when people tell you that it is during tough times that you know who are the ones who truly love you and will stand by you. I am aware how having me at home so often now can be straining for my parents. My extended family is also quietly anxious about my ‘mid-life crisis.’ Yet, through it all, they have been stoically silent and quietly supportive of my decision. They gave me space to make my own decision and I know in my heart they would be ready to catch me when I fall, i.e. get into trouble. As for friends, they have been the most amazing. When people tell you to call them anytime you need a free meal, you know you probably won’t really do that, but I appreciate the thought. Then there are the really sweet friends who make sure when we go out, either they pay or we go to places that are more affordable than places perhaps they are used to. Some people might see this as patronising but I appreciate the thought and gesture, and I am grateful. Then there are those who will check in on me once in a while to cheer me on, reminding me not to hurry and there is really no rush to get back to work. When I have nothing to offer and people continue to give to me, these are friends that certainly one should keep.
3. Failures & Setbacks
What doesn’t kill you will make you stronger. That is true. But what people often forget to tell you is, what doesn’t kill you can still inflict a lot of pain on you. Failures and setbacks often bring hurt and pain, which can cloud our judgement and makes us really emotional and insecure.It does take a lot to rise above all that pain to be rational, which in itself is a process that takes time. And it is hard to talk to people about our failures and setbacks. Either we are not close enough to that person, or we are embarrassed by ourselves, or we simply don’t want to sound whiny or needy. This can sometimes close us off to help that might bring us out of our depressed state a lot quicker than we were to do so on our own. Thankfully, even when there is no one in this world I can confide in, I can talk to Jesus, go to God in prayer and be filled by his peace and even joy. I know to non-Christians this sounds lame, but it is truly life giving for me – to know that God loves me even when I feel that the whole world has abandoned me. And then things will start to get better. *grin*
4. The Reset Button
Now that I am no longer tied to my work identity, who am I? I am constantly reminding myself that this is going to be the most exciting project I have ever done – to redesign myself and my life. And learning is very much the theme of the day. I am learning to make the best use of my time though not always successful, acquiring new knowledge and new skills, and enjoying myself in the process. As much as I dislike my current bummer status, I know it is going to take a while more for me to wash away the habits of old, formed during my previous life in public service. And it is this new me that I will bring into the next season of my life. I honestly have no idea where I am headed for and I don’t know what is going to happen beyond tomorrow, but I continue to trust in God for his provision and guidance. As the bible says “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9)
I am thankful that even when I am left with little, there remains much hope in my heart. This is all very mysterious to me; I mean, where did all that hope come from? On what basis is this hope built upon? Honestly, I think this hope is a gift from God, for anyone who knows me knows that I am always more of a pessimist than optimist. Yet, there continues to be this precious seed of hope growing in my heart, for which, I must say again, I am immensely thankful.
Afternote: At the start of 2012, I joined the 365 Days of Thanksgiving project where each day I would take a photo and share what I was thankful for. I continued this practice till Feb 2014, where I stopped doing that for various reasons. In retrospect, I realised that when I stopped appreciating the good things in life, how easy it was for discontentment and bitterness to seep into my heart and my life. As such, I have resumed this practice via Instagram as 2014 comes to a close, and through this, hopefully build a healthy store of gratitude in both my heart and my life.