Sunday, October 11, 2009
Friday, October 2, 2009
I enjoy studying the brain and the mind. I am really keen on topics related to neuro- or psych-.
I think of myself becoming a psychiatrist or a neuropsychiatrist one day. I know, interacting with patients with mental disabilities, cognitive impairments, disturbances of their psychological wellbeing may not sound like the most glamorous job around.
In fact, the thought of it scares me and puts me off sometimes. Compared to going out an engaging with patients with mental disabilities, I would feel very much more comfortable in an imaging laboratory or administrative office, dealing with fMRI scans and paperwork rather than coming face to face with real, living people who might not appreciate my efforts to help them.
Yet, I know that at the end of the day, the greatest investment that one can make is in the lives of other human beings. The kind of work that stirs and inspires people for generations to come is the work that is geared towards acts of service to people. The kind of work that is life-changing and moving is the work that is built on a certain kind of hope for human beings in future generations.
I am called to prepare now for the work that is ahead of me. I am called to equip myself with the knowledge and skills necessary to complete and carry out my task skilfully and competently.
But more importantly, I am called to train myself in the kind of faith, hope and love that is necessary to channel all my skills, expertise, knowledge and learning into a kind of service that is based upon genuine love for these people and a faith and hope for something greater in their lives.
I pray that my work will be one where I can learn to pour out the love of the Creator into the lives of the people that I care for.
I pray that my work will be one where I dare to believe in something larger for the lives of my patients even when the world around them has given up on them.
I pray that my work will be one where I can usher in the newness of life and the grace of the Spirit that will cast out all spirits of oppression and demonic bondages in their psyche, and fill it with the fruits of love, joy and peace.
And perhaps, there might even come a time when I shall have to lay down my life for someone that I love and believe in. Who knows, I might get killed in the line of duty. Yet, I consider it a worthwhile investment to be able to stand as a representative of a God who wants to bring psychiatry back into submission to the authority of His rapidly advancing Kingdom.
Monday, September 28, 2009
Friday, September 25, 2009
Wednesday, September 23, 2009
Monday, September 21, 2009
Monday, September 14, 2009
Saturday, September 5, 2009
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
A hasty farewell, an abrupt parting. A sad ending, perhaps, to what was a wonderful fairy tale.
"See you," she said, in a dull, monotonous voice, as she headed for the tram.
"Yea...see you," I reciprocated, in an equally empty and languid tone. A sharp turn to the left on the sidewalk.
And I was on my way back home. No parting glances. No endearing smiles. No turning back.
"I'm really sorry about today...," I said in a text message to her later on, "...but I guess not all stories have happy endings."
"That's OK, I guess it's better that way."
A choice that had to be made. A step that had to be taken.
Perhaps, it was never meant to be in the first place. Perhaps, it would have been better if we had never met. Perhaps, it was time to let go.
Of all things. The sweet laughter, the delightful memories, the florid smiles, the colourful times, the wonderful journey.
That night in the Docklands under the moonlight, facing the magnificent waterfront.
Pounded by the cold, chilly winds. Shivering and writhing out in the open air on a winter night.
Yet, there was something warm and delightful about her presence. We popped the cork and poured some sparkling wine into our glasses. A toast to one year of friendship.
Sipping the wine, savouring its flavour. A delightful tinge in the mouth.
"You know, I really do like you, I really do. But I know that I am not prepared for a relationship. But no matter what, you will always be a really special friend to me."
"Do you like me?"
"Yes, I do."
"Do you think I like you?"
I was taken aback by her question. "Umm...maybe?"
"Yes, I do."
"So, what do you think of our relationship now?"
"What do you think?"
"I really do like you, but I guess I'm not ready for it. And I believe that going for it now would not be the best thing for the both of us."
"Don't get me wrong. I really do enjoy being with you. But right now, I'm more concerned about seeing you grow in your walk with God and I don't want our relationship to be a hindrance to the things that God has called you to do."
"Then I'll wait. Do what you think is best..."
Looking back. Did we really like each other? Does it even matter now?
Were those words lies? Empty syllables from a well rehearsed skit, excerpts from a fantasy story that was never meant to come true.
Perhaps it was all never meant to be.
But surely, it can't end here! There has to be more. I really do care about her. I really do treasure her.
A faint glimmer of light in the distance. A small gentle voice whispering in my heart.
"I know you're annoyed. I'm really sorry for today. I guess these things do happen, and perhaps we shouldn't make too big a deal out of it. I really do treasure our friendship."
Her reply startled me.
"What are you apologising for? By the way, what colour do you like?"
I could not withhold a smile. With laughter in my heart, thinking to myself, "What in the world is this crazy girl thinking?!"
Saturday, August 22, 2009
Feeling lost in this space, in this time
The slow creep of languor and fatigue
Seeping insidiously into the heart
Displacing life, dispelling certainty
The deafening drones of endless tirades
Of the same mechanical routines
Churning and spinning round and round
Like the synchrony of clockwork
The unnerving hustles and bustles
Of never-ending work
Formless, empty and dark
Devoid of meaning, deficient in purpose
The irony of life, the paradox of the self
Gnaws away at the core of the soul
Gently erasing all rhyme and reason
Steadily effacing all traces of sanity
This unwilling union of body and mind
Tugs and pulls, wrestles and contends
The two seeming so distant from each other
Yet, so intricately linked, in an uneasy truce
The mind desires freedom
In its world unfettered by rules and laws
Yet the body sees reality
Governed by finiteness, ruled by uncertainty
A battle of idealism and reality
Of the boundless against the bound
Fleeting glimpses of love and hope pitted
Against the stone cold gaze of a cynical world
Freshness drained and desiccated
Creativity stifled and stolen
Dreams mangled and macerated
Hopes pilfered and pillaged
The dullness and dreariness settle in
The chimes of void and emptiness ring
In the monotony, silence sings
Its ceaseless tune of yearning and longing
Lone souls travelling and searching
Longing, hungering for purpose and meaning
Searching in a world
Fumbling for its own sense of direction
Everywhere they look,
High and low, near and distant,
Everyone wallowing in their self pity and mockery
Constantly judging, always accusing
Individuals so bereft of passion for life
Communities so sapped of identity and belonging
Cities reaching ever farther and taller
Yet somehow drained of its human essence
Humanity climbing higher the stairs of heaven
Revelling in their grand achievements and intellect
Genetic manipulation, at one time, cloning, the next
Artificial intelligence and war machines to add to the lot
Shoot for the stars as it may
It has neglected its poor and the oppressed
It has sidelined the needy and those at the bottom
It has rejected the core meaning of being human
Should we be surprised, then?
When another revolution is sparked and ignited
When wars erupt and terror reigns
When the social fabric as we know is torn and tattered
What calamity it would be
When mankind deteriorates to its final amnesia
Forgetting ever what it means to love
Never remembering grace, and faith, and hope
Perhaps this is what humanity needs
To awaken it from its deep slumber
When communities lie in desolate shambles
When cities are reduced to ashen rubble
Do we hear the distant voice?
Calling out, longing for our attention
Do we hear the distant voice?
Whispering gently in the chambers of our hearts
The voice calling out in the wilderness
Calling us back to life
To embrace the gift and miracle of every second
To treasure and value each breath we draw
The voice calling from our hearts
Calling us back to love
To extend grace and to receive forgiveness
To always preserve and protect
To love our neighbours, as we do ourselves
To love our enemies, as we do our brothers
To love our communities, as we do our families
To love our cities, as we do our homes
The voice calling from the earth
Calling us back to faith
The substance of things hoped for
And the evidence of things not seen
To believe in our heritage and belonging
To believe in our identity and purpose
To believe in our calling and destiny
To believe in our vision and mission
The voice calling from the heavens
Calling us back to hope
For the greater things that are yet to come
For the good promises that will be done
To hope for His Kingdom upon this earth
To hope that we will enter and dwell in the land
To hope that we will be fruitful and fill the earth
To hope that we will one day call this place home
That voice singing to us for all time
Its eternal melody of clarity and purpose
That voice singing to us one more time
Its enthralling tune of grace and life
That voice which breathes into us
Untainted freshness and boundless creativity
That voice which speaks into us
Unchained visions and unlimited dreams
That voice calling us out
Out from darkness and into light
Out from emptiness into purpose
Out from formlessness into identity
That voice leading us back
Back to what it means to be human
Back to what it means to be free
Back to what it means to live free
That distant voice calling to us
In the midst of a parched and desiccated land
In the midst of a scorched and macerated earth
In the midst of a dry and pillaged world
That distant voice calling out to us
Yearning to break through to us
Through the unnerving hustles and bustles
Through the deafening drones of endless tirades
That distant voice calling to us
Restoring our souls, retracing our sanity
Stopping the relentless spin of clockwork
Displacing languor, dispelling fatigue
Feeling lost in this space, in this time
As a lone soul travelling and searching
In the silence, that distant voice sings
In the silence, the Creator speaks.
Sunday, June 28, 2009
This year's annual dinner was quite an interesting experience for me because I finally had the opportunity to dance before the Lord.
I believe this opportunity to be from the Lord and not by random chance. It just so happened that I was sharing with Ivena over dinner one day about my desire to dance for the Lord, especially holding the banners for Him. The Sunday that week, Doreen asked me if I wanted to hold the banners for Annual Dinner. I was rather amazed at this timely "coincidence". It was truly an opportunity that the Lord had opened up for me to serve, according to what I had asked of Him.
Now that I have had a chance to perform on stage, I now know the amount of effort and labour that goes into preparing for the performance. Indeed, many hours of practice and correction goes into preparing for a few minutes worth of stage time.
The practice sessions have taught me a lot about commitment and what it means to work with other people. There were times when I thought of skipping a session or two, because I was lazy and unmotivated to go for them. Yet, I am reminded that God had opened up the door for me to worship Him with banners, and so there is the expectation that I would actually put into the effort and commitment into it. I would usually start off by asking myself why was I doing it, but as the sessions elapsed, I found myself enjoying and learning much from them.
Those sessions have also taught me what it means to work with other people. During practice, there are inevitably different people with different capacities and talents. There are people who learn more slowly than others, and there are people who are not as good as others in picking up the skills and movements. It is these times then that I am challenged: Do I look at them condescendingly because they are weaker, and I am better than them? Do I smile in satisfaction because I've got it, and they haven't? These are definitely some of the temptations that I face personally. It is definitely a challenge, then, for me to learn what it means to believe in another person who's "not as good" as me and to push and encourage them, to build and move them instead of looking down upon them.
Sometimes, it is truly a test of faith and patience when you are confronted with mess ups and with people who just cannot seem to get the moves right. But this is where the team spirit is of utmost importance. Every member is important and needs to be encouraged. After all, we are only as fast as our slowest person in our team!
Sometimes you wonder - hey, I already get the moves, so why do I even need to be here? Truth is, we are not individuals doing solo performances, but we are a team, one body coming together to worship the Lord. Therefore, the reason that we need to be there is so that the whole body can mobilise together. There may be some parts of the body that are still not performing their functions at their best, but it takes the whole body together in one piece to coordinate the whole dance movements in synchrony rather than having each part do its own thing.
Another challenge that I faced during practice was setting the right focus for it. A lot of the times, the practice sessions become, for me, rather mechanical and repetitive instead of a meaningful time that is set apart for the worship of the Lord. I guess I still have much to learn in this area - to see purpose and opportunities to bring life into each and every practice session. I find that sometimes these sessions become, for me, merely time to get things done and over with instead of times that I get to spend with people, sharing in the journey and learning from their lives. This is definitely a challenge for me to be more attentive to the people around me during practice.
When all the individual parts started coming together such that I could finally see the whole flow of things, it made me fired up and excited about it. It wasn't until we practised along with the dancers and with the music that I could finally see how things would work out, and how the movements would fit in with one another. Seeing things fit together really makes you excited to see the dance being perfected and you start realising the relevance of all the different parts that you've learned in isolation.
I think the biggest thing for me though when we practised with the music was that I was able to catch the spirit and the meaning behind the song, and to allow the joy and excitement that was brewing inside of me to just be expressed through each movement of the banner. When I was immersed in the depth and richness of the words in the song, there was just suddenly this part inside of me that went alive and just wanted to express itself through the swing of the banner.
And true enough, the song chosen for this year's annual dinner was truly a powerful and meaningful one - God of this City. To believe that the God that we serve is the God of this city. To believe that the Creator whose purposes are true wants to bring His life and goodness into this land that we have planted our feet on. To believe that there are so many greater things to come, and so many amazing things that the Lord wants to usher into this beautiful city called Melbourne.
When you raise the banner high proclaiming all these things, there is a sense of honour and privilege to be part of the Lord's army, marching into every corner of the city ushering His edict and will into every sphere of life. There is this sense that you are a rallying point of people from all nations, from all four corners of the earth, calling them to arms, calling them follow the leading of the Ark of the Covenant to take possession of the land.
I do realise that sometimes, you might be self-conscious about your performance so as not to make a mistake and end up embarrassing yourself and disrupting the dynamics of the team. Now I truly understand the tension between performing well and worshipping the Lord. There is this sort of balance between doing it right, yet knowing at the end of the day the first and foremost thing that the Lord desires is our worship and our calling people into the adoration of His purposes and goodness. I shall definitely not take lightly the tensions faced by the worship team ever again!
Yet, at the end of the day, it truly is all about the worship and adoration of the Lord, and calling His purposes onto this earth, this land that we stand on, and to bring people to the place where they can be immersed in the faithfulness and truth of His promises for this city.
I believe that although we as a team made several mistakes tonight during our performance, we have done our best and we have committed it to the Lord. I believe that we have gotten the message across to the people, and that they have been able to catch glimpses of the Lord's purposes for this city.
All in all, I must say that it has been an amazing experience working with the team. It has truly been amazing standing together as a team for the Lord, to have fought this battle together and to have walked the journey of learning and experiencing with one another.
I praise God from the bottom of my heart for this amazing opportunity to not only explore dancing, but also for the wonderful lessons that He has taught me along the way. I definitely look forward to more of such opportunities in the future.
And all for His glory. So let it be.
Wednesday, June 24, 2009
Yet, as I have discovered over the weeks, it is really not about pursuing or getting her, but it is more about walking the journey of faith with her, and to care and love her as a dear sister, as someone that I am learning to trust and as someone that I truly want to see grow and mature into all that she was created to be.
And with each moment that we share, there is something about our conversations that surprise me. Just when I thought that I know all there is to know about her, and that I fully understand and comprehend her life journey, she surprises me yet again with new stories and fresh perspectives. It really challenged me and made me think of how little I actually know about her.
So here I am, barely knowing her, yet trusting her with my secrets and personal stories, and believing for her as though I have known her inside out. Relationships are truly complicated and interesting. There is always an element of it that catches you off guard, one part of it that speaks something new to you each day, a part of it that reminds you of what it means to love and to care for another human being.
I think my friendship and journey with her has indeed taught me much about what it means to love and to care for someone. It has challenged me to rethink the ways I engage in my relationships. It has really challenged me what it means to not just pursue her, but to really believe in her life journey, her hopes, her dreams and her life.
There is definitely still much to learn, but I am truly glad that I could be part of her life. I am truly glad that we have had the chance to cross paths and to allow our journeys to intertwine.
I am truly thankful for the opportunity that I have had to meet her during our tutorials together in Semester 2. I am thankful for the times spent together since then, the words, the meals, the conversations, the outings that have brought our friendship to this point.
Monday, June 22, 2009
Throughout the past week, I have been wrestling through issues about relationships, consolidating and crystallising my convictions about this complicated issue. The following are my attempts to put into words things that I have yet to fully understand (if I’d ever fully understand them). They represent certainties and convictions that I have reached at this point in time. They are thoughts and ideas that I treasure and discoveries that I would like to share with people who are on the same journey of discovering what it means to be in a life-giving and purposeful relationship.
There are no grand tricks or detailed schemes, and those in search of these things would very well be disappointed. However, to those who seek honest opinions and to those who are open to receive, I pray that these convictions that I have gathered thus far would prove to be of inspiration and encouragement to you.
First of all, I would like to say that being in a relationship is NOT a point where we need to reach, NOR is it a bridge that we need to cross. Rather, it is a continuous journey between two people learning to share their lives with one another, built upon the foundations of trust and respect. Nowadays, we are often fed erroneous ideas that to be in a relationship with someone first requires you to make him/her you boy/girlfriend, as though the person is an item that you can possess and manipulate according to your fancies.
Our relations with people are never meant to be discontinuous states of existence, where at one point in time, they are just “friends” and at the next point in time, they become “boy/girlfriends”. Today, we have a tendency to compartmentalise and to categorise our relationships with the people around us into “acquaintance”, “friend” and “boy/girlfriend”. We especially like to draw a line of distinction between “friend” and “boy/girlfriend”, where the former are the people that we kind of like, and the latter is/are the person (or sometimes people) that we really like. We think that these two categories are so different to one another, and that in order to truly care for someone we like, we need to get us to move from just being friends to being couples. In other words, we get the wrong impression that in order to start “loving” someone, we need to get him/her to be our boy/girlfriend. We think that we can only move to a new level of love, care and trust AFTER we have crossed the line.
Well, truth be told, the more we think about it, the more we know that it is not true. We do not learn to love and care for someone only AFTER he/she becomes our guy/girlfriend. The foundations of love and trust need to be built up even before that, because if we do not learn to love someone, we may feel “in love” with him/her because of certain things that we like about him/her but when the magic and the romance is gone, we discover that it is truly hard to care for that person because the necessary foundations have not been built up.
So far, I think I might have gotten ahead of myself and put forth a number of big ideas that need further explanation.
Let me restate my belief as clearly as I can. A relationship is a CONTINUOUS journey walked with another person, built upon the foundations of LOVE and TRUST, as both parties learn what it means to share life with one another, to believe in the things for each other’s lives and to want the best for one another.
Therefore, it is my belief that there is NO such category called “boy/girlfriend”. There is only the degree of trust and love that you have for another person that moves you to want to share your lives together.
The implication of this is that being “in a relationship” is not making the person “yours”, like taking possession of an object and using him/her for your pleasures. Rather, it is a continuous process of journeying and learning with that person what it means to love him/her for the person that he/she is, to believe in his/her dreams, passions and life, to uphold and desire the best for him/her.
Being in a relationship is NOT liking a girl for certain things, then doing your best to get her to be your girlfriend, and then love her and care for her and live happily ever after.
Being in a relationship IS to learn to love and care for that girl, to learn to trust her to a point where the both of you can start believing for things in each other’s lives and seeking the best for one another, and then potentially, making a promise of marriage to her.
We can view relationships as a sort of a continuous scale rather than two discrete states of being.
So then, now that that is made clear, this then changes the way we build our relationships.
A relationship with the boy/girlfriend mentality tends to be based on the things each party likes about the other party, e.g. the looks, the achievements, the personality. It is usually these things that make us feel a certain way towards the other person, and it is these things that drive us to want to make them "ours". Of course there is nothing wrong with enjoying these things because we are created to enjoy these good things about being with another person.
However, the trouble comes when a relationship is built solely upon the likes because there will be times when either the things that you like about a person gradually fade away, e.g. wealth, physical attraction, etc. or there are times when there are circumstances in life that become more imminent than the fantasy world that both parties have constructed together.
So, if a relationship is a journey of learning to love and trust, then obviously it should be founded upon love and trust!
Now, of course, we would need to clarify the word “love” because it is used in overly liberal ways today.
To love someone truly means to be willing to lay down the things that matter to you to see another person grow and succeed. To love someone is NOT a feeling, but it is a choice that is decisively made to care about another person’s life, and of course this can happen even when you are not “feeling like it”.
A loving and life-giving relationship happens when both parties are learning to walk together each day, being present and aware of each other’s life journeys, dreams and visions, struggles and triumphs, peaks and troughs, in essence each other! A life-giving relationship begins when both parties despite their differences, uncertainties, and frustrations learn to trust not their feelings, but that part of their hearts that know that they truly care about the other person and want to see him/her grow. A relationship is about savouring each moment as it comes and discovering something new about one another each day, discovering with each encounter more and more of another person’s life and hopes and passions.
Also, a loving relationship means wanting the best for each other. And potentially, this might mean that you are not the “best” person for him/her. If we operate with the mindset that a relationship is NOT about possessing the guy/girl, then this would mean that there is the chance that we would need to let the person go and release him/her with blessings so that he/she might achieve the best for his/her life, including the best partner in life. This of course does not sit well with us because we WANT him/her! Yet, if we understand love and trust, then we also need to understand that sometimes, to love someone means to let them go so that they can be all that they can be, that they can reach for the best in life.
So, let us summarise then. A relationship involves trusting and caring for another person’s life journey and love and grace to want to push and propel the person to be all that they can be, so that they can achieve the best in life.
Being in a relationship is NOT about making the person yours, but it is about learning to walk in faith, love and trust for another person and to see him/her grow and blossom to be the fullness of the image of what they were created to be.
It can be a painful pill to swallow, yet if we choose to engage in our relationships in this manner, we will discover, I believe, much joy and fruitfulness and grace in our lives and the life of that one person that we have learned to love and care about.
Of course, I say that there is no boy/girlfriend category because the way a lot of society perceives boy/girlfriend is that they “belong” to one another. To be clear, I am not against people calling themselves boy/girlfriends so long as we are clear that relationships is not about the possession or the endpoint, but it is about the journey.
Obviously, there is much more to be said about relationships. These few paragraphs of thoughts barely scratch the surface of the complexities and beauty of relationships. Yet, I shall save them for another day. I believe this is sufficient for now.