Yesterday, I had one of the best phone conversation ever from my mother.
A simple phone call with the purpose to wish each other happy mooncake festival turned into an hour of fruitful talk about my move to Australia.
Looking back, my mother said that I was very brave to venture out into the unknown alone. “This is something your dad and I would not dare to do when we were your age,” she said. “Going into a foreign country you have not stepped foot into, that’s bravery.” There was a pause. I began to feel touched immensely. She then goes on to say in Chinese,
She said that I have something called courage, and that courage is priceless. At that time my heart lifted—it feels like I had won a great deal of respect from my mum. And if you don’t know yet, one of the greatest joys being a child is knowing that your parents are finally proud of you. This was one of the rare times she complimented me, and the first time the compliment had something to do with my character.
It took me a lot of courage to even post this, so here it is.
You have heard the story of me moving of out my home country, but here’s the spiritual perspective of it, the work that God has done in my life that’s often left hidden from the eyes of the public, unknown.
Studying overseas was my ultimate dream. A few months ago, I was at a phase of listening to God’s plan and trying to see money matters from God’s perspective.
However, it always seemed like a far-fetched dream, a foreign idea lingering in the air due to my family’s financial circumstances. It’s not that we were poor, but we were definitely not well-to-do enough to afford an education overseas either. My mother always told me that she couldn’t afford to pay for my university, and that discouraged me and dashed my hopes immensely. I was crushed.
Slowly but eventually, I grew up feeling discouraged about my university education. I quietly kept my desires in my heart not daring to voice it out. Part of me felt that I didn’t deserve such an opportunity. I felt that it would be impossible, and it is better to be less hopeful than to be left disappointed in the end.
From the age of 15 to 19, it was a real struggle between emotions of jealousy, bitterness, anger, despair, guilt, self-pity and anxiousness. All emotions were felt just because I wanted to study at a University and it was a terrible turmoil.
Jealousy from seeing friends who got worse grades than I, go overseas. Just because they were rich enough. People who didn’t deserve it at all yet got the thing I wanted so easily.
It felt unfair to me because these students didn’t work for the opportunities they received (it was bought with money). So then came bitterness. Bitter at God for placing me in this family. It is a very wrong though, but I sometimes wished, “What if I was born in another family?”
Bitterness turned into anger when a friend of mine in the same financial situation had to reject a wonderful opportunity just because her family couldn’t afford it. She was in tears. She got accepted into the course of her dreams in Australia, with wonderful opportunities such as a double degree and the promise of a post-work VISA. And the outcome? Made me feel indignant for her as ever.
I felt despair when I ran around applying for 3 local scholarships and 1 overseas scholarship. The situation seemed bleak. I felt guilty towards my parents because I felt like I was being selfish by wanting to pursue a better opportunity overseas. Doing so would add to their financial burden and I don’t want them to slog and work so hard in Singapore when I am away enjoying a dream life.
Because of my guilt towards my parents, I felt sorry for myself. I was sorry that I was even feeling guilty. Why is it that some of my friends can study overseas for 5, 6 years without even feeling selfish, yet I already feel guilty for getting accepted into a 1.5 years course? Why am I even feeling guilty for something I accomplished? Why don’t these kids have to struggle with emotions like guilt and selfishness towards their parents? They don’t have to because their parents had the money, and it wasn’t a compromise to their parents. But for my parents to send me here, it would require a lot of sacrifices.
Lastly, I felt anxious while waiting for the outcome. The application process was long and tedious and lasted from March-July. It was kept secret because it was too emotionally traumatising to tell. Everyone who asked me, “so what are your plans after graduation?” during that period would be given a vague answer. This was when God started His work of restoration in me. He began to mould me, to heal me, to strengthen me. He taught me to be patient and have faith in Him while waiting for His purpose to unfold at the right time.
Yesterday was Mooncake Festival. The moon is always a prominent symbol in the festival, but it also reminded me of this incident that impacted me greatly before I left.
It was a usual day. Upon returning home late at night, I looked up and saw a full, bright moon in the sky. It was red and unusual. I ran home and told my mum, and we went back down again to the nearby park to look at the moon. Just then, my mum’s friend and our fellow neighbour, an old granny approached me. The old granny is known for being a psychic and my mum respected her greatly.
That’s when it came. She told me to pray to the blood moon.
“You have a deep desire in your heart. Do you want it to come true? Play your guzheng recording of ‘嫦娥奔月’ while wishing upon the moon. Offer that up as a sacrifice and do this every full moon,” she persuaded me to do it in order to have my wishes fulfilled (she knew I played the guzheng). It sounded silly, but I am to tell no one about this, except my mum who was at the scene, if not my wish would be void.
It doesn’t matter if I believed her or not. Fear gripped my heart instantly. As a Christian, we are not supposed to pray/worship/wish upon any other god/thing/person of the universe except God Himself. It would be a grave sin to commit.
I must have looked uneasy and nervous because the granny said, “I know what you’re thinking. Can I say it out?”
“Say it,” my mum interjected.
“She’s thinking of the cross. She’s thinking she can’t do this because she’s a Christian.” It was spot on. “Don’t make a big fuss over it, praying to the moon is actually nothing, it’s not like you’re converting.” The remarks felt like mockery.
After an intense struggle with my thoughts—both emotionally and spiritually—I ran away, refusing to pray. “I feel uncomfortable. I’m going home,” and quickly excused myself.
Why pray to the creation when you can pray to the Creator instead?
As I was storming home, tears welled up in my eyes. I hated that psychic woman so much for messing up my thoughts because I was just starting to put my faith in Jesus regarding this issue.
The verse that gave me comfort that night was Romans 8:35-39.
“Nothing can triumph over God’s love..
nothing can pluck us from His hand…
nothing can have power over my life,
because I already given the throne to Jesus.”
An assurance that all things would work for the good for those who love God came over me. It is a promise that makes everything worth it. Even though I wanted badly to go to Australia at that time (to the point of desperation), I refused to worship anything or anyone but God, because He is worthy of my loving obedience and trust. It was a test. I was greatly tempted into thinking that God might not fulfil my request. Going overseas might not be His plan for me after all, so it was tempting to turn towards a direction which would give me what I want.
But. Hebrews 11 was about people who walked a life of difficulty and doubt, yet chose to obey God.
I was searching my heart: Grace, do you love your desire more or do you love God more?
I reasoned that I wanted to honour God and do it His way. I did not know if going overseas was part of His plan, but I told myself that if I am going overseas, I am going to do it with His help or not at all.
To be honest, asking me to pray to the moon to get what I want is just really selfish. If I did so, there’s no point even if I got my wish granted because it would just reflect my Christian faith as hollow and superficial, that I only cared about my own selfish desires. Then I might as well get a genie or consult a guru, right? There are lots of desperate ways to get what we want in this world. But it was not like that.
“If I am going overseas, I am going to do it with His help or not at all.”
Remaining faithful to God was the best thing I’ve ever done because He never shortchanges us. The rewards of doing things His way, with patience to wait upon Him- are tremendous. I’m now living a life in Australia studying the things I love, travelling and meeting new people. I’m content. God allows us and gives us the power, privilege and freedom of choice to do things according to His timing and plan, and I’m so glad I came to Australia through this way and not any other way.
So thank you, Lord.
If this spoke to you, please, leave a comment. I would be very happy to know how I’ve inspired people and how you would like my blogs or writing to be in future.