I’ve always had an unwritten wishlist, containing wishes that I thought would’ve never come true. Some items of the list include : I wish I’ve the chance to know my grandparents; I wish I know how it feels to have grandparents; I wish I have siblings; I wish I had the experience of living with a home stay family abroad during a student exchange; I wish I’ve attended Sunday School when I was a child.
When looking at those items logically, they would’ve never happened. Some reasoning/facts behind the concluding logic are : my grandparents have passed away many many years ago; I’m no longer in school so I won’t be doing an exchange, and even if I did, in this age, I would likely prefer to rent a private apartment; and my childhood has way passed to attend a Sunday School.
Yet God is kind and has His own unthinkable way to fulfill our wishes.
The professional development program I took back in 2015 includes a 6 weeks module in Hawai’i and in this module, the participants are required to arrange their own accommodation. What the institute has provided us with was a list of host families who are willing to rent out a room in their houses and voila there was I, having a similar arrangement like a high school student when doing an exchange and staying with a home stay family.
The other wish which came true was the last one on the list above. In my church we have Sunday School for kids. I just love love kids and always wanted to somehow contribute to the Sunday School. I’ve thought about this since end of 2014 but for certain personal reasons, I’ve only managed to participate last Sunday. There were some songs in the Sunday School that I’m not familiar with and of course I’m not familiar with the dancing/movements that comes along with the songs. Hopefully I’ll manage to learn and get used to it soon.
In a further session, the classes where divided based on age, and I joined the 8 year old and above class. Guess what was the topic about? Patience. Hahaha. Something that I’m not so good at and would be my life long learning.
Though I was in the role as the teacher, it was as if I was learning with the kids as well. That was my impossible-to-happen Sunday School experience. I would never thought that someone like me, who has never participated in a Sunday School before, would’ve able to join and help in a Sunday School. What a magical blessing, isn’t it?
There are still lots of items on that wishlist of mine. Some may come true, some may never come true. But one thing I know for sure, that God is kind and He is able 🙂
On year end of 2014, I said to someone that I just have a hunch that 2015 would be a really exciting year, and it was, with its own definition of “exciting”. I managed to get a job progression, new job offers and a scholarship for an amazing professional development program where not only the content is very good but it also enabled me to live in Japan, Hawaii, Singapore and Thailand for the total of 15 weeks and found precious friendships along the way. Despite those wonderful blessings, my highlight for 2015 is more on the growth of my character through the adversities I’ve to face in 2015.
In one of his devotionals, Pastor Rick Warren wrote “God is more interested in your character than your comfort, and he’s more concerned about your holiness than your happiness”. Through several trials of life, I’ve experienced the meaning of these words myself.
On year 2010, I was given an adversity, a trial that is probably His exam to develop several aspects of my character. Unfortunately, I failed, terribly. I became resentful, to God, to this world, and the people in it. I became bitter and it took me years to heal.
This year, God gave me different kinds of adversities yet I can see that the exams are for the same characters as He wanted to develop 5 years ago. And there it was, the choice, to be bitter or not to be bitter. Knowing the dark road of bitterness, with His Grace, this time I chose the road to not be bitter but to be better.
By choosing the road to be better doesn’t mean that there’s no pain. The pain, the grief, the guilt, the sadness along with other emotions are all still there. But by deliberately choosing not to be bitter is like walking on a dark tunnel towards a light at the end of it, while to be bitter for me is like walking and getting lost in the dark of the wilderness. Both roads are dark and rocky roads and the tunnel is probably a very long one as well, but unlike the uncertain end of the wilderness, the tunnel, no matter how long and dark and rocky it is, provides a light at the end of it, it provides hope.
Along the long tunnel, there are temptations, there are so many open exits, wide available access to the wilderness. There were so many situations and emotions that tempted me to be bitter. There were days where I stumbled and need to fight the temptations on daily even hourly basis. I’m blessed that His grace has enlightened me to choose from the start not to be bitter. I began with that decision as the end in mind. I think I unconsciously learned this from Stephen Covey’s The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People. I’m also grateful for the hands of the angels sent to me during the difficult times. Those hands have picked me up when I fell and couldn’t get back on my feet by myself.
Have you ever heard Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief? The illustration is as following :
We have to pass all of those stages for getting through the adversities. But for me, it’s not stages but more of a spiral or even a roller coaster. There are times when I was moving through the stages back and forth. Sometimes I got angry, depressed, accepting and then back to angry again. It was a horrible roller coaster ride that is exhausting, emotionally, mentally and physically.
When I unconsciously chose the road of bitterness, the uncertain dark of wilderness, the acceptance phase is uncertain. I got lucky because after years I finally came to peace with myself and I got to the acceptance phase. But I’m also seeing examples of people that are still lost in their dark wilderness, stuck on their horrible roller coasters, as long as I’ve known them. They might never end their roller coaster ride. They will be lost forever.
When I deliberately chose the road not to be bitter, I know that I’ll accept it someday. I’ll be okay. I’ll reach the light at the end of the tunnel. The roller coaster ride will end, although I also don’t know when will it end, but I’m trying to get off it day by day, therefore I know and positive that I will end the roller coaster ride and there is hope of a better future beyond the roller coaster ride. The tunnel will lead to something better, according to His plan which is best for me.
In the face of adversities, always choose not to be bitter, be better.
Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope (Romans 5:3-4)