Happy New Year!
My goodness, I can’t believe how fast 2018 has flown by!
It was certainly a year of many life changes for me – the good and the bad. Some major happenings: I got married (status change), moved into my own home (address change), and got a new role at work (job change). I also finally mustered my courage to start this blog. It was something I was putting off in 2017 due to fears of rejection.
As I reflect on the year that has passed, there are many things that I’m grateful for. For starters, I’m glad we pulled off the wedding well. As my husband and I are novice wedding planners, I’m glad we managed to solve most of the hiccups we encountered. No more wedding stress – yippee! I’m also glad that our newly renovated home turned out to be really comfy to live in. We are so proud of the interior design of the place – we designed it ourselves with Pinterest as our muse! All these are good things to be grateful for, but rather superficial. As I reflect deeper on the year, here are the top 5 things which I’m truly grateful for in 2018:-
1) God’s presence in my life
God has been extremely real to me in 2018. He usually is every year, but He continues to surprise me with His ability to be more real than before with each passing year.
Going through that many changes in 2018 has made me request for a whole lot more grace & strength from God. There were times, both before and after the wedding, where I needed to rely solely on God. Before the wedding, I had to overcome so audits a few family related issues … Like, every time I spoke with my mum about the wedding, tensions would rise between us. We couldn’t agree on most things. My dad fused about my wedding date as it fell during the Hungry Ghost month (we Christians don’t mind it, plus 18-8-18 only happens once in a century!). My mum and future in-laws got off to a rough start a month before the wedding due to a misunderstanding (thank God they’re okay now). Money was also a slight issue here and there as Victor & I financed our wedding cost for everything else except for the wedding dinner tables and the lunch catering.
Post wedding, I was emotionally unstable due to the different changes happening all at once – relocation, job change, status change. I was really dreading to work at one point as well. I was bursting out in tears randomly. I was missing my mum. I was just all over the place.
So, I really had to depend on God throughout the year and especially so in those tough times. I spent time praying and reading His word. I felt His presence with me through those times, and if it wasn’t for His words, I don’t know what mental state I would be in right now. I learnt to stop asking why things happened or questioning Him on things, and instead to take things as they are and to try to see His reasons behind them.
One good example of His faithfulness in my life last year is when my dad found out about this blog from my uncle (his eldest brother). Now, if you’ve read that first article, you would know that I started off with a recollection of the day my mum decided to move out. I was transparent, and it didn’t paint a good picture of my dad. My relatives were (are) not happy as they thought that the blog was to shame my dad, but they did not even read the second post where I talked about how I still love my dad and how I’ve forgiven him for what he has done, and how this blog serves as a journal of my learnings from my broken past and my life’s testimony.
When my dad met up with him a couple months after the wedding, he told my dad everything and my dad got mad then upset. He refused to speak to me for a few days and was close to disowning me. I was very heartbroken when this happened. The day I made the decision to write this blog, I knew something like this would happen eventually. It was this fear that kept me from starting the blog earlier (I actually bought the webpage address and hosting plan back in the latter half of 2017, but only started in April 2018). I believe that writing this blog is what God wants me to do – my calling for now.
So I was half asking, half blaming God for giving me this task and putting me in this situation, but I knew deep within me that I had to do this, as it’s for His glory & Kingdom. I prayed hard. I had to teach myself to fully trust Him and to rely on Him. I didn’t know what would happen, but I was reassured by His presence. It was like a wave of peace over me.
I reflected on the story in the Bible on the night before Jesus was crucified, when he went up to the Gethsemane to pray. He asked the Father to take away the cup of suffering from him (referring to his impending crucifixion). But the Father was silent. Jesus prayed for it to be taken away although He knew deep down that the deed must be done in order to save me & you & everyone else from the wages of sin. What he was about to do was greater than him – it was God’s will.
Strangely enough, that came to me while I was praying over my predicament. I’m not equating my blog to Jesus’ act of salvation – no way! But in some odd manner, I could see the resemblance in both scenarios: that we are to do God’s works when we are called to do it, even though we may suffer from it for a while, and trusting God to bring it to pass.
Guess what happened? After three days of allowing my dad to cool down – and with constant praying – my dad told my brother that he was no longer mad at me, and that he was willing to put it behind and move on. The emotions I felt were out of this world… the relief coupled with awe for God’s faithfulness, the happiness from the validation that this is truly for God’s purpose … wow, just wow. God is truly amazing!
2) My amazing life partner & best friend
Words can’t describe how grateful I am for Victor in my life. I am truly blessed to have found my best friend and life partner in him! I remember when someone asked me how I knew that Victor was the one for me.
“He’s someone I can picture having a family with.” I replied.
I’m not one who can’t wait to start having my own kids, so for me that was my “ah-ha” moment. I actually want to start a family with Victor one day. We’ve already decided on our baby boy’s name – hint: it starts with a ‘G’ 😉 One Sunday, our pastor was preaching on this character and that’s how we decided on the name! 😊
Most who knew us as a couple when we started dating would shake their head in disbelief that we were right for each other and would one day get married – seriously! We were rather an odd pair perhaps, but we’ve grown so much over our courtship years, like blunt swords sharpening each other, to who we are today. I can’t imagine my life without him. I hate watching movies where either the husband or wife dies first from a disease or an accident; I just cannot. (He hates it when I bring things like this up…) With him, I’ll learn to cherish the days we have, fulfilling God’s mission for us, because we don’t know when God will bring us home. I love you so much, darling, and I thank God for you every day!
3) My family & friends
I know my family is broken. Although there are many times when I’ve wished for a better family, I cannot disregard the fact that I would not be who I am today (or even exist) if it weren’t for my family. God has placed me where I am today for a reason. I do not yet see the whole picture now, but in Him I trust. This takes a daily reminder to keep me focused and not falling into the same envy trap. It’ll only drain my energy and keep me emotional. Yes, I can go on blaming my mum for choosing to marry my dad, but what good does that do? It sure won’t change the past.
Instead, I’ve learned to see the good in the bad. My mum & dad are flawed people, but so am I. My dad loves me a lot, I can tell that. He’s taught me some good values. My mum is a strong woman who’s very giving towards her family & others in need. She has taught me to keep standing back up when life knocks you down. I’m grateful for both of them in my life.
My brothers have been amazing to me. Without them, I’ll never have experienced being the spoiled princess in the family 😊 They have sacrificed a lot for me as well. Without them, my life would have been worse off.
I’m also grateful for my now in laws! Thank you for being great parents to us and for bringing Victor up well. We wouldn’t have been able to pull off a lot of things (like career and investment decisions) without your spiritual insights and deep wisdom from your years of experience. I’m very blessed to have you both as my in laws!
And I am extremely blessed to have friends I can rely on through thick or thin. Planning and executing my own wedding have shown me the value of true friendships. To my friends who were there with me and for me, who reached out to ask if I needed help even before I realized I needed help, who cheered me up and on when I felt like giving up, who listened to my woes with full empathy, who generously showered me with free food or gifts, who traveled the distance to attend my special day – I’m so glad I have you in my life!
4) My church
I’m grateful for being a part of a church I can call home; a community or body of Christ where we should all be striving towards the same eternally-focused purposes in life.
Every church has its imperfections – there is no such thing as a perfect church.
Just like any other relationship or like your partner, there are things you like and dislike about each other. It’s the commitment that keeps you going.
I’ve pondered about switching churches before. My church is quite far from where I live, so the distance does take a toll on me. But we stay committed because of the connections we’ve cultivated over the years – the friendships we’ve gained, the talents we’ve harnessed from time at this church, the community we’ve learn to value and serve. Above all, I keep telling myself that the God we serve at any (proper) church is the same great God, and that my purpose of going to a church is to be with this God –to learn how to be a better person and to be rooted in the community I’m placed in for the extension of His Kingdom. To leave for another church would defeat or defer the purpose.
5) My job
Last but not least, I am ever thankful for my job and for the company I work for. Being my first job straight out of university, I never really had any other company to compare with – but I know that I’ve enjoyed working in this company. The leaders are great, people are friendly, and the culture is awesome.
I’ve been spoiled! It’ll be really hard for me to leave for another company as my standard or level of expectations for the new company will be much higher. I’ve had great assignments locally and in a few foreign countries, moved cross-function from Finance into HR, traveled well (been to the US and Europe twice, and to most of South East Asia), and been blessed with inspiring bosses in my multiple role changes in the past few years. My time with this company and in my previous and current role has taught me many invaluable life lessons on personal and professional development. What more, the friendships I’ve gained during my tenure here have transcended beyond the workplace.
Of course, there are blemishes here and there. I’ve had my fair thoughts about leaving the company. But, in retrospect, what’s not to be grateful about?
As you start off your new year, I hope you take the time to also reflect on your 2018. Make a list of the top things you’re most grateful about in the year, like what I did above. It doesn’t have to be 5 things – it could be any number, even if it’s just one thing that you’re grateful for would be great!
Start small, start now!
If you need more help on kickstarting your reflction, I encourage you to complete the following exercise. Really take some time to think about each point well, then write down your thoughts. Nothing is too insignificant to be mentioned – after all, it’s only between you, yourself & you 😉
Review of year 2018
- Write down the goals which you have achieved in 2018 that made you happy.
- Write down things you wished you had done.
- Write down your regrets for the year.
Personal goals for 2019
- Spiritual life
- Studies/career/books to read
- Social life/hobbies
- Gift development/talents
- Souls/people I can impact
- Habits/character change
- Financial plans
Practice makes perfect. The first draft might look weird but keep refining it! The key is to be honest to yourself.
I wish you a wonderful 2019 ahead! God bless! 😊
“So teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalms 90:12