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productivity and efficiency

Some navel-gazing…

I have a love-hate relationship with efficiency and productivity.  Ask my sister, she will tell you about the countless times I lamented to her about how unproductive I was, how I felt rotten for not doing this-and-that.  She would just look up from her guitar or Netflix, look at me, and either laugh at or dismiss my worries.  Sometimes nothing feels better than just being alive, heh.

I am not missing any deadlines, perhaps if I was more obsessive, probably the work I am producing would be more perfect.  More so, the world is beset with issues and surely would not benefit from my laziness.  Also, efficiency is highly prized at work and just helps the cogs and wheels churn a bit easier.

I told my boyfriend about how I was comforted by his laziness.  *Laughs*  I think he wasn’t offended, I hope.  But I do admire his ability to feel rested about what he chooses to do or not do.  I definitely suffer from comparing myself to others.  I thought I was doing well until I met another friend of mine who was the most incredibly efficient human being I met.  The other issue that compounds my want to be efficient is my ENFP-ness (ah, of course, blame my personality).  I want to do so many things.  I made it a point this year to do ONE thing well- study hard.  And yet I just feel like rebelling against that now, and get myself involved in so many other things.  OK not really, just one other thing.  I just feel mildly uncomfortable that my passivity in studying and investing in my current relationships ‘isn’t enough’ when children in the Middle East are barely making it.  Of course, I try and do the dutiful thing and donate money, share articles, talk about it.

Perhaps I do see my world in silos.  But definitely studying hard for my exams next year will help me be a better doctor, which in turn, will form the base to allow me to make more meaningful contributions as I become a bit more senior.  I have small things, like friendships and my current house church.  Again, the impulse is to make these things ‘grander’.  But in these ‘small’ things that I do have now, they do matter to me.  Although it means that I may have not a lot of time for other things like saving the world, if I can make just a tiny ripple in the world I am living in, then I am faithful to what I have been called to at the moment.  Nothing feels better than knowing that I had enough time for something or someone I cared about, even if it means I may have to give up being involved in something more exciting.  It’s not about starting something new that counts as faith necessarily, it’s sticking to it that matters.  I have a tendency to spin ideas really quickly and then feel like I have to chase my ideas so that I do not look bad for just talking but not acting.  But what I have found is that I tend to drift to projects or things that matter to me most, and the pruning either happens deliberately or because I just realise I can’t.

We like things efficient… on our own terms

Now that I have done some navel-gazing, I do wonder too, as a community, if we prize efficiency too much.  Nobody really likes waiting.  I think this for me is especially apparent in my church when sometimes, good ideas take a while to unpack.  It may take up to an hour or slightly more to get the point across, even when the talk was well-planned.  But I feel that the general consensus is that ‘we don’t have time for 2-hour services’, ‘why can’t the sermon be shorter’.  On the other hand, we have no qualms about spending hours on our screens, or having fun, as long as it is on our own terms.  We don’t like taking the time to stew over what we have read, fact-check- so that is why we see fake news being shared quite readily, or why our viewpoints become narrowed to what we are naturally sympathetic with.  We are happy to let Facebook curate our information diet.  It’s snappy, it fills us up.

What does a world that prizes productivity look like?

I grew up in a predominant narrative where your race was maybe more important than your performance, and in a community that resisted that narrative.  However, I do question meritocracy, productivity, efficiency, because it is never a level-playing field.  Meritocracy with an element of fair affirmative action (in my opinion), is the best working model we have to select people to receive resources that are limited in this world. It is however, as flawed as democracy or capitalism or socialism is.

Nevertheless, the world that prizes a human being purely for their economic value the person brings to the world (be it either via money, power (be it intelligence, talent, political) or sex) is dysfunctional.  Don’t get me wrong, it’s absolutely frustrating to treat a patient who abuses his or her own body and takes no responsibility for their life, being a burden on the other good tax-paying citizens.  However, it gives me a lot more perspective when I see a heart-broken relative or friend being distraught by the state of this irresponsible patient, and the value of that patient to them is present just because they are their friend/brother/sister/mother/father.  My objective friends who denounce these patients still have a much softer stance on their relatives or friends who do not toe the line of productivity too.  Why the bias?  Needless to say, these ‘annoying patients’ are often isolated and will probably not mean anything to anyone.  We can say that it was brought upon themselves, oh definitely it often feels like that.

So I guess, rather than seeing someone’s worth as ‘how much they can bring to the world’, perhaps a better question would be ‘how much do they mean to the larger human family, even if they had no one who cared about them personally’?  It’s very idealistic and full of holes, like, how do you treat a hardened psychopath?  (I would still definitely lock this person away because he hasn’t taken his liberty responsibly, but this isn’t an issue of productivity anymore…)   Even in community groups, the most admired people are those who are most productive- who have either the most money, power (and strength) and sexual attractiveness- I see this in church, all the way to my work environment.

Can we look at each other (and at ourselves) with fresh eyes, not following the impulse of assigning economic value to everyone and everything?

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flexible… or double-minded?

The one thing I remember reading from Nassem Nicholas Taleb’s book ‘Antifragile’ was about how institutions/organisations that prized robustness or resilience over everything else were unable to deal with the inevitable unexpected event…  We have to embrace chaos and disorder in order to withstand potentially catastrophic events, in other words, practice in becoming ‘anti-fragile’.  If we do not expose ourselves/our organisations to stressors, or build mechanisms to try to prevent all stressors from happening, or protect ourselves any foreseeable harm- that is when we will be most vulnerable because if anything, we are to expect the unexpected.

*****

Life at the moment for me, is pretty cushy.  My current rotation at rehab nights is on the verge of being understimulating, but it also means I have a lot more headspace to finish my haematology audit (sigh, still at the results section) and getting some studying going.  Also, I have been blessed to be able to have the time to meet different people and spend time with them.

Also, I have been thinking a lot about what shapes my beliefs.  And thus, I have been thinking a lot about what is the basis of the things I choose to be involved in and the opinions I hold.  For one, I realise how impressionable I am.  I am easily swept away by the predominant current of thought as long as it doesn’t jar with my core values.  As much as I’d like to portray myself as otherwise, I am probably not that kind of person who scrutinises everything that is told to me, especially when I am sympathetic towards those views.  I am probably an unwitting consumer of fake news, as long as I like what I am reading.

*****

Bearing all that in mind, I am somewhat… apprehensive about my exhilaration after reading Brian McLaren’s book, ‘Why did Jesus, Moses, Muhammad and the Buddha cross the road?’.  I have not felt such a… stirring of my spirit for a long time.  I felt that it was speaking to me and the questions I was having with dealing with friends (not that many) who do not share the same set of beliefs with me, Christian or non-Christian alike. There were so many things that resounded with me, but primarily that Jesus is for everyone, not just for Christians.  That phrase itself doesn’t sound controversial.

But Brian McLaren ‘argues’ that maybe helping people to live lives the way Jesus taught us is more important than converting them into our religion.  This idea will run into problems if you believe that the only way to be saved is to believe specifically that Jesus died for our sins.

As a child, I think the narrative of God wanting to save us from inescapable sin is… an easy one to grasp if you come from a traditional Christian context.  But something just gnaws at me.  Like…  it seems really dumb that sin is put on us… or that we are made to tend to sin if God made us good.  Or that a just God MUST kill someone (but not just anyone…  kill a human that is almost superhuman?) to appease himself or the conditions of justice that He chooses to express, so that humans can draw near to Him.  Maybe as we grow up, we need to understand the multi-layers to a simple doctrine?

Now, the doctrine of atonement is still a hotly debated one… Like I don’t think there’s a singular version that can be prescribed.  There are certain things I am not keen to move away from- like I fully accept/believe that Jesus did live and He definitely rose again and inspired/guided humanity to be what it was meant to be (not in the motivational-speaker kind of way).  But…  what I am getting from this is that I feel that rather than simple guidelines and rules of thumb to guide us in our decisions… We need to be guided by the Spirit and the context of the situation.  People say, ‘Oh it’s easy, love God and love your neighbour!’.  Then tell me what do we do when we see a pregnant woman beside herself and the only foreseeable way out is an abortion?  What do we do when we see a murderer, a psychopath at that- plead for clemency from a death penalty?  What do we do when we see governments deal with a refugee crisis that is not of their making, but yet the plight cannot be ignored, and granted that letting a refugee is not a short-term investment?  And then these issues become not so black-and-white.  From my point of view, there are obvious answers to these questions but perhaps someone else who professes that she or he loves God and his neighbour (and his enemies) may have polar opposite views to me.

I was pretty happy with my left-wing views.  But I knew my past mistakes and I wanted my views to be tested.  So I spoke to my mum, and read critics of the Emergent Church movement/Brian McLaren.  I like my mum better than those critics, because at least my mum is willing to listen and not tell me I am a heretic, although she is pretty unmoveable with her views.  The main argument I got from the critics was that Brian McLaren was not ‘sure of anything’ although they did agree he is not a relativist.  They claim that he is weakening the doctrine of faith by saying that Jesus dying for our sins is not the only essential thing out there.  Mum did bring up some Scripture which did seem to say that we need to confess our sins and believe- because living a good life is not good enough, and we need His grace.

*****

I agree that living a good life itself may not cut it, and that we need God’s grace.  But what does this really mean in my life?  It’s not to say that I should be complacent with living an undisciplined life given up to licentiousness- Paul was very clear about that.  But…  I do agree with Brian McLaren that over time (and mind you, over this 2000+ years), we have grown in our understanding of how God works.  Even over the Bible- God is always faithful, loving, just, choosing compassion over retribution (usually), but Jesus did reveal aspects of God that were not emphasised during that time- like the Spirit of the law rather than the letter, faith that God is working on earth right now, that our notions of who has ‘made it’ in God’s eyes are questioned.  Mind you, they were nothing new, but just that we are made more aware of it via Jesus.

What I am trying to get at, is that at the expense of possibly being accused of being double-minded, I want to be willing to scrutinize my beliefs over and over again.  The ‘mechanisms’ of how we understand God works on earth, I feel, should be left open to discussion and pursued vigorously.  So when I say that ‘living a good life itself is not enough, and that I need God’s grace’, does it naturally leap to the next logic of ‘therefore I need to have Jesus in my life because He is the only way, truth and life’?  Well, yes, if we are schooled in traditional Christian thought.  This link makes sense to me.  But I want to understand that leap of logic/faith, and my imagination of what that phrase means stretched to somehow contain a tiny bit more of God that my mind can allow.

I am partly galvanised by my interactions with people outside the church- those who have been in it and have found that God is not just in the church… Or those who are devout followers of their own faiths (or non-faiths) and are living life the best they can, AND are not perturbed by visions of hell that Christians convey to try to scare them into believing…  I believe that following Jesus is attractive enough on its own, not a result of a process of elimination of all the other unsavory options.

*****

Perhaps you may think I am sacrilegious for borrowing another man’s philosophy rather than Scripture to encapsulate what I am feeling about my faith… but I want my faith to be exposed to chaos and disorder rather than bubble-wrapped from any potential barbs… To be ‘anti-fragile’.  That is a scary statement, because this is not just an ideological statement…

In short, this year, I propose that the God I believe in is a relational and dynamic one, revealed in His interactions with us rather than only in a limited framework that my small mind can come up with.  He is not capricious but He can be very surprising.  That is what I really want to be open to.

I often say ‘I feel like I am a heretic’, almost partially joking.  But I am really, really interested in the Scripture.  I am really, really interested about how God works.  I just want to keep an open mind.  Is open-mindedness allowed in my faith?  (Of course, open-mindedness needs to be accompanied with a diligence in learning about what is the basis of my beliefs rather than sloppily accepting another man’s argument.)

I believe that God can take my open-mindedness.  I hope to learn more about/of Him.

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about not getting everything that I want and re-learning everything

Somehow the feeling of heaviness continues on.  I am not in a difficult place.  In fact, I am in a spot where things are relatively going well.

Though I do not appreciate it immediately when it happens, I am finding unexpected unpleasant events that have been teaching me about where I could grow up in.  In the past 2 weeks, I was trying to rearrange my roster to make it possible to attend a course I have been looking forward to.  Also, I found out too late to cancel my course and get a refund.  I tried to control the situation by reminding the person in charge of setting the roster.  To be fair, I think it has been hard as we are currently short of one person in my year level.

Perhaps I was more desperate than I realised.  I was trying to figure out whether I could cancel my course but still be on the wait list if they couldn’t find anyone to replace me, so I would risk losing my money less.  I asked the question, maybe we misunderstood each other, I am not sure.  But what happened was I did get scolded and accused of a few things which I felt was quite unfair, to the point of tears.  I cried for a while.  Boohoo.

Looking back at that now, yes, sometimes people will be unkind.  Sometimes I’ll be caught in a situation not of my doing, but of which I will have to bear the consequences.  I have to learn that trying to control everything, sounding desperate or begging might not get me what I want.  I have learnt that perseverance gets you to places.  But there’s a fine line between perseverance and being overrun by a matter that might not be that consequential in the grand scheme of things.

So I know I’ve given my best shot in this, and I am waiting to hear back about whether I’ll be able to attend the course.  But in any case, I want to learn how to be more resilient and strong in what I encounter, that just because someone is ‘mean’, it doesn’t mean I must demand that my rights matter over everything else.  I also want to learn how to be self-controlled in accepting that I can’t always have it my way.  After all, I follow Jesus, who did not insist upon his own rights, and did not insist that everything will go his own way but accepted that he will have to roll with the punches.

Speaking of Jesus, and moving on to the next bit of my self-reflections, I realise that I am still very much afraid of talking about Him or being associated with being Christian sometimes.  I have this fear that I can’t articulate my faith well although I have gone through a gazillion classes, talks, arguments about it.  Today I was fetching a colleague back home and realised that I was squirming internally when my Christian radio session was on.  I was silently hoping that the first song would not be an overtly Christian song… then I heard the phrase ‘in Jesus’ name’.  I turned the volume down, pretending I wanted to focus on our conversation (yes, the radio was too loud).

I am almost mortally afraid of being disliked.  And I am not sure why I think people will hate me for being a Christian.  Probably they won’t, but I am terrified of appearing like I’m pushing my faith into their faces.  But if I am not intending to then why should I be so scared?

I feel like I’m in high school all over again.  I thought I had a handle on this.  Meh.

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not forgetting

So I cried enough tears that required me to give my face a good wash, watching the Little Prince.  I’ve always loved the book ever since my grandmother gave it to me.  Watching it reminded me all over again about how delicate the story was- in poking fun at us grown-ups, in all our grown-up ways that did not make too much sense if we allowed ourselves to think about it.

I spent much of today fretting over a roster clash with a course I had wanted to attend.  In a scheme of 10 years, the issue would not matter at all.  I was frustrated mainly because I felt that I was wronged, and also that I might have lose slightly under a quarter of a fortnight’s pay.  I was waiting with bated breath as to whether my colleague would come through to help.  I am still waiting, but I am learning how to breathe.

It’s weird in the way that I can be quite disorganised.  Yet nothing scares me more than facing a problem that seems insurmountable, or one which I cannot solve quickly or have a good plan to solve it.  One would think that after some life experiences, I would have at least learnt to be patient and not bolt at anything that does not go to my plan.  And yet it is as if I have not learnt.

I spend a lot of time fretting over things in the future…  Why do so many of us want to do haematology in the same year?  Will I ever get married and have children?  Will I lose myself to the hum-drum of life and forget my dreams?  Will serving in church take up too much time?  I have to admit, I am incredibly self-centred.  I have traded visions for treadmills.

And I am so quick to forget the true reasons why I do what I do.  I almost forgot the times when I would just walk outside and be mindful of what was around me, how everything is made beautiful in its own way.  It’s easy to forget when I meet patients with personality disorders who are just… ‘horrible’.  Or when I get too busy cleaning my house and making myself feel that I am in control because today I cleaned my bathroom and washed my clothes.  Right.

Today, I want to remember that I want to be the best doctor I can be so that people who require my services actually get better.  (That is why it is so satisfying when you do procedures with instant gratification- but there’s more to medicine than that).  I want to remember that my family and community is important to me because I am happy to remember how dependent I am on them, and I hope that I can be depended on just the same.  I want to remember that I believe, although I cannot make sure, that Jesus lived and died in such a way that changed this world that I live in today.  (On a side note, could it be that the future generations will look at the inequality today, the suffering of the people and look at it with the same distant horror I view witchcraft trials with?)

I am glad I took that time out to watch this poignant movie.  I remember now why I still choose to be alive.

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standstill

Currently feeling just massively nonchalant about everything.  It started insidiously, but the excitement of organising this-and-that wore off and I have been feeling incredibly inward-looking and lazy.  Even jumping onto this blog felt like I was doing a thousand reps on a skipping rope (not that I can skip very well with a skipping rope, but that’s another story).

I have been trying to find some ‘excitement’ in what I am doing but I am not doing very well.  The only thing I am enthusiastic about is medicine, family and friends.  And going to Uluru.  I don’t feel disconcerted, but my world does feel constricted.

To be honest with myself, my spiritual health has not been the best- I’ve been binging a bit too much on Facebook and not giving myself enough nourishment from the Word.  I am struggling to also find meaning in reading familiar passages, and with my night shifts, it has been difficult to attend the fortnightly Bible study session which I have found scintillating.  This is compounded with feeling slightly unmotivated about house church, and yet I do constantly think about how to lead the group in our journeys of faith.  I used to think it was important that I was able to maintain my own relationship with God on my own.  While I should be responsible for myself, I am ever so aware that I need community to continually encourage and inspire me to move forward in my intentional time with God.  Only in this, am I able to be poured out for my community because I choose to be filled up once again.

Using this time to get my tax, financial planning, career planning and reading… So I think in this ‘winter’ season, I hope to find joy and productivity in my metaphorical hibernation.  I do hope I will ‘bear much fruit’ from this time onwards.

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the other half

To me, the world is divided into two halves.  The first half where I want to be in, and the other half where I would never want to be in.

I am currently doing haematology at the moment. One day, a patient noticed I was really busy, and commented, ‘Gosh, I’m sure you’d be pretty keen to swap places with me, eh?’  Uhhhh, no.  It may look nice to lie in bed all day, and be unable to get to the toilet because you’re connected to multiple intravenous lines, or you’re puking your guts out from chemo.  Yes, I may lack sleep, I may miss lunch, I may even feel desperate because the task list is unending.  However, I am extremely sure that no one would like to swap places with a patient who has leukemia.

This is just an example of what I mean when I see when the world is divided into two halves.  The ONLY thing that divides me from them is not how hard I worked, how loving I was, how smart I thought I was.  All it takes is a rogue clone of cells to acquire a genetic abnormality that does not get killed off, and a year of my life is taken away with battling cancer, and that is if I am lucky.

And that’s what a lot of us spend our time doing.  We try to avoid being in the other half all the time.  The other half is ALWAYS there, whether we like it or not.  We exercise, eat healthy, we try to avoid smoking, alcohol, drugs…  But the scourge of illness is a leveller of us human beings.  There is nothing wondrous about seeing a prominent member of the community vomiting non-stop, just as it is for the intravenous drug user with the same illness.

Allow me to extrapolate it to the whole world.  I ignore the homeless person, thinking that it was their fault that allowed them to be there.  I am afraid of the odd crazed terrorist who ventures into my ‘territory’, thinking that if my country builds more fences, I will be safe.    I feel it’s too much to be a friend to a lonely person, because I would never be as weird as them and I am finding it difficult because it’s their fault for them being lonely at the first place.

I am again overwhelmed with gratitude, not at the accident of being in the half that I am in now.  Instead, I am grateful that God intends to level these halves, and that God does not intend for us humans to be polarised this way.

The more afraid I am of being in the other half, this will dictate the choices I will make- I will build taller fences, I will put my hope and security in something fickle.  Knowing that it is perfectly possible that in the world that I currently live in, I could easily fall in to the ‘I-never-want-to-be-here’ half, and it won’t even be my doing.

Help me again, God, to hold what I have loosely, and to commit myself again to blurring the lines between the desireable and ‘undesirable’ halves.

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why I want to do a Masters in Public Health

I am on a blogging roll.  This is for me to curate my reasons as to why I am keen on doing the Masters of Public Health:

  1. My statistics need real brushing up
  2. I want to improve my understanding of research methods- be it in clinical trials or quality improvement projects or epidemiology
  3. I want to understand how the Australian health system was built up to what it was today
  4. I want to understand how to navigate a political system and competing interests to secure more funding for a public health care system (health economics)
  5. I want to undertake a project to investigate how a system where Malaysian medical trainees have adequate exposure and upward mobility in their careers.  In particular, how to ensure no one is ‘stuck’ in a rotation and to ensure all areas including far-flung rural ones get adequate medical staff coverage.
  6. I want to understand the process of health care system improvement/redesign
  7. I want to learn how to ensure that employees are inspired to do their best for the organisation (but this is not probably an MPH thing)

Yeah pretty sure I want to do this.

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how I’d share the gospel… I think

So my dad invited a colleague + two nurses for an evangelistic event in my church which involved 2 jugglers and a ventriloquist.  It was entertaining, and again we had the usual story about how we are separated from God because of our sin, and God is holy.

It does feel somewhat- arbitrary?  Like- surely since God calls the shots, can’t he hang out with sinners?  I mean, Jesus did right?

Amalgamating what I’ve learnt throughout the years- starting from my mum to my current understanding gleaned from my church, here’s how I’d make sense of the whole ‘believe in Jesus’ story (feel free to critique):

God made the universe, and He has intended it for good.  God also made it clear to man about what He had intended for this earth, and let man do what man was meant to- to be free to steward creation and be God’s hands and feet on earth.

However, man thought that we would be able to discern for ourselves what was ‘good’ and what was ‘evil’.  We did not care for each other and look after creation like how we were meant to.  Throughout history, God had consistently shown man how to live- sometimes it seemed rather harsh, sometimes it seemed ineffective.  But often it was surprising as to see what really mattered to God , as opposed to the conventional wisdom of the time.  Mankind really mattered to God and He wanted to make that clear to us.

Jesus was not plan B.  In fact, his existence on this earth made a lot more sense with all the interactions God had with mankind throughout time.  Jesus was startling, as the mystery of the Trinity is.  Fully God, and fully man, he was not physically attractive, or of a background that made people sit up.  But he said things that turned the heart of men, he pointed out the idiosyncrasies of that time, he was able to do wondrous things, and he did and taught.  Jesus was a man who was able to understand out own challenges, and yet maintained an integrity of his character and resulting actions which were totally concordant with his understanding of God.  It was also fair to say that no one had be closer to God compared to Jesus.

Jesus was meant to die.  The forces of evil in this world could not tolerate this powerful man who was establishing the kingdom of God on earth.  The corruption, the cowardice and ignorance, and the pride of presupposing how God works on this earth while missing what was unfolding before them was working overtime to overthrow this man who pushed back against them.  But death could not hold Jesus down, and he conquered it, becoming the first man of the new creation.

Jesus showed us the way that God had always wanted us to be on this earth that God loves so much.  God cares deeply about us, and to be part of his Kingdom, we need to learn to be subject to the rule of love- entailing from faith and hope in the redemption of ourselves and all creation.  Jesus has showed us that this is the only way that we can live when the reality of what we see today (earth) is united with the reality that God has intended for (heaven).

I still have a lot to learn, but I have chosen to follow Jesus, and be part of this redeemed mankind and creation that God had always intended for.  Will you join me too?

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engagement, or the lack thereof

You know the odd feeling- when you look back at an elapsed time frame and wonder where it all went?  And yet you felt busy at every single moment when you were within that time frame, thinking you were doing a gazillion things at the same time?

That’s exactly how I feel.

I am currently in the throes of laziness.  I just had a very nice sojourn to Singapore- old friends/boyfriend/exams…  Looking back at my previous 4 months, I spent a lot of time meeting people from different phases of my life (I do enjoy keeping in touch though I hesitate to say that I am good at it), thinking about church stuff (not sure how much I am really doing), studying for my exams (?a feeble effort), some random Malaysian anti-racism conference stuff (which I am not doing THAT much for)…  Work has been quite cruisy admittedly.  There were a few instances where I could have performed better- I was turning up right before work started instead of my usual half an hour before work to clear clerical work so I could be fully engaged with my patients.  I do have two more weeks and I definitely want to make up for the lack of engagement in my work.

Ironically though, I do think I get easily immersed into what I am watching, witnessing before me, though the long-term commitment issues have plagued me since I was younger.  For example, I am a complete wuss when it comes to watching shows that have a tinge of suspense or melodrama… Nothing freaks me out more than some music designed to evoke eeriness and the hint of a psychopath lurking around.  I have been in situations where I am the ONLY one in the room crying about a really pathetically unfortunate character.  Sometimes my sympathy is misplaced and I have to be reminded that maybe people whom I deem unfortunate are actually happy with where they are at.  I make it a point to look away when everyone is crowding around to see the accident by the side of the road, to feign disinterest as it is more classy to be uninterested.

In contrast, I also do find it interesting that we seem very unaffected by what we see, watch or listen to.  We are so overstimulated that not much seems to leave a lasting impression on us aside from the occasional rave or rant.

The world has opened to me like never before- it’s great to have new experiences, accrue new knowledge, have a deeper understanding of issues around you… but these  things do not change the world.  No one is saved with my ‘superior’ worldview alone.  Everything I come back to Malaysia, I am reminded again about how stuck-up I can be.  I have to actively put down thoughts that my way of thinking is better than others.  Although I am able to maybe come up with what I think is an interesting conversation, at the end of the day- it mostly ends just as that.  The world really desperately needs people who care, and who will stick to what they are doing.

I am in the midst of pruning what I am being involved in, but I am aiming to be more deliberate, more involved, more present, more efficacious in what I do.  I want to say something and be able to explain why I am saying it, and to be aware of the origins of my opinions.  I want to be faithful in excellently maintaining something well and always improving on it, rather than to be charging in the frontlines with the newest, sexiest project that I hope will win me accolades.  I have been fortunate in that people often have a better opinion of me than what I really am, and I do not lack any encouragement as I am often told that I am this-and-that.

Any advances so far?  I think I am more clear on what I can be involved in, what I feel God is calling me to.

Ah, I have set lofty ambitions for myself.  My prayer is that I can remain faithful to what God has called me to, in the midst of many, many competing interests for my time and attention.

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Fatigue

I am approaching 26 years of age and am already feeling tired.

26 is that odd age which lands you at no man’s land…  The number 26 leaves me with a sense of how the year might slip by as unremarkable as the number itself.

As usual, I embrace the new year with the fervor that is related oddly enough, to the fact that the earth has completed its full orbit around the sun.  Isn’t that so arbitrary?  I’ve signed up for the gym, signed up for MRCP part 2, wanting to go full steam with church and Malaysian stuff, be an awesome daughter/sister/girlfriend/friend…  The list goes on and on, as I always have, year after year.

12 days into the year, and there have been already times when I felt like throwing in the proverbial towel.  I don’t feel like doing many of the things I know I have set out to do.  Currently, I am stalling reading a book to prepare myself to lead cell group again this week.  It’s not that I don’t like the book.  Maybe, the thought of having to talk again about what I have read does not appeal to me.  Maybe, I don’t like having to suss out what the others  prefer  about how their Bible studies should be done.  I just don’t feel like it.  Is that OK?

I don’t feel like venturing out of my group of friends and caring about anyone else outside of my tiny sphere.  I don’t feel like going to work and trying to get all those non-sick patients out of the Emergency Department.  I don’t feel like pushing myself to study.  I don’t feel like donating another cent to yet another charity.  I also feel a bit weary about the Malaysian cause.  I am discouraged about how things are going and the very likely futility of my endeavours to somehow conjure up something in a place thousands of kilometres away from Malaysia.

Ah, I could go on about this forever.

I wish that in all that I do and hope for the world, that there is someone else out there who also believes in all of the hope I have for myself, for the people around me and for this world.  In this I feel particularly lonely, though of course I have many people around me who are sympathetic towards what I long to see.  My hope is often dismissed as optimism.   I wish the others could see that I see what the rest see.  But I really want to be used as the hands and feet that will bring redemption on this earth.  It’s a really damn broken world and it’s frustrating me.  And I don’t ever want it to stop frustrating me.  I think this is a major reason why I don’t like the Emergency Department but it’s too soppy to admit.

And for all this hope I have- that makes me really NOT want to die yet…  There’s just so much to do out there!

And yet… the way I live my life looks like the same as someone else who doesn’t hope for anything at all for this world.  I know the daily petty happenings are part and parcel of living for these ‘bigger goals’.

It’s so tempting to be coddled in my daily routines- the gym, the good food, the relatively short working hours, the steady group of friends/family/boyfriend, the books and entertainment- but I want to engage in these things with gratitude and to use these as springboards to venture further beyond.  I keep praying- ‘God, keep me at tasks too hard for me so that I am driven to You for strength’, but to be perfectly honest- aside from the buzz of activities I am involved in, I have a relatively trouble-free life, not that I am looking for trouble.  Hmmm.

On my flurry of thoughts are also the growing concerns about my ageing parents who are too far from me, and potentially will be too far away from all of their children.  This disturbs me and yes, I do know what I could do to rectify the situation but am I willing to do it?

To add on to all of that, I also long to be more involved in the local Melbourne community and my medical fraternity but I also feel overwhelmed with what I am already involved in.

Gosh, what a muddled bunch of thoughts and anxieties.  I am tired just thinking about the thoughts whirling around in my head.

How then, should I make this 26th year count?

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