The Extrovert

“YO. Wassup!”

“YO-YO. Wad up Bro/Sis, nice to meetcha.”

*Violent stare* “Who are you?!”  …..

*Switches to smile*  “Just Keeding. Nice to meet you, I’m Oliver.”

These are typical examples of the things I’ve said or done to ease the tension of meeting someone new. Most of the time, the follow-ons don’t turn out the way I envision them to be. But no matter what, if it doesn’t work, I keep going and going and going…

Going for exchange (in the UK) has definitely moulded my social mechanisms even further. I still remember traveling around Manchester, Birmingham and London alone; I’d go to a random bar, ask to sit with a random stranger and strike up a conversation. Well, most of the time the conversations end up to be about football, which I happen to be an ardent fan of. But sometimes, these conversations become really interesting, and in that short span of time, I manage to get a peek into the life of the person I’m talking to. That is what I really enjoy, listening into the lives of people and hearing about what makes them feel happy.

Recently, I was reading an article about “the things that would piss off a Singaporean”. One of the things mentioned was the comment, “Wow you speak very fluent English!” Indeed, almost every person I had spoken to whilst on exchange would pass that remark, but it didn’t irritate me. What irritated me the most was when some guy asked if I was from Iraq (seriously?). Anyway, thinking back, I’m truly grateful that I was brought up to learn how to speak English fluently, because having this skill really helped me to settle in England, where majority of the friends I hung out with were English. By speaking their language, I gained a ticket into their lives, and they gained entry into mine. On the exterior, I was being this cool Asian kid who could speak with a unique British accent, on the interior, I secretly marvelled at how God could grant mutual acceptance between people from two much differed cultures.

Of course, language is only one of the barriers you need to overcome when reaching out to someone. There is also a need to engage the person at a level he or she is at, because before conversion comes acceptance. That is what I’m willing to do, to make myself available to the people I engage, to listen attentively, to try to be that someone who understands where they are coming from and to make them feel comfortable. I believe God has granted me the necessary gifts, so I intend to use them. Or at least, I feel that’s the direction that he’s been calling me towards.

Now that I’m back in Singapore, the cycle of meeting new people and forming new acquaintances continues. Many people fear the awkwardness that tends to arise when two strangers meet, but I personally do not. I once had an opportunity to meet the PM of Singapore Mr Lee Hsien Loong in his own house and believe me, the first words that left my mouth were, “Hi, Uncle.” Thank goodness the setting was in his home, if it were some official dialogue, I’d be breaking some serious social rules. I see awkwardness as a necessary first step for us to overcome in any form of relationship, and once you train yourself to love it more, perhaps God could open new doors in your life, and in the lives of others.

So, with all that I’ve said, maybe God is asking me to be one of those taking the lead. I shall put on an armour of very thick-skin, hold a sword of shamelessness, wear a helmet of perseverance, and together, we will embrace this awkwardness and continue to forge God’s kingdom on earth!

Liver

Oliver is an outgoing person who secretly loves playing with soft toys. Thankfully, not many people get to see that side of him, except for times when he feels tired, or crazy enough. Never afraid to crack a joke, he strives to bring out the whacky side of others, which he also believes is secretly hiding inside them..

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Being a Child

“Truly I say to you, unless you turn and become like children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3)

When was the last time you were a child? No I don’t mean childish, but childlike – a moment of innocence, silly amusement, trust, uninhibited by your own need for control? What about in your own spiritual walk with God? When was the last time you really embraced the idea of being God’s child? Perhaps when were you last dependent on the Father?

Those questions popped up in my mind as I read this gospel passage sometime last week. And I thought long and hard, before finding a simple childlike moment in a recent visit to the bird park. Lorries Loft (think many many small parrots flying in a huge aviary) brought out the kid in me. Finding a childlike moment in my faith was a little more difficult.

“Woohoo independence, I’m all grown up!”

I just recently turned 24 and have been working for slightly over a year. Through the years, I have progressed, grown old enough to pay my own bills, give my parents monthly allowance, make a big decision about career and a relationship. It’s not just the visible signs of adulthood but on the inside, I feel and see how my capacity to question, to rationalise, to make a choice, all expand with age.

Ah it’s so easy to learn and put on this “grown-up” way of thinking such that life – my decisions, my thoughts and even how I decide to prioritise my time – can be easily defended in the name of personal choice and rationalisation. This mindset has slowly crept into my spiritual life… The other day I was on the way home from work, feeling a little restless all week and a thought came “Maybe I should go by ado and some qt with Jesus will help quell the restlessness in my heart”. And then the “adult” side of me took over – But I’m tired, working’s tough y’know, I haven’t had dinner, I should be responsible and spend time with family, I need my rest so that I can be better at work tomorrow, some sleep and rest will help instead yadayada”. A simple example but maybe it illustrates something deeper.

“Hey, you’re my child!”

I’m not dismissing the validity of those statements but I suddenly realised… hey I take on more “adult” roles and responsibilities but that shouldn’t mean I neglect my primary identity as God’s child right? In this relationship, God’s the parent while I’m the kiddo, so maybe my role is less to argue or rationalise about time and difficult life situations but more to listen to what the Father is saying about them. And that moment of restlessness, my Daddy was calling me to Him.

Being a child isn’t the most natural thing for a young adult. I’m at the stage when I feel like dependence may sometimes be a sign of immaturity and weakness, where I feel like I’ve the power to choose what I want to do, who I want to be. And yet… The Father’s call is simply to be his child. I realised that in the craziness of growing up, deep inside there’s a lot of fear and uncertainty of whether I’ll make it in this adult world – something I’m too scared to admit that I haven’t quite figured it out.

The safest and probably most apt “place” to be a child, is with God. He calls me to be vulnerable and real with Him – to share my fears like how a child rushes to his/her parent for reassurance when he sees something scary; to tell Him how my day really went like how a child does when he comes home from an excursion; to trust the Father with how my life will turn out just like a child trusts a parent when he attends his first day of primary school. It’s funny how I feel like I’ve to learn how to be a child again with God. I’m still learning how to grow in my dependence and trust in Him, to strive for a simple faith and not one merely propped up by theological understandings and of course, to surrender my life to the Father.

Perhaps then, the more we grow up, the more we need to be like children.

God Bless,
Jessica

Jess had a crazy childhood with four siblings. She can’t remember a lot of it, but she does still adore “My Little Pony” and “Winx Club” (Don’t Judge!). Being the eldest has shaped who she is today – responsible, a little bossy and mostly quite motherly.

NS

Hello readers:) so I before I start I just share some details of myself. I’m currently serving my national service and I’m 19 years old.

God has been very kind to me during my few month in NS. He has blessed me with many things. My relationship with god has been stagnant for about 6 months now. And he has been using my time in NS to show my the areas that I need to work on, areas that I struggle in and also hurts that need to be healed. I dare say that I can feel god working in my life during this period of time. Also I feel that god is taking this time I have in NS to shape me into the person he wants me to become.

God bless,

Nigel