What God is

As requested by Mel, my transcript for my testimony on 10th anniversary :).

“I joined LoG at the end of Sec 3 after my confirmation so that was 6 years ago. I did not plan to join community when I ended catechism class let alone LoG. At that point it was a mix of not knowing where else to go (because I had just left the servers) and just following my friends Melvyn Wong and Nigel Rankine. It was during those early stages I remember that Timothy Swee told me that he hoped that I would use my heart more than my head. Back then, I would say I already knew a lot about God and what he was. I knew a lot about the Mass and the bible and I thought that was more than enough. I always thought that God was like a mystery that you just had to figure out; I never thought that it would have anything to do with my heart and what I felt. So throughout my journey in LoG I always thought back to what Swee told me and I guess I tried to gradually use my heart more. And over the years I discovered a lot more about God.

God is tea at Arbite.

He is a late night conversation at a Bus Stop.

He is a pile of Christmas cards you think you didn’t deserve.

He is a water balloon fight at Tavistock Park or a race to climb a tree.

He is a quiet car ride home in the middle of the night.

He is a sec 3 camp with a few hours of sleep.

He is a game of beach soccer and kayaking in the sea.

He is the silence before sharing.

He is the kind words and the small affirmations.

He is friends, He is community, He is LoG.

I saw God in the relationships I have with the people here in LoG. And it was in praying, sharing and just experiencing life together as a community that I discovered so much more about my God and it helped me to grow a lot as a person. Having community created a different dimension to my perception of God and it is because of this my relationship with God has become something more personal and more real. God was no longer concept to understand but a person to be known.

I always thought that joining LoG was an accidental thing but perhaps it was also my biggest stroke of luck and I know it was God’s plan that I am here today. I pray that LoG continues to be a place that people encounter God. And today as we look back on how far we’ve come, the victories and the struggles, I hope that we will continue to be inspired by God and continue to strive to know Him and to love Him. That we may become bold and courageous in being His instruments to bring His message of love to others. All praise and glory to God. Amen and Thank you.”

I am painfully aware that just a few posts down is the one I wrote when I wanted to leave community. I guess it is only fitting since God saw fit to start that the whole process with a testimony that I complete the circle with a testimony as well.

Love,

Andrew

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Empty Tombs

Dear LoG,

I postponed writing this as much as I could in some hope perhaps that I would never need to write it. But after Friday sharing and not really saying all that much I knew that it was only fair that I gave some explanation. First off, I think I have in some way been feeling these things for some time but only more recently have they become more real and unbearable. I gave a testimony on Mel’s request during the YV retreat. The topic was on “Empty Tombs” and about experiencing emptiness in community. I really struggled whilst writing it out. During my reflections, I discovered quite a bit of hurt within myself and forcing the testimony to take shape in some way also gave form to my griefs. I was terrified. It is one thing to face such thoughts in your head but when you voice them out they suddenly become frighteningly tangible.

In the past few weeks, I have continued to ask myself why do I feel discontented, frustrated and lonely and I have concluded that it’s because of my own expectations of community. It would be extremely unfair to ask all of you to do more than what you are already doing now; committing already your fair share of time and effort. Hence, the responsibility lies with me to change my expectations. Unfortunately, I have not been very successful and still I find myself feeling things I rather not feel. It has reached a point where I do not think I can ,at this present moment, be part of you all in a full enough capacity that would justifies my attendance.

As such, I wish to take some time off to perhaps gain a better perspective and maybe miss LoG a bit. I just ask that you forgive me this selfishness and any hurt that I caused.

Love,

Andrew

“Experience of emptiness in LoG
So to start off, a little about myself and some context.
I’m 20 this year and I’m in my 2nd year of NS. I joined LoG at the end of Sec 3 so this would be coming to my 5th year in community. When I joined LoG I only knew two other people: Nigel Rankine and Mel Wong. They were my friends in servers which I had recently quit and my reasons for joining LoG. (Funny how they’re no longer in LoG) I hardly knew the names of my other batch mates who joined let alone the older ones in LoG. Back then I was extremely awkward and shy (I still am but just less so) and I remember the first few sessions I would just sit quietly in a corner being lonely and regretting that I had quit the servers. But slowly I warmed up to community and it became a place where I could tangibly encounter God. LoG became something I treasured very deeply and to quote myself from Christmas 2010 at 4.30am “Sundays gradually had one more reason for being my favourite day of the week and I dreaded every session I missed.” and “each of (them was) God acting in my eyes”.
I saw this group of people who were so closely knit and bonded and in love with God. And I wanted that as well for myself. How much I wished to be like them, to be one of them. I think as a person I do not want a lot of things in life. But that day that I wrote that note on facebook I became wholly convicted that if there was anything in life living for it would be community. I felt so strongly that this was God’s plan and I was exactly where I was meant to be. At that point I still felt a bit like an outsider in community, I did not know the people in community well but I told myself that so long as I continued to turn up, to come share on Fridays, to devote time on Sundays I will have what I seek. For indeed did God not say “seek and you shall find, knock and the door will be open to you?”
So I persevered. Except for the occasional thing, community was my priority. I remember even in the midst of my A levels, when others in my community were studying I would come as much as I could, despite the protests of my parents. I would put myself up to do camps because along with the growth I knew that shared experiences would make me grow closer to community. If I was ever asked to do a session or praise and worship I would always say yes eventually. I knew that being an introvert and that I struggled with talking to people so I would always compensate with my attendance and my willingness to say yes. I did these things despite my great fear of socializing because those fears were nothing in comparison to my fear of not attaining what God had set out for me. That fear that my own inability to just open my mouth to say things would cause me to lose out.
 
Despite my efforts however, I would still feel like I was the person outside looking into a great party. I still did not feel that I was as close to community as I would like. There were many a Sunday morning that just sitting around and having breakfast with community I would cause me to have bouts of loneliness. Everyone would be busy talking to each other discussing church, life, school, job and I would only find myself contributing meaningfully on a few occasions. It did not help that it seemed to me that my peers could blend so seamlessly with everyone else. They would know the latest news about someone because they “journeyed with them” and leave me wondering if I would one day experience this “journeying” for myself. I remember there were a few nights after sharing I would return home angry. Angry at everything and nothing, at God, at community, at myself. I was frustrated by the fact that though I gave my time I was not making the kind of progress I would like with community. I was frustrated because it felt like I was bashing my head onto a concrete wall trying to get into some inner circle hidden to me because I did not know some magical formula but others did. 
 
Those nights I really wanted out of community and I wondered why I tormented myself so much over these things; I wondered why I cared so much to be accepted by these people. I felt unappreciated and I thought that it wouldn’t matter much if I just showed myself the door. But always on those seemingly darkest of nights, I would always be drawn back to community and to try again. And it was in those struggles that I came to realize, by the grace of God, how unfair my expectations of community were. I had envisioned a group of people that would just know me inside out and would just accommodate my needs. I realized how much I thought about myself instead of my community members. I realized that the behaviors that I was so hurt by I did so in kind to others and that in my bouts of self pity and loneliness I did not do my best to reach out. At one point I heard this phrase that “those who love community destroy community and that those who love others build community” (or something along those lines) and it was true that my ideals and expectations were a cancer that poisoned my community life. They made all the sweet moments of fellowship turn bitter just because they were not up to my lofty expectations. They clouded the kindness and love that LoG showed me on many occasions. So I thought less of my ideals and more about how I could genuinely love others.
 
Now, I wish that the wisdom and lessons that God showed me would take root in my heart but unfortunately I tend to stumble into the same pitfalls. So I find myself always relearning the wisdom of God and if anything the fact that this testimony was so hard to write is evidence enough of how much I am struggling with these things. I know as long as I am in community they will continue to haunt me. But I just want to tell you this: that on those nights I wanted to walk away from community I felt like I was in an empty tomb; that I am caught at a dead end. But God has always led me out from my graves into renewed zeal, faith and strength by his love. And that when I think that this is all there is to my journey I realize that this is just a new beginning. And I would not have it any other way.”