Patience and Perseverance

Many of us have goals in life. It takes time for people to reach their goal. I am just starting out, in my career. I guess it does take time, where patience and perseverance are needed. However, when striving for a goal, even though you must work hard, there is also a time for rest. Even in the patience and perseverance, there is a time for resting. Where can I rest O my soul? When I am tired, who do I turn to? Many of you have different ways of managing stress. It could be through eating, spending time with family and friends, or maybe through hobbies… but truly who gives joy and peace to our soul?

I was preoccupied with busyness that I forgot how to pause and rest. Rest does not only mean physical rest, but also for the mind to rest, and for the soul to rest- it all comes in one unity. Who can I turn to, who will give me rest? And now I remember who to turn to, to Him who gives rest and peace to my soul. Despite the busyness, when I spend time in His word, the truth sets me free. That it is said that if you love Him, you would obey Him. But why do we need to obey Him? We obey Him because we love Him…- with this statement comes again our tiring pursuit of obeying Him- His laws are there to set us free not to make us law doers, but we want to obey Him because He loves us. And the truth is…His laws are there to help us in this life. He made those laws with His intention. His intention is based on His love for us. So the laws would not be burdensome as long as we do it with Him. And this, my friends, takes patience and perseverance.

Same with all things in life, whatever things we try to reach, may it be weight goals, career goals, relationship goals, it must take patience and perseverance, discipline and commitment. You are not alone in this journey my friends. When the road gets hard, turn to Him, He is always there, and He will surely satisfy your soul.

Do not give up, He is rooting for you and He will be with you each step of the journey!

Treat your friendship as yourself

I have a Chinese friend in class who told me about this saying: “君子之交淡如水” (jun zi zhi jiao tan ru shui); this means virtuous men will treat the friendship flowing as water. I guess love for someone first comes from friendship. I am amazed how my Chinese friends have a deep understanding of this. That having someone as a partner is having deep friendship with someone. He also advises me to treat that friendship as you treat yourself, to love that person as you love yourself as you do not get overwhelmed with the emotions. That is good advice. Sometimes, the emotions overtake us, and it can cause pain and other things. 我希望我那朋友会得到真心的爱因为我当成他是个好朋友!

The Books That Save Me: IBANEFF TOP 15 FAVOURITE WORKS

The Books that Save Me

I am a girl. I am a daughter. I am a student. Beyond all that, I have a secret. A secret that lies within the library books, a secret which is a stigma yet a power which made me be a better person. As a little girl, I would be immersed in the words of Dahl, Wilson and Blyton. My imaginations of these childhood fantasies were vivid and real, one thing books does to me is that it makes me calm. I have not realized the danger of my imagination.

It began on a rainy day; I did not get what I wanted. Suffice to say, it made me upset. My imaginations in this case were a danger for my mental and physical state. Thoughts came rushing in my mind, pulling me away from reality. It was a deep and dark moment. I did not wake up for school. I did not want to meet people. I was alone and scared of slipping away into the depths of abyss. My parents were worried. They did not know what to do with their beloved only child.

As the rationality of her mind was overshadowed by her imagination, she turned to a safe haven where she could unleash all her disappointments and shame in the place where she could call home, the library. Here she learned about the power of books in shaping and correcting her imagination. She stumbled upon the book “Unquiet Mind”. She read this book about a psychiatrist who had mental illness. She did not know what she had then, but somehow she could relate and be comforted that at least in the world, there was someone who felt like she had, hopeless and going crazy, for there was no end in the voices inside her head.

Her grades were falling. She had fewer friends. No one would like to approach her because she was so gloomy. Her family tried to help but they could not understand why she was like this. She could not stop the feeling of being trapped in darkness. She could not stop her mind from racing with negative thoughts. But alas, all she could do was go to that safe haven, the library. Again, she found solace and comfort in books. The smell of paper, the crispness, the texture, everything about a book makes her calm and seem to relax her. She read C.S Lewis in “Mere Christianity” and learned that above all, there is someone there, someone greater than all of us, looking over her.

I am in my car. The sun shone on my head and I feel comforted. I do not know why but I feel that the books I have been reading are like speaking to me. It made me realize that however bad it may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed that, quoted from the book “Theory of Everything” by Jane Hawkings. I had lost hope. I thought no one would understand how I feel, how trapped I feel. Books are like a friend to me. They speak to me when I read, it is a two-way street, and it is interactive. How can I explain what books are like to me? It is just like love on a sunny day eating ice cream.

Then again, this girl became upset again. Her thoughts poison her very soul. She was desperate to seek new hope in her despair. She happen to stumble on the passage in Psalm 88, it exactly resembles her state of mind and soul. The book spoke to her, it gave her comfort and made her realize one thing. There are many people in the world that suffered like her. She thought that she was the only one who is suffering.

Everyday, this girl goes to the library after classes. Because not only did she gain comfort, she acquired the thing called friendship. It changed her perspective in life, and allowed her to accept who she is, despite her failures and weaknesses. The books told her indirectly to love and appreciate herself, and not to look at her suffering as though it is the worst thing that happened in the world, because let’s face it, there are many people who suffered more.

I am back again to the library. I do not know why, but now my thoughts stopped racing. They seem to flow like the water, I accept my thoughts but I am not again alarmed by my imagination. I learned that imagination is a wake-up call to my conscience, which leads me back to sanity. Though sometimes I feel upset, it does not drag me away from life. I fell down and got back up again. I could not say whether those books are God’s way of talking to me, but I learned one thing from these books, that God has a good plan for those who believe in Him. Whatever He plans, it is the best of us, even though sometimes He allows suffering to happen in order for good to come out of that.

This girl has grown beyond measures. She has learned to identify her suffering with the suffering of others. She has learned that even after a tragic event, people can still succeed in what they do. She has learned that despite all, God is there. What all of you may not realize is that, she has depression. It is now common among teenagers to experience that. However, some teenagers never recover from that state. She is lucky enough to have advices coming from the books in the library that brought light into her life. Books are written words and ideas from different kinds of people. She learned from these various authors the value of accepting yourself and despite of having difficulties, to have hope. Beyond those pages of books, she knew in her heart that someone, up there was watching over her. For being able to show her that sufferings are part of life, and for showing that she is loved, she learned to be kind to herself, throughout it all, the library was her sanctuary, the books were her mentors, but above all He is overseeing things to happen, He made her read those books, and He made her realize that she was valuable beyond measure.

 

Plans, plans, and plans…

As I ponder to myself, I am not focused on my goals. I have so many different plans. Essentially, all I want to be is a success. Going to Ivy League schools, working in top-tier firms, getting lots of money. But I realised that is not what is important, my focus in life is to build my character and to be able to serve others through the talent I have. Whatever I do, whatever I achieve, I hope to contribute to society.

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You can make plans, but if it does not succeed, do not lose hope. Maybe some things do not happen the way you want it to, but know that, whatever happens, essentially it is for our growth and character building. I realised that I do have high expectations, and that is good, because it is what drives me to push through the hard times, but I also reflected on this, and think again, that I have to lower my expectations so it will be realistic. What I am capable of, what my experience is, what skills I have and connect it to which dream school I could apply. If I do not get into the schools I applied to the US, I would not be upset, because nevertheless, I am a work in progress. I have achieved more than what my teachers, friends, and parents expected. It may not be much to the world’s calibre because the world has a certain definition of success: to go to an Ivy League school, have lots of money, be a slim figure, have a good career and so on. At least, I managed to finish high school and law school. That is my biggest accomplishment to date.

I do not have to be down because of rejection. Rejection is another word for failure, and failure is another way to success. If you keep pushing through and keep going on when you fail, and try again, you will ultimately reach success. Perseverance in adversity, is important. Whatever I experience in this life makes me learn, that failure, success, ups and downs shapes me to be a unique individual. Everyone experiences that also, and I believe every person in this world is unique.

In regards to people, there are some people who are rejected by society. The mentally ill, the sick, the poor, all those are not accepted in society. But we as human beings, must learn to accept these people. They are in their situation right now because of circumstances that happen. Aside from my desires to succeed, I have a yearning to help these people. I do not know what specific legal field I have to be in to help these people, and how I am going to utilise my other talents like music and art to be a blessing to these people. But I know He has a plan for my life, and I want to follow whatever He decides for my life.

To close, ambition itself is good, but do not get carried, and do not be upset when rejected. Ultimately, His plan is the best plan for each of us, it will help us to love Him and love others more, and also build ourselves to be more like Him.

Home is where the heart is

Home is where the heart is. Where your treasure will be, there your heart will also be. What is the treasure in your heart? What is taking position in your deepest corners of your heart? Be honest with yourself. You do not need to tell me, but it is good to reflect.

Are we accumulating wealth? Or fame? Or maybe degrees? Material things may give certain happiness, but it does not last. How many times do we buy new things again? Fame will also pass away.. Degrees to make people look at you… those will pass too…

So what lasts? For me, Jesus is. He was, is, will be always there. He is my home. The place where I run to when I feel afraid, lonely, angry, frustrated. He will never leave you.

Throughout my life journey, I finally came to realise, He never left me once. Also, He blessed me with such loving family and friends.

There were times when I had thoughts, lies that were framing my perspective. That I am not loved because of one negative experience. But He showed me that is not true, through His word, through my family, through my friends.

And friends, when I look at the picture of this house, is a representation of my home, and my home is my treasure, my treasure is Jesus, and Jesus is in my heart.

Do not be discouraged, but look to Him. When material things do not fulfil, He fulfils. What is your home?

Eyes are windows to one’s soul

The eyes are windows to one’s soul. You can see happiness, sadness, or troubled minds in one’s eye. Sometimes we can only be an ear to those who are in pain. When we see someone’s eyes fill with troubles, be there for them, just listen… because listening is key to understanding and loving them.

We do not know what troubles people have. The sorrows, the experiences they have, we can only be there to listen, to ease their pain. Giving a hug to them also helps. It gives warmth to their soul.

So, whenever you see someone in troubled state, have a listen to what they have to say, and try to put yourself in their shoes. Sometimes listening helps that person have hope to go through their difficult times. Be there, and have a listen.

Beauty in the ordinary things

Sometimes, we wish for extraordinary things to happen in our life. Maybe it could be instant healing for your sickness, winning the jackpot, being rich or famous instantly. However, where does that take us? It does not make us learn. Sometimes, God allows us to experience ordinary things, and instead, these ordinary things are things that shape us into what we are today.

For instance, some people want to be instantly healed from their depression. But sometimes, they have to go through becoming sick again. I know it is painful to go through that. But through that depression, that person can see how the family or friends are supporting that person. This person will also know how God is ever present in His trouble, loyal, loving and that God will never leave this person nor forsake him.

Sometimes, in the ordinary things, when we start listing things we are grateful for, we can see how a miracle life can be. That we are born, that we can grow, and can have meaningful relationships is a miracle in itself.

Many times, we want extraordinary miracles. But just pause, and look at your life, what are the things you can be grateful for? For me, it is God, family, friends, healthy self, can experience good food, can see, hear, taste, can have a good education, a comfortable house, chance to travel, my grandparents, grandaunts.

So, have hope, there are many things we can be grateful about. I know sometimes it is hard because of the worries in our mind, however, let us give thanks for what we have today, because we do not know if we can have it in the future.

Looking outwards

Sometimes, we like to focus on something so much, that we forget to look at our surroundings. Here is a picture of the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I hope it gives you a sense of space where you can stop focusing on the things that makes you think a lot, but just pause, and look at this beauty. Somehow, that happens to me a lot, focusing on one thing so much, that it branches to other thoughts. But once I give myself permission to pause and see the beauty that is around me, my problem seems smaller.

So friends, I encourage you to pause, and look at your surroundings, take a picture if you must to keep it in your memory, or paint it if you want, or write about it. It will amaze you how after pausing, doing things like writing, art or photography makes you relax.

So do not worry about anything because you are well taken care of. Your needs are known and they will be fulfilled. Even the birds are fed well. So, be encouraged, and know that you will be taken care of.

The Rose Within

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This is a picture I took in the Botanical Gardens in Sydney. It marks the first time I came to Sydney for education. It was an up and down journey to where I am today. I can say the journey is beautiful like a rose, but it also has thorns which means it has some challenges that follow.

Is there a photo that you can describe about your journey?