Who am I? // 我是誰?

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Are you trying to live up to what the world wants you to be? Last year, Serene slowly gave up her idols and went on a journey of incredible highs and incredible lows… resulting in the most intimate relationship with God yet.
你是不是想成為一個全世界都想你變成的模辦?去年,Serene一步一步地放棄心中的偶像並踏上一個充滿高低起伏的旅程⋯⋯她找到的是和神最密切的關係。

I’m not one who think too much of new year resolutions generally but for the year 2012, I made a resolution to find out who I am and where I wanted to call home. I’ve moved around so much the past decade that I didn’t even know where home was anymore. For the first time in my life, I felt lost. I was purposeless and directionless and it scared me. It rocked my core.

I’ve always been very sure of what I wanted and where I wanted to be next. From the age of 3, I knew what I wanted to be when I grew up and pursued that with a one-track mind. I studied fairly diligently and put all my time, effort and devotion into my career. Nothing else came close to its priority in my life. It gave me the security I never had growing up. The respect, approval and financial freedom that came with it fueled the drive to excel in my career even more. With every promotion, I wanted more. I felt I deserved more. It was never enough. The drive was addictive and exhilarating until it became all too much for me. I was burning out.

That’s where the Lord met me. I came back to Christ a few years before that and since then, He has been gently prodding my heart to rid me of the idols in my life. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21) I struggled with the Lord for two years before I finally relented and quit my job. I felt led to China so I packed my bags and moved to Beijing to study Mandarin.

Beijing was an extremely difficult period for me. My dad didn’t approve of my decision to quit my job. He had always been there for me to coach me through difficult life and career decisions but not this time. It was the longest we had ever gone without speaking and it really hurt. My family felt that they didn’t know me anymore and we barely spoke. I could understand because I was so out of character, I didn’t even know myself. Wasn’t this what I have always wanted? Now that I am here and my goals are achievable, why am I walking away? I was confused. I felt like a failure and a huge disappointment to my family.

I was also nursing a broken heart when I got to Beijing. A relationship ended right before I headed to Beijing and it was difficult going through that without my friends in HK. It was also a time I realized that I have not been single much since I first started dating. Even when I was single, there were always hopeful targets or guy ‘friends’ whom I relied on for emotional support. My heart was never free for Jesus alone. Bible tells us to love one another sincerely and I knew I wasn’t. I was misleading others and I didn’t mind being misled as well because I welcomed the attention. I was seeking comfort in the wrong places. So I decided to dedicate 2012 to the Lord and abstained from dating. It was the boundary I needed to help build healthy relationships with my guy friends and brothers in Christ.

For the first time in my life, I didn’t have any of the things I usually clung on to for security and identity: home, career, stability, financial security, family approval and relationship. It wasn’t intentional at all. All I planned to do was to take some time off work to figure things out and move to Beijing to study Mandarin. If I had known what I was getting myself into, I probably wouldn’t have done it. It would have been all too much for me. My pastor, Jason Young, says that sometimes uncertainty protects us. It allows us to do things we would never have done because it would have freaked us out if we knew what lies ahead. How wise! Looking back, that’s what happened to me.

In Beijing, I got to a point where I couldn’t turn back but going forward meant letting go completely and free falling. It was a point of total surrender because I had nothing else to hold on to. I spiraled into a black hole which I now realize was probably depression, or the early form of it. There were many days where I could not get out of bed. Hopelessness was all I felt. I would cry at the drop of a pin. I barely slept or went out. People around me felt helpless because they didn’t know what was happening to me or how to help me.

The Lord was all I had. I clung on to the Lord and prayed every day. I remembered praying one day that if He doesn’t do something, I would not know how to go on. I wasn’t going to hurt myself but I knew I didn’t have anything left in me to go on anymore. The next morning, I was woken up by a gentle whisper that felt like a breath of fresh air. It was audible. He whispered promises and love into my ear. His words spoke life into me. Literally. It gave me hope. I learnt that He was all I needed. That repeated every morning for about a week. I’ve never felt Him closer. It picked me up for a while but the feeling of despair came back.

After Beijing, I went to spend some time with my cousin in London. When I reached her home, I was pretty broken. I didn’t leave my room or talk much. I ate just enough to sustain me. That was when I realised there was something seriously wrong with me. I felt helpless. Again, I cried out to the Lord. The following Sunday, I decided to check out Hillsong London. During worship, I lifted my arms while singing. Suddenly, my right arm started shaking visibly and uncontrollably. I didn’t want to attract any attention, so I kept my hands back down. I was curious to see if it would happen again, so I lifted my arms back up and my right arm started shaking again immediately. This time, I felt joy came rushing back into my heart and filled my entire being. All of a sudden, the heaviness and burden lifted. I felt free. It was an incredible feeling. Right after the service, I signed up for a road trip to the Hague in the Netherlands for Hillsong’s Europe conference. I didn’t know anyone but I didn’t care because I didn’t feel alone. On the way back to my cousin’s, I saw a sign at the tube station saying ‘Your journey just got better’. You don’t say! When I got home, I was just in time for dinner. I finished an entire plate of Osso Bucco and even asked for a second helping. She smiled and said, “You’re back! I don’t know what happened at church today but I’m really glad you went.”

Last year was easily the hardest year of my life but it was also the best I’ve ever had. I’ve never been closer to the Lord nor had more freedom to explore my passions and dreams. I learnt to dream again. I don’t think I’ve ever spent more time with my friends and family or travelled, ate, read, indulged in music and movies more in my life!

Safe to say that I am very happy to stay put in HK for now. The year I let go and gave the Lord control was also the year I experienced the most love, security and freedom. I have always taken pride in being responsible, independent and self-sufficient. I didn’t realise that I was letting these characteristics define me. I never liked being taken care of because it made me feel weak and dependent on others. What if they leave one day? What if they disappoint? During my journey, the Lord healed many past wounds that caused the insecurities that triggered these characteristics. I found it was really nice to be on the receiving end and being taken care off instead. The love and generosity poured out by my friends and family, particularly by my cousin and best friend last year was overwhelming. I learnt to love from the love they’ve shown me. The healing I received helped improve my relationship with my family. The Lord also restored my relationship with my brother, which was the icing on the cake. I learnt to be content and developed a more grateful heart. Contentment really is a state of mind and not a physical state of being.

So how did my resolutions turn out? Well, I’ve finally found out who I am. My identity is in Christ. My faith is not a religion or philosophy. It’s a relationship with my Creator. He defines me and gives me worth that is beyond this world. Having been to all these places, I also realized that I am actually quite fond of HK. There’s no place quite like it. Besides, my friends and spiritual family in HK are da bomb! They make it quite hard for me to leave again.

Has the discovery of my true identity lifted all my troubles?  Well, it’s a process. Coming back to HK this time to face the reality after what felt like a fairy tale journey has been difficult. Job-hunting in the current market is tough. I am also a lot more sure of what I don’t want and that doesn’t make the job hunt any easier. I struggle every day I don’t have a job. There was a period when it got really bad and I felt like a failure again. Then one night, I met Jesus in my dream. He had His back towards me As I approached, He turned His head around, not quite looking at me, He asked “Serene, am I not enough?” In that instant, I felt the love I had for Him rushing back and that He really is enough. I realized I was putting all my hope in my career and letting my career define me again. It is still a struggle but it is getting a lot easier for me to let go and enjoy the ride knowing that He is in control and I don’t have to be. I know there will always be someone who will catch me when I fall. He never leaves or disappoints.

總括而言,我不是那種花很多心思計劃新年大計的人, 但我為2012年定下了尋找我是誰以及我想將哪裡定義為家的大計。由於過去十年我都居無定所,我甚至乎不知道哪裡才算是我的家。這是我人生第一次覺得迷失。沒有目的和方向使我十分害怕,這震撼了我的中心思想。

我一直都很清楚我想要什麼以及我下一個想去的地方。從三歲開始,我已經知道我長大後想做什麼,並一直很有目標地實行。我很用心地學習,把我所有的時間、心機和熱誠都放在事業上。在我人生中,沒有任何東西比這個還重要,而事業給我前所未有的安全感。這工作為我帶來的尊重、認同以及經濟上的自由度使我更有動力地在事業上拼搏。每一次升職後,我都想要更多,認為以自己的能力應該得到更多。我所得到的從沒滿足過我的慾望。這股動力很令人上癮和興奮,直到它令我無法承受。我極度透支了。

這時我跟神相遇。在發生這事情的前幾年,我重投基督的懷抱。從此以後,祂緩緩地幫我重新塑造我心目中所崇拜的偶像的模樣。因為你的財寶在那裡,你的心也在那裡。(馬太福音 6:21) 我跟神掙扎了兩年後,我終於放開並辭退了我的工作。我感應到去中國的號召,所以我執拾行李,隻身到北京學普通話。

在北京的日子對我來說非常困難。我父親不認同我辭職的決定。他以往一直在我經歷人生和事業上的艱難抉擇時從旁指導我,但這次他沒有。從那時開始,我跟父親經歷了最長的一段沒有交談的時間,這令我很傷心。我家人都覺得他們已經不再認識我,我們甚少交談。我理解他們的想法,這是因為我跟以前的自己很不一樣,我甚至乎不認識我自己。那不是我一直嚮往的人生嗎?我的目標已經近在咫尺,我為什麼會選擇離開呢?我很迷茫。我覺得自己很失敗和嚴重地辜負了家人對我的期望。

同一時間,剛到北京的我正在治理情傷。我在去北京前剛剛結束了一段關係,由於所有朋友都在香港,沒有他們的陪伴,那段時候真的很難度過。我亦發現由初戀到現在,我一直很少單身。縱使單身,我也會有追求對象,或男性朋友們的精神上支持。我的心從來都沒有時間給耶穌。聖經告訴我們要全心的愛別人,而我知道我自己沒有。我一直都在誤導其他人,同時不介意給其他人誤導因為我很喜歡別人的關注。我一直都不適當的地方尋找慰藉。所以我決定將2012年奉獻給神,戒除所有戀愛關係。這是我需要的界線,來建立我和新認識的男性朋友們以及主内的弟兄之間的關係。

這是我人生中第一次沒有任何我從前用以依賴給我安全感和身份認同的東西:家、事業、穩定、經濟上的安穩、家人的認同和戀愛關係。這不是刻意的安排。我當初純粹決定用一些時間來想清楚自己的方向以及到北京學普通話。如果我一開始就知道我會有這樣的結果,我可能不會作出這樣的抉擇。這一切對我來說都是我能承受的範圍以外。我的牧師Jason Young說,有時候不確定性保護了我們。這容許我們做一些我們從沒想過的事情,因為如果一開始就知道結果的話,我們很可能就會被嚇怕。多麼有智慧!回想過去,這正正就發生在我身上。

在北京的時候,我到了一個我再不能回頭的位置,而一直向前走就意味著我要完全放手和不再掌控。這時的我只可以選擇完全投降,因為我已沒有什麼東西可以依靠了。我跌進了一個黑洞,現在回想起那應該是抑鬱症,或是早期的病癥。有很多天我不能起床,絕望是我當時唯一的感受。我動不動就會哭,我不能入睡或外出。我身邊的朋友都有點不知所措,因為他們不知道有我到底發生了什麼事或怎樣能幫我。

當時我唯一有就是神,我每天依靠著祂,每天禱告。還記得有一天我禱告說如果祂不回應,我就不知道要怎麽繼續下去。我不是要傷害自己,但我知道我已經沒有任何事情可以讓我走下去。第二天早上,我被一把溫柔的聲音叫醒,就好像一股清新的空氣飄過一樣。那個聲音是可以清晰聽見的。祂低聲地把承諾和愛傳到我耳邊,祂的話語給我生命力,也給了我希望。我發現祂就是我唯一需要的就是祂。在過後的一個禮拜,我每天早上也聽到這聲音,我從未感覺過祂跟我如此接近。這件事讓我在一段短時間裡好過一些,但絕望的感覺又再回來了。

離開北京之後,我到了倫敦去找我的表姐,當我到達她家的時候,我還是有點迷失。我很少離開我的房間,也不太説話,我只是吃一點點來維持我的生命。那個時候我意識到我這樣問題很大,我覺得很無助,我再一次呼喊神。接著的星期天,我決定要去倫敦的Hillsong去看看,崇拜的時候我一邊唱歌,一邊把我的手舉起。突然間,我的右手開始不受控地搖動,我不想任何人發現,所以我把我的手放下來。我很好奇它會不會再發生,所以我把手再次舉起,我的右手立刻再開始搖動。這次我感到歡欣充滿了我的身心,突然間,我的重擔都没了,感覺自由了,是一個非常好的感覺。崇拜之後,我報名參加Hillsong在荷蘭海牙舉辦的歐洲會議。我不認識任何人,但沒關係,因爲我沒有感覺到寂寞。回程的路上,我在一個鐵路的招牌上說:“你的旅程變得更好。”當我回到家,我剛剛趕及晚飯時間,我不但把一盆意大利炖小牛肉腿吃完,還要添呢。我表姐笑著對我說:「你回來了!我不知道今天在教會發生什麼事,但我很慶幸的是你去了。」

上年是我人生中最難過的一年,但也是我最精彩的一年,我從來未有跟神那麽親近過,也從未那麽自由地發掘我的興趣和夢想。我再次學會擁有夢想。我從未有過這麽多時間去跟家人和朋友一起,也從未有過那麼多機會去旅行、吃飯、享受音樂和電影。

我很開心我現在留在香港,那一年我把控制權都交了給祂,那一年也是我經歷最多愛、安全感和自由的一年。我一直因爲我的責任心、獨立和自足感到自豪,但我從未明白我讓這些特質把我給規限了。我從來都不喜歡被照顧,因爲那會使我感到虛弱和要依靠別人,如果他們離開了怎麽辦?如果他們讓我失望怎麽辦?在我的路途上,神把我過去的傷口都醫好,也把那些缺乏安全感所引起的其他特質都處理好。我發現原來被照顧的感覺是這麼良好的。朋友和家人, 由其是我表姐和我最好的朋友,為我傾出了在我想象以外的愛和寬容。因爲他們給我的愛,我也學會愛,心靈的醫治令我跟家人的關係變得更好。神也修補了我和弟弟的關係,那簡直是錦上添花。我學會有着滿足和感恩的心。懂得真正的滿足是在心境上,而不是在物質上的層面。

究竟最後我的新年大計是如何?我終於找到我是誰,我身份在基督内。我的信念不只是一個信仰或一個哲理,它是我跟我的創造者之間的關係。祂朔造我和給我大於這個世界的價值。去過那麼多不同的地方後,我發現我其實蠻喜歡香港的,這城市與眾不同。此外,我在香港的朋友和屬靈家庭就是最精彩的部分,他們令我捨不得離開這個地方呢。

找到我的真正身份有沒有把我的煩惱都帶走?這其實是一個過程。在經歷過童話般的感覺後,這次回到香港再次面對現實其實是困難的。現在的經濟環境比較難找到工作,加上我知道了我不想做什麼,令到我更不容易找到工作。當我沒有工作的時候,我每天都在掙扎,有一段時間情況變得很差,我又覺得我失敗了。然後,有一天晚上,我在夢裏見到耶和華,祂背對著我。然後,當我慢慢靠近,祂回頭但沒有看我,祂問:「Serene,我不足夠嗎?」當刻,我感覺到我對祂的愛湧到心裏,而且祂真的是足夠的。我發現我把所有的希望都放到我的事業上,還讓事業來界定我的身份。 偶爾我還是有一點點内心掙扎,但現在的 我變得懂得容易去放開以及繼續享受旅程,只因我知道一切都控制在祂手裏,我再也不用擔心了。我知道在我跌倒時永遠會有祂看顧著我,祂永遠不會離開或令我失望。

Image credit: flickr.com/eole

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