Authenticity

That’s what I’ve been yearning for recently. To have authentic conversations, authentic community. To be authentic to myself (ok it’s reached the point where the word authentic has lost its meaning and looks like a rubbish word) – but what does that even mean?

“The Caterpillar and Alice looked at each other for some time in silence: at last the Caterpillar took the hookah out of its mouth, and addressed her in a languid, sleepy voice.

‘Who are you?’ said the Caterpillar.

This was not an encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, ‘I — I hardly know, sir, just at present — at least I know who I WAS when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.’

‘What do you mean by that?’ said the Caterpillar sternly. ‘Explain yourself!’

‘I can’t explain myself, I’m afraid, sir’ said Alice, ‘because I’m not myself, you see.”

In the pursuit of authenticity, let it start with me. As the days get longer and Spring embraces us all, it’s easy to say that I’m in a good place. And I guess right now, at this very moment, I am.

But just last week, I sat here trying to write a post but was battling anxiety and it got too much to handle. The words felt stifled and discouraging. I’ve never struggled much with anxiety before, besides the usual pre-exam/stage fright type thing… I didn’t know where it came from. There wasn’t any immediately upcoming challenge I was nervous about. I prayed, worshipped, cried, cooked/baked and nothing seemed better. I felt like I couldn’t breathe, my pulse was going crazy, and I felt so alone. The few friends I tried to talk about it with were busy/completely ignored me. I knew that God was trying to teach me that no amount of comfort or soothing words from man could ever compare to that healing balm from our Father. That instead of running to friends who would point me towards Him, I had to fight for myself. I have to fight for time with Him, I have to quiet down my heart to hear His voice. Praise God the anxiety was gone after 3 days. I know it doesn’t sound like much, but truly, it was so disabling those few days. I felt like I was going mad. And, that whole experience gave me MUCH better insight to the anxiety/psychoses/depression scenario we had in lectures.

Other recent triumphs:

I’ve been, over the past year, fighting for community. It takes real intentionality and effort. Is it sad that I had to remind myself to choose friends and people over staying home to watch tv?! Building a community is like going to the gym: do it just once, nothing changes and it just hurts. I think I’ve reached a point where I feel like I have community in church… but there’s still so much more I desire. There are still struggles, like (perceived) cultural/background differences – I want even deeper, authentic friendships, where everything falls away because we know and are known by the same Higher Love. I want greater discipleship and accountability! To bless and be blessed. To be able to encourage people. To give and to receive. So, watch this space.

I’ve been reading this amazing book ever since my time at the Christian Medical Fellowship Conference where I got to hear Mike Reeves speak. I’d HIGHLY recommend The Good God – the Trinity is such fundamental doctrine and yet despite my having grown up in church, my understanding towards the trinity remained very much at a Sunday School level. “if I think too much about it, I’ll get confused. So let’s just accept it at face value.” I’m ashamed to say that the gospel I would share was a very trinity-light one; going so far as to think that ‘the trinity is something (a new believer) could get to grips with AFTER they had strengthened their faith. Don’t want them getting confused or even PUT OFF by it now…’. How wrong I was. So utterly wrong. The thing that makes Christianity so compelling, so different, and so perfect, is the fact that we have a Triune God. It all starts with the Trinity. Mike Reeves handles this difficult concept with excellent explanations and illustrations, a healthy dash of humour, and bits of history thrown in. Can’t recommend this book enough! (my friend says I can sell anything, I think maybe it’s time to quit med school?)

I surprisingly seem to have my act together in school. I’ve completed work ahead of time, but there remains the challenge of motivating myself to start proper revision while learning new things. There are just a few more weeks of the academic year to go, and then pre-clinical years are done!

The CMF conference was also nothing short of inspiring. I’ve never felt my identity as a medic so strongly… but then again, it was truly nothing compared to the people I met there, who would never dream of doing anything other than medicine. Maybe (MAYBE) more on that later.

I’ve been rather passive with dealing with the issues I KNOW God wants me to deal with…. He’s been so patiently waiting on me, and somehow I’m foolishly and happily lying on the desert floor, being all too aware of what I must do to reach that oasis, but when I get scorched I cry out ‘Oh God how long will this healing take?!’. Maybe because I have learnt that growth is never easy, that dealing with deep-rooted issues will hurt BADLY, that I have not made much effort to work on these things. But yes, getting round to it! Perfect timing, as always 😉

“scars and struggles on the way/but with joy our hearts can say/never once did we ever walk alone”

Other challenges:

I’m trying to not say negative/self-deprecating things about myself for a month (well ideally beyond that, but my humour THRIVES on self-deprecating jokes). I realised the other day how easily things like ‘I’M A BITCH’ rolls off my tongue. I might say it with a laugh, but I’m starting to think that that’s not a good thing to declare about myself.

It sometimes frightens me how deep my insecurities and dislike of myself might go. Where does it even come from?! Whenever friends say nice things about me, I either i) cry from self-pity because ‘you have amazing friends and this is true this is what God sees in you why do you think these things about yourself?!’ or ii) scoff and go ‘YOU DON’T KNOW ME LIKE I DO’. So for a month, I’m going to try and stop saying things that run myself down, even if it’s really jokingly (which it is, most of the time. Like a protective mechanism.).

Also the problem is thinking about myself at all, instead of thinking about God. So I’m trying to memorise more verses to meditate on His Word. Some truths that really kept me going during those terrible three anxiety-filled days:

“The LORD is for me; I will not fear; What can man do to me?” Psalm 118:6

“In God, whose word I praise– in God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?” Psalm 56:4

“..casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7

Also trying to write more. The reading more is going good. I’m a book ahead of my 40-books-this-year plan! I’m trying to be a better thinker as well, to really reflect and write down because I will never just remember the lessons I learnt from sermon/conference etc etc.

Somewhere along the way, I lost that softness in me that excitedly plans to make a scrapbook a month before someone’s actual birthday. Now I buy a card and a book, and (most likely) send it late as well. I’ve been dropping friendships when they’re less than ideal (someone pointed this out to me, i promptly ‘psshed’ her but thought about it and realised it’s true 😦 ) and that’s not right at all! I want to be that awesome, loving friend I (think lah) used to be. The one who would never even think about choosing tv over a friend.

And also the usual challenges like exams / OSCEs etc etc.

That was a long one, MY BED AWAITS.

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