I grew up in a Buddhist family and growing up, I had a very strict mother that always expected my sister and I to do well in our studies. If we failed to do so, we would be caned or asked to kneel in front of the altar until we recognised our mistakes. On the other hand, my dad was the one who protected us from punishments. Because of that, I was very close to my father.
However, at the age of 7, my father passed away due to respiratory failure. At that age, I did not understand what it meant when someone passed away but I knew it was a scary experience because I witnessed his passing before my eyes. When my dad’s body was brought to the hospital for autopsy, I saw how upset my mum was and I knew that it was a bad thing that happened. I was in a state of shock and confusion and tried asking my mum. Whenever I asked, I was always brushed off. My mum also blamed me for my father's death
When I was in P3, the truth suddenly hit me when I was watching a TV show and I finally understood what it meant about my dad’s passing. From then on, my life was never the same again. I felt that I needed to be strong so that I can take care of my family. This led me to be very defensive and protective about my family. Each time someone tried to talk about my family, I would threaten them. And it affected my friendships. It didn’t help that my friends came from whole families and did not understand what I went through.
Eventually, my friends left me. I felt abandoned and believed that everyone would leave me eventually. I became fearful of people eventually leaving me and decided to distance myself instead, to protect myself from being hurt. I needed support from my family but my mum was never there for me. Instead, my mum would put me down by comparing others to me and condemning me. She would also compare me to how I was when I was younger and even threatened to throw me out of the house.
Her words made me feel like I could never match up.
This shaped my idea of what family is and I rebelled, by intentionally staying out late or disobeying her. In February 2014, my sister brought me to church and I received Christ during a YI service. Things didn’t change when I became a christian because I could never see God, my heavenly father as someone I could lean on but feared that he would leave me eventually, just like my earthly father did.
Deep down, I feared being left alone, by both God and people So i became independent, believing that I was the only one who could protect myself. It worked for a while but I realised I could never fully grow in my walk with God as I pushed everyone away. The turning point came at the end of 2017, after my O levels when I had no school and more time to spend at home. Through that time, I learnt more about my mum. Even though she acted unreasonable at times, she always had my best interests at heart. She always wanted my sister and I to be home early because she wanted us to rest more and also spend more time with her. I also realised how my mum was a lonely person in need of the love from God. My eyes were opened and I was convicted to be the best daughter I can be, not to impress my mum but to show her a glimpse of how God changes lives. Even if that meant spending more time at home with her and giving up having fun with friends, I was willing to do so because I see that God loves my mum and He wants the best for her. Through making time to spend with my mum, we became closer over time. My mum became less strict on curfews, and understanding towards me.
In February this year, my mum was diagnosed with stage 2 cancer. It wasn’t easy for my family as we went through plenty of emotional ups and downs. Tension arose at home as my mum was unwilling to go through any therapy from western doctors and insisted on TCM(chinese medicine). This caused my sister and I to be angry and helpless because we hoped that our mum would go for therapy. In retaliation, my sister and I stayed out late on purpose to anger our mum. We wanted to show her about how angry we were with her decision not to go for therapy.
There was also tension between my mum and her siblings. My mum stopped me from communicating with my cousins and I felt like I had no one left. I had no contact with my paternal family after my dad passed away and now my maternal family too. There was once when my mum was sitting at the void deck as she wasn’t feeling well and left work early but forgot her house key. She texted both my sister and I to come home early but both of us missed her message. That night, I met my mum at the void deck of my house and when she saw me, she cried and cried not saying a single word. It was only then when I realised my mum needed us to be with her yet, I was so caught up in wanting to be like everyone else my age.
Through discipleship sessions, I realised that I was angry at my mum. I was angry at her for her words that stung me for years, for her unreasonable tempe and for robbing me of my time with my friends. However, my discipler walked me through forgiveness and when I first forgive my mum, it felt as though something was lifted. Now, each time I’m angry at my mum, I choose to forgive.
During the recent relationship series, I was also reminded that it is important to fight for my mum and my maternal family’s salvation. At that point, I felt like I was the only one fighting for this family but God opened my eyes and showed me that someone needs to stand in the gap to pray and fight for my family. I also believed in the lie that I was doing it all by myself. However, God showed me how he was there for me. Now, I know that I am never fighting for my family on my own but God fights for me and with me.
Things at home are getting better, where my mum and I have a better relationship with one another. We are now more open to sharing with one another about how we’re feeling and we can even talk about our dreams and plans in life to one another. Even as I started working part time, my mum is now much more understanding and will not fault me for not being able to spend as much time with her. My mum also grew to be willing to allow me to go church serving as she trusts that I am able to manage serving along with my studies and work because she saw how God changed me throughout this whole year.
Looking back, I realised about how God has been faithful in my life. When my mum cut off contact with her siblings, I lost contact with my cousins too. However, God did not allow things to stay that way for long. At the point when I felt like all Hope was lost and I felt like I have no family to fall back on, one of my cousins actually replied to my Instagram story of a photo that I posted back when we were younger. Through this, I saw how God revealed to me the importance of relationships and how he cares for my whole family, including my extended family.
Right now, my mum still does not want to go for therapy for her cancer. She has also stopped going for TCM and there are times when fear and discouragement overwhelms me. But I’m constantly reminded that through it all, God is my Father and he takes care of me.
My lifegroup has also supported me through this journey by encouraging and pushing me to speak to my mum whenever we fight. They have also encouraged me by putting together a love offering so as to ease the financial burden at home due to medical expenses. Deuteronomy 31:6 says
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or
terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
Fighting for relationships in our life may not be the easiest but don’t forget how God goes before us and He is a faithful God that won’t just leave us there to fight on our own.