I grew up in a Christian family with very loving parents and two other siblings. My mum was a strong and loving woman who held our family together. She was someone I always ran to whenever I needed comfort, words of affirmation and love. But everything changed when my mum contracted cancer when I was nine years old and I was devastated.
Because of treatment costs, worries and quarrels about finances grew frequent. My dad also had to work longer hours to earn extra income. We also stopped spending time together as a family.
I was also constantly reprimanded by my dad for my poor grades. He used vulgarities and words like "Do you want to be a failure like me and study in ITE?” I felt deeply hurt and rejected by my dad.
Sadly, after 3.5 years of struggle and battle with cancer, my mum passed away and went home to be with the Lord. I was only 12 years old then and had just started secondary school. I remember thinking to myself that I had just lost the closest person in my life. Because my father was still dealing with his grief, he was even more harsh and distant from me.
When I started working as a nurse, I couldn’t respect my management because of their failure to care for the nurses’ welfare. My ward was constantly short of manpower and I had to cover the roles of 2-3 people. While the bosses always promised to address the issues, there was no real change. Instead, they blamed the nursing managers for not managing the roster well. This reminded me of my dad's hypocritical parenting methods.
My heart was sealed shut to people in authority, I couldn’t empathise with them and didn't understand how God would love them.
During a very busy day at work, an incident opened my eyes to see the real state of my heart. I was shocked by my own actions and felt so guilty and angry at myself immediately reacting in that way.
I started believing that I just wasn't good enough as a nurse. And since I wasn’t good enough as a son to my father. To me, I felt I will never be good enough for anything.
It didn’t help that I was also struggling with other temptations. I was so ashamed of it and simply didn’t know how to open up to the guys in my Life Group and during Men’s Ministry. I feared rejection and disapproval, just like how my earthly father had rejected me. I led a powerless life for years. I believed God could never love someone like me.
The turning point came when I was spending time with God and came upon an online Christian article on the kindness of God.
In Romans 2:4, it says “that God’s kindness “leads us into a radical life-change” (MSG).
The Holy Spirit opened my eyes to see that it is His kindness and blessing that leads to repentance, not condemnation!
Shame and contempt are never motivators for change. Rather, they are hammers that drive sin deeper into my soul.
God was telling me that no matter how lousy I felt, He still thinks good thoughts about me! By His cross, I am made clean and right with God. I am deeply loved and He always wants the best for me.
At that point I begin to ask God honestly, why am I so angry at myself and authority? God showed me that unresolved anger and bitterness towards my father has been growing in me since I was 10.
I identified the exact debt that my dad owed me. I decided to cancel the debt and forgive him, just as how God has forgiven me! If God can forgive me, then surely I can forgive my father.
I became free and courageous to love my dad.
I started to how much my dad valued me over himself such as working hard to provide for me even after my mum passed on.
I started to have compassion for my dad.
He may have failed to father me well because he did not have a loving earthly father to begin with.
Since then, I have reached out to him and built a bridge. We now go on swim and lunch dates and have more intimate talks together.
God showed me how similar we were, fatherless and in need of love from our heavenly Father.
Throughout this year, I also had to privilege to disciple an orphaned child from Impact Kids. I knew discipling him was going to be tough, but I wanted him to know that he so loved by God even though his earthly father wasn’t present. Throughout my time discipling this kid, the Holy Spirit taught me so much. It tested my patience and ability to love when someone seems unlovable. But through this child, God showed me His heart for the prodigal son. And that includes me.