Back in secondary school, I loved my Co-Curricular Activities (“CCA”) - Boys’ Brigade (“BB”), and was appointed the Company Sergeant Major. I was also recognised with the “Best NCO” award - an award given only to the 2 best performing individuals of every uniformed group in the school.
Because of my appointment and achievements, I was popular in school. Everything seemed to be going well for me.
But things took a turn in my Junior College days when I didn’t make it to the soccer team, I felt frustrated and complained to God.
I found myself comparing to the soccer team, putting them on a pedestal and even thought of ways to be just like them.
As days passed, the bitterness in me grew.
Since my plans to join the soccer team failed, I decided to take up BB as my external CCA in order to fulfill my CCA requirement.
This meant spending less time with my classmates.
Gradually, I had no close friends in school and didn’t make effort to contribute in class. And I began feeling out of place at school.
Despite my many efforts in hopes to building rapport with my peers, some of which were extreme and landed me into serious trouble; the feeling of loneliness only got worse.
I started isolating myself. Eventually, I stopped attending school because I was tired of putting up a show, pretending that everything was fine.
It was so painful comparing myself to others, but
the most painful comparison was with myself.
I compared my lonely and sorry present-self versus my accomplished past self.
As time went by, condemning voices perpetuated my mind every single day. My mind was like a constant battleground.
But even in my darkest valley, I was never alone.
The first person who noticed this drastic change was my mum. She saw the red flag when I stopped going to church which I always enjoyed.
She tried to encourage me and pulled my brother and my father. It was the first time in a long time that my family came together as my parents were divorced. So, for my dad to join us proves that this wasn’t a trivial matter.
My Lifegroup was also there for me. Despite my numerous rejections, they were persistent and always found ways to encourage me.
I remember one night; my buddy Edwin came to my house at 11pm just to pray and to worship with me at the bus stop. When he prompted me to pray for myself, I realised it had been weeks since I’ve last spoken to God.
Oddly enough, it was also during this lowest point in my life where I decided to try for the President’s award in BB - this is the highest award any junior officer could receive, conferred by the President of Singapore.
Obviously with zero motivation, I struggled to submit my referees and write-ups. I remember telling Brother Ri Xiang two days before the deadline that I wanted to pull out, but he encouraged me. He believed in me even when I didn’t believe in myself, and I guess that’s the power of community.
Though I was still struggling with depressive thoughts and finding it hard to find purpose in life, I decided to keep moving forward with my Lifegroup’s support. One step at a time, re-learning and re-discovering everything all over again.
After a particular Lifegoup session, something within me changed. I wasn’t caught up with people’s perception of me, and started living according to who God says I am, His beloved child.
God showed me that at the end of the day, we are ALL just children of God.
It doesn't matter if you made it to the soccer team or have good grades or multiple achievements.
Our value is constant and priced at the blood of His Son, we can’t add or subtract anymore to that.
As the chains of comparison fell off, my relationship with my schoolmates started improving. I became more comfortable around them and my grades also started improving.
On hindsight, this season also brought my family closer. My relationship with my mum and brother improved tremendously, and now I meet my dad for meals occasionally. Something I would never have imagined in the past.
I also submitted the documents needed for the President’s award just in time. By God’s grace I was awarded the President’s Award in 2017! This was amazing because I was one out of the seven awardees Nationwide that year. Praise God, as this can only be from Him!
Yet God wasn’t done with me.
By God’s favour, I was drafted into the Commandos in Army. Though, I wanted to be an officer, I didn’t make the cut and was disappointed.
However this time, I decided to apply what I’ve learned in the valley with God and handle my disappointments His way. I refused to categorise myself according to the world’s idea of success.
Instead, I held onto God’s promises and trusted that He had a purpose for me in everything.
I gave my best serving as a Sergeant despite it being not what I wanted. A few months in, my superiors randomly came up to me and told me that I’ve been awarded the NSF of the year for 2019! I was in total shock. This award is presented to NSFs who have shown outstanding military performance for the year.
My superiors had noticed my hard work and nominated me for the award that I didn’t even know existed!
I was not even working to get this award and was just giving my best in the army for God.