In a previous post, I wrote that “I love how this blog gives my friendships, especially the long-distance ones (which is like all of them), a way to stay connected with me.” I wrote the sentence first, and added the bracket during the editing process, and that hit me hard. Like I hit me, hard.
I’ve not made much new friends in the past few months because constantly networking is soul-draining even for an extrovert, and it’s so tiring to explain my whole life situation with each new person in a new social setting.
After all, people who have been close to me during the past few months/years/my entire life don’t even know what to say about me these days, because honestly, sometimes I can’t even keep track of my life. And I would say that the chaos truly begun when I was 13, and I don’t think it will stop anytime soon.
I’ve noticed a funny coincidence when it comes to God’s timing of picking me out of a country. I’ve moved countries 3 times now, which is 3 times more than most people. But here’s the pattern:
Every time I’ve settled down and found my ‘home’, He’s like let’s get you uncomfortable.
I’ve always had friends. It’s not hard for me to make friends. The problem is not the quantity of friends, but the quality of friends, having a group of friends that I can call ‘home’, and the comfort of knowing they’re in the same place as me.
I definitely had strong friends from my childhood (shoutout to Ryan) but I didn’t form a strong friendship group because all my friends were so different from each other.
Plus we were 12. Group chats didn’t really exist back then; group MSNs changed every time we logged out anyway. We all moved to different secondary schools right after, and I joined Wesley where no one from my primary school went. (A recurring theme in my life: I end up in places where no one I know has been).
But it was when I went to Wesley when I was 13 that I found my solid network of friends within weeks. Because we were all starting from scratch, everyone got along and everyone sat with each other during breaks. And within all my new friends, I was able to find a smaller crew of closer friends that also got along. It was within Wesley where I got my first taste of being a part of a clear friendship clique.
When I say clear, it’s so clear that when I met someone from my year in a different class in New York 10 years later, he said he could still remember me and the people I hung with, even though I was only there for 3 months. I didn’t remember him though (love you too, Steven).
I don’t remember much of Wesley (as much as Shereen tries to help me remember), but I do remember those 3 months being a blast, until I had to leave for Beijing. For the first time in my life, a party was thrown for me (shoutout to Isaac). And this would be the first of many farewells to come.
Fast forward 5 years, after despising Beijing for more than half of those 5 years, I was leaving a home I learnt to create for myself.
I had my strong girlfriends, a youth group that I helped build up from a corner of the church basement, and my year group was small enough that we were all close enough to message each other if we were in the same city.
Instead of me being the only one leaving, everyone I knew was leaving to other parts of the world. Literally I have friends in all the continents except Antartica, and even then, I wouldn’t doubt someone I know has been there by now. And within my core group of girlfriends from Beijing, we were split across 4 different cities. Currently in 2019, we are now in 4 different timezones.
So I moved to New York and started from scratch, again. Fast forward 5 years, I finally settled into the fullness of NYC friendships with my Malaysian gang, my NYU friends, my Hillsong girlgang, and all the other circles of friendships I was honoured to be a part of. I had a range of communities in one of the loneliest cities in the world.
You kinda know where I’m going now; the pattern hasn’t failed yet. I had to leave because I got news that my visa was rejected. Commence the dreaded season of farewells and goodbyes, and here’s to starting over, again.
Since then, I’ve not been in a single city for more than a month in a row. And the pattern even exists on a smaller scale in the past few months. As soon as I became comfortable in a city, be it London or Hong Kong or Kuala Lumpur or Singapore, God took me out of my comfort zone.
Reflecting on all of this has reminded me of that moment in the Bible where Peter and a bunch of disciples decided to go back to fishing after Jesus died, even though He already showed Himself to be very much alive, because they were like what’s the point of being a disciple for someone who told me that I would be a fisher of men when I can be a fisher of fish (John 21).
Basically, the story goes that the disciples went fishing all night, caught nothing.
In the morning, a mysterious man yells from the beach whether they caught any fish (spoiler alert: it’s Jesus). They said no. So the man’s like throw the net to the right side of boat to see what happens.
If I were the disciples, I’d be like ‘homeboy, I’ve been fishing all night, don’t you think I’ve tried the right side.‘ But I’d do it anyway, which is what the disciples did.
They caught so many fish that they couldn’t even pull the net back in. When they did, they caught 153 fish (according to the Message translation). The net didn’t rip.
As soon as this miracle happened, the disciples knew that it was Jesus. Peter put on clothes (fishermen in those days apparently didn’t wear clothes on the boats) and swam to shore. The remaining disciples sailed back to shore.
Jesus already had breakfast waiting. The disciples never went back to fishing ever again.
The disciples’ comfort zone was fishing. It’s what they know. Most of them were fishermen before they decided to follow Jesus. Therefore, it makes sense that when they thought that Jesus had failed them, they would go back to what’s comforting, to what is already known.
As someone that prioritises my personal comfort, I strongly relate to the disciples.
If I could’ve chosen my life, I would’ve just grown up in Malaysia with all my Malaysian friends, maybe went to university in New Zealand, came back to Malaysia for work and snag a Malaysian boyfriend from my home church who will become my husband, and live the rest of my life in Malaysia with some traveling here and there.
That’s comfortable. But it isn’t faith-filled.
A life of faith is not meant to be comfortable. A life of faith is always exciting, and never what one expects.
Because a life of faith also requires obedience.
A heart that would try that right side again after a whole morning of fishing. A heart that would hear a God-prompt, give up on fishing a second time, put on clothes, and swim to shore. A heart that would give up a life of comfort to have another meal with Jesus.
I don’t expect the chaos of my life to ever end.
And in this extra chaotic season of my life, I don’t expect God to send me back to a place that I’ve already been, metaphorically and literally.
I do expect Him to chase me down as I pursue Him relentlessly. I do expect Him to exceed my imagination of God, to challenge what I know against who He is. I do expect Him to surprise me with miracles, breakthroughs, testimonies that can only be His.
And I definitely expect Jesus to make me the best welcome breakfast in heaven, for me and all my loved ones from all over the world, where we exchange crazy stories from the chaos of lives lived with Him by our side.
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