It is past 9pm on a Friday. Flipping through my old diary from my teenage hood. Some of the ones cracked me up. Read this:
Friday April 12th, 2002 Sunny
It was a bad day! Today I had three exams and all did badly. I was so tired to do the homework. Today made me sad and worried because five days later I will have the big big exam. It’s important to
forme. I’m worrying about my exams!!! But I know: If I work hard a week laterI will become a winner a week later!
Let me try!!!
Wednesday July 24th, 2002
From now on, I try to keep the diary in English. I think it’s good for me and I have to overcome myself. Mama said: “Can you keep long?”. I don’t know the answer because of my time. I’ll be busy and nervous a few days later. But I’m sure I’ll do my best. One sentence, two sentences, three sentences, I think that’s progress.
I hope those two super short diaries of my mine brought a smile on your face. I was a pretty serious kid, wasn’t I? In fact, most of my childhood and teenagehood and even early adulthood I spent studying. Not because I really enjoyed it but because I had to. It felt like my entire first 18 years of life was meant for that one big exam of university entrance. Kids study very hard for it and spent years preparing for it. It is a make it or break it time. As though if you failed at that exam your life is over. It was scary and it was wrong.
I had no dream in my early adulthood. When I was six I had a dream. When Dad asked me what I wanted to become when I grow up I told him I wanted to become a teacher. Teaching is in my blood. Something that comes very natural to me and something I enjoy doing. At such a young age, every day after finishing school, I would come home and ‘teach’ mum and dad what I learnt during the day in front of a little blackboard like a real teacher. However when I told Dad that I wanted to become a teacher, Dad looked very disappointed and he didn’t hide it. He expected more of me. My teaching dream was crushed, at the age of six.
From then on, I learnt to comply, because that’s what a ‘good’ kid will do. My parents’ dream became my dream. They wanted me to be exceptional, successful and living a good life abroad. From the age of six, I know that I will be working very hard to get to a good university, speak good English and go study and live abroad.
Determination and hard work produces results. Here I am, writing to you, having gone through the hard work to get to a good university, speaks good English, studied and now working and living in a beautiful country thousands of miles from the place I grew up. But is that all? What do you do after you’ve achieved your dream? Or shall I say, someone else’s dream?
To be honest, I think I would be so lost right now if I haven’t found Christ and my calling.
You see, life was meaningless to me before I found Christ. I lived almost the entire first 25 years of my life for my parents, to meet the expectations of others. I had no dream of my own. I spent no time really pursuing my passion. I wanted to become a teacher when I was six but that disappointed my father hugely because he expected much more of me. I then developed big interest in literature, art, history, geography and biology and aced them all at school but Dad wanted me to do science and IT. I was sad. I rebelled. I cried. I doubted life. And in the end, I complied.
All was for what others think was good for me and what I should do.
I did my bachelor degree in Information Systems and Management. I did really well at the management side of things but really struggled at programming.
I could not program. I just don’t get it. It seemed so hard. And I was not alone. A lot of my peers found it hard as well. To a point that only a fraction of groups were able to complete the second assignment of the semester and the others had to rely on plagiarism to get theirs across the line. It was a big scandal that time at the university because we all got caught.
So there you go. I could not program. But guess what I do for a living now? I am a programmer, or to be more precise, a full stack web developer. I write code for a living. Not only I can program now, I enjoy doing it. What a turn! It all goes back to early 2013 where we left off in the previous article…
January 2013, I arrived Rockhampton to study for my Master degree in IT. I met a fellow Chinese student who is also studying IT at orientation. We became friends and he invited me to his connect group. I really enjoyed going to the connect group every week, learning more about God and fellowshipping with people I met at the connect group. They were all very kind, warm and welcoming.
As I kept attending, my life started changing. I had more wisdom and self-control. I felt loved, included and connected. Life started to make more sense. I’m not just that kid studying abroad trying to make a life here, be successful and please her parents. I have friends. I have people who care about me! I have people I can talk to, seek advice from and journey life with! These people at connect group they are really smart and intelligent people that I can have deep conversations with. And I felt that they cared enough for me that I can trust them.
When I was stressed about exams and assignments, they were there for me, encouraging me and praying for me. When I had problems with my car, they were there for me, trying to help and praying over the situation. When I had problems with relationships, they were there for me, sitting with me in private, listening to my problems and giving me advice, praying over the situation. When I felt lonely, they were there for me, inviting me to their places, treating me like family, trusting me with their children, blessing me financially. When my birthday came, they prepared for it, celebrated it with me and blessed me abundantly. They gave and invested without seeking a return.
There was no problem too big or too small. As long as they are available and they can, they would help me.
You might be thinking in your head: nah that’s too good to be true. They just do that for you to get you into the gang.
And that’s what I thought as well, in the beginning. But my suspicion was gone not long after I realise that what I was worried about wasn’t true at all. The level of care and friendliness was genuine and un-pressuring. I never felt pressured to come to the connect group. It was all voluntary. I never felt pressured into anything. Everyone was respected regarding their participation and level of involvement. I wasn’t even asked on any topic regarding my own salvation until months later one of the leaders approached me in private and carefully asked my opinion of Jesus. After knowing that I had already given my life to Christ and accepted him as my lord and saviour a while ago by myself, she was so happy. They had been praying for my salvation. A lot of the people I met in that connect group, I still keep in touch with. The couple who ran that group had significant impact to my life. They are my friends, mentors and trusted advisors in life. They care about me deeply and have nurtured and invested in my life big time. Words cannot describe how grateful I am to them and God and how lucky I feel to have met them and have the honour and privilege to call them friends.
For the five years I lived in Rockhampton, the level of support and care I received was steadfast. It didn’t drop, if not increased after I became a Christian.
After my first encounter with God, I pressed in for more. I was more eager to learnt about God and I saw positive change happen along the way. I was more gentle, better self-controlled, much more calm with the peace God had put in me, giving, forgiving, wiser, more joyful and surprisingly smarter for God had opened my eyes not only in the spiritual world but also in the programming world.
Prior to coming to Rockhampton, I could not program. I struggled at all subjects regarding programming at my undergraduate and continued to struggle at the beginning of my IT master degree. However, when I started to approach God, miracle happened. I began to see and understand things in a way that I was never able to before. It was like a light switched on and suddenly everything became clear, logical and so easy. Now that I get it, I could not understand why I didn’t get it before! Programming is easy, straightforward and fun!
It was a gift from God, not by my own strength or talent. I didn’t know how and why God did it at the time. I was just so happy God had given me this talent because I really needed it. It was crucial to the completion of my master degree in IT and whether I get to live and stay in Australia and make mum and dad’s dream for me to come true. I suspected that he is going to use the gift somehow because as far as I know, God doesn’t do wasteful work. And he makes all things work for good for those who love him that are called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28.
From my first attendance to connect group [Feb 2013] to the time I invited Christ into my life [May 2013], I took three months to get to know God and Christianity. And during this three months, I experienced God for myself. His peace, his gentleness, his care and his power! I find myself a better person. Every time I approach God, something good happens. He became real in my life. I started journaling again, talking to myself and talking to God. And I find that God is very much interested in me and every intricate detail of my life. When you think about it, it is actually mind-blowing. The creator of the universe loves me, died for me, talks to me and cares about every detail of my life! He is my comforter, my healer, my mentor and my helper. I started to share more aspects of my life to God and seek his opinion and his help. And God is faithful and powerful. Nothing is too difficult for him. He created everything!
And finally, at around 3am, after praying and finishing a major and difficult programming assignment miraculously in three hours. I, very naturally, wrote on a page inside my Java notebook:
Thank you God for guiding me to my full potential, to a meaningful life, to a journey that will never end. I treasure all the gifts, recourses, relationships and everything else you’ve given me. I’m here making a promise to you that I will follow you and do whatever you made me for using all the gifts you’ve equiped me.
I am no longer alone by myself. I will always be together with people I connect with. But before I am able to help others with their problems in life, I have to take care of my own problems first, to be a qualified follower and start giving and forgiving with a big heart and a strong mind.
Forgiving is for giving!
Coming up: [Created with a Purpose] A continued serie of my journey with God after I gave my life to Christ, my growth in Christ, my baptism, issues in life, God’s miraculous blessings and how I discovered my calling.