Simplicity

Not sure what I’m doing on WordPress the week before my finals, just thought it was a good relief from Austen, Blake and my good friend Dickens. Haha, if my words get a bit unnecessary, and my expressions border on exaggeration, please forgive me. I blame “the excessive number of citations I’ve been trying to string together” (Andy Yee, “Simplicity”, WordPress, web, 2015,).

Anyway, away from the endless list of essays and readings to complete by next week, I just feel an innate happiness. No, not because I love Literature, nor is it because I’m finally seeing the end of this semester, but I’m just… simply happy! I’m simply happy that I can be happy simply! *see what I did there?*

Basically, I’m just genuinely happy to live a life of simplicity. Call it an ideology, call it a state of mind, whatever it is, simplicity in life has been a constant goal throughout by past few years of Uni life.

Note though, that simplicity to me is not defined by the lack of thought, or the naivety of the mind. It is not living a life of enforced poverty, nor is it about constantly bowing my head in humble submission. To me, being simple is about walking out of my home every morning enjoying the life I’ve been blessed to live. It’s about walking down my street, happy that I have the opportunity to do the things I do. It’s being grateful to the people who have given their time to build and grow me to this point of my life. It’s about smiling at the sunrise; kicking puddles in the rain; wondering how the sky is blue; dreaming about the future; celebrating the wonders of life. I could go on, but boy, life can be so simple.

Yes, problems always pop their head around corners. Yes, life might not be a bed of roses. Yes, the world sometimes shocks me in the severity of harm society manages to inflict on themselves. Yes, people can disappoint, hurt, anger and stir negative emotions in me time to time. But what brings me back to ground, is being simple.

I was just reading my Pastor’s blog recently. In one of his posts, Pastor Tan Seow How spoke about simplicity, and how it’s something we risk losing in our generation:

“Singapore is a place where we know the price of everything but the value of nothing.
We know the price of a house but not the value of a home.
We know the price of dinner but not the value of fellowship.
Our children know the price of an iPhone but not the value of communication.”

Sadly, I belong to this generation. Unknowingly, we are losing the very things that make us human. Nowadays, we have the ability to do so much more with our lives. We accelerate and advance with every technological breakthrough (or Apple announcement). Life has become so much easier. Yet, I sometimes wonder whether in all these, have we overlooked the simple lessons that make us who we are?

I saw a boy in the park yesterday, breaking small pieces of bread and feeding the fishes in the pond. With every leap of the fish, he squealed in excitement. His mother then brought him in his baby pram to the nearby flower bush. The boy, barely able to stand on his own, propped himself forward on his pram and tried to grab some of the colourful flowers from the bush. Every time his tiny fingers brushed against the flowers, he would react with the same squeal of uncontainable delight. I found myself smiling as I watched such a simple expression of joy.

Hahaha friends, when was the last time you stopped to feed some fishes or pick some flowers?

There is a simplicity in life that we need to have. A simplicity in thought, a simplicity in seeing things, no matter how loud the voices around you are. Life will always require us to make some form of choice in our hearts. How we see life can be determined by how simple we choose to be. We all know that we should always judge a man by his character. Yet, so many of us find ourselves viewing people around us by what we’ve heard about them, or by previous bias inserted into our minds. There is always a tinted lense – we ourselves choose whether we see life through our own simple perspectives.

Case in point: The article by my pastor also addressed questions on the Prosperity Teaching (you can read the full article here – “My Answer to Prosperity Theology”) , a hot topic amongst people my age these days. There has been many views and opinions thrown around about this issue. Everyone has an opinion. But I urge you, in the middle of all these opinions, choose to look at issues like these from the angle of simplicity. I encourage you to read the article, there are some very clear thoughts and some very simple perspectives to be considered. At the end of it all friends, be simple.

 

Thought that the only way to end this post would be some simple jokes! Laughing is a simple pleasure!

 

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The Alternative Life

Finally got down to write about the Heart of God Church UR Camp 2015 that happened last week. We had three crazy days of fun. We ran around town eating and completing random tasks, literally added colour to each others’ lives, and formed many new friendships along the way.

Uni students are an interesting bunch. We are passionate and will give our very best for a cause we believe in. We are idealistic. We stand for morals and values. Some might even say, we are the most convicted members of society. Uni students would never back down from a fight. And as I learnt, it doesn’t matter if the fight is over a raw chicken, Uni students will fight tooth and nail if that’s what they believe in…

Before

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After

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Yet, amidst all the fun and madness, the highlight of the camp was our two revival nights with Pastor How. On the second night, he preached about living the Alternative Life. Pastor showed us that Christ came to die for us, so that we could LIVE for him. And the life we are called to live was to be an Alternative to the life everyone is living, i.e The Alternative Life (*NOT The Alternative Lifestyle). He shared that

“An alternative life is to live a life so different that we offer others a choice. A different way of living, a different way of thinking.”

Reflecting on that night, I’ve come to realise that there is one distinct characteristic of modern societies – that all of us live wanting to have a choice. In America, people fight for the choice of free will. In the justice system, the greatest punishment offered is that to take away your power of choice. Yet, the funny thing is that in our nation, most of us live our lives thinking that there is only one path we can take as we go through our University lives. We think that our ultimate goal should be to get a respectable GPA by the time our years in Uni are up, while having a little bit of fun in our halls along the way. We spend our nights stuffed with readings and tutorials, not because we love it, but because thats the only way we don’t fall behind. We huff and puff our way to our FYP, then spend months ripping our hair out before submitting it in as our greatest achievement to date. When we graduate, we go for one last grad trip before we “settle down” into the monotony of work and life. That is the path we know. So that is the path we take.

But yet, there has to be an “instead” right? There has to be an alternative. Instead of spending our nights drowning in seas of readings, why not spend a bit of time helping others who need our help? Instead of going for a grad trip to Europe or the States, why not go for a mission trip to the Philippines or India? Instead of letting our Uni orientation camps degrade us, why not have a proper camp with good, clean fun? (albeit with a little bit of paint!)

Don’t get me wrong, there is no exclusiveness, or “holier than thou” attitude here. I am as pedestrian as any Uni student can be. I fight the same battles, face the same enemies (i.e. sadistic profs). But I hope to make alternative choices… I hope that I can choose to chase significance rather than just be driven by success. And hopefully, “that has made all the difference” (- Robert Frost).

Now, one week since UR Camp ended, those words still ring in my heart resoundingly. As we go on this final leg of our academic marathon, we know that graduating means we have the responsibility to contribute to our ambitious nation. But yet, there has to be so much more to life than just that piece of paper we receive at the end.

The late Mr Lee Kwan Yew once said,

“What is the ideal product? The ideal product is the student, the university graduate, who is strong, robust, rugged, with tremendous qualities of stamina, endurance and at the same time, with great intellectual discipline and, most important of all, humility and love for his community; a readiness to serve whether God or king or country or, if you like, just his community.”

It is not just about the GPA on the paper guys. That’s important too! But I believe we can always choose to live for much more.

I’m determined to live the Alternative Life. Here’s calling out to anyone who wants to join me on this road less travelled! :)

I leave you with a photo of my friend Joel, singing National Day songs while standing strong at the frontline of the NTU wall. Glad for Altertativists (Alternate + Activist) like him!

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The Road Less Travelled

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Spent the weekend in church. HOGC. The church that is one of a kind. A prototype. Unique.

The church that is not about the building, nor the auditorium, nor the screens, nor the effects. The church that is about its people. About the God that is shown through its people.

So when I say this church is unique, I actually mean is that its people are unique. People who genuinely hunger for the presence of God. People who will spend time serving and giving God their best. People who love others without expecting anything in return. People who enter the narrow gate. People who walk the road less travelled.

These are the people I spend my time with, and I’m grateful for each and everyone of them. Every weekend, I think about how unlikely such a bunch of us would ever have become friends if it wasn’t for church.

I look to the right, and I see people who might have become very successful in life. I look left, and I see people who come from broken backgrounds.

Then again, I look right and I see a kindred spirit. I look left and I see a heart touched by the same presence.

We all come from different walks of life, we all have our past. Yet here we stand, sharing the same future.

We’ve come together because we chose the path less travelled. We stand at the same point because somewhere along our individual ways, we met a fork in our life and we chose the path that led us to this point.

It was a path not many took. It was a path that was not the most popular. But yet, it was the path that made all the difference.

Tonight, I’m grateful that God brought a bunch of us together like this. A church of people who have made the same decision when they met that fork in their life.

We are travellers on the same journey. We are fools fighting the same cause. We are trench buddies. We are comrades.

Here’s to Family

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“Two roads diverged in a wood, and I –

I took the one less travelled by,

And that has made all the difference”

– Robert Frost