COVID has taken its toll on everyone in a million different ways. For CHC’s social media executive Fiona Wai, it plunged her into a quarter-life crisis that led her to understand what rest in God truly means.
“My New Year’s resolution is to not have any resolutions.”
The moment I uttered that sentence, the Zoom room fell silent. My cell group members were taken by surprise, and frankly, so was I. We were in the middle of a breakout group activity during cell group: the brief was to share what we hoped to achieve in the new year. What was meant to be a light-hearted sharing session turned into an epiphanous moment for me, although on hindsight it might have been a bit of a vibe-killer for my friends.
I was glad that I could finally express what the Lord has laid upon my heart for 2022: to stop striving and start being.
By now, it’s safe to say that COVID-19 will go down in history as an event that has affected everyone and everything in the world. I was a newly minted 23-year-old when the pandemic begun. Guess what? This girl’s nearly 26 now and we’re still not done with Rona.
Like many others, I went through various stages of grief when life changed drastically in 2020. I mourned the loss of a routine I had painstakingly built up to that point, one I believed would make me the best I could be.
But COVID wore on, and when I reached the stage of “acceptance”, I decided that I wasn’t going to let a virus rob me of my fullest potential. I was not going to sit around and let nothing happen during what are supposed to be the best years of my life. I was going to use this season to charge ahead at full speed. And when this crisis blew over, I would be able to say “I am unstoppable”. Grow through what you go through, as they say, right?
So I embarked on a hardcore self-improvement project. I revamped my room, went to the gym, learnt to cook, hosted an IG Live session, led worship online, became more intentional in loving my loved ones, joined a year-long music mentorship programme, spent the following year on leadership development, and attended to growing work and ministry responsibilities. By the third quarter of 2021, I was the fittest and possibly, the most confident and knowledgeable I had ever been.
But I was also stressed, tired and uninspired like never before. It didn’t take long for me to realise that I had contracted something worse than COVID: the dreaded quarter-life crisis.
LIFE IS GREAT SO WHY DO I FEEL LIKE A FAILURE?
Popular psychology defines a quarter-life crisis as a crippling sense of anxiety over the direction and quality of one’s life; a tumultuous time of confusing uncertainty that young adults tend to experience. I had heard the term when I was growing up, but I’ve never expected myself to be in the throes of this peculiar sense of failure—one that for a long time, I did not have the language to articulate.
I’m healthy, I have a meaningful job, a bunch of life-giving friends, a wellness routine, an awareness of my ministry gifts, as well as a perfectly imperfect family. I’m seemingly well-adjusted and able to meet the demands of adulthood and the call of God upon of my life. So what’s wrong? Why do I feel so lost?
One day, it finally occurred me that what was causing me distress was the disconnect between where I thought I would be and where my life actually was. I had given so much to better myself, but I was nowhere near the 25-year-old I had envisioned me to be.
As I sat at my desk to process this, the Lord asked me a question, “Why are you harbouring these expectations when they’re not from Me?”
Oof. That’s a truth bomb right there. If I were to tell you that my response to that loaded question was one of utter repentance and sweet surrender, I wouldn’t be telling the truth. It took days, weeks and months of wrestling with God before He finally bestowed me with a blow to my hip, and left me with a spiritual limp. Basically, I received the Jacob experience.
Frederick Buechner, one the most read authors by Christian audiences, characterises Jacob’s divine encounter at the Jabbok River as the “magnificent defeat of the human soul at the hands of God”. Jacob is one of those characters in the Bible that I personally relate to the most, because I’m also the second child and we do have a pretty similar temperament—we’re both hustlers, we go all out for what we want and sometimes we do it at all cost.
A few years ago, I received a deeply edifying word of prophecy from Pastor Gary Heyes, with a portion at the end that I never quite understood. After a bunch of prophetic decrees and blessings over my life, the spirit of the Lord moved through Pastor Gary to remind me not to minimise my limp. It seemed to be something of utmost importance as he was led to repeat it several times.
It’s taken years, but I think I finally know what God was trying to tell me then. Every time Jacob limped, he was reminded that God won at last; that he was saved through defeat, that his defeat was an act of mercy. And although Jacob limped for the rest of his days, his feet were set on the way of the Lord. To relish in my limp is to wilfully remain in a posture of surrender and never forget my absolute need for God. Because His grace is the crutch that gives us strength in our weary limbs and tired hearts until the day we run with freedom and agility as His children.
So for the first time in years, I’m not seeing the next 12 months as an opportunity to get things right. Because the one thing I’m after in 2022 is not achievable, only receivable. Help us Lord, however young or old we are, to find rest and joy in Your love in 2022 and beyond. May our eyes be enlightened to see You as the only infallible source.
Our days on earth are but a pilgrimage of hope—it is better to limp along this path than to walk briskly out of God’s will.