I never expected the day to come when I could sit face to face with my entire family and talk to them about such personal anxieties so comfortably. The entire family. Not just one member, or two members, or three. Seriously, when it comes to family, the whole is so much more than the sum of its parts. There’s a synergy there, a hopeful and healing power, when all of us come together in prayer and faith… and love. :)
This family I love so much has been the source of much personal pain and sorrow. In as much as I have felt loved and protected, I have also felt abandoned and rejected, misunderstood and helpless, angry and hurt. In the past I never fully allowed myself to acknowledge my pain because of guilt… guilt that I would be ungrateful if I acknowledged my pain.
But how wonderful God is! Through other little life lessons and the words of His servant Henri Nouwen, He taught me that the path to spiritual healing is to first admit my pain to Him openly and without prejudgment. For every twinge of anguish in a human soul pierces His heart and He is full of compassion. And over time I found it was indeed true: when I acknowledged to God and to myself how deeply I have been hurt by those closest to me despite their best intentions, I began to see them as well as myself with new eyes!
Indeed, God has been walking every step of the way with my family, even in our darkest moments, even when we could not glimpse even the tiniest glimmer of hope. And there is purpose in every step we took. Nothing is ever wasted… nothing is ever futile when we live in faith and hope!
Both my parents shared their own academic struggles with me today. My Dad went through a similar angsty time during his PhD… and my mom struggled during her freshman year in university in Singapore because she could not understand even a single word of English back then. Dad went on to complete his PhD in a topic that had nothing to do with his undergrad degree and also little explicit links with his subsequent academic career, and my mom graduated at the top of her class despite her extremely difficult first year.
As inspiring as all that was, what made me feel the most validated was their support that I follow my heart and do what I believe in. :) They needn’t have been supportive in order for me to make a sound decision or for me to be convinced of the correctness of my choice. But their love and support has enabled me to make this journey with a lighter heart than I had expected. :D