“No initiative.” I remember this is what one of my elementary teachers put in my report card. During those days, our report cards included a section for teachers to put their ‘qualitative’ observations of their students. I guess this is one way to evaluate traits and aptitudes of students other than their grades.
I don’t know if I know the meaning of the word at that time. But it stuck with me. Looking back, I believed that it’s true. I was an introvert. I preferred to follow rather than lead. I was a sidekick to a good leader friend. She’s got a strong personality and I was content to be her shadow. But we went on different paths after high school.
I have another older friend at church. She used to call me an under-achiever. I used to be known for being ‘noh.’ It’s a Fookien word for ‘slow’, ‘laid-back.’ Phlegmatic is the temperament for ‘noh.’ A more candid straight-forward term would be ‘lazy.’ 🙂 I think this was an apt description of me. Perhaps I still am. I could describe myself as happy-go-lucky and not the ambitious type. It’s fine if I get 2nd honour instead of first – anyway I didn’t have to study so hard for it.
At home, growing up as a child, I was much sheltered by my parents. My ninong once observed to my parents that they were too protective of me. It is true. While we were not rich, I have all that I need and what i wanted, mom and dad provided within their means. There were not many difficult problems that I had to face much less solve.
Looking back, I know I have come a long way. I am still basically an introvert. I still tend towards being optimistic and looking towards the happy and good side of things. I am at times still ‘noh’ – wanting to take the easy way out. But God wants me to be better and do better. He puts me through much grilling and testing to transform me into who I am today. I am still a work-in-progress. How do I know that?
God puts me in situations where I would not go myself. Yes, I chose to marry Andrew. I didn’t know that marriage is much more than just living with a man you love and that he loves you back. Love is not the feel-good, do-good ingredient that solves all marriage issues. Man with his sinful nature loves imperfectly. There were many times I didn’t ‘feel’ the love nor do i ‘feel’ like loving. Through all these ‘loveless’ bottlenecks, twists and turns of life, God causes all things to work for my good towards the purpose He has for me.
God uses people and circumstances to affirm his calling for me. When He calls, He prepares and equips.
In our elementary and high school days, we used to have ‘作文‘ writing essays: themes – formal themes and informal themes. Both in the English and Chinese classes. These exercises were requirements – subjects that I needed to do even though I didn’t like the physical act of writing. But these compulsory activities trained me mentally. I was forced to exercise my ‘noh’ (lazy/slow) brain cells.
Then came college with papers to write, then grad school – more writing requirements.. and finally, seminary papers.. Friends started taking notice somewhere along the way. They encourage me to write a book. I don’t know how to write a book. All i have are bits and pieces. It’s like collar, sleeves, buttons, zipper, seams and hems – I don’t know how to put them all together to be usefully worn by anyone. I need an editor.
A pastor friend offered me the job to be the editor of our church magazine. I don’t have experience to be an editor. I just like writing. Well, why not. Ok, God if you want me to be an editor first. God is good. He called many good people to partner with me. It’s like working on an apparel – some did the collar, some the sleeves others the cuffs, front, back, top and bottom. And out comes the Uec Phil Herald.
Long story short, today I have an editor – God’s providential provision. He closed the door when my book proposal was turned down by a publishing company. My seminary professor referred me to his editor: a lady living thousand of miles from where I am; with no internet access at home but with such gift with words, discernment and encouragement. God is amazing. He provides beyond what I can imagine and beyond what I even thought to ask for. I just need to be patient.
No initiative? Yes, God initiates. He enables. Let me follow and finish well.