• Jenni Lien

You Can Build While You Heal Because Jesus

Disclaimer: Season 4 of You Are You podcast launched last week! In it I mentioned I'd tried to record the episode at least four times... This was one of the drafts. If you've listened to the episode and now read this post, you may see a marked difference. This post shares a few of my heart thoughts as I prepared to start my Master of Business, Entrepreneurship and Technology (like an MBA for Entrepreneurs) and start a business. Did I feel fully prepared? How does one even think about doing something like entrepreneurship when they're healing? More thoughts below, and I've also included some photos, taken after the post was written, to showcase more of the journey. Thanks for being here friends, praying we can pray with and support each other through all the highs and lows in life x


***


As you may know, this summer I moved home. After 11 years of expat life in Singapore and Hong Kong, I moved to small-town Canada. It’s not exactly a small town with nothing to do though (how I thought of it as a child! lol). It’s one of Canada’s best known small towns, filled with universities, tech companies, and an ever-changing skyline (more and more cool condos!). I’m really looking forward to exploring here again, and I think I’ll learn so much more about myself. Yesterday evening, I was recording a podcast interview and my guest, after hearing my update on why I moved home, said she felt that I’m on the exact right path and that it’ll be a roller coaster. It made me smile, thankful for the confirmation (think it’s the fifth person who has said something like this to me, and I believe God has said the same) and it was also a reminder of how well God knows his children.


Uptown Waterloo view from the Barrel Yards condo
A cloudy day view of Uptown Waterloo

When I was growing up here, the last thing I wanted to do was stay. My hometown is lovely (and more developed now!) but I had a deep desire to see the world and experience new things. And when I actually went abroad, I regularly had these moments where I’d be walking down the street and just stop and give thanks to God. That I felt I was *exactly* where I was supposed to be. It was literally what I had been dreaming about for years and years, and to be *in* it was exhilarating. I was rarely homesick but then COVID happened, political changes happened, and experiencing both while in Hong Kong, on the other side of the world from my family, stuck in my apartment alone for months on end, changed me. I am persistent and do not give up easily (pros and cons to this lol), if it hadn’t been so obvious that my physical health was affected (food poisoning/stomach flu four times in six months!), I’m not sure I would have had the courage to make such a drastic change. Did I really want to live the glamorous city life I’d dreamed of having all my life?


But God knows I love a roller coaster. And maybe you do too.


The thing I love about roller coasters is the intensity… especially the stomach drop. I’ll line up for it, get on, and sometimes as it’s going up a steep slope there is that brief moment of “Omg the drop is coming soon, am I ready, am I ready…” and then *screams with delight*. When it’s over, I’m sad it’s over — and then I and go line up for the next one. :) While I love all of the intense, ‘I feel so alive’ moments in life, God has definitely been speaking to me about patience. Because this life he’s called us to isn’t all about intense highs (obviously but I needed the reminder) — he is doing so much in the wait. We often want to skip the line, don’t we — take those fast pass lanes. And sometimes we get blessed and God puts us on those lanes! But like the spiritual disciplines, waiting on God’s timing — with peace and joy — requires practice. And boy am I practicing now.


Before we go on, I just want to say that we’ve got to embrace who we are. Some of us want endless adventure — people might wonder why we’re not settling down and staying in one place. Others of us want stability — people might think that makes life a bit dull and wonder why we’re not dreaming more. The issue with both is caring what other people think. In this season, and all seasons ahead, I pray we look to Jesus. Jesus will lead us! He’ll show us his purpose for us — the ride he wants us on. He’s coming back, right, and when he does we’ll want to have lived life with him. May we remember that life with Jesus can look like many different things. Staying true to the Bible is the foundation, but I mean there’s work in the home, on the mission field, in Fortune 500 companies, in the arts, in every country — God is so creative and he’s birthing new dreams everyday. If we want to live a soul-satisfying life, the only place to be is at the feet of our Lord.


MBET students from the University of Waterloo visiting the Velocity tech incubator
Our MBET class visiting the Velocity tech incubator during ignition week


Right now I feel more and more rested and ready to pursue my next step. There are two weeks left before I start my MBET at the University of Waterloo — which is like an MBA for entrepreneurs, where you build your business during the program. Side note: the University of Waterloo is my alma mater and I have so much school pride. In Canada, we read Maclean’s Magazine for the latest on Canadian universities and rankings, and Waterloo’s been Canada’s most innovative university for over 25 years (only losing out to the University of Toronto for 1 year in 2021) and is currently Canada’s number 3 university overall, just behind the University of Toronto and University of British Columbia. It’s also helped Waterloo become known as a mini Silicon Valley as it encourages entrepreneurship, with a unique inventor-owed IP policy and its Velocity incubator has helped student-created startups raise over $3.6 billion in funding. Being part of this environment is so exciting — I’m looking forward to learning and hopefully building something wonderful. But if I’m honest I’m still healing.


The last year in Hong Kong really was traumatic for various reasons. There was a study done by one of the universities which said 1 in 3 Hong Kongers suffered from PTSD during COVID and it really put words to how I was feeling. And in the current environment there, there is so much that can’t be said...


I was speaking with a friend the other day who works for a Christian inner healing ministry that has locations across Asia and they’ve been praying for various situations across Asia for a while. She immediately understood where I was coming from, and also said she’d wondered how I was doing with it while I was there as, at least from my social media posts, things didn’t look that bad. And I think I was trying to focus on the positive. I had a career and friends and the food media scene continued to thrive and sometimes I did want to go back to the days where life was one big season of pleasure where one could just enjoy the Hong Kong expat city lifestyle full of dinners and boat trips and hikes and bottomless champagne-fuelled brunches. But I need to do what I feel is right — what God is calling me to do. We can’t stay in a situation past our time just because it’s comfortable or cushy.


Jenni Lien and MBET students at the University of Waterloo
Our team won second place in our ignition week pitch competition :)

While I have many friends who feel called to Hong Kong, it was my time to go. I’ve always told friends that Hong Kong wasn’t the easiest fit but for some reason (only God knows!) it was where he chose to deeply root, challenge, test, grow, and flourish me. It was a dream come true. It was where The Yay Project started. And I was never going to leave, even amidst the struggle, unless God said it was time. But eventually, it was time… to get thrown into the ‘walking on water’ deep end. To pursue a dream that I’ve been praying about for years, always hoping it would happen ‘one day’, when this, that and the other was sorted. Namely that I would be married and financially supported so I could pursue my dream but not have my entire livelihood depend on it. But nothing like a little pressure from the Lord, amen? If he’s asking us to do something bold, may we say “Yes, and…” and do things his way, in his time, as best as we can. He goes before us and is the God of all. We can trust him.


So here I am, on the cusp of a new adventure, after a wonderful summer of rest, wanting to be whole and fully pursuing God’s new chapter — while still healing. But that’s life, isn’t it? We’re always pursuing our dreams with imperfections precisely because we need God. For me, the best place to be is uncomfortably stretched and relying on God to make things happen. As I say this, I’m picturing a trampoline. You don’t know how strong it is until you put weight on it — but when you do, oh how you can fly. I want to fly, to make things fly, and remind anyone who sees that it’s God — our Jehovah Jireh — that makes things happen. He created literally everything and there is SO MUCH more to come. Perhaps you can relate to this. God is birthing new dreams in you. He’s asking you to step out on water and try that business, write that book, invest in that stock, build that dream. It won’t be easy. We’re not totally prepared. But it’ll be wonderful.


Jenni Lien at Elora Gorge Canada
Visiting Elora Gorge — one final day trip with mama before school started

The world may be chaotic — it’s the way it is until Jesus comes back to redeem it. And we’re told that before he returns, things will get worse. So we shouldn’t be surprised when we see more evil. But if we’re on this earth, Jesus knows and he has a purpose. Amidst struggle, there can be joy, always, with the Lord.


When I started preparing this post, I titled it “Why I Attended a Men’s Christian Conference (& What I Learned)” which is clearly now going to be a post for another day. This post ended up being a journal-style reflection, definitely to help me process and pray, but I hope will be useful for someone else who is in a season of wanting to get right with God and be whole and healthy but still healing and wrestling with being human. May we believe in the goodness of God. May we release man-made expectations — from others but also, especially, ourselves. May we pursue God before all else, praying over all decisions, for strength to rely on him, and for wisdom to do what he’s saying every single day.


Can we commit to this — seeking God daily and doing what he says? It’s going to be essential for me, as I build a business his way. Not letting my ego or ambition get in the way of what he wants to do through my efforts but also in my character. I’m such an intense “I want it all” doer and feeler kind of person — God knows. I’m learning to trust that and embrace God’s continued fingerprints over my life as I surrender to his molding. Because I tell you I need it! I don’t know how to build a business. I’m frankly still learning how to edit podcast videos. But one day at a time. We can’t give up. Not on what God is saying. Let’s do life together this season, friends. Let’s build each other up in the Lord.


Father God, you deserve all the glory and I am thrilled to meditate on the fact that one day every knee will bow and tongue confess that Jesus is Lord! Thank you for being with us right now as we navigate life and understand how our flesh needs you — that we can literally rely on your Spirit to do anything in life. We can forget. We can disobey. And that your grace and mercy pursues us is such an amazing gift. Lord, we long for you and pray that we steward what you’ve bestowed on us well this season. Lord, help us get excited to do this your way! Help us embrace being, doing, serving the way that you’ve made us. You know our talents and gifts and passions — you love us as we are and as we live out our uniqueness, may others marvel at your wonderful design! By embracing our God-given design, helps us to bring you glory. You deserve it all. We love you so much. Keep teaching us. You’re so wonderful, marvellous. Always and forever. Amen.