Your Story Matters
Why are you on this earth? Have you ever asked God? Recently I came across a journal entry from when I was 26, a month after I moved from Singapore to Hong Kong. It contains the line “While I’ve achieved a number of goals and in many ways my life is better than I imagined, I haven’t figured out my true identity / purpose in life.” If I could give 26 year-old me some advice, it would be “You want to figure out your identity and purpose? Seek God 100%.” Not 50% like I was doing, but 100%. Season 2, Episode 2 (Chapter 2) is called Your Story Matters. Join in as we cover from confusion to calling, living as God intends, embracing God’s plan, trusting that God loves and knows us, and allowing God to use our testimonies to help others. May God help us see ourselves as he sees us (why we matter!) and love to live for his glory alone.
Welcome to Season 2 of the You Are You Podcast! This season, we’ll be doing something a little different. Each month, we’ll release a new chapter of a book called You Are You: Celebrate Your God-given Design and Pursue Your Kingdom Calling. It’ll come as an audiobook chapter, through this podcast, and an e-book chapter, through theyayproject.com.
Chapter 2: Your Story Matters
*Listen to the chapter on You Are You Podcast on Spotify or Apple Podcasts.*
I’ve always loved experiencing the world through words. Growing up, I read as much as I could. I think it started because I moved around a lot as a child – new schools, cultures, countries. Books helped me understand different perspectives and helped me feel less lost. I also turned to them to help me learn how to behave in order to be liked.
God made me sensitive with a deep desire to connect and reflect. Maybe you’re the same way. It’s a special gift in many ways – I think especially when it comes to worshipping God and sharing the Gospel. But it’s disastrous if we look to the world to satisfy this longing.
So in my quest to feel accepted, chick lit books and fashion magazines became my bibles. My favourite characters and role models were always beautiful, career oriented heartbreakers with fashionable wardrobes who lived in big cities. Early on, I decided I wanted to be one and spent countless hours, whole summers, studying how successful women should think, drink, dress, do and so on. Turning myself into a stylish, successful urban woman was basically my end goal.
Where was God in all this? Maybe chuckling, knowing the things I was chasing would never satisfy and that he would be there to straighten me out. As a teenager and in my early twenties, I made a lot of mistakes and the fact that I came out relatively unscathed must have a lot to do with his protection.
From Confusion to Calling
The first time I remember realizing the depth of my sin and need for a Savior was during my senior year of university. My university years were also kind of a mess. Still in my quest to appear stylish and successful, I joined a sorority partly because I wanted a big group of friends and partly because some of the alumni were the epitome of the stylish, successful woman I wanted to be. There was a lot of pretending and trying on different identities. Spoiler alert: eventually I realized I didn’t like any of these trial identities and quit the sorority my senior year. We’ve got to embrace our God-given identity.
Then in my senior year, things changed when I met an unabashedly Jesus-loving girl in my senior year Political Science seminar class.
Rachel (not her real name) was bright, smart, funny, friendly and also looked like a model. And every single class, she would somehow bring up Jesus in a way that made complete sense. While I was nervously over-researching my options post graduation, she was supernaturally calm. She knew Jesus would provide… and I knew I needed to be her friend. After all, I knew Jesus too – but why didn't I know him like she did? When I shared where my faith was at, she happily took me under her wing and introduced me to Campus 4 Christ (now Cru) and helped me join a women’s Bible study. There, for the first time, I admitted that I’d allowed myself to grow distant from God and desperately wanted to get right with him.
If you’d like to learn more about my testimony, including how brought me from the suburbs to Singapore, from Singapore to Hong Kong, and led me into the world of food blogging, media events, and Christian social media, check out the posts On Waiting for God’s Timing as an Ambitious Woman and How God Used Food Blogging to Help Me Write About Faith on theyayproject.com. I love learning about the details of others’ testimonies because they’re often so relatable. Many of us have similar dreams and desires, and experiences chasing worldly things only to realize what we knew all along. That it’s true that nothing will satisfy besides God. It doesn’t matter how many things we buy, parties we get invited to, Google hits we have – everything is meaningless if it doesn’t involve God.
Who made the world? God.
Who’s in control of the world? God.
Who could make anything happen if he wanted to? God.
Who knows best? God.
Who loves us more than anyone in the world? God.
Who only wants what’s best for us? God.
We could go on, right?
Matthew 6:33 never gets old, “But seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” Let’s remember in God we already have the very best. Let’s seek and trust him to lead on the rest.
Living as God Intends
Something I’ve felt God speaking to me about for a while is the lifestyle industry. Now Christian lifestyle blogging isn’t new. But it’s less prevalent in Asia, where he’s called me this season, than other places like the US for example. I don’t have a specific vision for how to go about it but since I think it’s God’s leading, I’m, well, happy to let him lead. Maybe he’ll use me to reach young women who are feeling like I felt. Looking to the media and magazines to learn what success looks like. May I, and may you, live and share life in such a way that others will see the supernatural joy that comes with living life close to God. It has nothing to do with material things though they may involve traditional markers of success. It’s that special sauce that comes from one source and one source only.
I think back to my experience with Rachel. I don’t think she was trying to influence – her intimacy with Jesus was just overflowing. Maybe she was ready and willing to talk about Jesus in various settings because he was never far from her mind. This is how I want to be with The Yay Project, You Are You podcast, and whatever opportunities God gives in the future. If God says do, I’m willing to do – with him. If God says pivot and try something new, I don’t worry about man’s reaction but I try – with him. God’s got the plan and we’re blessed to be able to grow with him as we go deeper with him and carry out his plan for our lives.
So What’s Your Story?
Each of us has a story that’s unfolding day by day. How wonderful that each second can bring new opportunities to know God more. I pray we grow so close to God that we literally want to jump out of bed each morning so we can seek him. But I get that sometimes things can feel really hard. We want to rely on God but there’s a lot of hurt, confusion, anger or even apathy in our hearts. How can we trust him? How can we know things will really get better? Sometimes we might not even be sure that we have the strength to really seek God everyday – if it was possible, wouldn’t we have done it by now? Wherever you’re at, I hope you experience that God loves you in this stage as much as he ever has and his arms are always open to you. You are more than your rebellion, selfishness, brokenness or shame. These are a few areas where God has healed me.
If I can be any inspiration to you, though my relationship with God was revived my senior year of university, I still had a lot of growing and healing and learning to do. I still struggled with selfishness, rebellion and wanting the world’s approval. It was only one month after I turned 30, when my life felt like it was falling apart, that I totally surrendered to God. I had no pride, no confidence that I would heal from the situation on my own. And it ended up being the best thing that could have ever happened to me. Not that I think God caused my situation, not at all. But I believe he used it to show me how much I needed him – and since that day I’ve come to God daily, wanting to give him the very best parts of me and my life, not just because the Bible says I have to but because I genuinely want to. I have never been happier than when I am loving God with all I am. He deserves all the glory; the more I worship and know him, the more I believe this.
I pray I can keep running hard towards God, now until forever, and I pray you are joining in on this journey too. He’s prepared a special plan for your life that takes into account all your likes, wants, prayers, experiences, mistakes and more. Every single thing can be turned around for your good if you allow him to be Lord of your life.
1. God has a plan and we’re part of it
The fact that you exist means God wants you. He made you. He’s got a plan for us and it’s our job (and privilege!) to walk with him and allow him to uncover what it is. He’s made you for special, specific things. Spend time thinking about what you’re truly passionate about and seek God. Let him confirm and guide. And keep pressing in. Daily. Enjoy the process of learning about him, hearing from him, having a relationship with him, and seeing his plan unfold in your life. He is faithful.
By lining up our will with God’s, we will be able to ask him things in accordance with his will and see them happen (1 John 5:14, John 16:24). This happens when we spend time with him, e.g. praying, worshipping, soaking, asking, listening, and so on. And the more we spend time with him, the more we know his voice. Speaking with him throughout the day, involving him just like you would a friend becomes natural and wonderful. It provides a foundation of love from which to move in this world, stay strong against enemy attack, and do God’s will. After all, it’s what Jesus did. Jesus spent time in prayer alone, doing only what God told him to do. We should do the same.
It feels good to be wanted, doesn’t it? And we are wanted by the King of Kings. He made us, he crafted a plan for us, and he wants us to walk with us daily. The most wonderful, most special being wants to spend 24/7 with us, wants to help us with literally everything… we are the most blessed! Our identity as a child of God shouldn’t be taken lightly. Just as royal families on earth have duties and responsibilities, so do we. As the King’s daughters, we are still to walk, lead, live under his guidance. We are part of a bigger plan and God has his ways, timings, purposes that our human minds may never understand. All we need to do is seek him and he will provide (Matthew 6:11).
Let’s take a moment to appreciate how blessed we are. Lord, it’s our privilege to do life with you. Thank you for your endless provision and promises. You are so good. Help us to see our lives through Kingdom eyes and honour you with our time. Give us eyes to see what you see and help us to walk in our calling each and every day.
2. God loves us and knows us
Has it ever felt like making a decision you won’t regret is the hardest thing ever? People can spend hours, days, weeks, months, even years analyzing the data, weighing the pros and cons, researching, asking others’ opinions, and so on. And still struggle to make the best decision.
For me, deciding what to do after university sent me into a tailspin of worry. The summer before my senior year, I was on vacation with my family in Taipei. But rather than enjoy myself, I was holed up in my uncle’s office with piles of paper mapping out all the possibilities for my life. And I say ‘possibilities’ in the practical rather than ‘wildest dreams’ sense. With my interests, grades and chosen major, perhaps I could realistically go into social policy, teaching, or work for the government. A stable job and a pension seemed like good ideas. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with these things, don’t get me wrong. Where I went wrong was rationalizing my life rather than seeking God.
The best thing I’ve ever done with my life is obey God and start The Yay Project. In a short period of time, God brought me from broken pieces to filled with purpose. Recently I was organizing some files and came across a journal entry from when I was 26. Here’s a section from it:
Moving to Hong Kong [from Singapore] has been wonderful but not the picnic I imagined. It’s busier and less warm than I expected. There really is a ‘playground’ sort of atmosphere with the partying in fancy dress. At the same time there’s a big keeping up appearances vibe. I’m not really down with either. I don’t want to go clubbing and flirt with foreign men. I want to work out and sleep early and work on my goals. I want to pray and have regular quiet time and make something of myself. At this point, one month into my Hong Kong journey, who knows how things will play out. But I’m determined to stay true to myself and transform into who God wants me to be … While I’ve achieved a number of goals and in many ways my life is better than I imagined, I haven’t figured out my true identity / purpose in life.
At age 26, it had never crossed my mind that God would call me to write about my faith. To start a podcast about faith. To write a book about faith. To design a greeting card collection inspired by my faith. But each day I get up and seek God and serve and it feels like what he made me to do. I have dreams and hopes but want to leave my definition of success in God’s hands. It’s my privilege to praise my Savior and Lord – may I do it to the best of my ability, for as long as God wants me to, and let him lead the way.
How about you friend – how are you doing today? Whether we need help with a decision about today or about our future, may we give God the reins. Lord, wil you help us to hear your voice and obey. May we follow Jesus’s example of obeying our Heavenly Father. And when we make decisions, moving in faith, we can have no regrets knowing we did our best. God will handle the rest.
3. God helps us help others
You might have seen a motivational quote on Pinterest or Instagram about how we often find our purpose through brokenness. I’ve lived it and definitely think it’s true! It’s not that God is mean and wants to humble us to raise us up. Rather I think we can let our pride and other things get in the way of our need for a Savior. When we humbly, willingly repent, we’re in a much better position to say yes to our God-given calling. However we get there, may we believe with all our heart, mind and soul that God can use everything for his good.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. (Romans 8:28)
There is nothing we can do to separate us from God’s love (Romans 8:38-39). His love is unfathomably gracious and never changes. Whatever we’ve done, whatever we will do, God can find a way to use it for His good. But of course it’s always better to NOT sin. If we’re on the fence about whether something is right or not, God will forgive us if we sin but it’s definitely for our benefit that we don’t do it in the first place. If we do, maybe one day he will ask us to share our testimony. For God’s glory, may we always be willing to testify when he provides opportunities. As my favourite famous ‘big sister’ Joyce Meyer says:
If we let Him lead, guide, and direct us, we will not miss or regret the plan He has for us. If we continue to resist him, we will grieve all the days of our life because our inner man will know that we have missed his best. (234)
Ultimately our stories are not just about us. Yes we are fearfully and wonderfully made, and adored by our good Father. But we only have one lifetime to win the lost. One day we will come face to face with Jesus and give an account for our lives. Let’s be good stewards of our gifts, healings, experiences and sow them so that many others will come to know God’s goodness. The best way to do this is to give God full reign in our lives. Are you in?
Let’s close in prayer.
Father God, I thank you for your goodness and mercy. I pray you forgive my mistakes and help me to forgive myself for making these mistakes too. From this day onwards, I want to turn from my sins and walk in the light. Will you show me, Lord, what you want me to do? Will you help me with my current situations and give me vision for my future? I want to live a life that is full of joy and purpose – a life that I love to live everyday. Help me to see you in my every day. Help me to see life, things, people from your perspective. Help me to love you with all my heart. Help me to be a useful vessel that you can use to showcase your glory to others. I believe you are the Lord Most High, so worthy of all praise. Show us your glory, Lord. I’m so hungry for you. In Jesus’s name, I pray. Amen.
Make God your #1
Share your testimony where you are
Repent from sin
Be a good steward of God’s gifts
God, why does my story matter?
God, will you help me see me like you do?
God, will you help me with __________?
God, how can I heal from __________?