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  • Ann Yeong

Your Life is About You (Too)


Somewhere in my growing up, I came to believe: a) Being a good person is important b) A 'good person' is one who cares for others and serves others c) A 'good person' serves without complaint or tiring d) A 'good person' puts herself last and makes sure everyone else is well and happy


It all sounds right and good, doesn't it? Yet in striving to live this good life, I found myself empty and unhappy and denying that I was unhappy. I kept telling myself to count my blessings, yet counting my blessings did not take away the sense of emptiness deep inside. Nor could it soothe the anxiety that I would not be worth loving if I ceased being a good person.


I kept telling myself to count my blessings, yet counting my blessings did not take away the sense of emptiness deep inside.

What's wrong with that scenario? It may not be easy to identify the problem with what I have written above, especially if you have also grown up in a similar school of formation. I could not have told you what was lacking in what I have described above either if I had not discovered that I was created for love, not service. Love overflows into service, but a life made out to serve others can also be one that is devoid of love. How can you tell if a life of service is one that is overflowing from love? J-O-Y.


Love overflows into service, but a life made out to serve others can also be one that is devoid of love. How can you tell if a life of service is one that is overflowing from love?

I was made for love. I was made for relationship. I was made first of all to RECEIVE love, and then to joyfully return that love and offer it to others. Look at how every human being arrives in the world - we arrive as helpless infants who need to be loved and served without condition. In my faith we believe that even almighty God himself came into this world as a helpless baby who needed to be served by his loving human parents before he was old and ready enough to fulfil his heavenly Father's will; before he became known as the ultimate "servant leader".


Look at how every human being arrives in the world - we arrive as helpless infants who need to be loved and served without condition.

Before Christ served, he too was served. Before he embarked on his public ministry, the Christian gospels tell us that he heard his heavenly Father's voice proclaiming, "This is my son, the Beloved, in whom I am well pleased." (Matthew 3:17, Mark 1:11, Mark 9:7, Luke 3:22) Christ served from his identity as one who is deeply loved - his service overflowed from love. He did not earn love through service - and yet somehow that is what I learned.


Before Christ served, he too was served. Christ served from his identity as one who is deeply loved - his service overflowed from love.

As far back as I could remember in my life, what was emphasised was giving over receiving, serving over being served. Before I knew how to delight in being loved for nothing else except being myself, I had begun to seek validation and self-worth through service to others and through achieving what would make others happy. I denied and suppressed any emotion that arose within me that hinted of anger at being taken granted of because I had been taught to give without asking anything in return.


Before I knew how to delight in being loved for nothing else except being myself, I had begun to seek validation and self-worth through service to others.

I had learned to give - not out of abundance but out of duty. Even when I am loved, I believed I was only loved for what I could offer - and my heart could not receive such love because it only wanted to be loved for being myself. I lived in the irony of striving to give my life away for others, yet never being able to love or serve freely because I was desperate for validation and affirmation. I did not, could not serve with joy.


Even when I am loved, I believed I was only loved for what I could offer - and my heart could not receive such love because it only wanted to be loved for being myself.

Then one day I realised that my life has as much value as anybody else's, and that in failing to honour my own life I had no idea how to truly honour others. I realised that in neglecting to listen to the cry of my own heart, I have become unable to hold space for others in pain, trying instead to become their saviour and fix their lives. I finally awakened to the truth that in order to become a real blessing for others, I needed to dare to put myself first.


I realised that in neglecting to listen to the cry of my own heart, I have become unable to hold space for others in pain.

I needed to listen to my heart first, before I can honestly listen to another heart. I needed to know how to show compassion to myself first before I can truly show compassion to another person in her weakness. I needed to know how to delight in being loved for myself before I can truly delight in loving another without expectation. I needed to be filled before I can pour out. I needed to believe that my joy really matters before I can share my joy without self-seeking.


I needed to believe that my joy really matters before I can share my joy without self-seeking.

So here's a wonderful paradox of truth: In order for us to truly live a life that is not self-serving, we need to learn to first receive and be filled. In order for our life to fulfil its purpose, we need to listen to and be guided by our heart's deep gladness.


Let us dare to want our own joy so that we will know how to bring joy to the world.


Listen to Episode 24 Is it Selfish to Live the Life I Want? on the Becoming Me Podcast from Wednesday 16 June, 2021.


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Website: https://www.becomingme.sg/podcast



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