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top ten signs of insecurity.

If there was any weakness that was almost synonymous with any young person, it would be insecurity. Following close would be identity crisis, which incidentally is birthed from insecurity. Growing up with a Sanguine personality, I am able to identify with youths (and adults alike) who struggle with this problem. I can offer little solution except my own – I found my security in God, who doesn’t just doesn’t change (get it?), but is also constant. This helps me to trust in Him, knowing that at the end of the day, He alone makes me whole and He alone is completely in control of what’s going on, even when things feel as though it will come crumbling down. I can’t speak for every insecure person, but these were some of the things I did when I was younger, as a defence mechanism against the ugliness and unpleasantness of insecurity. Maybe it’d strike a chord with you?

1. I ranked friends and always moved their positions based on how they treated me.

2. I rushed in and out of relationships for I was afraid of being single and lonely.

3. I took great pains to look good and spent lots of time enhancing my appearance.

4. I spent lots of money on material items to stay “ahead” of the crowd – to be first.

5. I did and said things to attract attention because I wanted to be in the limelight.

6. I picked on and poked fun at people who were weaker and slower than I was.

7. I manipulated people’s feelings to make myself feel good and better than others.

8. I hid behind an ego and always needed to prove to others how good I was.

9. I was extremely possessive of my friends and my status in their lives.

10. I was afraid to tell others my flaws so they won’t change their impression of me.

11. I gave in willing and compromised to make people happy so that I’d be accepted.

12. I hid behind humour and found great comfort in being the funny and witty guy.

13. I could never ever deal with awkward silences in conversations, so I talk non-stop.

14. I hated it when people scorned or slammed my ideas – I couldn’t handle rejection.

15. I was always on the defensive (and offensive) whenever people questioned me.

16. I was bossy and always needed to be in control of every situation, regardless.

17. I thrived on people’s approval (of me, or the things I did) and sought mainly that.

18. I hated losing and constantly needed to be in pole position in any competition.

19. I criticised others when they criticised me even when they were faultless.

20. I emotionally blackmailed those whom I loved so I could control them.

I know this is supposed to be a top ten list but listing all these things came so naturally I had to double the quota. I may be in my mid-twenties already and I may be a church leader, but I’m still a wretched human being with an abundance of weaknesses. I’d be the first to raise my hand and to admit that I’m still struggling (and may continue to struggle with it all my life!) with some of these symptoms. However, the older I get, the more battles I win against insecurity, the more I am convinced that the grace of God is the only solution for this perennial problem. Next week, I will post the top ten recommended scriptures one could commit to memory and use to counter insecurity. It is my prayer that we break this bondage in our lives in the victory that comes with Jesus Christ!

God’s cultural sense of humour.

I took this picture on the 1,865-metre ascend up to the top of Huangshan in Anhui Province, China.

As HY, CH, KP and I climb every step, we marveled at its ever changing landscape and just how amazing the whole sight was. We unanimously agreed that that was only one word to describe the scene – majestic. Wikipedia quite rightly described it to be an “area is well known for its scenery, sunsets, peculiarly-shaped granite peaks, Huangshan Pine trees, and views of the clouds from above. Mount Huang is a frequent subject of traditional Chinese paintings and literature, as well as modern photography. Today, it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of China’s major tourist destinations.”

The interesting thing is, as we observe the yellow rocks (hence the namesake), you will, in your mind’s eye, conclude that these rocks just had to be from China; I guess this could be because hand-painted portraits we are see from time to time physically depict Chinese mountains in this particular physical appearance and hence we naturally match such landscapes to oh-this-has-got-to-be-from-China.

I wonder if this particular rock formation was there from the start (not likely), eroded into this state (more likely), or man-made (unlikely – you’d have to be REALLY bored to accomplish this). Either way, I reckon that God doesn’t just have a sense of humour, but a sense of cultural humour; it’s like He knew what would have tickled the Chinese bones. Well, it could have been a Westerner in a tuxedo, an African in a loincloth or a Japanese in a kimono… But no, this rock formation just had to be a Chinese farmer wearing a straw carrying a straw basket with a wooden stick picking herbs!

It doesn’t get any more humourous than that. I’m inclined to believe that God really understand us. And the Chinese would simply say, “哈哈哈”.

shanghai tan part 1 – (nearly) terminated at the terminal.

“Sir, I think you booked the wrong tickets.”

Without a shadow of a doubt, this goes down as one of my biggest boo-boos. I couldn’t believe that I committed a mistake of this simplicity. The crazy thing about it was that none of the four people I had sent my itinerary to spotted it as well. The dates on my E-ticket read 28 Nov Fri to 28 Dec Mon (!!! – I know). On hindsight, thank God there was no promotional fare this time – the more expensive flexi-saver ticket I purchased allowed for a n0-fee flight change.

To help you understand the severity of the situation, on the line was 40kg of fish meat, a $919 SQ air ticket and another $90 paid for excess baggage. It was midnight and my sister (who kindly sent me to the airport) had already reached home. The current flight was fully booked and so were the next two flights at 7am and 10am. The frozen fish meat only had a lifespan of 10 hours without refrigeration.

To say I was panicking is an understatement. But a part of me really enjoyed the impending adventure. Suddenly I was captured in a cinematic moment. Strangely, I was at peace but also in a flurry.

Check-in for the flight closes at 12:35am. The plane takes off at 1:15am.

T-30 minutes @ 12:05am:
After confirming this major mistake, the check-in officer informed me that 12 people have not turned up for this flight. And there were already two passengers on the waiting list. I was third on the list. If nine passengers turned up, it’d be game over for Joey. My uncle and I dismissed paying for Business Class (DANG!) and were hoping for the no-show of these 12 people.

T-20 minutes @ 12:15am:
After putting down the phone with HY for the third time – I needed an anxiety-venting outlet – I was informed by the same officer that there were only 5 seats left. Calmly, he said, “Sir, maybe this is your lucky day”.

His colleague added, “But honestly Sir, based on my experience, I think your chances are really low.”

T-10 minutes @ 12:25am:
I told HY that I couldn’t be on the phone anymore because I was in such a state of peaceful flurry (!). I hung up, looked towards the counter and established eye contact with the same officer. He didn’t give me a thumbs up, but gestured “3” instead. I remembered the two already on the waiting list and my negotiations with God reached a new level of extraordinary wagers. I think I must have really tickled God.

D-day H-hour @ 12:35am:
“Sir, please proceed to the opposite counter to pay for your excess baggage after you check-in. Please watch your time as the gate closes at 1:05am. Have a good flight.”

This was the first time I was the last person on the plane. And this miracle really made me look forward to my short 3-day 2-night hiatus in Shanghai.

Tomorrow, find out why I got zero rest on the plane in Shanghai Tan Part 2 – Sleepless on SQ.

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