Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore
I had always loved singing and wanted to join the singing club in school. However, God had a different track in mind for me.
When I entered university in 2013, my Christian friends encouraged me to join the Christian Fellowship (CF). They even linked me up with a cell group leader whom I knew. But there was a problem—I had no intention of joining CF. I secretly thought that joining a Christian community in university was uncool. In my mind, I imagined a group of people reading the Bible together every week. As someone who wanted to be seen as cool and trendy, I definitely did not want to be part of that.
Instead, I wanted to join the school’s singing club. I envisioned myself on stage singing one day. You see, I have always loved the “emotional” experience that singing brings whenever I sing with friends and allow the music and lyrics to “speak” to me. I wanted to spread that infectious feeling on stage. I was so convinced that I wanted to join the singing club and not CF that I decided to message the cell group leader to inform her of my decision.
I might have forgotten to mention one thing, though: I could not sing to save my life. I had no background in music. My singing voice was of a higher register, while most songs suited those who had a lower register.
I remember feeling very disappointed when I did not pass the audition for the singing club. The senior, who was conducting the audition, had asked me if I could play a musical instrument. I felt useless because I couldn’t—plus the fact I did not understand the musical terms used.
Still, I wanted to experience what it was like to be “cool” in university, so I decided to join my friends to drink and party. But one night was all it took to change my mind. As I watched my friends lose control of themselves after drinking, I decided that was not how I wanted to live. Besides, those were expensive and unhealthy habits.
While I remained friends with those who had hobbies vastly different from mine, I wondered what else there was to life aside from just partying and studying. I began to question my identity and took a hard look at what I was doing in my life at the time. That was when I realized my need for a community with similar values to anchor me and help me navigate the confusing path of adulthood. It was then that I decided to join CF.
Once again, I wanted sing in the worship team. In fact, I was given the opportunity, but that didn’t last either. A couple of my seniors gave me feedback that I had failed to help people to worship God because I kept singing out of tune. After that session, I knew that God had not called me to lead worship.
After that, I was given many opportunities by my seniors to serve in different areas. I was determined to heed the advice of the words I had seen on an Instagram post: “Bloom where you are planted.”
As I started to examine my strengths and weaknesses objectively, I became an active CF member and eventually stepped up to be a cell group leader. I also became a part of the encouragement ministry in CF where we pray for the group, write notes of encouragement, pack welfare packs, and organize bonding activities.
Studying the Bible—which I initially thought was uncool—helped me develop my love for God’s Word. Over time, God showed me that I did not have to be fixated on the one talent that I did not have (singing). If we respond in faithful obedience, He will show us our gifts that can be used to honor Him.
Slowly, it dawned on me that writing poems was a way to express myself and offer praise and honor to Him. As I posted my poems on social media, I received some positive feedback from my friends. My best friend—a non-believer—told that it was encouraging for her to read about my faith and my God, and how my belief helped me in times of struggles. It amazed me that God could use my poems to reach my non-believing friends!
I started my university life wanting it to be the most thrilling and cool years of my life, and in the end, God fulfilled it—but not in the way I had envisioned. By His grace, I had numerous opportunities to identify my weaknesses and develop my strengths. These experiences shaped me and I hope they will continue to guide me in the future, especially for my future job. That said, I know that I do not have to worry, because God can use anybody who is willing to be molded by Him.
Here’s a poem God convicted me to write that describes this journey I went through.
Shape of Me
The Potter molded me
What is my destiny
I was formed from dust
Would I last
I wanted to be a vase
To keep flowers in place
But the Potter had other plans
He told me to trust in His hands
He molded me into a jug
To be honest
I was not smug
I questioned the Potter’s hands
I wondered what were His plans
What else is He molding
Other than my shape
Something deep within me
He is changing me instead
He said the purpose of all these
Is to draw me to Himself
He delights in me
And now I accept myself