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Editor’s Picks: Best of What Makes You Beautiful

Try as we might to stop it, modern society’s ever-changing standards of beauty seem to constantly creep into our thinking and impression of our self-worth. But God, as our creator, designed each of us exactly the way that we are, with great intention.

What do we do when we struggle to like how He’s made us?

Crazy Rich Asians: The One Struggle We All Have in Common

Screenshot taken from Official Trailer

 

Rating: 4 out of 5

“Why are you watching that bimbo show?” A friend of mine asked incredulously, when I told her that I was going to catch the sneak preview of Crazy Rich Asians, which had finally opened in my country, Singapore, earlier this week after much hype.

“Well, I like bimbo shows,” I replied with a grin. Of course, I could have argued that this was no “bimbo” movie, but a “movement”—in the words of the movie’s director, Jon M. Chu. Even before the show was officially released, much was written and said about how Crazy Rich Asians is a watershed moment for Asian representation on the big screen: it is the first Hollywood movie to feature an all-Asian cast 25 years after Joy Luck Club.

Or I could have expounded on the need for us as proud Singaporeans to throw our weight behind a show that featured our little red dot in all its splendor and glory. After all, how many movies are there in Hollywood that mention our city-state, much less, choose Singapore as their main film location?

I could have also highlighted how well the movie had performed at the US box office over its opening weekend, raking in over US$35 million and coming in at number one.

But the truth was, I had simply read Kevin Kwan’s book earlier this year and was excited to see how the rom-com would play out on the big screen against sights and sounds I was familiar with.

It is a tale as old as time, albeit with an all-Asian cast twist: a guy falls in love with a girl and brings her home to meet his parents. The only catch is that Singaporean Nick Young (played by Henry Golding) is from one of the richest families in the island-city and his Asian-American Economics professor girlfriend, Rachel Chu (played by Constance Wu) doesn’t have a clue about it. Unsurprisingly, drama ensues the moment they set foot in the Young household and our female protagonist finds herself the target of almost everyone in the Young family—especially Nick’s mother, Eleanor Young (played by Michelle Yeoh)—who thinks she’s not good enough for her son.

As my friends and I took our seats in the cinema, it was apparent that we were not the only ones ready to be entertained. Around us, young and old, Singaporean and non-Singaporeans, Asians and non-Asians, filled the packed theater and had come with food and drinks as well. The excitement in the theater was palpable and the atmosphere boisterous. It was as though everyone knew this was a movie of significance to Singapore (not only was it shot in Singapore, it involved 297 Singaporeans or permanent residents as production crew members, and 12 home-grown names in the cast itself), and we all really wanted to like it.

True enough, the movie did entertain. People laughed, cried, and even gasped at all the right junctures. And as the credits rolled, a round of applause resounded in the theater; the movie had lived up to expectation. Though most (if not all) of us were neither crazy nor rich, something in the movie had definitely struck a chord. And I suspect it wasn’t just the Singlish, nailed effortlessly by Singaporean actress Koh Chieng Mun (who plays the mother of Peik Lin, Rachel’s good friend).

Beyond the perfectly coiffed hair, impeccable make-up, gorgeous landscapes and outfits, the show surfaced an inherent human trait in its main characters that transcends socioeconomic status, lineage, and cultures: self-worth. Yes, apparently even the crazy rich struggle with it (some spoilers ahead).

For female lead Rachel, you could even say that her bigger story is about finding where her worth really lies, as she grapples with gaining acceptance in the ridiculously rich Young family, especially from Nick’s steely and imposing mother who tells her to her face that she will “never be enough”.

Or you might feel sympathy or chagrin towards Michael Teo (played by Singaporean actor Pierre Png), the hot-and-cold husband of Nick’s cousin, Astrid Leong (played by Gemma Chan),  who can’t seem to break out of feeling second class among the Young family despite his dashing good looks and impressive military achievements (which are elaborated on in the book).

Even the doyenne herself, Eleanor, reveals to Rachel at one point that she herself hadn’t been the first or even second choice of Nick’s grandmother, who jumps on every opportunity to remind her that everything she does isn’t good enough. And so she tries to establish her worth through Nick, by letting him stay with his grandmother so that he can gain her affection.

If there’s one thing that the movie does a great job portraying, it’s that rich or poor, handsome or plain-looking, clever or mediocre, we all have moments where we doubt our worth. Yet even as we struggle within, like Eleanor Young, we seem to use these very same characteristics to lord it over others and say or do things (whether intentionally or not) that make others question their worth as well.

But beauty is fleeting, and so is our wealth and intellect. If we anchor our self-worth in these things, we will ultimately become highly insecure and judgmental beings, our confidence tossed to and fro by the changing standards of the world.

That’s where the beauty of the gospel comes in. In the eyes of God, we are all truly “not good enough”, but not because we’re not from a good family, don’t have a good job or the perfect features. It’s because we have rejected God and chosen to live our lives our own way. Yet, while we were still rebelling against Him, God sent His son, Jesus, to die for us—to make us “good enough” out of His love for us (John 3:16).

Now that is a game changer. Because our worth, regardless of our lineage or achievements, is fully intact as a result of Christ’s finished work on the cross. This means that as children of God and co-heirs with Christ, we should no longer worry about establishing our worth or judging others, but focus on living for the One who gave it to us (Romans 8:14-17).

And what that looks like practically is summed up succinctly in the passage Eleanor reads out from Colossians 3 in that especially ironic scene where she is having a bible study with her sisters:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.  Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)

Will we shake off the baggage in our lives—opulent or not—and turn our eyes to things that truly matter, and last?

SoUL-cial Media: Restoring your soul in God

Title: SoUL-cial Media: Restoring your soul in God
Artwork by: Bay Doucet (@baydoucet)
Description: It is a struggle for some to constantly try to be “enough” for people and conform to societal pressure of what it takes to be “beautiful”. God has indeed made us in His image, and we are fearfully and wonderfully made. This validation from Him should help us see the worth we are in His eyes. In response to His great love, let’s allow God to continue moulding us into who He wants us to be.

 

Pursuing Ultimate Perfection

Do you feel the pressure to look good all the time? Are you succumbing to the need to attain perfection in order to gain attention? Let’s stop going down this endless rabbit hole but instead, let’s realign our perspectives in the light of God’s ways and pursue all that is good, acceptable and perfect to Him.

 

Living for Likes

It’s tempting to receive the satisfaction and approval of others. Are you guilty of posting something for the sake of getting an extra ‘like’? The likes we get seemingly validates our value. But God proves otherwiseHe demonstrates His deep love for us by sending Jesus, His only Son to die for us and this in itself is the true value we need to hold on tightly to.

 

Constantly in Comparison

God didn’t create you to become someone else. Did you know that there will only be one you in the entire universe throughout all ages? That’s how unique God has created you to be!  There may be times where you can’t help but wonder if God has cared lesser when creating you. But know this, He has lovingly made you with a distinct personality and character, and with gifts and talents for a specific purpose. Be willing to let him mold and shape you, to be the best version of yourself—a reflection of His Son.

 

Ruining True Reality

Most people only share the best bits of their lives that they want others to see. But how much of that is true? We get bombarded with distorted views of what beauty, love, relationships and happiness ought to be like. If we are not careful, we fall for a distorted reality. Let’s remember the true reality of Christ and His purpose for our lives.

Where Do You Place Your Worth?

Written By Daniel Ng, Singapore

I’m a jokester. God has gifted me with the ability to lighten up a tense atmosphere and cheer people up. But like so many others, I have used this God-given talent to glorify myself instead of Him.

To me, the more laughs I get, the greater my value. It strikes at the heart of me when I don’t get that coveted “hahaha”. As sad as it sounds, the truth is that I find my worth in my ability to draw laughter from others.

What about you? Where do you find your worth? In treasured possessions? In achievements and accolades? In relationships?

I believe that our choices lie at the core of our very being, and they are inseparable from our identity. The choices that we make in our lives, big or small, go a long way in defining who we are.

Whether we are choosing what to study in university, or our marriage partner, or even what to wear to school in the morning, our choices are based on what we value, the things that we deem “of worth”.

The problem comes when we blur the lines between what we value and what our value is. Don’t get me wrong—I’m all for striving hard for excellence in the careers and studies that God has so graciously gifted us. However, when we allow our careers or grades to define our worth, we’re paving the way to disappointment.

The truth is, everybody makes mistakes, and there will be times when we don’t meet our own expectations. We’ll also find that the people or things we so dearly hold on to fail us.

If my worth is in my relationship with my girlfriend, what happens when we break up? If my worth is in the number of likes I get on Instagram, what if I don’t get those likes? If my worth is in the number of A’s on my report book, what if I fail my exams?

I can tell you what happens then. I feel like trash. I feel worthless.

 

Only God is worthy

In my quest to ground my worth properly, I ask myself this: What matters the most? I formulated a question to help my search: If ________ wasn’t present, the universe would not go on.

Go on. Try to fill in that blank. I’ve tried it myself and I’ve found that the only answer that begins to make sense is “God.” It’s not my girlfriend. It’s not my grades. And it definitely isn’t the number of likes I get on Instagram. It’s God.

Philosophers sometimes say that God is the only necessary being in the universe. This simply means that without this Almighty God who created the universe and sustains it, the universe would not go on.

Since He’s the only One who matters, it would only make sense that we place our worth in God’s expectations of us. However, the Bible tells us in Romans 3:10-12 that every single one of us misses the mark of God’s good expectations. There is nothing we can do to make ourselves better or more desirable before a Holy God.

And with that, we’re back to square one. Since we fail to measure up to the only standard that matters, I guess we’re worthless then.

 

The liberating truth

Now here comes the truly liberating mystery at the heart of Christianity. John 3:16 tells us that God, in His love, sent His Son to the world so that we wouldn’t perish like worthless dust. While we were still sinners, He came to die for us and give us eternal life. He came to give us worth in God’s eyes. I get goose bumps every time I think of this.

If that isn’t enough to overwhelm you, in Philippians 2:6-8, we read of how Jesus humbled Himself. He is the infinite God, but humbled Himself to the form of a puny created being. He didn’t come as a king in riches, but came to be born in a stable as a helpless infant. This great God came to die in one of the most humiliating ways possible—to hang on a cross while people mocked Him.

When someone has gone through all that for you, would you dare say in His face: “In Your eyes I have no worth”?

We have no more reason to feel and say: “I’m not good enough.” Neither do we have any reason to get caught up in our failures. To me, that is truly liberating. So now, I no longer study hard because my grades define my worth; I study hard because studying itself is a gift from God. And I want to show Him that I love and appreciate this gift. When it comes to relationships, I don’t put in effort because they determine my value, I do so because my friends are a gift from my loving God. It is only when we start to see our worth in light of God’s loving sacrifice that we will be able to give thanks, even in the midst of breakups, failures, and rejection.

Anything—other than the blood of Jesus—that we use to define our own worth is a sweet lie we tell to comfort ourselves. Our worth is not based on money or self-praise or even the “good Christian” things we do. Our only worth is our faith that the God of the universe died for worthless me, and I cling on to that fact. What a wonderful mystery this is—how we can be so unworthy and worthy at the same time when we stand before such a great God!