Sept. 28, 2021

Personal Integrity & Authenticity (in Evangelisation)


EPISODE 31 (BONUS)

This episode is edited from a live breakout session I presented in July 2021 at the "Catholyst" New Evangelisation Conference (Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore).  In this episode, I share how my pursuit of a deeper relationship with God and my desire to serve in full-time pastoral ministry led me to realise that I needed to make the journey into authenticity and wholeness and that being REAL was more important than a constant striving to be 'GOOD'.

There is also a Q&A session near the end with some really honest questions!

Watch the  full video recording and share this episode via this episode page

CHAPTER MARKERS
3:34 - I Am Not the God of Instant Tea
7:20 - Are You Willing to Suffer for Me?
11:49 - Your Mission is Full-Time Ministry
13:19 - Personal Vocation
15:20 - Old Habits Die Hard
19:31 - Crash & Burn (Out)
21:20 - You Are Human
21:41 - Are You Freely Laying Down Your Life?
22:49 - Ship in Dry Dock
23:54 - Can You Learn To Be A Creature
27:36 - Running Ahead of Grace
27:55 - The Pace of Grace
29:23 - A Long Loving Look At The Real
30:34 - At Peace With The Struggle
30:59 - Messily Loved into Wholeness
32:11 - Becoming Me
34:05 - Kopi Talk: Episode 3
36:01 - Q&A
Available here.

TRANSCRIPT
Available here.

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Transcript

EPISODE 31 | PERSONAL INTEGRITY & AUTHENTICITY (IN EVANGELISATION)

[00:00:00]
Hello, dear listeners. This bonus episode you're about to hear is actually a recording of a breakout session that I did for the New Evangelization Conference for the Catholic Church in Singapore in July 2021. And the reason I'm sharing this on the podcast is because the topic I talked about during the session was Personal Integrity and Authenticity in Evangelization. 

[00:00:29]
In other words, it's really all about the interior journey that we're always talking about – that I'm always talking about on this podcast. But this sharing, some of which – or many parts of which, perhaps, may be familiar to you if you have listened to all my episodes in the past, is being told to an audience most of whom are not familiar with my story, or with this lens of that personal authenticity angle to living out the faith journey and in evangelization.

[00:01:04]
Okay, so, the conference was for a Catholic audience. So, don't worry too much if there are any specifically religious or cultural references that I make in there that you don't quite get. What I really would like to share with you is, again, that thread of personal integrity and authenticity.

[00:01:27]
And if you wait till the back, there is a Q&A (question & answer) session that you might be interested in checking out. Okay, so I hope you enjoy this bonus episode. If you prefer to watch this whole talk instead of listening to it, I will put the link to the YouTube video in the show notes as well. 

[00:00:10] INTRODUCTION
Welcome to Becoming Me, your podcast companion and coach in your journey to a more integrated and authentic self. I am your host, Ann Yeong, and I'm here to help you grow in self-discovery and wholeness. If you long to live a more authentic and integrated life and would like to hear honest insights about the rewards and challenges of this journey, then take a deep breath, relax, and listen on to Becoming Me.

[00:02:27]
Okay! Hello everyone! I guess I'm just going to be telling stories. Okay, and share with you what the Lord has been doing in my life, and why is it that at this point, the theme of personal integrity and authenticity is so, so big in my life. So, integrity – really, when I use the word integrity, I'm thinking of – I'm not just talking about character, but when we talk about integrity, you know, we often think of like having character. But I mean, integrity as in, you know, be integrated, okay – being whole.

[00:03:06]
So, the state of becoming more whole or becoming more integrated – that’s what I'm thinking more of when I use the word integrity. And authenticity; of course, being real, okay? Being real. And that's something that is so hard. That's something that's so hard. And I wonder if, as I share my story, whether some of you would identify with that challenge.

[00:03:34] I AM NOT THE GOD OF INSTANT TEA
So, I want to begin with this little quote. You may be wondering what is this; what is this? – I am not the God of instant tea. So, in 2009 – early 2009, I had a very profound and very deep conversion experience. It wasn't my first, but it was the deepest at that point. And it was over a course of a week.

[00:04:06]
And by the end of the week, I was exhausted. And at the same time also kind of high. I think, if you've had – if you've been through a conversion and experience before you probably know what I mean by being a bit high, right? Like this – filled with a sense of God's love and suddenly feeling very empowered, suddenly feeling like that weight has been lifted off.

[00:04:26]
You know, all of the burden I've been carrying for however many years, my sins have been forgiven, I have a fresh start, a new start. I feel like, you know, in that moment, I can do anything. And right at the point where I was actually feeling so high, God said something to me that was very grounding.

[00:04:45]
So, this is literally what he said to me – the context was; it was morning, and I was making breakfast for my husband before he went to work. And I think that particular day, I don't know, I decided to – we still had some packets of instant tea and I wanted it to use it. So, I was literally making tea – like instant tea.

[00:05:03]
And as I was pouring the instant tea back out into the cup, I heard in my heart – the Lord said; you know, Ann, I'm not the God of instant tea. And I was like “huh?” He does that a lot – I mean, make me make me go, “huh?” And He said, I know you're feeling great right now. You're feeling on top of the world, right?

[00:05:22]
You’re at a high of the conversion experience and you encountered my love in a deeper way. But I just want to set your expectation, Ann. It's not going to be like, suddenly everything's going to be easy. More specifically, it's not going to be like suddenly you will find that you have all the virtues that you need to lead a holy life.

[00:05:42]
It's not – you know, He said; you're still you – nothing has really changed. All the weaknesses that you've had up to this point, all that's still there. That really made me kind of like sombre a bit. I mean, you're so high on a mountain top and then I suddenly feel like God saying, “you're still you”.

[00:06:06]
And He said, I could, if I wanted to, of course, you know, transform anybody instantaneously, you know. I mean into like, I guess a Saint or something, but I don't – I never do. He said that, that process is meant to take years – your whole life, and it's meant to be gradual. And it's meant to be difficult. And He said that the reason is it's not just for you – for every person who makes this journey for every person He calls, every person who says yes. What this transformation into more and more of Christ's likeness, right – what we often talk about as growing in holiness – is not just for the sake of the soul that's being made holy.

[00:06:48]
It’s so that through that process – that's what He was telling me – that through that process, other people who are observing your journey, who’s looking at your life, they will come to see Me, and they need it to be slow – they need to see every part of it, in that sense. So, that was 2009. To set even more of a context, I'm going to rewind a little bit. So, 2009, I was just about to turn 30. But when – when was it? – But the year that I was 18.

[00:07:20] ARE YOU WILLING TO SUFFER FOR ME
So now we're going back in time, right? So, the year that I was 18 years old, I was at crossroads having to decide what university to apply to, whether or not to apply for a scholarship, you know that kind of a thing. For an 18-year-old in Singapore – that's a big deal, right? That's a big decision.

[00:07:39]
And I had asked the Lord – I remember a night; I was in my bedroom. I had a little altar in my bedroom, and I was telling the Lord, how am I supposed to do Ywill if I don't know what it is? Right, I mean, I had a couple of options. So, one of the options I wanted was to study theology and philosophy. But you know, everybody was kind of like thinking and telling me – including my teachers – what are you going to do with that?

[00:08:03]
What are you going to do with that? And my peers were applying for scholarships to study overseas, you know, and with jobs waiting for them. And I just thought, I could ask – if I could just ask the Lord, and if He would just tell me what my mission in life was, then I would know which path to take. I mean, quite “smart-alec”, right?

[00:08:22]
So, I asked, you know, I just said, tell me my mission. And of course, I didn't expect God to actually answer. But when I was sitting on my bedroom floor, suddenly this thought came into my mind, which is – are you willing to suffer for me? And I wasn't very experienced yet at that time in prayer in knowing, like is this the Lord?

[00:08:45]
Am I making it up? I think all of us have had experience before. Is it me? Am I imagining things? But to be fair, I thought I would never have written this dialogue. Okay, I would never have followed my question with this question; are you willing to suffer for me? And, okay, so let's just take it as maybe it's God and maybe He’s asking me this, and if it's really Him asking me this question, what would I say? And of course, I was scared.

[00:09:10]
I mean, He would take me seriously, right. And I'm not ready to die. I actually am literally afraid that if I said yes, that, you know, I might get martyred – my imagination and all of that. And I told the Lord, I'm not ready to say yes. I said, I so wish I was ready to say yes. And I love all these romantic, idealistic notions.

[00:09:29]
You know, I love the stories of the saints, and I would love to be able to be one of those people who would say yes, but I'm not ready. And the thought came back. Well, until you're ready to answer this question, until you're ready to say yes – Ann, you're not ready to know your mission. But He did tell me, He said, you know, your mission and your vocation right now, is to continue to grow in relationship with me.

[00:09:55]
And, you know, to be faithful to your call as a student, as a daughter, et cetera. And when He said, you know, before anyone – He gave an example – before any soldiers ready for battle, there must be many years of training and preparation, and just be faithful to the preparation, right? So, that day I didn't say yes, and every few years He would – the question would suddenly come.

[00:10:23]
Sometimes, not even necessarily in formal times of pray. I could be walking down the street and at night, this question comes back. And it was always, no, I'm not ready until eventually it was kind of like, yeah, I want to be able to say “yes”, but it's hard. And I – it wasn't that my relationship with Him didn't have ups and downs – there were.

[00:10:43]
In fact, for most of my twenties, I think I was alienated from Him in my own heart. I never stopped going to church, I never stopped loving Him, but I felt I was not worthy of His love. You know, there were aspects of my life that was a mess. And I honestly didn't feel that I would ever be worthy to speak about Him, to be doing something like this.

[00:11:06]
And it was – I just thought, you know, I love Him, but I'm not really worthy of His love. And intellectually, I knew that's not true. Intellectually, I knew that His love was unconditional. But, well, I think it was just the – it was just the way it was. And then coming back to 2009, around that time, the deeper conversion, right – that healing and everything.

[00:11:31]
And that question came up again, and I was given the grace. Suddenly, in the moment, it was very peaceful. And I said to Him, as long as you are with me, Lord, yes. I don't know what that would mean, but as long as You are with me, as long as I can be with You, then yes. Okay, I'm willing.

[00:11:49] YOUR MISSION IS FULL-TIME MINISTRY
And with that yes, came a prompt, that my call, He said, was full-time ministry. And instinctively, I also already knew, that could mean a lot of things. It doesn't necessarily mean that I need to work full-time in a church setting.

[00:12:07]
But I felt Him prompt me to a start where I was and the nearest thing for me back then was to answer a call for assistance for a musical. So, I was a new parishioner then to St. Mary of the Angels because I had been overseas for nine years and my marital home was near St. Mary of the Angels. So, it's a completely new parish.

[00:12:26]
I didn't know anybody. I answered a call to help out in a musical. And then I ended up volunteering full time for a year because I felt like this is – I need to discover what this might mean, right? So, I did everything really like “chapalang” and actually within a year and a half, I was like, really like burning out. But not to get ahead of myself. I want to say that this time round though, I was very intentionally pursuing what's the purpose of my life on earth.

[00:12:55]
I'd always wondered that question since I was a teenager. But this time, with this renewed and deepened love for the Lord, I surrendered, and I let go. I tried, I tried – I did actually, I did let go a great degree of expectations about what I might be called to do.

[00:13:19] PERSONAL VOCATION
And I tried different things. So, I was pursuing – in the language that I later on discovered, right; learned – was this “personal vocation”, right. My personal vocation. So, the start was great – the beginning was – it was new, I had nothing to lose, nobody knew who I was. It was very free.

[00:13:40]
I was just this – I was this mad, you know, kind of mad young woman that was so enthusiastic. I was talking about Jesus back in a time – back in 2009 – where it was still not a very done thing. As in, the language of discipleship, hadn't really made its way into our diocese the way it has now. So, I kind of like, I think, stuck out like a sore thumb.

[00:14:02]
Some people found it refreshing and welcomed it. I think some people, they kind of thought I was weird and the young people that I spent time with – yeah, so the same thing; some of them probably enjoyed it, some of them thought I was weird. I had a teenage boy once ask me, why is it that you like to talk about Jesus so much?

[00:14:17]
And it was just – he was somebody who was obsessed and really interested about all kinds of fish. Okay, he was an expert at fish. He would talk to anybody he knew about fish. And so, I just said back to him – I said, you know how you feel about fish? And he said, “ah, okay, I get it”. You know, “I get it”.

[00:14:41]
But even with that burning passion, that enthusiasm I had with the Lord, and this huge transition that I made. So, before this, I was actually doing a PhD. I was quite many years into graduate school. My heart wasn't in it, but I didn't think there was an option to quit because you don't do something halfway and don't finish.

[00:15:02]
That's kind of what I thought, right – what I felt. But deeper than that, I think it would be a huge failure to quit when technically I was doing well, and everybody was expecting me to finish. But my heart was not in it. So, I took a leave of absence from my doctoral studies for a year and plunged into full-time ministry.

[00:15:20] OLD HABITS DIE HARD
And after a little while what I've found was old habits die hard. Okay, so what do I mean? There was a story I read before, about a man who was, you know, he loved to drink alcohol, right. And he would go to taverns, and – this must be set like in Europe, or you know, in England. And he would compete with whoever else was in the bar to see who was the last one, you know, standing, right?

[00:15:47]
Downing all the beer. And he always took pride in being the one that, you know, stayed sober the longest, right? The last one to collapse. Eventually he had a conversion of heart and he ended up entering a monastery, and he became a monk. And I think it was, one of those Cistercian monks, so quite strict observance. And there they fasted, right?

[00:16:10]
I mean, compared to what we are used to, their fasting is quite, say, of a higher level, right? I mean, quite a lot stricter. And for him, he decided I'm going to have a fast more than anyone. I'm going to have a stricter fast, better than anyone. I'm going to fast better than anyone, right. Until he lost his health.

[00:16:31]
And then he was placed under obedience to eat – he cannot fast anymore. But when I read the story – the moral of the story was, you know, how even in an entirely different environment for this person, even though he had a change of life and now he's living in a monastery, he has dedicated his life to God.

[00:16:48]
But you see, old habits die hard. That drive in him, that need to be the best to win everyone else was still there. So, it was the same for me. I realized that I've always had this drive to do well. It's not entirely a bad thing. I mean, of course it's a good thing to want to excel. 

[00:17:09]
But there's a part of that drive that's coming not from a good place. It's a compulsion, okay. It's what gives me my worth – that people think I'm capable, that people affirm me, for being intelligent and doing a good job. And even though now I'm in a setting that's in the parish, I'm not so-called “in the rat race”, right? 

[00:17:31]
I'm not trying to make my mark, let’s say in the academic world or cutthroat corporate life. Still, that same drive was there. I couldn't see it though. Others felt it. There were people who sometimes said that, you know, maybe they felt a bit stressed working with me. But again, for me, it's a mixed bag, right? I mean, there's good and there's challenges.

[00:17:54]
But what I didn't realize was it’s actually pointing to a deeper part of me – a deeper wound in me that hasn’t been healed. Eventually, I mean, there were wonderful times, but there were very challenging times and, part of being successful in ministry – so my first year, first few months was fantastic.

[00:18:15]
Nobody knew me, right? Like I said, there's nothing to lose, but eventually people started knowing who I was. People knew me by name. People begin to – like have heard of me who haven't even really – who don't really even know me. And I found more and more that there were some people who put me on a pedestal. So that's what this picture is about, right?

[00:18:33]
I've been in that position before, because when I was a student, I was a student leader and I also was in a position where I felt like people knew me, even though they didn't really know me. People didn't really know me, but they knew who I was. And there were certain expectations that they had of me because they think they know what I'm about.

[00:18:53]
And this is a prison. This is a prison for me, especially, right, because I don't want to let people down. And I have this need to be very good. In fact, there was once, I actually sat across my confessor, and I told him, and he laughed it because – and I said, I'm not kidding. As I'm sitting across you, you're my confessor and you you're my spiritual director – and I want you to give me an A-plus.

[00:19:11]
That’s me! – Whatever setting I am in. And when I'm with God, it's the same thing. I want God to give me an A-plus. I want God to say, oh, that's a very good job. Ann, you know, I'm so proud of you. Again, that's not a bad thing, but it’s coming from a place of insecurity.

[00:19:31] CRASH AND BURN (OUT)
And when you allow yourself, or you step up to a pedestal, what does that mean? What does that mean? It usually means that not too long afterwards, you're going to crash and burn, and burn out, and that's what happened to me, right? I went from really enjoying my new life, my new calling, to being very burnt out, even more wounds than I had before.

[00:19:58]
There's something about – especially serving in full-time ministry, in any kind of ministry not even full-time – but I think the more time, right. So, if you're doing this full-time and pastoral ministry, it's like being in a pressure cooker. All the cracks that you may not have been aware that you had in your life – oh my God – like, they surface, all right.

[00:20:25]
And I was – I had to come face to face with unresolved wounds that I never even knew existed. Didn't consciously even realize they were there. And new wounds that had come in the course of serving, right. And I think all of you who are active in church – you'll know what I'm talking about.

[00:20:34]
I mean, we hurt each other a lot. We hurt each other a lot. We have the best intentions – everyone does. But then we hurt each other a lot. So, yeah. So, I had, you know – this is how I felt like, okay? Kind of like, I mean like I crashed, and I actually developed a chronic stomach issue. I started having chronic stomach acid reflux issues.

[00:20:59]
And then I became very susceptible to gastric flu. That was a year where I practically would have like twice – like gastric flu twice in a month. Maybe I haven't fully recovered from the first one, and when I was starting to recover, and I would fall sick again. So, this was, something that I struggled with.

[00:21:20] YOU ARE HUMAN
And then at the same time, what I was bugged about was that I felt I wasn't being a good enough Catholic. I wasn't being holy enough. I wasn't surrendered enough. And something that more than one confessor had said to me was this – Ann, you're human. And honestly, this is – you see the “huh?” there, right? That's always me. I'm like, yeah, I know I'm human.

[00:21:41] ARE YOU FREELY LAYING DOWN YOUR LIFE?
What does that even mean, right? But later on, I realized I didn't allow myself to be human. Right, I was so intent on striving to be good and to be a holy, I didn't know what it meant to be imperfect and to be flawed; to be finite. And then at one point, when the Lord asked me, are you free laying down your life – freely really?

[00:22:08]
Are you really free to choosing to? I realize my answer was no. It was a compulsion. It wasn't free. So, when you have compulsions, it’s not freedom, okay? When there's a compulsion to be good, it's not freely choosing to be good. When there's a compulsion to love – when I talk about compulsion, it's not really coming from a place of freedom.

[00:22:29]
And the Lord said, you know, Ann, do you know the abundant life that I came to give? – from John 10:10. If you haven't – if you don't yet know what that abundant life is, what life are you laying down? Even Jesus himself – I mean, He said no one takes my life from me. I lay down of my own accord. It was freely given out of love.

[00:22:49] SHIP IN DRY DOCK
And I wasn't able to, I just didn't have the ability to. So, after five and a half years in the parish, full-time, I left employment and I went into a season of healing, of rest. And at first, I thought it should – there should be a deadline for it, but the Lord said no. And He gave me the image of a ship in dry dock.

[00:23:13]
Okay, so that's actually what the picture is – a ship in dry dock. When you're out at sea, there may be some repairs that need to be done, but you just do enough to have it fixed, and you have to keep sailing. But when you come back to harbour and it's time for deep repair, deep renovation, you go into a dry dock.

[00:23:28]
And that next season of my life was difficult and painful because God was shining the light inside me. And He was showing me a lot of the difficulties that I had in the prior years. The relationship issues I had in the course of serving my ministry. My inability to maybe – I want to be more compassionate. Often in my confessions, I was saying, I feel that I'm not patient enough.

[00:23:54] CAN YOU LEARN TO BE A CREATURE
I'm not compassionate enough. The thing is, I didn't know how to be, and all that kind of came up and I realized it's because I, well, I didn't know how to be a creature, okay – for myself. So, that became the theme. The Lord was asking me, can you learn to be a creature? And in 2017, I spent a week – that year of my retreat was in Seven Fountains in Chiangmai.

[00:24:18]
And that was a theme also. And those of you who may have been at Seven Fountains know they have all these adorable little – they have bunnies, they have squirrels. They have a lot of animals, right? And one day when I was walking in the labyrinth there – this is a labyrinth at Seven Fountains, and that's one of the buildings.

[00:24:35]
And you see those trees, there are trees with branches that go over the, you know, the ceiling of some of these buildings. And I was watching as I was walking, right – these little squirrels, they would jump from one tree, across the branches to the next tree. And then they use the trees like a highway, you know, and then they end up from one building to the next building.

[00:24:54]
Right, so they were running across the trees, and I suddenly felt the Lord ask me a question. Quite a silly question actually. He said, Ann, what do you think would happen if one of these squirrels told one of these trees, right – get up and move to that building because – move next to that building because I need to get to that building.

[00:25:10]
So, I want you to get up and move. And so, I thought yeah, that’s not going to happen. I mean, the tree is going to be where it is. The tree is going to be where it's planted. And the answer, or the thought came back. I felt the Lord was telling me – exactly. My creatures do not exist primarily to be useful, not even to help others.

[00:25:33]
That's not the reason why I created them. I created each perfect creatures to be exactly as I created them. And if they are true to the nature that I've given them, by being where I plant them, there will be other creatures that are blessed. Right, but they do not become something else in order to try to be of service or to help someone else.

[00:25:55]
That was a very huge turning point for me because I, maybe like a lot of you, I grew up thinking that, you know, I have to be useful, right. And it became a very a core part of my identity. And the Lord said No. The core part of your identity is that you are mine. I created you and I love you.

[00:26:15]
And even if you're completely useless, there's a reason you're still here. Because I love you. Right, and at the same time, I had an image during prayer – of something like this, but it was like a church that was building, and it was structured up halfway. So quite a lot of work, has been done, right?

[00:26:35]
And then I felt the Lord tell me, Ann, this construction, it can't be finished. We won't be able to finish the building. It wouldn't work. And I was like why? And He said, because actually there's something wrong with the foundations. There’s something wrong with the foundations and it wouldn't be able to hold the weight of what we had, you know, what you have in mind.

[00:26:56]
The only way to complete this building is to take down everything that you already see now above the ground, everything that's already been done, we have to take everything down. And not only that – we need to go and dig into the foundations and we need to excavate the foundations because there's, there's rot there – there are things there that are not right.

[00:27:14]
And then we're going to start again, step-by-step this time we will do it right. You know, but think of it, right – I feel like I've made all this progress in my spiritual journey and you say, you know what, we're going to have to go back. And go even below zero, right. Because He says Ann, – and He didn't say this with any blame.

[00:27:36] RUNNING AHEAD OF GRACE
I mean, it's very matter of fact because I think I couldn't have done anything else. You've been running ahead of my grace. That's how, you know, you've been trying to do things on your own strength, right? So, the Lord said to me, let us begin again – trust me this time. Let me be the one to do it. Let me be the one to determine what step goes next.

[00:27:55] THE PACE OF GRACE
Let me be the one to determine at what pace you grow. You may be impatient, but you have to trust me. And He says, this time, we go at the pace of grace. And He asked me to try and promise him not to rush myself, to go at the pace that is actually what I need, because that's how He wants to guide me.

[00:28:17]
The Lord is so much more patient to me than I am to myself. But it's also experiencing how the Lord walks with me, that I learned how to walk with others. Right, so my focus changed after that retreat. It was very difficult because it felt like all the things that I learned, it had to be undone. And you can't undo something yourself, you know, it's just not possible.

[00:28:36]
You don't have the tools to unlearn. It has to be done unto you. I had to let it be done unto me. The next season was a season of letting it be done unto me. And what was being done to me was to be undone. A lot of the things that I was so certain of about God, about the faith, about things that I was – you know, gave me a sense of security had to go because the Lord was really excavating and rebuilding.

[00:29:02]
My focus shifted from trying to be good, right – good girl, good Catholic – to being real. I realized that trying to be good trips me up a lot because I feel like it’s a persona I have to keep up. I have to keep the not good aspects out of you or else people will maybe – I don't know – not accept me. 

[00:29:23] A LONG LOVING LOOK AT THE REAL
Right, but being real, I realized, is where the Lord meets me. He meets me in the real. And I don't know whether you're familiar with this quote – about contemplation it’s by a Jesuit, a late Jesuit. It says, contemplation is a long loving look at the real. Right. The look is it's not just a fleeting look. 

[00:29:46]
It's a steady look and it's a loving look. It's not a look of judgment or condemnation. It's this long steady, loving look at the real – at what is, not what it should be. Not thinking about what it could have been or what it should be like, but just looking long – a long loving look and what is, and that's the way I realized the Lord looks at me.

[00:30:10]
And that's the way He's asking me to learn to look at myself; behold His gaze, look at myself that way, soak up His love. And then when I can do that, I find that I can do this when I look at others too. I can look – take a long loving look at what is real in others, even if it's a mess, because I'm a mess. 

[00:30:34] AT PEACE WITH THE STRUGGLE
That season taught me to be at peace with the struggle. The struggle will never end. But a huge part of our suffering comes from rejecting the struggle – rejecting the struggle that the interior life is, rejecting the struggle of this dance with the Lord entails, this wanting desire to grow in holiness. If we become at peace with the struggle, a lot of the suffering – additional suffering – actually can fade. 

[00:30:59] MESSILY LOVED INTO WHOLENESS
It's just the way it is. You know, the Lord is there in that struggle and it's beautiful when you can find Him there. And I would say at this state, I am being messily loved into wholeness, you know? And that's what it's like, this journey. Last time, I think I was just trying to become whole. In fact, I would say, I wouldn't even realize, I didn't realize how important it was to be whole. 

[00:31:23]
I was trying to be on mission while I wasn't whole. I was broken, and I didn't know it. And so out of my brokenness came a lot of blind spots that I didn't see. And then that clashed with other people's brokenness, and other people's blind spots. I'm still broken now. But being aware of that, and letting the Lord love me into wholeness and accepting that this whole process is messy, and that I'm not on a pedestal. 

[00:31:52]
I want to stand on the ground. I want to get off the pedestal. Being in touch with who the Lord says I am, and that's a constant thing I have to come in touch with – that makes all the difference. 

[00:32:11] BECOMING ME
Yeah, so part of that journey led me to the season that I'm now in. Last year, the Lord suddenly asked to – I never thought of doing a podcast, but I was invited as part of my discernment, right – to start a podcast. And so, the podcast that I started is called Becoming Me. And you can tell by the title, it's all about becoming real.

[00:32:36]
It's about my journey, right. But Becoming Me, the podcast, is also my apostolate. So, it's deliberately meant for a wider audience than Catholics, right. So, the language is deliberately meant to be a bit more general. The stories that I share are personal, and so therefore very much faith infused. But I also try to keep the concepts and the things I'm talking about something that every one of us actually struggle with.

[00:33:02]
And sometimes I think Catholics, we put too much emphasis on only, let's say, the spiritual growth, and that's for those of us who value spiritual growth. And we divide spiritual growth from human growth, from emotional healing – and that's another huge area.

[00:33:18]
And they go hand in hand because what is faith, but relationship with God. And relationship with God is affected by our wounded attachment bonds, you know. So often, we struggle with God the same kind of way we struggle with human beings. For those of us who find it hard to draw close to human beings, you'll find probably that you find it hard to draw closer to God. 

[00:33:38]
Those of us who find that we're always insecurely attached, we are always very co-dependent with the people that we love – that was me – I find that I was kind of like I was in a co-dependent relationship with God, constantly checking in; are you still upset? Are you upset with me? Are you still okay with me? Are we still okay? You know, so the human journey of becoming more whole and more real actually made me a lot more secure also in my relationship with God. 

[00:34:05] KOPI TALK: EPISODE 3
Yeah, so just as a little offshoot, CatholicSG radio recently just released a wonderful interview in a young adult series – it’s episode three. Dominic shares his story okay - about that kind of journey. So, if you want to go and listen to that, that's one story there. And if you wish to check out Becoming Me, there are many stories there.

[00:34:27]
And also, part of this journey of becoming real and my new direction in ministry, posit, is this course that I do for Catholic Leadership Centre: A Leader’s Spirituality, it’s also about that journey – about becoming more integrated, about becoming more authentic, integrating our faith, our identity, right – becoming more grounded and anchored in Christ.

[00:34:53]
So, everything for me now is about this process. God becoming incarnated, Jesus Christ. The word of God becoming incarnated in me. What does that mean? Taking on flesh – not just spirit, not just a concept, not just different parts of me, but coming into me and putting all the different parts together.

[00:35:13]
And that's how I actually experienced more freedom. I'm a lot more relaxed in my walk with God now. A lot more relaxed because I don't have as high expectations as I have. If anything, if I do, my husband will be the first one to tell me. You know, sometimes I tell him I'm very upset because I did this or you know, I failed at this. And my husband would just tell me, sorry, but did you think were holier than that?

[00:35:33]
So, those of us who are married will have someone built-in in house to bring you back to earth, right? So, okay, that's what I wanted to just share. And I'm leaving this up. The QR code is for those of you who might want to check out my other work. It will bring you to a page where you can link to my content. Otherwise, I'm actually hoping that there will be questions, and then we can continue this as a dialogue. 

[00:36:01] Q& A
Participant:
 Morning, Ann. Would it be more for leaders within church communities, and you know, if you're involved in church or would you also be – you know?

Ann: Yeah, you don't have to be. I think the CLC they call it also “self-leadership module”. So that could be in any context of leadership – family, work.

Participant: Okay. Okay. Perfect. Thank you! 

[00:36:24]
Facilitator: So, Christabel, you have a question, yes?
 
Participant: Oh, hi. Yes. Just wanted to ask – maybe get a more clearer concept of it. If I'm – cause you're talking about personal authenticity and in that authenticity, to be real with where we are and maybe to understand a bit more, if I'm not yet where I currently want to be. 

And yet there is a call to love and be the best version. And you know, maybe to understand a bit more, you know, how we are going to begin that or how do we even look at that in our brokenness or, you know, yeah. I'm just trying to –

Ann: – to become the best person we can be. Is that what you’re saying?

Participant: Yeah, we’re not there yet, and yet we still have that call to love and it's kind of how we feel. Yeah, so, I guess I'm just trying to cross that a bit more.
 
Ann: Yes, I get what you're saying, Chris.  Okay. So, two points. This is what I realized in my struggles with it. One: it is the Lord’s work and not ours to make us holy. Okay, as in, it’s not by human effort that we can be.  

And one of the things that came, I mean – so it's always a response to grace, right? So, when the Lord gives us the grace, then we can respond to that grace. But we can’t like – what I was always doing – running ahead of grace. Or then it's very arduous because I'm trying with my own strength to, you know, to model what I think is holding us. But actually, it is responding to God's grace.

Two: one of my most memorable prayer experiences in the adoration room is when, for the umpteenth time I was telling the Lord, why is it that I am so far, so far, so far from, you know – loving him the way I want to be able to love him and all that. And what I received in response in my heart was something that always came back after that also – was that the Lord is with me, you know, in the here and now. As in, with me in the present moment, right. And it is with him that I will walk into, you know – maybe like you said; the better self or whatever. But you know, when we are with someone that you love, you're usually not in a hurry to reach a destination. I mean, if the main thing is about being with the person that you love – that's how I've come to see my relationship with the Lord. The destination – well, He knows where we're heading together. And as long as I'm with Him, okay lah! That's my sharing, Chris.

Participant: Thank you! 

[00:39:03]
Facilitator: Ann, Jerry has a question, I think.
 
Ann: Yes! Yes, Jerry?

Participant: Hello, Ann! So, I think the one thing that you said – I laughed when you said this, you said, crash and burn. So, I was just wondering, so after your, your one year of being very, very passionate about being in ministry, and then you crashed and burned – did you, at that point in time, feel like you walked further away from God and the church? Because sometimes being ministry can be the place where we are wounded the most.

Ann: Yes.

Participant: And what was that point in time – first of all, did you walk further away, and did you feel this disillusioned. Second: what was the nudge? What was the thing that led you back into that journey?

Ann: Okay. We’ve got to be very fast because they are going to kick us out of the room. Yes, there's a lot of wounds, but I never left the journey. But the Lord led me to a different season. So, this has been an unbroken path that I've been on the last 12 years that leads me to where I am here. For a longer conversation, I think you might have to try and take it offline if you, if you wish. But you can listen to my podcast. There's one episode called “Am I regressing?”. Am I regressing? – Maybe that might actually give you some of your answers there.
 
Participant: Okay, thank you!  

[00:40:33]
Ann: Sorry, I think it was one minute left, so no other raised hands, right?

Facilitator: Yeah, I think we are good to close off. Yeah. So, thank you to everyone for coming in. Yeah, I think we’ve been very blessed by our session. Thank you for sharing such a personal story. And for all of us here, please remember to tune in to Ann’s podcast. Yeah, to find out more. And I’m pretty sure she’s happy to share with us. So, thank you so much, Ann! And thank you so much Henry and team, for your support as well. And we wish all of us, blessed Saturday, and for all of us to enjoy the rest of the conference.

[00:41:14]
So, we will see all of us there in the main room, yeah? So, thank you so much. Thank you, guys. Thank you. Bye! 

[00:41:14] CONCLUSION
Thank you for listening to Becoming Me, where new episodes drop every first and third Wednesdays of the month. Remember, the most important thing about making this journey is to keep taking steps in the right direction. No matter how small those steps might be, and no matter where you might be in your life right now, it is always possible to begin.

 The world would be a poorer place without you becoming more fully alive. Don't forget to visit my website at becomingmepodcast.com and to subscribe to my newsletter as well as to this podcast. Until the next episode, Happy becoming!