My homecoming

So began my journey back. Back to Mass. Back to the rituals, the prayers, the hymns and the beautiful, sweet smell of incense. My first time at Mass, I wept. It was a homecoming.

Feb 03, 2023

Joanne Wong


In my pursuit of being #Fabulous40, having a #blessedandamazing life, enjoying my #momlife and achieving a work life balance that any world class trapeze artist would admire, I have found myself in somewhat of a rut. I got caught up on the hamster wheel of life.

How so you ask? I tried to achieve success in my career — but succeeded in being overlooked for projects, placed my trust too willingly and inaccurately creating misunderstandings, with no one to blame but my naive self.

I tried to be the perfect mother — but my children have minds and emotions of their own. So while I listened and tried to soothe the super tantrums of a three-year-old and address the sassiness of an emotional pretween, I find myself having more misses than hits, leaving me feeling like a #badmum, drained and being nowhere as amazing as I had hoped to be, with a messy house to top it all. .

I tried to also be as perfect a wife, daughter, sister and friend as I could be — I excelled sporadically, not making any monumental success. I tried being a mediator, a peace maker, a collaborator but ended up getting caught in the middle of squabbles and feeling frustrated instead.

When faced with all the mom guilt, frustration and feelings of inadequacy, I drowned them all out by bingeing on Netflix series and HBO movies. I read books and articles to escape, browsed social media (and felt even worse), busied myself with going out and allowed myself to be sucked into dramas that I had no need to be involved in. Worst of all, when churches opened up, I stayed away.

As I write this report card of shortcomings, I wonder how I did not see this happening... Or perhaps I did but swept it away or put it aside for further inspection for ‘another day’ or maybe I labelled it as ‘life is like that la’. Wait. I am not having a breakdown and perhaps I am judging myself a little too harshly here. There have been many a wonderful moment since I last wrote about my journey of growth. I have travelled with my family, I have enjoyed spending time with my loved ones, I have had small wins, memorable moments, it’s not all been doom and gloom.

But when it boils down to it and if I want to be perfectly honest with myself, I seem to have misplaced my purpose. I wanted to do everything; be that perfect super hero, wonder woman with that instragramable life, that I got caught up in stuff. In the my ‘life’.

“Not focused” was a feedback I received one day, and though bitter to acknowledge, I realised that it was indeed true. In my flurry to be ‘more’, succeed ‘more’, acquire ‘more’ and experience ‘more’ (no thanks to how the world and my own set of views are of how a ‘perfect’ life should be), I was just heading in many different directions and saying “yes” or pursuing things that didn’t quite matter — and yet I wasn’t delivering anything. I was literally trying to be everything, everywhere all at once (an interesting movie, btw — well done Michelle Yeoh!) but not succeeding.

ALL of these things took precedence over God. I went about on my own way, making choices and saying “yes’ without discernment and without putting God in the centre of my decisions.

Was I particularly ‘sinful’ during this period? No, I don't think so. But I made excuses. I was too busy to go to church or get involved too much in church activities, favouring instead to have brunches / dinners with my family and friends. I needed more ‘pick me up’ songs with catchy beats instead of Praise and Worship pieces. I needed more posts from the likes of The Holistic Psychologist and HBR Ascend to make sense of myself and to be better at the workplace instead of remembering God’s promises.

Did I stop praying you ask? Did I not seek Him? I did but not as fervently as I should have. So, although I still used my Christian apps and listened to my Christian songs over the past few months to bring me closer to God, it was just on the surface. I allowed other things to take centre stage in my life.

I took my relationship with God for granted knowing that despite it all, He would be there with me through all seasons. But in every relationship, there needs to be growth, an understanding, a time for listening, a time for being still. In my case, all I was doing was taking and claiming His promises without really acknowledging Him or giving thanks, moving swiftly on to the next thing and the next thing... You know, life... stuff.

One day I met an old Sunday school teacher of mine. She asked me which church I attended now and who the parish priest was. There had been a change in parish priests and I no longer knew the name of my parish priest. So, shamefully I had to acknowledge that I didn’t know and that I hadn’t returned to church for Mass. I got a gentle earful from her, but I needed that wake-up call and I am glad and thankful that she spoke to me and asked about my spiritual growth. I needed to hear it. I needed that gentle lecture.

So began my journey back. Back to Mass. Back to the rituals, the prayers, the hymns and the beautiful, sweet smell of incense. My first time at Mass, I wept. It was a homecoming.

My relationship with God is on the mend. I am looking at the various parts of me that I need to work on. Finding the discipline to embrace and let go what is no longer good for me, what does not make me flourish. It’s a journey. One that is neither smooth nor simple. But I am reminded to “let go and let God” and that through the hills and valleys He is with me, loving me unconditionally despite it all.

-- Joanne Wong is on a journey towards having faith the size of a mustard seed. She welcomes thoughts and suggestions on how to have a closer walk with God. Email her at [email protected]

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