In 2002, upon knowing that my Permanent Residence application to Australia had been approved, I told Dad about my plan to migrate to Australia during one of my trips back to Indonesia. I was working in Singapore then – to Mum and Dad, Singapore was just “across the road” whereas Australia seemed a whole world away. I told Dad that I planned to move back to Adelaide – by then, he already had his strokes but he was still very alert and lucid. I still remember what he told me – “If that’s what you want. There’s nothing that I can say, is there?”. There was a sense of resignation and the realisation that he couldn’t control my life. Just like what Khalil Gibran writes in one of his poems, “Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself. They come through you but not from you, and though they are with you yet they belong not to you.”
I have a glimpse of this experience dealing with disappointment with some of my friends. Being older than most of them means that I have the ‘benefit’ of the experience and wisdom that I have accumulated along the years. I have also got to experience the sense of disappointment and dashed expectations that my Pastors at church have on a regular basis – of people who would promise heaven and earth at the beginning of the year, and yet fail when they need to prove their words. Some people may mistakenly think that I’m angry – but it’s not really anger, but it’s more like a helpless disappointment and a sense of resignation. It’s like a leader who would love to pass the beautiful leadership experience to his protégé, only to realise that the protégé is not ready at all …
I thank God that I was brought up in a family that taught me a lot of responsibility – that when I was given the responsibility of a unit and a budget of my own at the age of twenty-four, I did my hardest not to disappoint my boss. I knew the principle of exceeding expectations – of (not necessarily) under-promising, but trying to always over-deliver. I personally get very disappointed when looking at some of my friends who do no take their responsibilities seriously – they would come to you, pleading for you to help and strengthen them when they are weak, and leave you hanging when things are going well for them. The cycle would continue again and again, without them learning the lessons.
I know that I shouldn’t heap any expectations on anybody – but I am getting tired dealing with everything on my own. It warms my heart when I see some of my friends at church who I can trust, who deliver what they promise, and who stick with God through thick and thin. The same faces who I see on Saturday during our prayer meetings – even when I know that they are also dealing with their own personal battles. I learn a lot from them too – through the wisdom that God gives them that opens my eyes. I learn to be rebuked and rebuilt, to be broken down and reshaped according to His plans. Even an old dog can learn new tricks! 🙂
So allow me to pour my heart tonight – I wish I could tell those who I am grieving for. However I know that it’s not my battle to pick. Leaders just have to move on and continue leading and pushing. It wouldn’t be a gloating face when I say “I told you so”, but more like a sadness that all of the heartache that could have been spared.