Jesus frees engineer from shame
B grew up in a family that worked hard and never talked about their feelings, so he relied on his own performance to win their approval. God gently guided him to confess and surrender his frustrations and shame to Jesus and receive true joy from the Lord. Praise God!
I didn’t realise that my upbringing played a big part in my blockage in knowing God at a deeper level.
I grew up in a very traditional Chinese family. My dad is the authority figure of our household. He works from early in the morning till late at night to bring in the needed money. My mom is the housewife who takes care of everything else.
My parents imposed a life vision on me from childhood that is very typical of any Hong Kong Chinese family; study hard, do well in school, get into a well-known university and find a good job. Basically, school was the biggest item on the to-do list every single day. Along with that, they also set up a reward system; the better the grades I got, the more material things I could earn. My self-worth was tied to how well I did in school and how many toys I owned.
My family does not talk much about how we feel, so “emotion” was a very foreign word to me.
My father is a man of few words. He has never said anything about how he feels. Most of the time, he is the master of critiquing things in a harsh way. Getting him to praise anything could be as hard as riding a bike in a Typhoon 10.
As a child, I would follow my father’s habits or behaviors.
My upbringing revolved around two mottos: “Suck it up and do it” and “Just solve it”.
If there was a pile of homework, just suck it up and finish it. If I was bullied by others, just solve it however is needed. Happiness was easy to recognise sometimes, but when it comes to stress, sadness, insecurity or abandonment, my brain would never register them and would shift to the two mottos that I knew.
After I finished fourth grade in Hong Kong, my whole family immigrated to Vancouver, Canada. My parents told my siblings and me that it was the best choice for the family. Soon, I learnt different tactics to survive in a foreign land. Vancouver was not a hostile environment, but my family fed ourselves with negative beliefs, such as “Caucasians did not like Chinese people” and “We were one tier lower in society because we are immigrants”.
Slowly, I learnt how to put on different masks for different situations.
I was not aware I made some inner vows as a result. First, I did not want to be looked down upon and bullied. Also, I continuously told myself not to show my true emotions so that other people could not figure out my next move or use my emotions against me. I didn’t see anything wrong with this at that point in my life. I just thought it was part of survival.
After I graduated from university, life and work slowly made me realise my childhood values and beliefs could not be carried forward to adulthood. The same survival skill sets in my teenage years could not be applied to young adulthood. The reward system that I knew was not there anymore, but the expectation from my parents of me achieving something great financially was still there.
Without the ability to dig deeper into and process my own emotions, I was lost. I felt very frustrated.
Then I began to ponder about my identity. In words, I could explain that I am a Chinese Civil Engineer graduate living in Canada. But I have to say that I was so stuck with whatever I did, it never brought me joy. I tried to find joy and meaning in life through work and by immersing myself in sports every day.
Nothing filled the hole inside my heart, which had been longing for something.
Until I became a Christian in 2012, my mind began to echo the words, “My identity is in Christ”. Did my heart believe that? Looking back, I doubted it. I had a bit more peace but life was still the same. I was not aware that there were roots blocking me from getting closer to God. After I returned to Hong Kong in 2013, God began slowly molding me into something new. The baggage that I carried before becoming a Christian followed me, but God uncovered them in different ways.
I had lots of fears in opening up to people. Shame, pride, and unforgiveness were all bundled together and hidden deep inside my heart. I put on different masks to guard this bundle of emotions so that they would not be exposed. To make it even tougher for myself, being vulnerable in front of others was a very farfetched idea to me.
There was a big trust issue and my guard was always up.
In addition, growing up in a Chinese culture also put up a lot of spiritual blockage in me. I was not aware that I had been offered to guanyin (Chinese idol) when I was a child. And there had been lots of superstitious practices and traditions that pulled me further away from God. All these were uncovered during a renewal prayer session.
My mentors had long invited me to participate in a renewal prayer, but I brushed it aside. In my head, I imagined someone using a red pen to write down comments or putting “X” onto all the things that had occurred in my life.
My heart and pride kept telling me; “Why would I want to expose my past and ugly roots to others?”
I suppressed the thought of a renewal prayer until one day I talked with someone who had completed it. His vulnerability of telling me his life story and the renewal prayer made me realise the joy of being unbounded from these spiritual blockages. At the same time, my mentors pursued me again and I felt tremendously loved by their action. I finally decided to do one in September 2018.
On the day of the renewal prayer, I knew I needed to be vulnerable in order to break the bondage to sins and really expose the deep roots. As I repented of my past sins and renounced many ungodly spiritual roots, my body felt lighter. My heart and mind did not feel as guarded.
The toughest part of the session was talking about my parents and my upbringing. A huge amount of shame emerged and broke me into tears. The tears were a result of trying to meet the expectations of my parents and of this world.
Afterward, my heart felt joy – as if a big burden had been lifted away from me.
As we prayed to close our renewal prayer session, one of the prayer counsellors described a vision for me; the walls around me were shattered, and light and blessings were being showered on top of me.
The walls blocking my relationship with God had been torn down.
I continue to discover and understand more about ugly spiritual roots through Christian communities, fellowship, and discipleship courses. I understand that it will take time to renew a mind that had been fed with worldly beliefs for many years. Surrounding myself with the right communities is one important action step in growing closer to God. Another is to incorporate continuous prayer and study of God’s words into my everyday life.
All praises to God to redeem me back into His arms even though I had held onto my bundle of ugly roots for so long.
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