Faith, Friendship, Inspiration, Issue 44

The Friendship Test

The Friendship Test

How did you overcome jealousy of each other?

WONG YUN XUAN, 25 (RIVERLIFE CHURCH): Growing up, I struggled a lot with identity. I looked around and saw girls who were emotional, warm, bubbly, and sociable, and I felt like I was serious and robotic in comparison. Charmaine was one such person — she was able to befriend people easily and talk about anything under the sun for hours!

She had close relationships with her friends and family and I would think to myself, “Wow, I really want that. Why do I not have that?” Those thoughts would spiral into self-pity, frustration and insecurity.

At 16, we embarked on a mission trip to Batam. Charmaine was supposed to share her testimony, but was suddenly hit with a high fever. I had not read her testimony before, but I was asked to share it on her behalf. After reading it, I was overwhelmed. I began to see how her family’s struggles shaped the way she loved others. The positivity Charmaine viewed life with were things I could learn, if I simply allowed myself to learn from her. It was a perspective shift that enabled me to get over the jealousy.

CHARMAINE BOO, 25 (RIVERLIFE CHURCH): When Yun Xuan became a cell group leader, feelings of inferiority started to sink in. I wondered why I was “not good enough” to be a cell leader and whether I had anything to offer. Eventually, I found myself becoming quite uninterested to meet Yun Xuan because she was having “cell leader problems” that I knew nothing about. It sounds so lame now but at that time I was really quite affected by it!

In addition, Yun Xuan had a mentor who was meeting her regularly on a one-
to-one basis. That was when I acknowledged that I was jealous of her, because

community and mentorship were things I had wanted for the longest time —
and she got it all because of cell ministry.

When I did an internship with Singapore Youth For Christ (SYFC), I had my first mentorship experience and grew in my understanding of God and His Word. I was taught how to read and study the Bible, share the gospel and use my giftings for God! God spoke to me from a passage in 1 Corinthians 12 about how the body has many parts and how we each have our own function. Verse 19 says, “If all were a single member, where would the body be?”

That was when the jealousy I had been experiencing went away, and I even asked Yun Xuan to join the internship with me so she could benefit in the same way I had!

How do you spur each other on in your walk with God?

: I think the word for what we’ve found in each other since we grew closer from Seets’ cancer diagnosis is ‘refuge’. A safe place to be fully oneself — awful, wonderful, in despair or in hope — but always loved.

Seets has taught me so much about extravagant love, a love people often reserve for romantic relationships. It’s the kind of love that reaches out when you cross their mind, whether it’s to send you a meme to make you laugh or to check up on you because you’ve not quite been yourself. The kind of love that makes you brave.

I was going through a lot in my own life when Seets was undergoing chemotherapy. But it’s probably because she was suffering as well that pushed us even closer together. We call ourselves “sisters in the fire.” Who else could have really understood truth and hope forged in great, prolonged pain?

On bad days, it was her faithful friendship on brighter days that gave me the courage to ask her for help. In those moments, a true friend is the one who lends her voice and faith to pray aloud, to sing, to read Scripture until you find peace again. She has shown me what being loved by Jesus looks like.

CHAN SEE TING, 28 (3:16 CHURCH): Jonk and I often call each other ‘heart friend.’ I think it’s because we both carry each other’s heart so well. She’s become such a big part of my life that I really can’t imagine doing life — and faith — without her.

Honestly speaking, there are many painfully dark moments that I can’t share with most people because they haven’t experienced them personally, but with Jonk I know I can because she has gone through those valleys too and come out surer of who she is and most importantly who her God is. Someone like that can hold your heart, your pain, your fears and struggles well and bring you hope from the places she’s walked in with Jesus.

Having seen each other at some of our lowest and most difficult points of our walk with the Lord has created a safe space between us that can hold both our silly banter and serious conversations. That means I can be honest about how much I disapprove of her Crocs — and also how stretched my faith can get with the cancer.

On 23 February 2021, See Ting went home to be with the Lord following a battle with leptomeningeal disease. We grieve for the loss of her presence on earth, but rejoice that she is safe in the arms of Jesus in heaven.

How do you deal with peer pressure?

(RIVERLIFE CHURCH): I stayed on campus in my first year at university, and being away from parents and Christian communities felt quite liberating because I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted. Drinking and clubbing is common at this stage of life, and I have to admit that it is tough not to get tempted to join in.

Occasionally, friends would ask me out for a couple of drinks to engage in ‘heart to-heart talks’ or to socialise. I knew I needed to learn how and when to say “no,” so I decided to set certain boundaries around drinking and clubbing. When my peers tried to pressure me into joining these activities, my response would be to turn them down or to order a soft drink while still enjoying the company of friends. My priority is to live a lifestyle that honours God, and these boundaries help to guard my heart in the pursuit of right standing with God. If I do not decide what I will or will not do beforehand, I will probably fall easily into temptation. University friends who know that I am a Christian usually respect my stand, but there are also times when I have to tolerate playful taunts for not drinking or clubbing. Despite this, I have learned how to stand firm on my decision while being respectful of others’ lifestyle choices.

If you are facing peer pressure, my advice would be to know who you are in the light of eternity, and to ensure your current lifestyle reflects Christ. As I am someone who likes to experience all that life can offer, I think it is important to be accountable to kingdom friends or a Christian mentor who will keep you grounded and remind you when to plug out from the world.

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