There’s nothing quite like being a journalist: The thrills of being the first to know, the adrenaline rush of getting an insider scoop, and the best part of all, hearing stories and re-telling them to a larger audience.
My path to being a journalist was a fortuitous one. I enrolled in the biomedical sciences faculty in university, but God had something else in store for me.
In my first semester, I applied for a transfer to the mass communications faculty after I realised that a career in the sciences was not for me. Thankfully, His gentle nudging prompted me to call the administrative office on the last day of the course transfer period. I learnt that the acceptance letter had gotten lost in the mail, and the offer would have lapsed if I had not responded that very day.
After university, I joined a newsroom as a journalist, and what followed was one of the most exciting times of my life. Journalism took me to nooks and corners of Singapore I never knew existed, led me to people I will never imagine meeting and brought me to document stories – stories that kept me inspired and spurred me to make a difference in my community.
My time in journalism was also when my struggle with pride and arrogance peaked, as I basked in my self-made success.
I worked hard and I think was reasonably good at what I did, nabbing exclusive stories and in-house reporting awards along the way. At that point, I held the belief that if there is a task that keeps you up at night and makes you raring to go the next morning, it is a worthy calling to be fulfilled.
My mum’s passing made me realise that successes in life are merely fleeting treasures. At your deathbed, you leave everything behind.
But everything took a turn about two years ago as I was preparing to leave for graduate studies in America. I was then in my fourth year as a journalist and felt a strong urge to acquire new knowledge – I felt my career was starting to stagnate.
Two weeks before I was supposed to leave, my mother slipped into coma and passed away.
Time stood still in the following months as I came to terms with the sudden loss and tried to make sense of the situation. Frustrations ebbed and flowed; answers were nowhere to be found. My mum’s passing made me realise that successes in life are merely fleeting treasures.
At your deathbed, you leave everything behind.
Faith gradually silenced my screams and guided me to relinquish control to the Sovereign One. I returned to journalism six months later with a newfound vigour. Right down to the most mundane tasks, I willed myself to present each story as an offering to God.
He honoured what I gave to Him. I remember literally skipping out of the office one evening, after piecing together a complicated story. It was the most surreal feeling, accompanied by a palpable deep sense of peace. The inexplicable joy in knowing that the Lord is pleased with you simply adds a spring to every step. This sweet memory lingers on till today.
But even as deep despair threatened to envelope me, I learnt that He is always one prayer away.
Over time, the desire to pursue graduate studies stirred within me again. By the grace of God, my supervisor gave me his blessings, and the entire application process was also almost fuss-free from securing important referees to submitting the necessary paperwork before the deadline.
Every single university I applied to replied with a resounding “No” – right up to the very last one. I had lost all hope by then and did not bother to stay up the night the university was scheduled to release the application results. It was only the next morning that I peeked at my inbox. “Congratulations,” read the email.
At that moment, I heard His still small voice: “This is my gift to you.”
God continues to work in this new season as a graduate student in the UK. The new environs and routines have often left me disconcerted and overwhelmed. Bouts of homesickness have engulfed me – especially on the dark, long winter days.
But even as the longing for familiarity has threatened to envelope me in deep despair, I learnt that He is always one prayer away. Always – when I most need it – a friend comes knocking with a word of encouragement. God’s hand at work.
I have nine months to go. The uncertainty ahead sometimes leaves me anxious. But I will once again resolve to trust in the all-knowing Lord. As a journalist, my job is to tell stories. Now I’m learning to turn to greatest story-teller of all, the one who has already written every day of my life in His book, even before they come to pass (Psalms 139:16).