By Poh Chan, a revised and better version because of Yee Khiam

I remember the journey I once took with my father from Ipoh to Penang. My favourite part  was the drive through “Terowong Manora”. While my father admired the great minds behind this magnificent engineering work, I was thrilled by the mystery as we rode through in the semi-darkness, albeit only 800m long. 

But there was no thrill when l landed in a “tunnel” recently – it was pitch dark, unfamiliar, cold, scary. Unprepared, I felt stuck in it, feeling totally alone. Even God seemed absent in the tunnel. 

I was later diagnosed with burnout. Battery running dangerously low… as my counsellor put it. 

A time-out was strongly recommended. 

Yet, the God who came through for Elijah in the ravine did not walk past me. He provided Stretcher Bearers 2.0 which was conducting a session on self-care – a topic rather alien to me. 

Care for self?? 
Isn’t that being self-centred, the direct opposite of what Christ desires of us??

But was I glad l attended! It was so liberating to learn that self-care is NOT selfish. That it is as essential as it is important. That Christ’s command of “Love your neighbours” does not stop there but ends with “… as yourself”.

Growing up in a culture that promotes “Going the extra mile/Why not if l can do it?/Self sacrifice/Be strong!!!!”, etc.  l find it difficult to say “No” without feeling guilty. Caring for Khiam (my husband) who had a stroke six years ago became my single, sole purpose. His well-being became my preoccupation. In the process, l neglected myself. 

The Stretcher Bearer self-care sessions opened up my mind as the various participants shared deeply and honestly. Hey, I am not alone after all! There were tears aplenty amidst much laughter as each narrated his/her struggles/breakthroughs. The facilitators were patient and supportive as they listened and guided. Such warmth, love and care flooded my heart as God gently put back the broken pieces.   

The journey through the dark, silent, lonely tunnel became a journey of acceptance, as others embraced me in my brokenness just as l embraced theirs. 

Am l still in the tunnel? 

Perhaps, but l am no longer afraid. As l stretch out my hands in the dark, there is always another grasping mine – some are warm, firm hands, while some are cold, trembling, desperate, each from his/her dark corners. The tunnel is actually quite crowded!! 

My sincere thanks to those beautiful souls in Stretcher Bearer class. While darkness envelops me, you are the light within me.  

And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light (Genesis 1:3).

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🙏 Pray for those who are in the “tunnel” that they would stretch out their hands and grasp another hand.

🙏 Pray for those who are already reaching out that they will grasp and not let go of the Potter’s hand.