Why my life is not boring (Bonus section: Why I listen to BTS)
Posted on 8 Apr 2019 by Vanessa Ong
Do you ever get that feeling of just wanting to do something crazy? How often do you get that feeling? After comparing myself with others for some years, it seems that I am one of those types who get that feeling slightly more than others.
Without hesitation, I’d be on a snowboard right now if I needn’t consider anything else. If all I cared about were my own desires, I would be band touring around Scandinavia this very moment. If I had no responsibilities, narrowly escaping trouble, swimming alone in freezing open waters in the dark… Ok, I better stop the over-sharing.
You cannot get some folks to be still, they are so frivolous, you cannot make them think. Some men dread the process of thinking almost as much as they would a touch of the “cat” on their backs. They cannot bear to consider and meditate. God has distinguished them above brutes by giving them the faculty of thought, but this high privilege they try to ignore. Any silly tale, or idle song, or light amusement, or pastime, will entice them, but they have no soul for serious things. They go through life, not as the bee, which sucks honey from every flower, but as the butterfly, which regards the garden as only a place over which it may flit, and where it may occasionally alight, but gather nothing, and so begins and ends its gaudy day, and has nothing in store. Let us not be the fluttering insects of an idle day. God grant we may not follow the fashion of this foolish world. May frivolity and levity be taken away from us, and may we in sober earnestness attend to things eternal. – C .H. Spurgeon
Only my mum and I can tell you the fabulous trouble I’d be getting myself into right now if not for the theological thinking partially captured by the above quote.
I am thankful to Jesus for changing, not just my future, but my present as well. Not only can I look forward to an eternity with God, Jesus has turned my perspective of this earthly life upside down. My search for fleeting pleasures and experiences, my priorities, my goals, satisfaction, emotions, what is true treasure – basically, whatever is core to who I am has been changed by Jesus and his teaching about this life.
I will confess to a struggle I’ve been battling with for as long as I can remember! From teenager to adult life, I battle restlessness or just plain boredom. Would you agree? Isn’t being an adult just plain boring? Yes, sometimes it is too stressful to be described as boring but after the stress goes down just slightly, the boredom is still there.
Note to self (sometimes weekly): My life is exciting because I follow Jesus
I’ve asked myself, “Why is it that someone who knows JESUS struggles with boredom?”.
My self-analysis goes something like: Is this because I don’t have a boyfriend / am unmarried? Dating and marriage might take away some of that boredom, but I am all too aware that difficulties way more challenging than boredom will come up eventually! Is this because I don’t have a hobby? Probably not either. To name a few: I can be quite the addict when it comes to fiction reading. Try your best to separate me while I’m in the middle of reading Harry Potter. Also, nothing is more refreshing than just pure music listening. I’ve curated >30 playlists and it can keep me occupied for ages. Lastly, I swim weekly and feel excited just thinking about being in the swimming pool. I haven’t even mentioned activities for socializing yet. For now, take my word for it when I say, I know how to enjoy life. It’s really not a tough job.
I was recently struck by a killer question of a sermon from my home church in Malaysia: Christ Evangelical Reformed Church. Our elder Robin asked the congregation: “Are you happy?”, as he opened up his sermon on Matthew 5. After looking at my heart and my life, the answer is definitely no and this is the universal experience of all human beings who live in a constant search for happiness. It’s the sincere answer but it is also the wrong answer.
I have come to realize that my almost permanent struggle in restlessness/ boredom stems from being dissatisfied with my life and this world. It’s a heart issue, a gospel issue. This is a problem of right worship, of eschatology, of sonship.
Our Lord who suffered for us describes us as those who are happy. Thank you Jesus for even giving us this choice to be happy. Not only did you die for us that we can be right with God but your work also brought about the true blessed state for all those who follow you – the chance to be truly happy in this life of difficulties, full of relationships with imperfect people and other sources of pain.
What is this truly blessed state and true happiness Jesus refers to? Far from temporary highs or a day of all smiles and laughter, the truly blessed state and true happiness is being who God has made us to be, being transformed into the likeness of his Son. One of the best showcases of this is in his temptation. Jesus showed us what a true Son is “made of” and also, what true sons who truly trusted God, having an unshakably right perspective should do.
The challenge for us sons of God is: Can we trust and obey the one true God like him? Do we do our best to abound more and more in this regard? Or do we just “trust” him? (trust = intellectual assent VS. trust = Jesus’ exemplification of trust in the wilderness)
I sometimes focus too much on my own emotions, my flawed worldview, my own successes and failures rather than the one and only success which brought about complete transformation for all his brothers. Basically, I constantly turn away from choosing true happiness, from choosing the way of the son of God. I stupidly push away the fact that because of God’s goodness towards me through His Beloved Son’s obedience, I have the privilege of even choosing happiness. What does it mean to choose happiness? Well, I just have to choose to be who I already am by the work of Christ’s Spirit in me. I’m a transformed being who will live an eternity with God in glory and therefore, have an amazingly meaningful existence now.
Who Jesus is and what he has done is “too good to be true”. This is made clearer when you compare the reliability of Jesus’ finished work to unreliable human beings, pointless pain in this life, sinners who bring trouble upon themselves, short-lived emotions of both highs and lows etc. (the list can go on and on).
So, now you know, if ever you want to encourage me, just drop me a message saying “Your life is exciting because you follow Jesus” and I hopefully I will smile as I am now writing this. I will smile because I am reminded by you of what God did, is doing and will do in Christ through his church. By God’s grace, I will pick up this lump of self-worship/pity called “myself” and press the “Quit” button of my hunt for a pathetic reflection of my blessed state.
Bonus blog section featuring a K-Pop band called BTS
Firstly, I don’t consider myself an ARMY (ARMY is the nickname for the admirably loyal fandom of the pop group BTS). I have tried pretty hard to acquire a liking for BTS’s music, I’ve concluded that I’m not a fan of BTS’s music though I sincerely like BTS the band. An “I like you, just not your music” moment. No offense meant. It’s just that music genres and artists I have loved for a while have a completely different sound and belong to a completely different philosophy in music. Just putting BTS side by side with one of my favourite bands is … HAHA! Don’t you just love the contrast?!
My favourite band Gojira (guys in black) sound nothing like BTS (guys with awesome colours and fashion).
Why I like BTS: They are pretty average and so am I
I hope that this heading doesn’t offend anyone. Let me explain why someone who listens to alternative/heavy/prog/death metal on repeat (with the occasional mood for Miles Davis or Sarasate) would look out for news about BTS on social media and silently cheer them on without daring to label myself an “ARMY” and listen to their songs! I’m not that keen on watching guys dance (though their choreo can be cool admittedly!). One of the factors some gals are into BTS is because of BTS’ looks but short of me divulging my own definition of ‘handsome’ (I’ll spare you), I promise it really isn’t BTS’s looks that excite me.
What makes me really interested in BTS is just how average and therefore, relatable they are. Just a quick research on their origins, backstory, profiles – not particularly outstanding but they’ve worked hard and have come very far. Their vocals or dancing isn’t mind-blowingly spectacular if you compare them with other groups. Their current success is completely disproportionate to their talent. Through many obstacles and crazyness, they have come this far.
When I am reminded of my own everyday life: waking up, skipping breakfast, getting to class, studying, working, resting, repeat, I remember just how easy it is for time to just slip us by. How easy it is to live ~for~ through the day. It was 10 am only a moment ago and now, it is about to be 3 pm. Or, I only just had a meal at 6 pm and now it’s about 9 pm. It’s hard to use time well with anxieties, laziness, boredom, excitement, strings of thoughts, emotions, tiredness, relationships, social media, and even without them all, it is all too easy to just…live… Day after day, living and achieving absolutely nothing and going absolutely nowhere whilst confessing that The Ascended Christ is returning. So, is Christian life / life about achievement? No. But is life about just… living… by the day? Also, no.
One of BTS’s albums is titled “Love Yourself”. It is a catchcry popularized by them and other influencers, propagating a powerful theological standpoint for the masses.
BTS’ struggles, relatability, humanness, their goals and dreams with dogged perseverance and their current state of ‘labour is not in vain’ makes me more than happy to listen to their voices in their interviews or songs, despite my clash with their music. BTS also reminds me that there are many people in this world, some who have never made it to the Billboard charts unlike BTS, who use up their entire day (x 365 days x insert years of life) to achieving something and/or to be earning good money and/or to be or do something meaningful. But here’s the catch: It is something meaningful in their own evaluation. It is almost always related to them loving themselves. This is in contrast to the immense transformation brought about by Jesus whose work will bring about a perfect world where everyone loved God and others more than they loved themselves. As I mentioned above, this reality has already started in Christ’s church filled with his Spirit.
So, is your life boring? If Jesus is your Lord, he has interrupted your mundane life that you may live fiercely for the sake of his name. With more passion and more perseverance than BTS. Whether your life is exciting or mundane to you, it should be lived for Jesus and his glory. Lives lived for Jesus simply cannot be boring because Jesus and what he has done, is doing and will do is anything but boring.
Important closing comments:
- I’d highly recommend sermons from the Matthew series by CERC. Get your mind-blown and heart changed here.
- Please pray for me to learn the seven subjects I am learning weekly at Moore Theological College with enthusiasm and much-needed brain capacity from God. I am partly writing this blog because I’m pretty stressed out by the amount and the difficulty of what I need to do. Writing usually helps me to slow down, take a deep breath and remember that all is well with my soul.
- I look forward to serve the gospel needs in Malaysia at the end of 2020 – probably teaching children or women or university students – it doesn’t really matter to me. The needs are many! I’m excited to get back into all the action after getting trained here in Sydney. If you’re able to help CERC with sending gospel workers like me to be trained theologically in college, the account details are here.