Friday, May 29, 2009

Learning to say 'NO'

Today I said the hardest 'no' I've ever said in 20 years--I've declined the offers of admission from University of Waterloo (UW), Canada.

It wasn't easy. Many tears of struggle came with this. But I've learned to appreciate such tears, because each tear means a blow to the nail that nails the old self to the cross, and with each tear shed I emerge a more mature, more joyful, more obedient disciple.

UW's offers of admission expires by 28th May 2009. I totally forgot (or rather successfully avoided thinking) about it until late last night. Happily for me it was still 28th in Canada until noon today local time. I could just give no response to UW at all, but that would be a lack of professional courtesy, and it also means burning the bridges.

I cried, because declining UW's offers felt like betraying a friend. They offered me everything I wanted (short of a scholarship! Haha..but thank God for that because otherwise I would already be headed there), and yet I'm saying 'no'. I even wrote in the admissions form that 'UW is my first choice!' It is true. UW was the choice of my heart.
But I knew in my head that UW was not the logical choice for 3 reasons: distance, finance, and the shear comparison of UW to National University of Singapore (NUS), to which I have also be offered admission. (I know...what have I to complain about, right?) NUS is closer to home, next door to my sister, has more flexible interdisciplinary programs which I prefer, offers better financial aid, and even has higher QS rankings! To any other, these and others would be indications of the Lord's blessings. But I couldn't help but think, 'Hey, the Lord could really be opening doors to UW, just that I missed the signs by rationalising!'
But no, NUS is God sent. UW wasn't even an option! The only trouble left was to convince my heart the same..that is where tears come in.

So I did what the Lord gave us instructions to do when in doubt: ask. In times like this I always like to listen to words spoken by the Lord Jesus Himself, so I flipped to the Gospels, and landed in Matthew 7. Ask, seek, and knock. Our Father gives good gifts! Then at an earlier passage: do not worry, 'does the Father not know? Seek ye first the Kingdom of God. Then to an even earlier passage: treasures in heaven. 'For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.'

By then the message was clear. i called UW the university of my heart. What it really represents was the treasure of my heart: the prestige of studying (literally) overseas in a western school. It was not the lost of what UW is and NUS is not that I mourned for, because that I could live with, but the lost of servitude to my pride.

The Bible said:
"No one can serve two masters...he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and [Pride]."
Matthew 6:24

Saying 'no' to UW wasn't saying 'no' to what is good, nor was it rejecting (betraying) UW that I have sincerely grown so fond of. Instead it was saying yes to trusting the Lord's guidance, it was choosing God as Master over Self and Pride, and it-felt-like-victory.

The Bible also said:
"The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness, how great is that darkness!"
Matthew 6:22-23

I asked to understand His purpose behind this, something that doubles as a confirmation that UW is not for me, and I got it! You see, He meant this to be a lesson to me. So now that my heart is won, my 'eyes are good', and my 'body full of light', I am filled with joy!

I still hope perhaps someday to go to UW, since I succeeded in not burning the bridges by preserving my reputation for good professional courtesy...ehem. And plus! NUS has exchange programs and summer programs to UW, much to my delight. So yeah, perhaps someday I will go, but only if the Lord thinks me fit for the treat. ;)