Fear ye not....ye are of more value than many sparrows


The last few weeks have been very tiring and very very stressful for me due to various reasons. Thank God that last week was a lot better as I learn to cast my cares upon the Lord and to wait upon Him, and He in His faithfulness gave me peace and strength. Yesterday's worship was refreshing and it encourages my heart as I remember afresh God's love and mercies to me.

One of the most stressful thing I am learning to manage now is how to find avenues of freelance work that I can manage and provide sufficient income. It is difficult for me to find a fulltime job now because mental illness is still a terrible stigma in Singapore. Working part-time is also a problem at the moment, as I am physically very tired and mentally easily stressed. Most fulltime job requires filling up a job application form, and I will not be able to get the job because I am required to declare in the job application form my health status. Once I declare my diagnosis in the job application forms, I don't hear from potential employer anymore.

Freelancing seems ideal for me now. Freelancing is also my dream come true as it allows me to have more time to serve God and to reach out to others, as well make use of my skills to be useful and productive. This is what I have always wanted do to.

But the reality about freelancing is that it can be very stressful and difficult in the initial stage of learning to find suitable freelance assignments as well as negotiating for suitable charges and deadlines. I will need to work very hard to build up a good credibility as well as give myself time to find a pool of suitable clients.

I am feeling very very tired due to effect of manic recently. I am slowing down now but the tiredness doesn't seem to go away despite having many hours of rest daily. I am doing some simple exercise every morning and it has been helping me to keep me going for the day.

Recently, thank God I have some freelance opportunities but as they are mentally very straining and need much concentration, I have not been able to do very much daily. I couldn't take on some projects though they pay well partly because of the extremely tight deadlines and also because of the complexity of the projects. I saw opportunities lost but am thankful that I can keep my sanity. But I also do feel disappointed that I can't even manage freelance assignments.

This morning, I felt sad that I can't seem to do anything well enough to earn a decent living. I felt rather useless. This is another struggle I sometimes have - this feeling of uselessness which is eating into me. I keep reminding myself that I have limitations due to bipolar, others may reject me or despised me, but God cares for me and I can still be useful and able to serve God and others through my skills. But sometimes this sense of uselessness eats into me. Oh, how I need the grace to look away from self and circumstances to a God that is all powerful, loving and kind. Money is not all important in this life. As long as I have sufficient to cover my own and my mother's expenses I am contented. I trust that God will work His ways out for me. I need His grace to wait patiently upon Him.

I talked to the Lord and told Him that I know He cares for me and will provide for my every need. I asked that He gives me the strength to look away from myself or others, not to depend upon myself or anyone else. He Who clothes the lilies and feed the sparrows will continue to take care of me. He can provide in His own wonderful ways. Isn't it good that I am daily made to be dependent upon Him? If I am sufficient of myself then I will forget about the Lord. I am humbled as I remember afresh that God owns all the cattles on the thousand hills. He has fed the hungry 4000 who waited upon Him for spiritual and physical food. God uses a raven and poor widow to feed Elijah (1 Kings 17). Moreover, we are not to live by bread alone but by every Word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).

A commentator commented :

So Elijah goes off to hide. God has promised him provision from ravens! To the Israelites ravens are considered unclean (Leviticus 11:13-15). Nevertheless these birds feed Elijah, twice daily. “Elijah was learning experientially that Yahweh was the only source of food, fertility, and blessing” (Constable). God provides when we are obedient to his word. Picture Elijah living by an obscure brook, waiting patiently for food from birds. His experience demonstrated the certainty of God and prepared Elijah for the bigger challenges that were coming in his life.

Sure enough, the brook runs dry. There is, after all, a drought in progress. But God is still providing for Elijah for now God sends Elijah to the care of a widow. “Then the LORD said to Elijah, ‘Go and live in the village of Zarephath, near the city of Sidon. There is a widow there who will feed you. I have given her my instructions’” (17:8-9).

What a comfort and encouragement!

Another source of stress is my mother's expectations of me. She is a caring and wonderful mother, but sometimes her expectation of me is unrealistic. My mother does not know that I have bipolar disorder and that it is cyclical in nature. She thought I have recovered from my recent depression episode and that I am fully well now and should return to fulltime work. She doesn't know that with my diagnosis of proneness to bipolar it is almost impossible to find a fulltime job in Singapore because of the stigma. She doesn't know that I am physically and mentally not able to take on a fulltime job yet as I am still learning to manage my condition and physically I am easily tired. She doesn't know that her expectations of me is stressing me up and that stress is one of the triggering factors of my depression episodes. I can't share any of these things with her as she will get very worried and she can't sleep when she is worried. Then her blood pressure will go up and she at risk for stroke or heart attack as she has other illnesses as well.

Coping with the stress from my mother's expectations, the stress of not knowing how to find suitable freelance assignments and not knowing how to cope with stress from certain freelance work that are difficult and with tight deadlines, sometimes really drained me.

My friend, Paul, recently counseled me to give myself at least 1 year to progress in this freelance work. My friend, Grace, also advised me how to cope with the expectations of my mother in finding a fulltime job. Thank God for friends like them and some others who are more caring and understanding. Sometimes I feel so alone but when I think of these friends, I know that I am not alone. And the Lord is with me.

Everyday, all kinds of thoughts and emotions threatened to overwhelm me. But I am learning to cast all my cares and anxieties upon our Lord. I try to look at what I still have now and of all the opportunities I have to serve our Lord in small ways daily, to take better care of my mother and reach out to my church friends and other friends, as well as to share His goodness on this blog. I thank God that He is my God and therefore despite whatever fear or difficulties I have, I still have His joy and strength to live for Him. Sometimes my peace are interrupted when I look too much at the storm or the impending storm, but I am learning to remember that He is able to calm any storms in my life. Though the future is so uncertain and can sometimes be very scary, I can face the uncertain tomorrow because He lives! I sing this song to myself again this morning to remind myself that I am serving a risen Saviour and He is with me through all the changing scenes of life. The Lord is my shepherd and I will not not lack any temporal or spiritual needs. Before my last ounce of flour finishes, God will provide! With Him all things are possible as He owns all the cattles on the thousand hills. I must trust and not be afraid. Moreover, nothing is ever going to separate me from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord. So I need to learn not allow any difficulties or losses or lack to cloud my vision of God. He is good in all His ways.

I am encouraged by God's love and precious promises in His Words. He will give me strength and grace as I look to Him daily. There will be difficulties, there will be stress and fears at times, but God will never leave me nor forsake me. Courage is not the absent of fear, courage is pressing on despite the fears. With God's presence with me, I will go on courageously, by His grace. He has a purpose in these difficult trials and I pray that I may know more of His mercies and faithfulness, and continue to share it with others so that they too may put their hope and trust in God, Who will never leave us nor forsake us. To Him be the glory.

Matthew 10
29 Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.
30 But the very hairs of your head are all numbered.
31 Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 6
19 Lay not up for yourself treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal:
20 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven.....
25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink: nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body more than raiment?
30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?
31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Where withal shall we be clothed?
33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.
34 Take therefore no thought for tomorrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof
This lovely bird is taken by my friend and brother-in-Christ, CW Fong. Thank God for his kindness to share this photo with us.

The Lord said, "Fear ye not .... ye are of more value than many sparrows." (Matthew 10:31)

8 Kind thoughts:

marja said...

I'm sorry, Nancie, that you're having such a hard time. I pray that you will soon pull out of this and return to your confident self. I pray, too, that you will find freelance jobs that will be just right for you, not too stressful and providing the income you need.

I was just reading those verses from Matthew 10 myself today.

Nancie said...

Thank you for your prayers and encouragement, Marja. The Lord is good in all His ways. I am learning to look to Him daily. He is faithful, He will provide in His time. It is good to be dependent upon Him. Though we are weak, He is strong! It is a comfort to me. I will continue to wait upon Him. Please take care.

Casdok said...

I know what stigma is like.
I am sure something will come along. Stay positive and strong, i know these are only words, and easier said than done, but i have faith that you can.

Nancie said...

Thanks, Casdok. Your words made my day :)

Thanks for the reminder to stay positive! I need to be more patient and positive, and don't let negative thoughts or self-pity eat into me or else I will become paralysed by fear or disappointments. God is good. He will provide and work His ways for me, as I try various avenues of freelancing. My hope is in Him. Take care.

Mariposa said...

I'm so sorry to hear this Nancie. I did not know that it is like that there. I'm not making mine known either, but then, my last diagnosis told me I need not to. And I'm doing well so far.

I hope you get enough projects in time...

Nancie said...

Mari, I am glad you are doing well. Good not to let others know of you diagnosis as far as you can. In Singapore, I don't have much of a choice if I am working fulltime because it is mandatory to declare in the Job Application Form our medical condition. I think the employers don't want me to be a liability to their firm!

I was once rejected by a big firm some years back because I declared that I have mild-persistent asthma and on long term medication :) Even then they didn't want to take me more, what more if they know I have bipolar ;)

I can't lie as I am a Christian and we must honour our Word before God and men. But God is faithful. He is able to work His ways out for us. That is why freelance is ideal for me. Just the initial stage is so stressful and difficult. I am learning to cast my cares upon our Lord and to wait upon Him.

Thanks for being here. I thank God for you, Marja, Casdok and many others who are with me in this blog. It's a comfort and mercy from God to have such support. Take care!

Anonymous said...

Hi Nancie,

When I finished university many years ago, I had a job offer to work at a large company. I accepted the offer. They said I was hired, but as a formality, before starting work, I needed to have a medical checkup with the company doctor. I had the checkup, and had no physical problems, but on a form I mentioned that I'd had a bipolar episode a few years earlier, and was still on Lithium. To my shock, the company withdrew their offer! I found that very disturbing, especially since I had told all my friends that I had been hired. I started to think that next time I would have to hide my history of bipolar. A couple of months later, I got an even better job offer, at a better company, with a higher salary offer. They also required a medical checkup with their nurse, and gave me a medical history form to take home. I had to think long and hard that night about what to write on the form. My friends and family told me not answer the questions on the form truthfully. In the end, I decided to be honest. I decided that I had nothing to be ashamed about, and I wanted to be an honest person. By telling the truth I thought this would be a good test of whether I really should work for this company or not. Well, things turned out very well this time. The company nurse who collected the form said the company didn't care about that, and in fact no one in the company other than her would be told about my health history. She said it was just a form that their insurance company made them fill out for each employee to determine how much the company would pay for the group benefit plan, and to determine if any job was unsafe for a particular employee. I ended up having a great time working for this company, and often thought how much nicer this job and company was compared to the first. I was really glad I didn't get the first job! Eventually, after a few years, I moved on to a series of better jobs. I always told the truth if asked, and was never rejected again. Some companies would ask, but not care. Others, especially smaller companies, wouldn't even ask those questions. One place simply asked for a note from my psychiatrist for their records.

By the way, I live in Canada with my wife, and am now sort of semi-retired, with a low income, but enough money saved that I don't really have to work to get by. My wife (who has been a great help in keeping me stable over the years) thinks I should get another job. Having recently stopped taking Lithium, I also, like you, feel a bit insecure about bipolar, and have trouble making other members of my family understand why I'd prefer to earn a low income and avoid the stress of a full-time job at this time in my life.

-- Rob

Nancie said...

Rob, thank you very much for your sharing. It is very encouraging to hear of your experiences of finding good jobs despite declaring having bipolar and your employers were willing to accept you. I am glad for you that you have been able to have several good jobs and able to save enough for your retirement. I hope you will not need to take on any stressful job and can lead a stable life. It's hard sometimes for family members or friends to understand our condition and why we make certain decisions in our life. But we need to know how much we can manage and how best to cope so that our condition can stabilise. You are doing great and such an encouragement to me.

Thus far my experiences with declaring my health condition in the job application forms, which is mandatory, have yielded no favourable result yet. Perhaps these jobs really aren't suitable for me at all. A good employer who value our strength and skill will employ us despite our conditions. Glad you met people who value you. I am hopeful that I may also meet such good employers by and by. I really appreciate your stopping by to share. So much to learn from you each time! Take care and come around whenever you can. I hope you and your wife enjoy your semi-retirement time together :)


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