The dilemma of a convert

As I lay down and listen to some inspiration songs, tears flowed down my eyes. I look around the bedroom and do not know what to do. My toddler has messed around and found his dad old wallet. He threw the dad’s talismen all over the floor. I saw them but do not feel like picking them up. I felt a sense of betrayal in me.

The betrayal is on my part. I had abandoned my old faith and somehow, it affects other things too. Things that I can’t blog.

Once upon a time, I too used to carry these talismen. I had one in yellow cloth , drawn with the blood from the tongue of the medium (had been burnt long time redi). I let the talismen lay on the bedroom floor. It is not my prick of a Christian that is doing it. It is the disconnection I felt in me.

Probably the visit from senior relative (SR) this morning got into me. She asked me to tell my atm what to buy for Ching Ming. What am I suppose to feel? For the last 18 years, I had been the chief organiser, arranging everything down to the minute details. I am my mother-in-law most trusted person. For the last 3 years I had not been able to participate because:
1) April 2002 – my son was dying in the hospital, old patients are dying everyday in the ICU (Ching Ming season mah), so who has mood to care about the already dead?
2) April 2003 – my baby was only 2 mths old and I am breastfeeding, so who in their right mind will bring a 2 mths old to 5 graves all over Penang island, from Gottlieb Road, Mount Erskine to Sepuluh KongSi to Relau?
3) April 2004 – my baby has high fever and is hospitalised. So who cares about Ching Ming?
4) April 2005 – I am in a dilemma now. I am in a big, bad dilemma.

Dilemma because if I don’t go, I am not being fair to my atm. A man must have a supportive wife. I don’t want his siblings to see that all my four sons, the heir to the family surname, are no longer following their traditions. (two of my eldest sons have scout camp, wooohooo!)

If I go, what the heck am I going to do? Take photos of the lengluis in micro mini short pants and email to doc? Take macro photos of the ants on the hill? Busy catching butterflies? Sing Amazing Grace on the hill?

Probably, if I had not played a big part in Ching Mings in the previous 18 years, I can just sit around with my KKC, adoring the countryside. But the last 18 years, I had been the one cooking the full meal, including the chicken and duck. I am the one buying the politically correct fruits (no pears please) and kuehs (in banana leaves, please). I am the one buying the necessary paper paraphernalias. So, if I step foot on the hill, it will be like a totally different person. And I am so afraid of being ‘different’.

And mind you, my in-laws bukan sebarang in-laws. They are taukehs of joss-stick factories and shops selling all the Chinese gods. And a few of them had already ‘not recognised’ me anymore.

Oh Lord, you said to me – If I want to follow You, I have to leave some parts of my old self. Lord, lead me and guide me. Make me lau sai so bad I end up 10 kgs lighter, on drip in the hospital. Hahaha. I don’t mind trading 10 kgs and a chance to escape another year for some lau-sainess. (lau-sai = loose water bowel movement, dang, i dunno how to spell diarhorrea)

People – teach me how to eat till I lau-sai. Where huh got ‘sure can lau-sai mamak stall’? Got doctor can prescribe lau-sai induce medications? Quick!!! I have until Saturday to do so. God save me!

15 Replies to “The dilemma of a convert”

  1. If I remember correctly, I missed last year’s Ching Ming and will be missing this year’s also (due to ‘obvious’ musical reasons since my relatives plan to visit my grandparents’ grave on the Sunday before the actual day). Personally, as a Christian (my relatives are not), I’m glad to do away with the burning of ‘hell’ notes, buying of this and that, chicken this and chicken that, etc. What I miss is to be at the grave, to be there physically as I remember my departed grandparents, to offer prayers at the very place their mortal remains are buried. Perhaps, I’m just sentimental… but I hope my grandparents do understand that they still have a special place in my heart. May they rest in peace. Amen.

  2. Oi … Lilian.. 😉
    Wat can i say leh.. ?? ?never encounter the same problem as you .. my MIL ang moh.. and i’ve never been into the religious thingie with my paternal grandparents.. my mother christian.. grandmother catholic.. brought up as christian.. ex’s parents buddhist.. but ex .. catholic .. so not much to think about over that area.
    How to lau siah ah..?? hmmm.. let me think..! i tell you when i find out.. 🙂

  3. Hey Lil, wanna try my colon cleanser pill ? I had to go toilet 3 times a day if i take the pill…but that depends on yr internal system. A friend of mine who visits the toilet once a week…no lao sai, just ‘pang sai sun sun’ 😛

  4. ching ming tai sai ah 😐 i just know that few of my frens are away to sweep tomb when i’m having my party (hint hint) ehehhehee… bertapa.. but still must stalk once in a while

  5. Solution? Easy only… Send you on mission to go to yapun and bring back kobe beef for us, lor… :P~~~

    But seriously, I think you just follow only lar, go there wipe sweat for people, kipas them gau gau with newspaper, hold umbrella for them, help carry stuff, pour water for them…

  6. Hehehehe, Ching Ming to me is similar to picnic. Except you get “pangang” like hell and lots of muds. Umbrella is always handy.

    Ok lah. Here is some if not-effetive also cause no harm tips.
    1. For lactose intolerate adult(most of them) : Drink 1 litre milk, make sure it is not “lactose free”. Sit on the cold floor to increase the effect Or
    2. Eat 1.5KG papaya. Or
    3. Eat 3 KG watermelon

    Follow the instruction, if you don’t lau-sai ASAP, you will still pang-sai a few hour later. :PbPbPbPb

    Actually you don’t need to do all this, I think 5xDad will let you “lepas”.

    Offtopic :
    I have a cousin who passaway young (about 20+ years old) 20+ years ago (I am still a child then, huge age gap) , my uncle didn’t go Ching Ming until his grandchildrens growth up(my auntie didn’t go in order to support my uncle). All other my uncles aunties(including my father) are ok with him. I hardly know I have an elder cousin until my uncle talk about it.

    Just go give 5xDad some support.

  7. Hi 5xmom, i am a Christian as well, but with a strictly traditional parents. My parents are not religious, but things like paying respect to ancestors on ching ming is more than just a religious belief.

    it’s a chinese 3000 yrs custom of respecting our elders and root. i don’t see why a christian cannot help out your in-laws.

    don’t be distraughted, as Lord will surely understand your dilemma. life always requires us to be flexible anyywa.

    good luck!

  8. Dear Lilian,

    I think I understand how you feel, although not exactly. 🙂

    Lilian, when you were baptised you not only became a member of God’s family – you became a new creation! You did not leave some parts of you behind… you left ALL past behind. You died to yourself and you are now risen in Christ!

    What does that mean? That means, Christ lives in you. Just ask Jesus, what you should do. Ask also, what would Jesus do?

    Correct me if i m wrong. You are afraid of commiting idolatry? Don’t worry. It is OK to prepare food. It is OK to buy fruits. It is OK to buy joss-sticks and what not. But then you must know that these mean nothing to you. Because it is God (the Father, Son & Holy Spirit) you are worshipping. It is when you put value into things then it becomes idolatry. Anything we put more importance than God becomes idolatry.

    Jesus is no stranger to being different. 🙂 Listen, He is speaking to you today…

    “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” – John 16:33

  9. You want lau-sai recipe?

    find some cicak shit, take the white part, mix them in your drink or food. Supposed to work. 😉

    Aiyoh, don’t beat yourself up. Ching Ming is a cultural thing, not religious thing. It just happens that your relatives are of a different religion from you, so they pray in a different way. But the whole idea is to remember your parents and ancestors and thank God for having family and relatives.

  10. Give to Caeser what belongs to Caeser, and to God what belongs to God

    Cheng Beng & all its rituals are traditional homage to the ancestors and to appease the living 🙂

    Participating in it does not mean betraying your God but just good manners for the dead & living.

    Just like one of a different faith entering the Vatican, we still give it due respect & remain solemn.

  11. Just one thought, make a decision, because, it’s going to set a precedent for what’s expected of you in the coming years. My parents (esp dad) refused to speak to me for weeks/mths(?) and said many times he’s disowning me for getting baptised. I cried my heart out (to myself and God of course) but stuck my ground. When grandma pass away two years later, me and brother were expecting brickbats from the relatives for not putting on the joss sticks. We were so joyfully suprised when they appreciated the white flowers we brought to honour our grandma instead.
    Listen to what God is telling you and follow Him. No need to listen to mortals like us wan.

  12. you should read a book call “The Heavenly Man” written by brother yun from china. i’m reading it. good to make ur faith stronger if thats possible. lol. but yeah, read the book.

  13. Oh die, I did not know there are so many comments here. Hahaha, for a second, I thought God sent me earthquake in answering to my prayers for lau-sai. HOHOHOHO.

    Thanks a lot, guys and gals. I appreciate that soooo much. I will know what to do on Saturday morning. If my toddler can wakes up, my atm will bring us to only my in-law’s grave. Before that, he had to go his great-grandparents, grandparents, bachelor uncle graves first. That is in 4 different location at every corner of Penang. Certainly, we cannot pull a sleeping toddler at 5am+ to go and endure 4 graves? And that is not including my own parents grave. So, I shall let my heart decides.

    Once again, thanks for the unloading.

  14. From the posting and comments, I wonder how people can be brainwashed until they have no respect for other religions and even their own tradition and own kin.

  15. Qingming is a cultural tradition rather than a religious one. Don’t let the label of “Christian” bothers you. 🙂

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