Last year, I caught up with a friend who had just graduated from the States. He asked me a question that lingered in my mind for a long time. A question I had no answer to.

As we sat in Starbucks that afternoon, he told me he was struggling with finance issues. He found it hypocritical that we own TVs (and drink Starbucks frappucinos) while people all over the world have more urgent and desperate needs. How is that not turning a blind eye to the poor, he said. 

Well it has been half a year and I can’t remember our exact conversation, but we were talking about whether we could really do it, live a really simple lifestyle and give everything else to those who need it more. What is biblical, what is wise, what is generous, and what is extreme?

I couldn’t really connect to his deep question at that time: I thought the discussion was slightly pointless and legalistic, a little extreme even. I mean, television has become a necessity, hasn’t it. My profession thrives on it.

But as I got more involved with Change Your World (again I don’t like to promote campaigns and I’m not–it’s just that it slowly changed the way I live and breathe, the way I see God and people), I became acutely aware of how desperately needy people are, on all levels, not just poverty and the conventional images we attach to that word.

More and more often, I catch myself wanting to spend less on myself. Saving money has always been my perverse hobby especially when I see how hard my parents work, but I catch myself thinking what I can do with that money more and more often. The causes I can give to, the lives I can change.

But after that, I am at a loss. There are further complications.

For example, how should I contribute? There are cultural and societal limitations wheverer you go; you don’t always find the perfect skill match. When is it time to say, OK, I’m going to do it anyway because there is a need; and when is it good to draw the line and say this is not the best use of my time

How much do I need to equip myself with the necessary experiences (formal education is never enough) in order to play my unique role in this world (and hence how much time and money should I spend on that)? What is it I am called to do? And am I willing, am I up for it? Or do I really just want a good, normal life?

All those people who’ve done significant things, none of them ever lived normal nine to five lives. Neither were they just goody goody people who did well at school, went to church, and lived balanced lives. At least, I don’t think so. They always went further. They challenged the norms of society. They made difficult, costly, lonely, and often misunderstood decisions. No?

Or is this just the heroic picture my inner dreamer paints? Feel-good, idealistic, overambitious and inaccurate thinking?

These thoughts always play in my mind like lights flickering dimly in the background.

How much compassion do I really have anyway? Or is it just selfish ambition? How much am I willing to give? Do I just give when I want to? What am I willing to give up?

It gets lonely, all this wrestling. Somehow, I don’t find people with the same heartbeat often? Maybe it’s because I find it hard to talk about deep issues verbally and I don’t communicate enough. I don’t mean to be presumptuous, but sometimes I also feel people don’t question enough. They’re either content with the status quo (the one that annoys me the most is where people are just happily busy with church activities and charity without having any real passion or power), or, they’ve given in to despair (‘but we are all selfish and practical human beings and when the reality of the challenges of life sink in it’s just tough to do anything more than take care of your own life’). 

How did the heroes of the past rise above all that? Why can’t we? It’s really hard, but if we all learn how to do that together and help each other, won’t it be easier?

Can we start helping each other embrace the vastness of God and trust Him to do what we cannot? Can we encourage each other to let our flavours emerge fully? Are we big hearted enough to accept that diversity?