Defined by Christ and not by my work: Elaine Tsui on what gives her strength to soldier on in a job that is not her calling

I did not have a good job run for the past year in 2020 since I completed my undergraduate studies.

During my first stint, I was retrenched along with half of the staff in that company because of the Covid-19 pandemic. We were told the firm was not able to retain so many lower-level executives because Covid-19 had caused some of our accounts’ closure, thus there was a need to streamline the headcount.

After the Circuit Breaker ended, I found a new job at another company doing e-commerce. Sadly, I had to leave the second job because it was in a very toxic work environment. As much as others were telling me that I should be grateful to have a job in the current uncertain economy, I was basically doing the job of four people. I worked from 9am to 9pm, seven days a week, without off-in-lieu or break times.

My worst moments were when I was working whilst sick, and staying up until almost 4am to monitor sales for a company that required me to constantly prove my sales figures and numbers.

In those struggling times, it was my faith that helped me to hold on to the hope that there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.

“The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever.” (1 Jn 2:17)

This Bible verse kept me going, and time moved forward. Each day seemed a little easier; Still, I did not give up searching for a way out amidst the tumultuous economy.

 

A miraculous leap

Praise be to God, I found myself a new job in early 2021. Currently working as a sales executive at a medical distribution company, my work involves dealing with calls and handling operations, as well as partnering hospitals with medical innovations to bring them to the mass market.

Elaine with her family

I am happy to be where I am now. Besides helping people, I am able to have a better work-life balance such that I can spend more family time with my loved ones. With more sensible workflows, a boss who understands, and good colleagues who grow together as a team, things are indeed way better than they were a few months back.

I feel that so long as the career prospects are fair and the job helps to build me morally as a person, I should not have to feel guilty for taking on work that is seen as less than ‘noble’, which in itself, can be subjective. I majored in Literature and people have been telling me that I would be an inspiring teacher. Yet here I am today, selling gloves and masks in the medical industry.

 

Defined by Christ, not my work

I have been able to soldier on because I know that my identity is in Christ and not in my job. I could say “No” to my first job that was eating me up, and move on to greener pastures because my job does not define me.

What truly defines me is my love for God and doing His will. Regardless of my ambitions, my desires and of the plans I want for myself, loving and serving God has been the focal point that is defining me after encountering Him.

During one of my Catechetical camps in my Parish at the Church of St Francis Xavier, it was revealed to me in a deeply personal manner that my core identity is as “His Beloved”. Truth be told, I am still struggling to claim this identity for the past 10 years, but I know that I am constantly motivated to work on this aspect.

Elaine as the President of the Catholic Students’ Union

Often, I would recall the times that I was serving in the Catholic Students’ Union (CSU) at the University of Edinburgh. While I was there, it did not matter the role that I was called to serve in, because I believed God has called me to learn and blossom in that community. When I joined them in 2015/2016, I was content to play a trivial role, before taking on the publicity officer role subsequently. When I graduated in 2019, I was the outgoing President of the CSU. Indeed, God took my “Yes” and nurtured me to a place and position I never thought I would be in.

Given that my passion is in meeting and journeying with others since my days in CSU, any job that pays my bills and provides a little more to go out with my family and community members has been a blessing; and my current job is one that I am willing to take at this point in time.

I know that some Catholics hold a different view, but it has been liberating for me when I realised that my job does not need to be my passion or my vocation. My vocation is in Jesus Christ instead, and to love and serve the Lord.

———————–

My prayer for the Catholic Church’s 200th anniversary

Dear Jesus,

My prayer for the Archdiocese of Singapore’s 200th anniversary is that this community continues to be a beacon of Hope and a safe harbour for the peoples from all walks of life. In these changing times, I pray that the Church continues to meet us where we are. I pray that we continue to love and speak God’s truth despite the messiness of this World.

Mother Mary, please intercede for us and draw us closer to the heart of your Son, Jesus.

For this we pray, Amen.

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