In 2017, I was struck with a very unusual skin disorder. The surface of my skin erupted with spots and itchy rashes that made me peel very badly. The inflammation on my face was so raw to the point that I had to wear a mask to cover them. I lost a lot of weight and my entire body weakened.
My visits to different doctors and dermatologists proved to be futile, as they could not provide a concrete diagnosis. I underwent a series of steroids which, after a few months, had an unforeseen and terrible side effect.
I remembered praying so hard then for a cure. Yet, it seemed to me that God was silent. He did not hear my plea. Nothing happened.
Beyond the Physical
For me as an actress, this episode was a huge blow – not only physically and mentally, but emotionally and economically, too. I could not take on more projects and acting roles because wearing make-up was impossible.
The discomfort and lethargy eventually forced me to stop work. I had to recuperate at home with regular Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and modify my diet to exclude further allergens. I was worried I would never go back to acting again, a job that I loved. I felt that I had lost my identity – as an actress, a wife, and even as a human.
Insecurities, anxieties, and fear stirred within me. There were times when the itch was so agonising it felt as if it had penetrated deep into my bones. I could not sleep.
During those moments, all I could do was to repeatedly chant “Jesus, I trust in you” until I dozed off. I could never understand why I had to go through that ordeal. Those were my darkest days. Emotionally challenged, I continued praying and hoping to get better. Thankfully, I had strong family support, particularly from Alan, my husband.
Surrendering to His Plans
Close to a year later in 2018, I felt better and thought that I was ready to be in front of the cameras again.
Impatient and raring to go, I began trying on different brands of cosmetics to see which suited my skin. However, my few attempts to try seemingly safe and organic products failed, causing reactions that required at least a week to subside.
My plans to go back to work was thwarted. I was so upset and devastated that on one fateful day, I cried in despair, “Jesus Lord! I give up! I surrender!”
It was this very act of total surrender that my complete healing started. All I could do then was to try my best in what was within my control and let go of what was not. Submitting all my worries in prayer to our Heavenly Father, the Divine Physician, I ‘rested’ literally in Him.
I gave myself time off to recuperate fully, and not over-exert my body. It was also serendipity and God’s divine timing that I was able to help with the flower arrangements at my parish, St Anne’s Church.
It was a therapeutic experience that sped up my physical healing. I learnt to be still, allowing God to be God; to work out what was best for me.
A Ray of Light
As I gradually got better, opportunities came knocking at my door. A behind-the-scenes directorial project became available, and I also had my first attempt to perform in a stage play.
The timing for these projects was nothing short of miracles. It seemed as if they were tailored to suit my recovery journey and worked in tandem with my schedule. These encounters further cemented my faith, and my relationship with Jesus deepened even more.
In retrospect, I realised that through the darkest valleys, our Lord has led me to experience peace and true joy. I grew stronger in my faith and received the gift and grace to trust Jesus completely.
Truly, He knows exactly what we need, and makes everything beautiful in His time. God is NEVER late!
My Prayer for the Church’s 200th anniversary
In this special year to commemorate 200 years of Catholicism in Singapore, I pray that our fellow Catholics will take courage and be brave; to be receptive to feel, accept, trust and appreciate God’s love for them.
I also pray that everyone will continue to work together in unity to serve God and the community, providing warmth and hope to those around them. Lastly, may God continue to empower all church leaders with the Holy Spirit, and guide them with His wisdom, charity, peace and protection. Amen.