Understanding different priorities at different seasons
By Low Mei LingTHE PEAK: In the year I hit 40, Pr Datuk Dr Daniel Ho, the Founding Senior Pastor of Damansara Utama Methodist Church, KL, Malaysia gave me a small green paperback book. It was not an attractive looking book that you would want to read cover-to-cover right away. In that season of my life, I was very busy balancing between my career in investment banking, which I thoroughly enjoyed and my family life with three young children aged between two and five years old.
The book was always on the back of my mind. Since it was given by Pr Daniel, I knew he must have thought that the subject would be relevant to me. Once I started to read the book, I could not stop. I instantly related to the contents. The book seemed to describe my feelings and thoughts. “Half Time” was its title. Essentially, if life is like a football game, in the first half, we play to score goals. At “Half Time”, we take a break to strategise on how we want to play in the second half.
At 40, I felt that I was at my “Half Time”. I had a beautiful first half but I had not really thought about how I was going to play my second half. I loved my work and had wonderful clients and colleagues. To make way for family life, I had already given up my position as CEO of a bank-owned stockbroking company and merely hung on to two job functions that were dear to me, namely research and institutional sales.
I thought I had restructured my life for my second half. But after reading the book, I had more questions. What would I consider to be a well-lived second half? How would I live my life if I had only five years to live? Would I live my life differently? How would I live my life? That little book was very thought-provoking. However, it did not provide any road map for the next course of action.
Although there was no push factor at work to quit as I had good clients, good colleagues and a good boss, I always felt guilty leaving the house for work each morning. My eldest child, Joanna, would hug me each night and made me promise her that I would still be at home with her when she woke up the next morning. If she was awake when I was about to leave, there would always be a teary drama.
It took me three years to plan and have the courage to quit my 20-year career. And to make sure there would be no turning back, I decided not to renew my dealer’s representative licence after the three-year timeline.
That year was 2005. By giving me that little book, Pr Daniel changed the course of my life and my family’s. He often preached from the pulpit that if families can afford, mothers should be at home with her children but he has never personally encouraged me to quit my career.
Looking back, I am thankful for making that strategic move to live my second half as a homemaker. It meant that I was always around for my children’s events, no matter how trivial they may be. My precious moments of their growing up years were picking them from kindergarten, school and then college. Those car rides were the times when their emotions were most intense and I was there to talk with them when they most needed me. Friends used to laugh at me for clocking more than 100km each day on the road but they did not understand the joy that I also gained in the process.
With more time, the Lord gave me the opportunity to serve as Editor of my church publication for ten years, facilitate The Alpha Course for a few years, be a spokesperson for Christ wherever I go and serve in the Parents-Teachers Forum of all the schools that my children attended. The Lord has also given a new skill in photography. Without a business card and with no position in the corporate world, I thought my world would become smaller. On the contrary, the Lord gave me many new and good friends who befriended me for who I have become – a homemaker with no business card.
WHEN THE CHILDREN MOVE ON
After thirteen years as a homemaker, my youngest child, Sarah entered university in September 2017. With all my three children now away from home and studying at London School of Economics & Political Science (LSE) which itself is a miracle, I am getting a second wind for my second half.
It is nice to be enjoying this new carefree life with my husband. I have more time for friends. I am able to be more involved in photography and writing projects which I enjoy. And I can finally commit to weekly mahjong and will possibly commit to Bridge in the near future. But just when I am settling nicely to this new phase of life, God recently unveiled a new and interesting responsibility for me.
A well-intentioned friend once warned me about losing my influence for Christ in the corporate world once I quit my career. He said, “A grape removed from the stalk will soon become a raisin.” As thirteen years is a long time to have left the corporate world, the grape in me has also become a raisin. Although what my friend said about the grape and the raisin made a lot of sense, we must not forget that “with God all things are possible.”
God recently revealed how He could make all things possible when I was blessed with the honour of being appointed as an independent non-executive Director of a major company listed on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange.
As He has promised in Matthew 6:33, when we “seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, all things will be given” to us. Hence, all thanks to our awesome God and His amazing grace as well as Pr Daniel and the little book, “Half Time”, I am now enjoying and living my second half to the fullest.
Mei Ling Low has been Independent and Non-Executive Director of Eco World Development Group Berhad since March 29, 2018. She started her career in 1985 as an Investment Analyst with Jardine Fleming group, now part of JP Morgan.