Alex’s Story (Part 1): God Gave Me My Desires and They Were Meaningless

faith

If I had to pinpoint one year that changed my life, it would be 2014. In that year, I graduated from medical school and became a doctor. I subsequently shot my career in the foot and left residency. I published my books and became an author.

I attained worldly wisdom. I found freedom … total control over my life. I was on the path of power and becoming more and more like Francis Underwood from House of Cards — like a true Machiavellian prince. I was living out what I have written about so far on my site.

And I realized …

Everything is meaningless.

Freedom. Control. Power. Money. All meaningless. All empty. It was like finally getting the juicy piece of prime rib you’ve been yearning for, and as you take a bite, it turns to sand in your mouth.

Pursuing Freedom and Money

I worked hard to pursue what my heart craved. I spent 12 hours a day reading and writing, editing and proofreading. For my hard work, I had my books published and I make sales every single day. Within a year of leaving my medical career, I could have retired to a 3rd world country and never work again. I could have lived a life of leisure and writing.

I had freedom, independence, and total control over my life. But I had no one to share it with. My former girl was busy with work. My family was busy with work. My friends were busy with work.

I took a walk on a cool afternoon in early October 2014. Fifteen minutes into the walk, a feeling of immense loneliness suddenly wrapped around me. I had a feeling this day would come, but I didn’t know how painful it would be and how quickly it would arrive. I thought to myself … Was this my life: write books, make money, get freedom, find entertainment, and repeat the cycle all over again? Day in and day out? Because if that is my life, it is not very satisfying.

God pretty much blessed whatever I did. I joined the ranks of physicians as one of the most unlikely candidates. I am consistently making money on autopilot. Isn’t that every man’s dream? To have an excellent career or an excellent business?

Now I have them, they mean little to me.

Pursuing Power

Through acquiring worldly wisdom, I realized the source of wealth & happiness is not freedom, control, power, or money. It is people.

In my quest, I failed to water my relationship with everyone around me, except for her. I did not treat too well the friends who needed a bit more of my time. I was consumed with writing, reading, and working. I regret treating real friends in such a disposable manner. Most of all, I regret treating God in such a disposable manner.

The advantage of quitting my job is that I got to see how people really are. When a pretty girl becomes ugly, her admirers look for someone else. When a rich man becomes poor, his friends leave for greener pastures. When I left medicine, some people showed their true colors. People who I thought were friends turned on me. When I asked for help, they demanded a pound of flesh and forgot all the good I have done for them in the past. I was betrayed.

And instead of acting in grace and mercy, doing what Jesus would have done, I did what Francis Underwood would do. I got my vengeance and came out ahead. I was ruthless and untouchable, covered with a mask of charm and eloquence. People had to think twice about screwing me over. Of course, the brittle strand of “friendship” snapped. I didn’t care for their love, only for their fear.

I had no use for false friends anyways. Although it feels good to instill fear in those to betrayed me, I regret acting in such an ungodly manner. Don’t worry. God certainly taught me a lesson later on, which shattered my heart to a million pieces and prevented me from becoming a Machiavellian prince.

My Transformation from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde

Four and a half years ago, when I first entered medical school, I was a completely different person. I loved Jesus, read the Bible every day, prayed every day, and wanted God’s will to be done. By most people’s standards, I was a devoted Christian.

I had no selfish ambition of becoming rich or becoming powerful. All I wanted was to become a doctor and to further God’s kingdom. I thought about doing medical missions while sharing God’s love with others. I also thought about setting up a practice and provide medical care in an underserved part of the US.

But I changed. Bit by bit, day by day, I changed. First, I stopped reading the Bible. Second, I stopped going to church. Third, I stopped praying, except for the occasional prayer a few times a month.

Although I tried to make Christian friends in school, my closest friends (except for one) did not love Jesus. Between the influences of my friends and the pressures of school, I placed Jesus on the bottom of the things I should spend time on.

In the first year of medical school, I focused my attention mainly on having fun and doing well in school. Oh yeah, that was when I met my girl. You know how new romances are like … a roaring whirlwind.

In the second year, I focused on creating my own business while surviving the brutal courses. This was when my ambition started to bloom. School was too boring. The classes were too depressing. There was something better out there and I was determined to find it.

In the third year, I kept working on my business. But at the same time, I had to endure through medical rotations. Some rotations were awesome and the doctors treated me well. Some rotations were not awesome and the doctors treated me poorly. As a defense against maltreatment, I became cunning, charming, and power-seeking. I thought that if I only had power, no one can push me around and get away unscathed.

In the fourth year, I kept working on my business and just coasted through. I gained more worldly wisdom. I hated medicine even more — even though it was by God’s grace I’m even in the field. By then, I was very ambitious and very power-hungry.

Remember my innocent goals of furthering God’s kingdom through medical missions or providing medical care to the underserved? Yeah … they were pushed aside to make way for freedom, power, and money.

Now that I got them, they don’t mean much. I was not any happier. And yet, I did not go back to God. I still had ace up my sleeve that will make me happy and give meaning to my life. In the next post, I’ll tell you how God ripped up that ace and brought me back to him. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever been through. At some points, I would have rather been dead.

I, the Teacher, was king over Israel in Jerusalem. I applied my mind to study and to explore by wisdom all that is done under the heavens. What a heavy burden God has laid on mankind! I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
– Ecclesiastes 1:12-14 (NIV)

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Comments

  1. First I would like to welcome you back my friend it has been a long time since you wrote on your blog! It is good to know that you are in good spirits!

    In life we tend to place our desires first without really thinking about what is going to happen once we reach our goals. Most of the time we realize (I least for me) that once you get it you do not feel any different. Rather your life does not change much as we still have the usual problems.

    I used to dream about going up the Corporate ladder and calling the shots and three years later here I’am! Moved up got people working for me and the whole nine! and you know what the feeling that i once had is gone! To me this Management position is not as “Rockstar” as i thought! To me its just another job another stepping stone to life!

    I have always believed that none of the external things and events really matter in life. These o called “Goals” that we like to pursue have really no meaning in the grand scheme of things. That is not to say that they are important because they are as they tend to make a man realize many things! Things that you are just now starting to find out yourself.

    Life is funny like that! We work so hard to build a better life when in reality we already have a better life! Family, lovers, friends and even God himself are in your life so what more do you want! Money does not give you happiness that you have to find within yourself!Money is just a tool and not a means to an end!

    I’m glad that you realized that you needed to change and go back to you! Sometimes God lets you taste power to test you and looks like you went right back to him!

    great post!

    • Alex Ding says:

      Hey Jose,

      It is good to hear from you. Yeah, I think you’re right. God let me have a taste and showed me that anything apart from Him isn’t fulfilling.

  2. Now I know why Google search led me to your blog…because God led me here!! Thank you Alex for letting Him use you and then telling me and others who are anchored in the miry clay of Cog-syndrome and $$$. This blog is definitely your testimony! And it has fed me!

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