#OYP200FOR200: Coming Home (Cheryl)

By Cheryl Toh

Prior to knowing God properly, I was very much the prodigal daughter. However, after encountering Him through the Blessed Sacrament and spending time with my community and the wider Church, I have experienced His immense love for me and have grown in my desire to deepen my relationship with Him. As I grow in my identity as His beloved daughter, He continues to invite me to allow myself to be loved by Him and to surrender more of my life to Him, trusting that He has and will continue to carry me through all the storms of my life.

Before coming to know God proper, I was very much the prodigal daughter. My relationship with Him was very transactional and distracted by the world, I chose to leave my Father’s home to instead build my identity on what the world told me was important. As the years passed, I grew increasingly weary and hurt in trying to become someone whom I thought would be loved and accepted by society. I was tired of worrying about what others thought of me, tired of getting hurt by the simplest actions or remarks that gave off the impression that no one cared for me, and yet, I did not know what else I could base my identity and worth on apart from the recognition and love of others. At times, I even doubted God’s existence, or the fact that if He existed, that He was a loving God. 

However, God desired for me to experience His healing grace and love and in my first year of university, I encountered Him once more through the Blessed Sacrament. Having to study abroad, I was initially filled with many fears and worries. It was during this time of uncertainty that I made a good friend who was Catholic and was invited to join her for adoration one evening. Although it was my first time attending adoration in 4 years, prompted by the Spirit, I said yes whilst filled with many conflicting feelings: fear over facing God after being so distant towards Him for so long, and yet hope in finally being in His presence once more. That day, kneeling before the Eucharist I felt an intense feeling of peace wash over me, the kind that I had not felt for the longest time. In that moment, I experienced God welcoming me back home with open arms. As I was held in His embrace, He reminded me once more of the truth that to Him I was enough as I was, that He had and would always continue to love me even when I found myself unworthy of it. I was the beloved daughter who had finally returned home. 

Moved by His love, I begin attending weekday Masses and was blessed then to meet someone from the Anchor Community (for Singapore Catholic Students in Europe). Upon joining the community, I came to experience God’s love in a whole new form: through the love of my brothers and sisters in Christ. Journeying with them, I have been inspired by their deep love for God and the joy that they exuded, a joy that was not circumstantial, but instead based on their deep rootedness in Christ. 

Meeting God and my community has allowed me to experience a deep sense of homecoming and peace. In coming to know and love Christ more, I have grown in both the freedom of living out my identity as His beloved daughter and the desire to go wherever He leads me. 

However, while encountering the Lord a few years ago marked the start of me deepening my relationship with Him, my faith journey continues to have its fill of mountains and valleys. Returning home to the Father is an on-going journey and there are still times where fears and doubts creep in, and I choose to not surrender my life to Him and instead run away from home. Nevertheless, God continues to beckon me back each time by gently softening my heart and waiting patiently for my return. 

This brings to mind a passage from Henri Nouwen’s book The Return of the Prodigal Son:

‘Here the mystery of my life is unveiled. I am loved so much that I am left free to leave home. The blessing is there from the beginning. I have left it and keep on leaving it. But the Father is always looking for me with outstretched arms to receive me back and whisper again in my ear: “You are my Beloved, on you my favour rests.”’

Although I still struggle sometimes in the journey back to my Father, I now take comfort and rest in the confidence that His love for us is unchanging and that He never tires in pursuing us till we are all home. In the times where He calls me to embark on uncharted waters, He reminds me to fix my gaze on Him and remember His goodness and strength. As His beloved daughter, He invites me to continue to allow myself to be loved by Him and to trust that He has and will continue to carry me through all the storms of my life.

My brothers and sisters in Christ, God too is pursuing and loving you now. Will you trust Him once more and allow yourselves to be held and loved as His Beloved? Will you come home to the Father?