By Divya Jose
Despite experiencing God at confirmation, a perceived lack of His presence in my life led me to doubt and distance myself from him. Disbelief at what the Lord could do for me had led to me giving up on my relationship with God. I was wary of allowing God in despite a desire. Yet God pursued me patiently and fervently. He made my doubts an avenue for deeper faith and made the way for me to fully encounter him. I can now claim that I have a place in his flock and need to only follow the shepherd.
I first encountered God at my Confirmation retreat where I experienced an unexplainable feeling of joy. I believed that the Lord’s spirit was with me and would be my help in times of need and pursued a relationship with God through prayer and journaling. During this time, I was struggling to find a place I would belong to. I thought my worth was defined by my academic success but began to despair as I struggled academically. I expected God to see me through this difficult time. However, I found myself unable to feel the joy and peace I had associated with His presence and felt discouraged from continuing to be vulnerable to Him. God was not working in the ways I was expecting him to and I came to believe the lie that He would be a bystander in my life. This initial struggle was increased by unanswered questions about faith which led me to doubt the very existence of God. As I continued my studies overseas, my relationship with God became non-existent.
At University, the constant striving for academic success began to make me feel an increasing sense of emptiness. Immersing myself in hobbies and friendships brought me happiness but never completely satisfied me. I felt my life lacked purpose and meaning. I came to realise that I was longing for something beyond the physical world but the perceived lack of God’s involvement in my life made me fear rejection and I hesitated to make myself vulnerable to God. I felt I was too distant to revive my relationship with God. I would later come to realise that even when I thought so, God was continuously working to bring his daughter back.
God prepared the way to conversion of my heart by leading me to a community of Catholic students. OYP’s Anchor community (for Singapore Catholic Students in Europe) was having a Day of Recollection in a city near me. I decided to take a leap of faith and give God one last go. Seeing the desire of this community of students to know the Lord despite their struggles inspired me to desire for my doubts to be an avenue for deeper faith. While being prayed over, I received the image of me being lost in a maze but that the Lord sees me and is with me. I received the truth that the Lord is always present, that I continue to be precious to God and that He is waiting to receive me like the Father in the parable of the prodigal son.
Leaving DOR, I experienced the joy that I felt at my Confirmation. Following this, I joined a summer cell group, meeting weekly to reflect on the gospel and share my faith journey. I learnt to open myself to God and to develop a personal relationship with Him. Taking another leap of faith to attend the School of Christian Leadership (a discipleship school for university students), I encountered the Lord intimately through adoration of the blessed sacrament. He revealed to me His presence in many moments in my life where I thought I was struggling alone. I learnt that God works in ways that I may not see or expect. I also recognised God to be the only person or thing that could satisfy me. He transformed my doubting heart into a trustful one. My relationship with him matured from being one based on my emotions to one based on faith and trust. I came to claim the truth that God created me and so I am worthy and have a purpose. He gave me a place to belong to by making me a sheep in his flock. Coming to know Christ, I experienced fulfilment in being. Coming to recognise God moving in every aspect of my life, I am inspired to share this source of peace and joy. In uncertainty, I know there is hope. When troubled, I can still experience peace knowing that my shepherd is watching over me and will lead me to green pastures.
I can boldly claim that I am a precious creation of the creator who has a plan for me. I claim my identity as the daughter of a Father who loves me and leads me to live a life of fullness as he intended. Throughout my discipleship, I continue to be touched by God’s kindness in meeting me where I am. For every small step I took towards Him, He took a thousand steps towards me. Having come to experience how good and loving God is, I encourage you brothers and sisters to respond to the deepest desire of your heart with faith. Will you take leaps of faith and dream of living life to the fullest?