by Maxine Ho, 19 years old
I grew up in a family of six kids, with very loving parents. I would say my parents are good Catholics – go for mass daily, help out in communities, and are generous, welcoming people who proclaim God to others. So growing up, they were the example I wanted to follow. However as I grew older, my desire for Christ decreased. I dreaded catechism and the sacraments, and it became much more of a duty than a want. As I entered junior college, school work and friends grew in importance, and so did the pressures of keeping up with them. This often left me feeling inferior. So, I felt like I needed to be exceptional in the things I did even when I could not. As a result, I turned away from God and developed an unhealthy self-reliance. I became unhappy, fearful, and quiet. I always cried, not knowing the reason. But I hid these emotions from my family and friends.
The breaking point was when my grandma passed away. I was upset and hated myself as I could not show her how much I loved and appreciated her before she passed away.
At this point, I realised I had distanced myself from God, but He was trying to call me back to Him. Because of my sister and the prayers of many others, through the grace of God, they succeeded in getting me to come for School of Witness despite all my rebellion, anger and sadness.
During the first week of SOW, I was scared to turn fully to Christ – to seek forgiveness, to surrender these fears, guilt and shame of not really “knowing” Him and not having prayed and turned to Him. I thought my prayers were bad because they were short and my spiritual “vocab” was so limited unlike so many others. Constant comparison with others made me feel lost, confused, frustrated, and unworthy. I even questioned who I was and why I was here. But during all the sharings and sessions collectively I gradually came to know that these unknowns and questions were normal and I could share and am free to enjoy myself and be who I want to be and who God made me to be. With this new found freedom, my love for God deepened. I came to enjoy praising God, living in community. I even came to desire the bible out of all things – something surprising to me.
However there was still so much doubt in me and I struggled with my faith and belief in Jesus. I questioned, “Who is this God?”, “Why should I believe in Him?”, and “what good do I get out of following Him?” This continued until I heard the story of S. Augustine – whose story I truly related to. Now I claim that sometimes things might be too hard to grasp but it’s okay for it to remain a mystery. So I started to just believe again and pray. Miraculously, I began to realise that God was slowly revealing Himself to me even in my questioning.
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Truly, God moves in mysterious ways, and all we have to do is just continue to hold on to Him. As I continue my journey, I pray that I will turn to Jesus not just in the times I face hardship, but also in the greatest happiest of times. I desire to use everything to glorify Him, to follow and to be like Him. While the struggle is real, at least it’s worthwhile!
Dear friends, be patient and continue to fix your eyes on Jesus. Pray and turn to Him because He is changing you and doing something in you even if you might not feel anything. Try, and have faith that Jesus will do the rest.
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