By Timothy Bryne, SMU
Day by day, little by little, I am constantly amazed by the wonders and works that the Lord has done in my life and with the people around me. Although I am not perfect, it is exactly that reason that makes God’s love so brilliant, as despite my imperfections and shortcomings, He chooses to forgive me and show me the way to happiness in eternity with Him. As I am writing this testimony, I reflected on the change that came with my life by choosing to center my life around Christ, and to continually choose to serve Him and His will for me every single day.
Growing up as a cradle Catholic, I knew about the existence of God from an early age, but always just did the bare minimum to get by in the faith. The term that many people use is – Lukewarm. Entering University, I was conflicted with the idea of being involved in a Catholic community as I wanted to fully experience and immerse myself in university life without being tied down by any judgements or rules of the faith.
In my first year, I lived a secular life, chasing things that I thought would make me happy. Grades, partying, the works, and usual activities that people choose to drown themselves in. When I reached the end of my first year, something in me felt lost and unsure. I was constantly stressed, involved in a lot of unnecessary worldly drama, allowing the words of other people affect my self-worth.
I was empty, unhappy and at my lowest point, nothing was going right for me. At that time, a friend of mine from FIDES constantly messaged and encouraged me to sign up for the midterm retreat (MTR) but I always shunned her away and laughed. Thinking to myself, “After a year of putting Jesus in the back seat of my life, how will I ever be able to face Him or a whole community of His people?” I felt unworthy and would rather not put myself in an uncomfortable situation.
Timothy (second row, on the right) with SMU Catholic Society Fides
However, with God’s Grace, I ended up attending the retreat because deep down I knew there was a part of me that desired more, to fill the emptiness in my heart. The experience was completely different from what I had expected, the warm welcome from the community and the familiar faces I have not seen awhile brought much joy to me. As MTR progressed, I slowly became more and more willing to open up, letting myself receive what the Lord had to say to me. During the retreat, God revealed to me the reason why I was feeling so empty. The theme of the camp was removing the vines in your life that are chaining you down from growing closer to God, and for me that was the toxic relationships that I had and the need to constantly compare my achievements with the achievements of others.
I was chasing worldly desires that I thought would bring me true happiness, but the truth is that we were all made for another world, and the only thing that will allow me to achieve true enlightenment and fulfilment is by developing an authentic and loving relationship with God. This experience together with the help of my brothers and sisters from the very loving and accepting community of FIDES helped me to get back on my feet and start walking again on this journey of faith.
Two years on, the Lord continues to work in me every single day, blessing me with graces upon graces and allowing me to experience His love and greatness through the people He has placed in my life; always at the right place at the right time. I can now claim that the Lord has a plan for me, nurturing me to become the man I was meant to be on this earth. He has always been working in me, loving me even when I did not know it and He will fulfil the burning desires in my heart that I have for Him. The Lord constantly reminds me that it is okay to fall, as long as I get back up and follow him. Just as Peter who was a sinner was chosen by God, so am I a sinner, who is made worthy in His infinitely perfect love.
Do not be afraid to say yes to the plans the Lord has for you, but truly surrender to Him all your troubles and insecurities, allowing Him to work in your life. Choosing to live a Christian life is not easy, as we are reluctant of the change that will come with an intimate relationship with God and the fear of being shunned. I challenge you today to allow the Lord to work miracles in your life just like He did for mine and allow your perception of the world to be renewed forever as you see through the eyes of the Spirit that edifies us. This is truly a life of joy and happiness that we were made for. I would like to end of with a quote by a dearest brother of mine, “There is a God-shaped hole in each of our hearts, and we choose what to fill it with. A square will not fit into a circle, I was made for another world.”