God Tends to Me Tenderly

 by Elizabeth Fam (above photo, second-left), 19 years old

Before coming to the School of Witness (SOW), I was a typical Sunday Catholic. I was distant from God and I didn’t understand the value of prayer as I didn’t think that it would help me in any way. I treated God like a vending machine and my relationship with him was highly transactional.

My need for validation and my distorted image of God came from experiences in the past. In primary school, I was bullied and it led me to feel very inadequate. My closest friends had left me and I felt alone. I remember some of the bullies saying that nobody likes me because I can’t do anything right and because I’m dumb, ugly, fat and unlovable. Gradually, I started to believe those lies and lost confidence in myself. This led me to blindly strive for achievements and success to find my identity. I told myself repeatedly that I needed to strive to be better so that I will not experience this feeling of abandonment again, and also to prove these people that I can do everything without them. I thought that God didn’t care or love me because I was so distant. However, because the incident occurred seven years ago and I used this incident as a stepping stone for me to grow to become the person I am today, I genuinely thought that I had come to terms with all these past experiences and am no longer affected by it.

When I came into SOW, everything was new and foreign to me and I was scared of what was going to happen and what the Lord would reveal to me. But the Lord surfaced those wounds to me and showed me that He desired to heal this aspect of my life. During one session where we were invited to ‘come home’ to the Father, I received the message of how I was always loved by God despite my flaws, that I was beautiful in the Lord’s eyes. The person praying for me received an image of a garden filled with a lot of flowers and I was this one special unique flower that looked completely different from the rest. In that image, the Lord tended to me as tenderly as he did with the other flowers and took delight in my uniqueness. Others may have let me down and disappointed me but the Lord has never left me.

He continues to tend to me lovingly even though I might not know it. He healed my distorted image of Him as uncaring and distant. After surrendering, I felt so relieved and it was unlike any form of relief I have experienced in my life. As I experienced this incomparable relief and comfort the Lord was offering me, I saw how He is a good and gentle God. He was my comforter and he wanted to heal the wound that I have kept buried for so long. I began to open my heart and genuinely desired for the Lord to take his place in me. I started to be more open to the Spirit’s promptings, be it in journaling or in daily life where I was prompted to pray for a non-Catholic friend.

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Whilst I have yet to experience the complete healing of my wounds, I know that I am a work in progress. I am now more open to letting God into my daily life rather than keeping him at a distance. Although I still struggle with the need to continuously prove myself, I now know and claim that I am not defined by whatever worldly benchmarks and expectations of others, but rather I am whoever the Lord says I am. So now, when I continue to battle against striving for material success for my own validation, I turn to ask God what He desires of me and strive for excellence in doing what God wants of me.

I now know the Lord loves me completely for who I am, even when I have gone astray and yearns for me to return to him. So my brothers and sisters, will you let him love you?

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