by Gillian Koh, 24 years old
I am a cradle catholic and I come from a unique family. My biological family includes my dad and three older sisters. My mother passed away when I was six. Due to family struggles when I was a baby, my cousin and husband offered to be my guardians. Since then, they have raised me as their own with their three younger sons. I affectionately call them mum, papa and my brothers, and they call me daughter and sister. I am still in regular contact with my biological family.
Before coming to the School of Witness (SOW), I felt spiritually dry and my prayer life was stagnant. I was also excessively lazy and failed to utilize my talents. I wasted my free time binge watching entertainment instead of doing things I was interested in as I believed that I did not have any gifts like others. I grew impatient for God to reveal His plan for me and found myself growing bitter towards the blessings others received. Comparison was the thief of my joy.
Scripts that I am useless, a waste of space, untalented, replaceable and other self-condemning words were on repeat in my mind. I hated myself and could not point out my strengths. Even though it was hard for me to find time for God, I still desired to grow closer to Him and signed up for SOW.
During SOW, in a moment of stillness and suspension of my thoughts, the Holy Spirit revealed a memory when I was 7/8 years old. I allowed the memory of rejection from my biological family to play out and felt all its sensations. I had gone to their house after school to get to know them but no one knew what to do with me and I felt awkward, shy and uncomfortable. They taught me how to play a computer game and left me to it. Deep down, I craved for a playmate and attention from them but no one seemed interested. Looking at the memory, the Holy Spirit revealed Jesus saying to me, “My child, I was always in the room with you. When you felt lost, alone, lonely, invisible, forgotten, unimportant, discouraged, and feeling like you wanted to retreat, I took you into my arms, I carried you and lifted you up. Rest your cheek on my shoulder and cry, because you are safe. My love was still present in the efforts your sisters took. Whatever love they tried to express was from me and an expression of my love.”
That night as the Blessed Sacrament was brought to me, I asked Jesus with full conviction to be healed from thinking that I do not have any gifts, and from the rejection I felt from my biological family. God’s graces abounded when Jesus told me that it was no longer my burden to carry but his. In my surrender, He was healing me from the depths of my heart the pain that I had buried. He showed me who I truly am without my skewed perspective and that of others. He asked me to be open to see the gifts that he has bestowed upon me, and that there is hope in forgiving my family. Although I felt raw, exposed, fragile and vulnerable, there was no need to fear because I was assured that it was in this exact state that God could work. The transformation process had begun.
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Since then, I feel renewed and alive in God’s love. He has opened my eyes to see that I have always been blessed with God-given talents, and that I was always created unique. Previously I was self-condemning because I wanted the tangible and specific charisms that others had. I saw their abilities as talent, and my lack thereof as inferiority. I now know that God’s gifts are plentiful, not exhaustive and specific to each individual. I have grown to be accepting of my God-given gifts such as the charism of leadership. I used to deny my abilities, believing that anyone could do it. Now I know that it is a charism I have and I should nurture it. My SOW community has been affirming me of my charisms and I am growing to confidently claim them.
So my brothers and sisters, will you allow yourself to step outside of your comfort zone and dare to let God love, heal, and shape you into the person that He meant for you to be? You are destined and made for goodness. I pray that you may find the courage to do so wherever you may be in your spiritual journey. Amen.
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