by Jodi Chan
I come from a Catholic family and am a cradle Catholic. So the faith has always been a constant in my life. However, my only image of who God the Father is, was that of a watchmaker; distant, and uninvolved in my life. I felt like God was not present for me and that I needed to earn His love and attention by striving. I came to realize that this distorted image of God came from my wounds with my family.
Through some childhood experiences, I developed the belief that being afraid or sad is bad and so, I didn’t allow myself to be scared and strove to be independent. Eventually, I learned to numb my heart and suppress my feelings. When I was 8, I began to experience scoldings and derision from my peers and family members for the way I looked, talked, and who I was as a person. The once confident, outgoing girl suddenly transformed into someone who was shy and quiet. I believed that I was someone who was annoying, proud, and unlovable. I put my identity up for sale as I tried to gain as much love and affirmation from others as possible. This led me to feel the need to strive and do well in life in order to receive love. I believed that I had to be above average in everything that I did. I wanted to be in complete control of my life so that I could make sure that nobody would abandon me. My suppressed feelings ultimately manifested themselves in the form of anxiety attacks. After attempting to control every aspect of my life, I no longer knew who I truly was anymore. So, I came to SOW to find myself and to look for greater meaning in my life.
I entered SOW with a lot of fear and anxiety, not knowing what the environment would be like. I also came into this school with the expectation that God would change my life completely. This led me to be constantly worried and stressed about what the next session was going to be about and whether or not I would be able to “perform” well for each prayer ministry session so that I would be able to get the full experience and receive the most from God. I was also afraid that I wouldn’t be able to feel God’s love and presence in my life.
However, seeing the strong conviction in the constant work of God that my SOW community had, I learned that God is always present in our lives, whether we feel it or not. I realised I couldn’t reduce God, His works, and messages to just feelings. I learned to trust in the consistency of God’s work, to be patient, and open to what He has in store for me. Through the inner healing sessions, God revealed many of my hurts from childhood. Constantly having to put up a strong, unfeeling front, my inner child longed to be embraced, comforted, and told that she was loved. Jesus showed Himself in these memories and held me close in my fear and worry. He allowed me to release control to Him so that I could be myself and feel again. He constantly breathes life and warmth into my cold heart and makes me whole. During one of the prayer ministries, I received the image of myself as a little girl, wearing a Hawaiian outfit, and dancing on the beach. This was exactly how I used to dress as a kid when I would put up little performances for my family. This was also when I was at my most confident and free. God was calling me to return back to that same childlikeness again, to receive and reclaim my identity as His precious child. He breaks the chains that I have tied around myself and allows me to be free. With Him, I don’t need to strive because He sees me not for what I can do and achieve, but who I am in His eyes. I am His unique, lovable, irreplaceable child, with whom He is immensely proud of. He pours out His unending love and grace upon me so that I can hold firm in my identity.
The Lord has given me a newness of life. Even though I still struggle with negativity from time to time, I no longer run and suppress my feelings, but lift them up to Him, for He is the one who will fight my battles for me. He gives me the strength to seek out and listen to His voice in times of darkness and despair. I know that I do not need to strive for love to be given to me because God my Father gives this love to me freely and unceasingly no matter what I have achieved, and He will not disappoint me. I can now confidently say that I can lift up my life to the Lord and allow Him to look after it, for I no longer need to strive to be lovable. I know that the amount of love and joy that I have received in the past few weeks are just a taste of what the Lord has in store for me. Brothers and sisters, the Lord desires so much more for you too. Will you take His hand today?