by Jude D’Cruz
Hi, I am Jude and I will be 23 this year. I was serving my full time National Service prior to SOW. I am a cradle Catholic and I am the youngest of four children. Growing up, my parents constantly hammered the importance of studying into me and my siblings as y family was not financially well off. I was not academically inclined and did not meet my parent’s expectations for my PSLE. I was placed in the Normal Academic stream in secondary school. My dad was very furious and he constantly passed fleeting comments so that I would work hard and move up to Express stream. This unknowingly left me with the lie that I am useless and unloved. I started to work hard to attain academic success just to please my dad. As I devoted all my time towards academic excellence, I realised that even if I got outstanding grades, my dad would never be satisfied and my situation would remain the same. As I continued living in this manner, I became numb and my heart closed up to the people in my life especially towards my dad. I became very angry with him and avoided him as much as I could. When spoken to, I would only give him a one word answer.
My relationship with God was also not great. I was just a Sunday Catholic. I attended mass, attended catechism, received the Sacraments, and said daily prayer because I was told to. I never sought to know God as I only devoted my time towards my education. To me, God was very distant and I thought that I could not be loved by him. At times, I would think that Jesus was some guy from two thousand years ago who was nailed to a cross for some obscure reason. As I continued living my life in this manner, I became comfortable but was never happy. I reasoned with myself that this was all life could amount to, and I just settled for it.
Last year, my sister asked me if I was willing to attend School of Witness in 2021. At that time, I did not want to commit two months of my life in a camp just three days after I had completed my NAtional Service. However, after giving it a lot of thought, I knew that I needed to change my life. I knew that I could not continue living a broken and unhappy life. I had seen how God worked His miracles in the lives of my siblings, and how they became happier after encountering Christ. We had the same dad and almost similar hurts, yet they were happy after their encounter. Desiring to have this same joy which I saw in my siblings, I signed up for the school.
During the school, there was a session on the love of God the Father. This was followed by a para liturgy that involved hugging of proxy father figures. As I hugged one of the proxy fathers, I didn’t feel anything. This made realise that God loves me no matter what. While my head knew it, my heart did not. However, God’s love somehow managed to find its way to me. A few weeks after this session, there was a healing session. During this session, we were given the choice to hug one of the staff. I felt called to do so. When I hugged them, it felt like I was hugging God the Father and my own dad. I truly felt God’s love for me which was very warm and it never let go of me. I cried for the first time in years, and it started the process of opening my heart to others. It was also at this point that the negative scripts in my life were slowly healed and the anger towards my dad started to fade. I was also prompted by the Lord to give my own dad a hug when I returned home, but I was fearful.
One Sunday before returning OYP, I took up the courage to initiate a hug with my dad. It was during this hug that I also saw God’s grace. After hugging him, my dad told me that Jesus loves me. When he said this, I knew that the Lord was also stirring his heart as my dad was not someone to share emotional things. My relationship with my dad is slowly being healed. I am slowly but surely understanding that he too has his own brokenness and that the Lord is also healing him.
Now, I believe and I know, that Jesus is not just some person who is stuck to the cross. He will always be the only person to walk with me throughout my life and love me despite my shortcomings. Through His Grace, I have found the joy in my life that comes from none other than knowing that there is a God who loves me. In Him alone, I am fulfilled, and will not be judged as useless. Now I only desire to know Him even more, to do His will, and to love my family more.
Will you allow God to love you perfectly or will you settle for a life of not knowing God’s unconditional and extravagant love?