by Thea Rezel, 19 years old
Before attending the School of Witness (SOW), I haboured self-hatred and felt emptiness and loneliness. This began when I was separated from my close friends, having to go to Junior College alone. I felt abandoned and feared missing out. A friend who I treasured also left me and I felt unwanted. Not being able to do anything about it caused me to build walls around my heart. I tried praying but my prayers didn’t seem to be answered. I was angry and frustrated at God and felt like he too had abandoned me. I lost all motivation to do anything with my life and it felt like I was just going through the motion everyday with no purpose or goal.
To distract myself, I ensured that I was always there for my friends. I started to brush off all my emotions and hurts, telling myself, “Your issues are nothing compared to whatever they are facing, just keep it to yourself, don’t be a burden”. I started drinking frequently and engaged in other activities that drew me further from God. Nearing my A level period, I stopped going for mass regularly. However, after much reflection, I realized that God still reached out to me through the friends I knew in church. They would ask me how I was doing, reminding me that they were praying for me and that I wasn’t alone. A few of them also encouraged me to sign up for SOW.
Thinking back, I’m honestly not sure why I signed up. At that point, God felt distant and my relationship with God was unstable. All I knew was that I desired to have him in my life. The first week of SOW was a struggle as my heart was still closed. During the para-liturgy on coming home, I couldn’t feel God, and convinced myself that God didn’t care. I approached a prayer team who asked me in prayer, “Are you waiting for validation from the Lord that you are meant to be here?” These words hit me and it dawned on me that there were many reasons to not come for SOW, but the fact that I was here meant that He wanted me here. I felt the outer layer of the wall around my heart being removed and I was reassured that I truly belonged here.
The following days, I tried my best to be open but somehow that inner wall was still there. In a conversation, I was reminded that I was like a baby, learning to listen to God’s voice again since I had been listening to so many negative voices that I couldn’t distinguish which was His.
During the charism session, my heart beat really hard as we prayed. I felt this immense joy from the simple act of praying for others. It felt like God had finally broken down the walls surrounding my heart. He showed me that I am loved and that I am good. I realized that all along I had been relying on my own strength, that I couldn’t see the little things that God had done in my life. The whole time I thought that God was away from me but in reality, I was away from him. He had always been working and pursuing me. He also showed me that in my emptiness and loneliness, he was holding me and crying with me as I cried.
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Even though I may still have doubts and hesitations at times, I know that he is always present, waiting for me to turn to him whenever I’m ready. I continue to pray that I will grow deeper in love with Christ, and to one day not only believe that he is here for me, but to be able to proclaim it with conviction that He will save me from the darkness in my life. I am hopeful and expectant that even though I have not fully encountered the Lord, I remain open that the Lord will continue to reveal his love and plans for me. ‘The Lord will fight your battles for you, you only have to keep still.’
Will you take this leap of faith and trust that he is working in your life?
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