By Maria Tang, more affectionately known as morio tong
Born a cradle Catholic, I never really had a relationship with the Lord until I entered university. Even though I felt unworthy of God’s love, trying to figure out what an active relationship with Him was life, God brought me to experience Him and His love at the School of Christian Leadership organised by OYP in 2018. My faith journey deepened through the constant claiming of my belovedness and unpacking lies. The Lord was relentless in chasing me in those days. Since then, He continues to capture my heart, particularly in allowing me to share my heart for Him with my family. With His providence and faithfulness, God constantly is doing something great. Truly, He is Lord of all.
Hello, I’m Maria. I was born a cradle catholic but never really had a relationship with the Lord until university began. I was an infant in my faith for a long time until God brought me to the 10 day live in School Of Christian Leadership (SOCL) experience in 2018.
Before SOCL 2018, I had just begun being more trusting in the Lord’s plans for me. I was new to this way of practicing my faith and I had been growing in my discipleship journey, yet always fearful of being vulnerable in my walk with the Lord, feeling as if I had to constantly know what to say and do as a good Catholic girl. I was very closed off to the idea that anyone were to know about my brokenness and any false images of God. I was prideful and lacked courage to bear testimony to the Lord for good things He had done. There was a lack of conviction to what the Lord had done for me up till that point. These areas prevented me from receiving wholeheartedly as I should, and I had received images of walls that Jesus wanted to help break down at the beginning of SOCL.
When I entered into SOCL, what I thought was an open heart for the Lord to change my life was met with a lot of reluctance because of my inability let the Lord in. I struggled with coming to terms with a God that loved me fully and unconditionally because of my sins that had repeatedly grown to be habits of mine. However, at the first session of learning about the Prodigal Son and the Heart of the Father, my heart shattered knowing that I had been holding back myself from being fully loved. When the proxy father embraced me and washed my feet, I could not help but cry at the face of a merciful and loving God.
Morio’s drawing of Proverbs 3:5
Throughout the days, I found myself returning to similar lies occasionally that I was unimportant to God although I had experienced the love of God on the first day. Yet, the Lord was relentless in chasing me. He had taught me to forgive courageously the people in my life that I felt had hurt me, only to cling to Him for grace to love in difficult circumstances. In particular, I let go feelings of resentment towards some of those closest to me. God revealed that each of these hearts had longed also to be loved deeply by the Him.
Morio with her SOCL friends in 2018
In seeing that the Lord had further desired for me to reconcile my life with Him, I went to reconciliation with a contrite heart, telling Father Brian what a waste of my then life was, only wanting for my life to be fully alive in the Lord. Jesus stirred in my heart to desire more for my walk with Him and He totally challenged me in asking me “What do I stand for?” in one of the sessions. In front of the eucharist I told Jesus that I stand for Him being in the centre of my life and in my family.
To be honest, after SOCL, I had to make decisions with how exactly I was going to bring Jesus into my family. Praise God for courage because He made space for us to pray as a family. He opened space for me to share with my parents how the Lord had moved in my heart. The biggest change was having time for family prayer every night before we went to sleep, and this was a blessing that brought great peace.
When I had left for my exchange programme in July that year, I continued to pray with my family as a way to continue my commitment that I made before the Lord. I also found myself thirsting for the Lord within my friendships and conversations, and even brought into a season of being challenged to love my new friends on exchange. That SOCL theme was “and above all these, put on love” – but it was only after SOCL that in living my Christian life I grew to be more convicted of the Lord’s love for me, as I learnt to meet others where they were in their lives.
Fast forward to today, Praise God for His providence and faithfulness. There have been so many seasons of change since SOCL 2018, but God has been unchanging, always teaching me to grow deeper in love and claim my identity as His beloved child. Will you, also take the leap of faith, to let Him unpick lies and do something great in your life today?