This is the truth: I am a beloved son of God. How did I claim this identity? How has it spurred me forward to live this out in university and how can I be a light for the people I meet?
Through my early years and up to a year ago, I believed I had a relationship with Jesus. I had been catechised in the Church but I didn’t see the need to give God any of my time outside of Mass and catechism. Attending Mass was done out of obligation, probably more for my parents than anything else. Homilies meant catch-up time on my sleep. Honestly, I even became used to receiving the Eucharist. Yes, I was told that I was receiving Jesus Christ but I think I never placed any significance in that. When mass ended, I felt almost nothing different because I never actually understood what it was. It was just another task completed.
Yes, I knew that God loved me unconditionally because that’s what I was taught, but that too was just head knowledge for me. God was my sideman, I was the main man. I had managed to make nearly everything about myself because I placed my identity so heavily in self-image. I became so caught up in trying to fit myself into a mould. I grouped people subconsciously or consciously – I judged strangers, and if they did not fit into that same mould, “the ‘me’ mould, then they weren’t ‘up to standard’. I filled my mind with things that were not of God and spent time with people who usually only acknowledged me for being ‘socially acceptable’. I did not realise that I was dead inside. I was not living authentically. I yearned for a beating heart, a heart that felt everything within its capacity to feel. At this point in my life, I had taken God’s place. I only looked to serve myself and put myself on a pedestal due to my insecurities. This was the identity I lived with: I was God.
Just before university was about to start, my mum encouraged me to join NTU’s Catholic Student Apostolate. This was one of the best decisions I made in life – saying ‘yes’ to joining this community. I attended CFR and my facil left me in awe by how intimately he knew this man Jesus Christ. Once uni started, I was still lukewarm, only attending mass and sessions occasionally. My life and my schedule were still not centred around Jesus. However, joining a cell group (CG) was another great decision that the Holy Spirit called me to. I looked forward to and found great comfort in CG and I attended sessions faithfully. What especially drew me to my CG leader at the time was his disposition and prayerfulness. Whenever he smiled, I felt like he was smiling from his heart. I was always amazed whenever I listened to people speak about God because they seemed to be so alive, so full of energy for this person Jesus Christ, and I wanted that as well. I believe the Holy Spirit placed all these people in my life, to really ignite this strong desire to get to know Jesus personally.
So after a bit more time, I made the bold decision to sign up for School of Christian Leadership 2019 and that was a gamechanger for me. I recall from one of our sessions, we were proclaiming messages that we were receiving through the Spirit. I stood in silence for some time, expecting nothing. Then I heard these words: ‘You are my beloved, in whom I am well pleased’. I wanted to hear more of that voice, to ask so many questions, but it stopped there. I have since realised what waiting is, what unravelling the beauty of God entails, and how God’s grace is needed every step of the way to claim and live as a beloved son of God.
Through the rest of SOCL, God showed me how much he loved me through the community by revealing to me that we are a broken, but beloved people;
That we can be raised up.
That there is hope in claiming the truth.
That ‘there is fullness of joy’ in Jesus Christ
This identity as ‘God’s beloved child’, I claimed. But that is not enough, I was told.
Transformation is when one allows God to change you from the inside. God always has a beautiful plan for us. So I trust in His will for my life. I shifted my priorities and knew that he had to be the centre of my life. The hardest struggle is dying to my old way of life. I struggled, I wandered, and I searched for things to keep me temporarily occupied, but Jesus was always giving me direction.
Today, I dare to say that I bring Him into everything I do. I make a conscious effort to spend time with him, even in whatever I’m feeling and struggling with. I have noticed changes in myself! I’m not as impatient or as restless as I once was. I am certainly more hopeful. I think one of the biggest blessings for me in claiming this identity is this grace in experiencing this virtue of hope. What it does for me is that it sets my mind on heavenly things. I am even able to prompt my mum to have hope when she is exasperated with situations at home! The next step will be to proclaim this to my dad although this may take a bit more time.
In wanting to bring Jesus to others just as others had brought Jesus to me, I felt that I had a duty to pass the flame on to others. But I knew that it had to be done gently, just as I had experienced the gentleness of Christ in others. I have learnt to be gentle when I advise my siblings, when I gather with the faith community in my parish and when I am impatient with myself.
I live my life as a Beloved by receiving the Eucharist as frequently as I can by attending daily mass. I receive the sacrament of reconciliation much more frequently now. I have also realised that a great way for me to bring Jesus to others would be in roles such as a cell group leader, which is a position that God has given me. I know that God has put me with various people for a reason, so I try to be present to them and tell them a little bit about the faith, to be a witness.
Praise God for the wonders that He has worked in my life!
“I was blind but now I see!” John 9:25
Andre Corray, NTU CSA