by Calvin Tang, 21 years old
Before attending the School of Witness (SOW), I was living what I perceived as the high life. I’d just finished a successful 2 years of NS and my years of schooling had also been similarly successful, full of scholarships and accolades. I had secured a place in university and I thought all was well. Even in my own faith journey, I felt secure. I thought that I knew who God was, after all, not only did I see him every Sunday in church I even taught little kids about him.
But behind this veneer of success however, was a Calvin who felt unloved. Ever since my childhood, I felt that I had to always prove myself to win my parents’ affections. So I carefully constructed this image of someone successful in the hopes that everyone might respect and love me. I felt like I had to fulfill people’s expectations, to succeed in school to earn my family’s love and validation. To do “holy” things in church, so that God would look upon me with approval and love.
I lived with this perception that I had to strive for love. I also believed that the only one who truly loved me, my raw and unadulterated self, without my successes and flaws, was me. I had to rely on myself. For who else would love me if they knew me?
However, God destroyed this perception of mine. In one session on God the Father, I felt so uncomfortable with the preaching that nothing I could do could make God love me more. To me, to do more equated to being loved more! Surely if I was more active in church, God would look upon this hard-working Catholic and be well pleased. As I learnt more about the parable of the prodigal son, I slowly began to understand the character of God as Father. He’s the father that waits for His son, that restores him without question, and whose love was unconditional.
In a para-liturgy, the word “freedom” was given to me, as though the Father was saying “son you are free”. And as it resonated within my being, the chains and expectations that had been weighing my heart down melted away. I realized that this is what it means to be God’s child, free from striving for affirmations, living for others and fulfilling expectations. I didn’t have to fight for love because God knew me and loved me so much that He sent His son for me. Nothing I could do could make Him love me more. With this revelation, I was ready for Jesus to heal me from my wounds of abandonment and fear. When the Blessed Sacrament was brought to me, nothing tangible happened and I felt so abandoned by God. I retreated to my old tomb of lies of not being worthy of love. Didn’t God just pass me by? While I sat in my pity party, a fellow SOWer gave me the word “Peace be with you”, which made me break down. Jesus was speaking these words to me, just as He had with the hemorrhaging woman after He healed her. Jesus reminded me again to believe in His healing and that He didn’t pass me by that night for He forsakes no one, not even me who’s so broken. Instead, He loves me forever, till he end of time.
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Over the past few weeks, I have encountered the father’s love tangibly as he called me out of my tomb of lies and gave me freedom. I’ve learnt not to place my identity in my worldly successes or the validation of others, for I was made to be was so much more than just to fulfill people’s expectations. I made wonderfully as God’s beloved son. Instead of being self-reliant, I have learnt to rely on the Father, taking refuge in his boundless love for me. For in him I’m deeply loved for all of eternity, and have no need to fight for the love of others.
And so I’ve begun to let Him increase in me as I decrease, letting his love flow over all aspects of my life. Finding new joys in his love each day, I have realised that the father’s loving embrace is truly the best place to be. Brother and sisters, do you want to take a step forward into it?
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