by Isabella Liu
Hi guys!! My name is Isabella and I am a second-year medical student.
Back in my first year, I was very eager and excited to try everything. I desperately wanted to be the cool kid and I wanted to be liked by everyone, and so I said yes to everything. I relied on worldly pleasures (like clubbing and social drinking with friends) to gain that momentary happiness for myself and when everything was over, I only felt lost and empty. However, one thing that I hardly said yes to was attending cell group and campus mass. I never saw God as a priority in my life. He was just a choice to me among many others and I told myself that He could wait. I was not prudent and made unwise choices. I lost track of who I am and what I stand for and wasn’t really living.
I can’t really identify a specific turning point, but I know that He was constantly knocking on my door and chasing after me. My summer break was a very reflective and restful period for me. As I spent more time with community, heard everyone’s testimonies after the School of Christian Leadership and had more Christ-centred conversations with my brothers and sisters, I slowly learned how to say no to the things and people that were not life-giving. I realized that true friends are the ones who respect my no and would never make me feel uncomfortable. I also spent about a month in Boston and NYC and I was alone most of the time. I unknowingly found myself in different churches, adoration rooms and attending daily masses across the two cities, which was very uncharacteristic of me. It almost felt like there was a magnet in all these churches that were constantly pulling me towards them. It was very apparent that the Lord was slowly winning my heart and drawing me closer to Him.
I realized I was searching for love in the wrong places and people when true love had always been so close to me. I could almost hear Jesus singing Taylor Swift’s You Belong With Me to me,”If you can see that I’m the One who understands you, been here all along so why can’t you see that you belong with Me.”
Gradually, I started to fall in love with my faith day by day. I interacted with faith-filled people in community who pulled me closer and closer to God. The Lord also blessed me with amazing brothers and sisters who run towards Him with me. I know they’re always there to pray for me, to hold me when I’m sad, to lift me up and celebrate with me during the good times, and to protect and advise me during the difficult times. We can share our tears and laughter freely, and I wouldn’t trade them for the world.
I remember an instance when I was hurt by a group of close friends in school which left me devastated, and on the verge of crying in the library. I saw a sister and instantly poured my whole heart out to her. She listened and embraced me even though I was a huge mess. She prayed over me and reminded me that the Lord loves me even when I don’t feel worthy. When I’m not accepted by others, even by myself sometimes, He is the one who will always accept me for who I am. And so with Jesus by my side and a loving community behind me, I have nothing to be afraid of!
Isabella (second from left)
We were created for community in the likeness of the all-loving Trinity. We were made to love and rejoice together, but our imperfect, human love can lead us to hurt and be hurt by others. However, God can enter and meet us even in the places where human brokenness creates pains and doubts. Community is a place of love, where even in my brokenness, I was able to receive the love and healing of Jesus through my brothers and sisters
With this loving community around me, I now find myself initiating masses and fellowship. Instead of carrying my own crosses by myself, I also find myself asking my brothers and sisters to pray for and with me.
I can now proudly claim the fact that God is no longer just a mere choice but a necessity to me. I don’t need to go out there to prove that I’m a cool kid because I am an extremely beloved child of God! And so my dear brothers and sisters, I believe that our God doesn’t care how far you have run. He just wants us to come home. Please do not be afraid to take that first step of saying yes to Jesus and to healing in this community. He will reveal Himself to you through the people around you. After all, our prayer is often not for a lighter cross but for a stronger back. And I believe that the brother or sister sitting right beside you will definitely be there to give you a stronger back. So let us all bring each other closer to Jesus!