by Basil Lee (right)
Hi, my name is Basil, I am 21 this year and I have just completed my National Service. I am a cradle Catholic, and the youngest in my family (I have an older sister). I had a comfortable childhood, and even though we weren’t rich, everything was provided for.
Being a disruptive and rebellious child, God was not at the centre of my life, and I placed him in a box. I adopted a self-reliant attitude in my life, thinking that God couldn’t satisfy me. This attitude became even more important, especially recently, when both my parents started living separately. This left me as the only man in the house. As such, I placed high expectations on my worldly self and went out to chase the world, wanting to make it big, to support and provide for my mother and sister financially. This resulted in me leading a hedonistic life, where I thought that material gains could satisfy me. I chose to close off my heart from feeling any emotions, as I saw emotions as a form of weakness, especially in a man. My idea of being a man was about strength, being macho and being non-emotional. God was nowhere to be seen in my life, and with it, darkness, lies, and emptiness filled that void.
I had no intention of attending the school at all, because I didn’t want to waste two months of my holiday. That all changed when my sister signed me up. I went for the interview and told the interviewers that I wasn’t the one who signed up. However, instead of rejecting me, they gave me a week to discern and own my decision. The turning point came when my best friend, a non-Catholic, encouraged me to give the school a try. I was shocked because I was expecting a ‘no’. So thank God, I made it to the school after the second interview.
I knew that Jesus would change my life. However, a part of me felt hesitant and afraid of this change. With a heavy heart, I tried my best to participate in all the activities of the school. The session that began my healing process was on the Father’s Love, where we had to go up to a proxy father figure to give them a hug. I struggled to open myself up, struggled to feel the love of Jesus. After much crying and talking to my cell group leader, I plucked up the courage to go to my proxy father for a hug. It was the first time in a long time that I have cried, releasing all of the emotions that I suppressed and bottled up inside of me. It was then I realised that it was love that I have been desiring and I had gone out into the world searching for it, when Jesus’s love was already given to me. I did not have to fight for it or earn it.
This realisation started my healing journey, which was a painful one as the Lord revealed one wound in particular which had to do with my father. I had not been aware of it before, but it had that resulted in me having a distorted image of what it means to be a man. In one session, I went up to one of the male staff (acting as a proxy for my dad), gave him a hug, and uttered the words, “I forgive you”. In tears, I felt as if the Lord had ripped off the plasters I had put on all these wounds, and by His grace, these wounds have now scabbed over. I know that the healing process has begun. I praise and thank the Lord for being so good, gentle and intimate with me throughout the encounters I have had with him.
Through these encounters, I have learned that it is okay for a man to feel and to express his emotions. I no longer have to put on a tough exterior to show that I’m strong. The Lord just delights in my presence, the true authentic Basil. With the help of my fellow brothers and sisters in the school, I experienced a life-giving and safe environment where I can be my true self. They call out my flaws lovingly because they desire better for me. I have also realised that what my mum and sister need are not the riches of this world, but Jesus. Only He can provide and satisfy.
Lies such as, “I don’t belong here” and “I don’t deserve this” pop up every now and then and at times they make me feel helpless, but the Lord continues to reveal truth after truth to me, giving me the ammunition I need to combat them. I know that I continue to be a work in progress.
Jesus is always running after you, because He wants to give you the tightest, warmest and most loving embrace. He wants to love you and all you have to do is be still, and let Him into your heart. He can multiply these small yeses into something greater, that goes beyond your expectations. Jesus is always ready. Are you willing to give him a chance?