In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “In Good Faith.”
“By Birth” doesn’t mean “By Faith”
I was born to a Catholic family and was raised as a Catholic though academic institutions made me a passive Catholic. Growing up, I began to question a lot of the church’s teachings until I gradually became an agnostic. I stopped going to mass. I was not sure whether there is a God or not and that didn’t really matter.. During tough times though, I would still pray to what felt for me was an unknown, distant God. Maybe it was a habit that was hard to break.
I had Christian friends back in College who would ask me to join them in their small group and church service which I did, but at that time I wasn’t ready. I always ended up concluding such sort of stuff wasn’t for me. Every time I try to be a good person, I fail the God I knew. I still held the notion that my “goodness” or “badness” will determine my being a child of God. Realizing I may never learn to stop failing Him, I would keep on sliding back. And so, that’s how I was—lost, unsure, living a life of a constant struggle. It was tough, carrying everything by yourself. I remember I used to relate to the quote: “Despite my rage, I’m still a rat in a cage”.
A Sharp Curve
Having things my way went very well for me until at one point in my life everything fell apart. I was so badly broken I felt I was beyond repair. I faced a sudden tragic death of a loved one, a loss so massive it changed the way I viewed the world. Suddenly, the idea of death became so real. I was no longer in control. I couldn’t do anything. My worldview came crumbling down and I could not help but watch the pieces fall apart. It didn’t make sense to think that a person who used to walk this world with so much life and passion can cease to exist just like that–in a fleeting moment, everything was gone. I knew that men get buried into the ground when their hearts stop beating but is that really the end to their stories? Where does ‘the person’ go? It was too hard for me to swallow the idea that he’s just gone like that. Suddenly what seemed an appealing, rational theory became unacceptable: that we are merely flesh and bones existing by some random chance, which if by another random series of events, our bodies fail, we just stop being alive–this does not make any sense. The person that was, all his thoughts, all his feelings, his dreams, his desires, the very core of the person he was… just *poof* gone like that. No, I cannot accept that! It just doesn’t feel right.
“Seek and You Shall Find”
So, I began my search for the truth about what happens when a person dies. It was a pathetic way of coping up with the idea that I can no longer do anything about the loss. If I could bring my loved one back to life, I would. In fact, in my head I bargained with the God I barely knew. “Bring him back to life, take the days off of mine and transfer it to his account so that he may live longer. Bring him back, I’ll give up a portion of my life, surely we can share it.” You know how crazy people expect that things like this can really happen? That when they wake up in the morning the thing they wished for will really be there waiting outside their rooms? I was THAT crazy. I realized later, it was pointless so I looked elsewhere. Thinking that, at least knowing the truth about his departing would ease the feeling of my helplessness, I searched tirelessly, doing everything I can to know what happened to him after he’s gone.
In the midst of my quest (and tears), my then long time boyfriend left me. Don’t ask. For no reason, he just woke up one morning and realized he could no longer bear the fact of being with me. That. That was the last straw. That got me completely lost. I started asking people randomly about where they think dead people go or if they wanted to die too like I did. I was freaking people out. This was when an officemate responded to me with a friendship I would value for the rest of my life.
I had so many questions. He untiringly tried to answer all of them. He told me about God, about Jesus and how he died for me, how he has planned everything that happened in my life so that one day I would learn to know him. Later on, our conversations became more frequent. I was thirsty for more answers. I wanted to know more about this Jesus. He answered me not through his but God’s own words, through the bible. When he shared bible verses to me, they sounded like echoes of my own painful lamentations. To my amusement, all my questions have been asked before, they were all there, written down in the bible. Where the questions were asked, there also were the answers.
He then invited me to church until I felt comfortable attending the service and listening to God’s word. I learned that being a Christian is not about having a change in affiliation but having a change that is deeper, something personal. It is a journey that begins with accepting Jesus and letting him take control of your life. I came to realize how lost I’ve been and learned that nothing I can do can save me from my hopelessness. I need God, I always did.
Until this day I still wonder why God chose to save me after all that I’ve done, after what I have become. But he didn’t doubt me even for a second. Since I accepted him, life ceased to be a constant struggle or a search for meaning. There will always be moments when I’ll fall short of the expectations but I no longer worry. I know that slowly, my life would be transformed. Life is no longer heavy on my shoulders. I learned to let go and completely trust him. I have never appreciated life so much more since then. I found the answers to my questions about death and in the process, also found life. Death is not permanent. In Christ we are bound, and in grace and love, even death cannot tear us apart. Surely, my brother and I shall meet again.
Today, I am no longer a ‘rat in cage’. I was freed, bought for a price. Admittedly, I am still wandering through this life, sailing where the wind blows. This time though I am assured, that wherever this wind takes me, I’ll be safe.