how i came back home

img_7589Last week, I wrote about how I grew apart from God…now, it’s time for the story on how I ran back to Him.

Towards the end of college, I suddenly thought of going back to church – the kind of church that I knew when I was a kid. This was going to be easy because two of my friends are active church-goers. Coincidentally, I needed someone who works in TV stations (for our thesis) and they said that they know one and he goes to their church.

Sadly, this just went on for a month. After getting what I needed for our thesis, I stopped attending again. My friends didn’t bother to drag me to church, they just let me focus on “important” things that needed my time.

I felt bad because I really wanted to go to church. I hated myself that I wasn’t committed enough to it.

I kept the plan in the back of my head. I told myself that I’m going to revisit the idea again when I’m finally really ready.

I graduated from college in 2009. Got my first job a couple of months after then left that job in 2011. After that, it was one unsatisfactory job after another until the end of that year. During these times, I even abandoned my thinking that I should just believe and pray to God.

However, out of desperation to have a stable job by the coming 2012, I called on Him again. I laid out what I wanted for 2012 before Him – I said I want a job where I could jumpstart my life as a young professional, a job where I would stay for some time. I prayed about that repeatedly all December of 2011 and it worked! After the New Year, I got a job interview and I started my new job the following week.

I stayed in that job for three years. During these years, I didn’t talk to God again (well, there are occasional times when I did like when I asked Him to please allow me to watch my favorite artist in Seoul).

It was only in 2015 when I did again. I asked for almost the same thing I did back in December 2011 – a new job, a job where I can stay for a very long time. Like before, He gave me what I prayed for.

However, it seemed that from 2012, God had been planning for my return. In that year, He put a girl in my life. I didn’t know who she was at first. It was a friendship that really took time to develop. I laid my eyes on her towards the end of 2012 and only managed to establish an easygoing kind of friendship during 2014.

This girl turned to God when she broke up with her boyfriend in November 2015. She became a Christian. In the middle of 2016, she asked me if we could have a deeper and closer friendship – something I don’t really offer too anyone (a story for another time). I agreed and it was chaos right after that.

Opening up caused me to feel insecure, anxious and depressed. I blamed her for all those emotions. Yet, she repeatedly told me to turn to God. To really believe in God. However, despite doing what she told me right away, I was compelled more to not do it. I was feeling pressured and it wasn’t right. I told myself that if I’m going to reach out to God in totality this time, I’m going to do it because I was doing it on my own free will not because my friend was urging me to do it.

So, I asked for some space. During the distance and time the two of us were not talking much, that’s when I started doing devotions again. I didn’t tell her this. I kept it to myself for some time. I want to get used to everything without her looming over me. Fortunately, it worked.

Now, I’m doing three devotions, reading articles about God, praying a lot, going to cell groups and accepting invitations to attend church. I have never felt more alive than now.

how i got lost

img_8648Sometimes, I wonder what happened to me.

I know I had a strong relationship with God when I was a kid (as strong as it can be for a kid, at least). As young as I was back then, I easily accepted that there’s someone who I don’t see who loves me, looks after me and cares for me. Never once did I wonder where is He, being told that He is in heaven was enough for me.

Even when I was being bullied by my classmates, I knew He consoled me every single day that I cried. Though I would get pissed at the people who were hurting me, I would only get pissed but never too angry at them to the point that I would hate them. He kept my heart pure and soft.

John 3:16 was the very first Bible verse I ever memorized. I was in 1st grade back then in a Born Again Christian school (I’m thankful that my parents sent me there). I think it was perfect that a kid of 5 years old of age learned this passage before anything else. Any kid deserves to know from the beginning that someone loves him or her fiercely and that he or she is meant to have a great life.

But growing up can really be a pain.

Towards the end of my grade school years, I was itching for something new, something big. The small Born Again Christian school had become too small for me. I wanted to meet new people. I wanted to be in a new environment, a different world. I wanted huge things for myself and I came to the conclusion that staying where I was wouldn’t help me get them.

Transferring to an all-girls school was probably the best and the worst decision I ever made in my life.

I love my high school. I met a lot of awesome people there – cool teachers and great friends. It smashed my shell and turned my shyness and meekness into confidence and fierceness. Despite girls being ruthless on their own, I wasn’t made fun of. I was also pushed up to my limits academically and hardened my endurance for tough and stressful school moments.

However, I grew apart from God. Being in an all-girls school managed by nuns meant that I had to embrace a religion that was entirely new to me. Yes, maybe I was baptized as a Catholic (my certificate of baptismal can attest to that) but I wasn’t raised in that. I don’t even have that much memory of going to a Catholic church to attend mass when I was a kid (the only time I stepped near the church in our area was when I played with other kids every summer afternoons).

Religion classes were a pain. I rejected the doctrines being taught to us. I disliked my religion textbooks. I shook my head every gospel reading because it only focused on four books of the Bible. I groaned every Advent season because it meant that we had to pray the rosary every class. I didn’t understand praying the rosary because I was taught to only pray to God and Jesus not Mary. Feasts days of the saints left me dumbfounded because I never really knew who they were.

It was complicated. I wondered if following God was really that hard. I hated everything that they’re shoving down my throat to the point that I asked if there was a God at all because I didn’t want to waste my time in all of those things if there was going to be none. Thankfully, I had a friend who kept me in line and told me that it’s better to believe in God and to find out there’s none than to believe there’s not only to find out there’s one.

So, yes, I kept my belief that there’s God. But I told myself that I’m not going to embrace the religion that I was being surrounded by.

I wanted to go back to the time when I was in grade school wherein we would do devotions everyday at morning assembly (I didn’t know it was called devotion back then), wherein Christian Living classes meant that we’re only studying one Bible verse for almost an hour, wherein we would do praise and worship once a week with loud singing and interpretative dancing, wherein we’re free to pray for things we need to pray for every class.

I yearned for those because that was when I felt God. But I know I had to move on and maybe find a place that will be exactly like where I came from. However, for some reason, I couldn’t bring myself to look for it. So I lived with my own kind of religion. I settled on just believing in God. I didn’t pick up the Bible. I just made myself that knowing God and praying to Him will make things alright.

 

reuniting with matilda

img_8244One of my favorite movies as a child was “Matilda.” I remember my mom bringing home a copy of it on a VHS so that we don’t have to rent it from the stores. I watched it a lot to the point I memorized the dialogues. But despite all that, I still suck as a fan because I didn’t know it was a book – a children’s book – by Roald Dahl until a couple of years back. I suck as a fan.

Last year, Mara Wilson (better known as Matilda to us who grew up with that movie) released a book. An autobiography. Upon the announcement, I knew I had to have her book. I remember going to bookstores in Stratford when I was in London looking for it. I was so excited because the UK release coincided with my stay there. However, it seems that book releases don’t work that easily even in the UK, so I came home empty handed. Good thing, my colleague offered to buy it for me online and I got it.

“Where Am I Now?” is the first book I read this year. I am still in a state of utter speechlessness. I didn’t even wrote a review on my Goodreads because I don’t know how to put all the feels I got from the book on coherent writing.

All I know is that I loved reading the book. Mara’s a really good writer. She’s engaging and funny. I felt everything she put down on paper. Which was why, reading the book was also hard for me.

I knew it was about her life since it was an autobiography. So, I knew I’d finally learn where she had been after leaving Hollywood. However, It wasn’t just your typical narration and I was caught off guard. I was shocked, confused, heartbroken, relieved, etc.

She didn’t just talk about her career and life after Hollywood, she talked about sex (how she learned about it and how she struggled with her thoughts about it), death and religion (which really got my brain working), mental health (this got me on my feet), relationships, breaking up with Hollywood, being in a choir, losing her mother, NYU, Robin Williams, and her present.

I wasn’t ready for the book. I knew it upon reading the first few pages.

It left me bothered, especially on the part when she let go of her belief in God. That really got me thinking. It’s not because I’m against atheism. I’m a very open-minded person and I respect each and everyone’s beliefs. I just couldn’t figure out how she just let it go so easily. Well, she struggled at first, but I guess I was looking for a specific huge life-changing event (like something tragic) that could’ve altered her perception about God. Anyway, my friend told me we have our own unique journeys when it comes to God.

I was also left worried when she discussed her OCD. Because of what I’ve been through last year, I wondered if I have some mental health issues of my own. I have put the thoughts aside towards the end of the year but this book brought them back and it brought them really strong. Thank goodness I have a friend who knows how to calm me down when I worry too much. Now, I’m all good once again.

Nothing could’ve prepared me for this book. I didn’t read any detailed reviews. I just knew it was a good book. Mara Wilson is that good. So aside from the confusion, I was left inspired. I learned a lot and I hope she’ll release another book soon. This time I know what I am up against.