The Lord’s grace is all you need. The Lord’s power works best in weakness. So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong. – 2 Corinthians 12:9-1
If I were to describe my relationship with God prior to the renewal, I’d call it a relationship of convenience. I would talk to Him only when I felt I needed to. When I wanted or needed something, when I was very thankful about something, then you’d see me drawing near. It was always me dictating the what, when and where of our relationship. If I had free time, then I’d go to Church; I’d pray. But if I was busy, I’m sorry God, but let’s just talk some other time. While I do believe in God as the supreme being over all the earth, I never really felt His presence made a difference, especially during particular moments in my life.
Certain painful experiences I had growing up contributed to my wanting to take control over my life and not be dependent on others, particularly my parents and my family. Through a traumatic experience, and disappointment over a financial crisis my family had to go through, I walked away thinking, okay, my parents didn’t handle that particularly well. If I want to get anything done, I’ll have to do it myself. This started a rebellious streak in me—I thought that in all things, I knew better than my parents, so I didn’t feel the need to listen to them. I would do whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted.
Of course, the notion that I “knew better” was an illusion. I found myself getting into one complicated relationship after another. For all the obvious mistakes I made then, I convinced myself that I consciously made those choices, I wanted all the drama in life. The more complicated it was, the better it seemed for me. In some twisted way, this gave me purpose—I felt challenged to sort things out and make things work. This became my driving force. If I wasn’t facing anything exciting or problematic, I felt like something was missing—I wasn’t whole.
And part of the drama had to include substance abuse. I was drinking and smoking more than what was socially acceptable. I was using drugs more than what my curiosity could handle. I cannot even count the times I had gotten wasted in a bar, wasted in a stranger’s house, wasted and didn’t know how I was able to get home alive. I was in and out of pseudo-relationships. I had been in relationships with all sorts of guys in all sorts of situations, making bad decision after bad decision.
One night, I was driving home at 4am, really intoxicated. I was with three other friends. I hit one of the bus railings in EDSA and it rattled my car pretty badly. If you saw the car, you’d think whoever was in it would at least have been severely injured, if not dead. It was that horrible. The miracle was that there were 4 of us in the car and not one of us was badly injured. The only injuries we sustained were minor scratches from the windshield that crashed in front of us. I don’t even remember if we were wearing seatbelts. I think of that day as the day that God gave me another chance in life. I don’t know how or why He saved me, but He did. Did I deserve that? I don’t know. God could very well have chosen to end my life right then and there, but He didn’t. He chose to save me (in more ways than one).
That same year, I attended the Road to Damascus (RTD) Retreat. And part of the weekend was going to Confession. It was my first confession in 7 years. Carefully, I went through the guide I had been given and listed down all the sins I could remember. As I put my pen down, I was taken aback. I had broken each and every commandment there was. I never realized how much I had increasingly silenced my conscience all these years. I never realized before how much immorality I had allowed to fill my life. The thought that I had hurt Jesus with the way I lived my life saddened me greatly.
From that day on, I knew I had a higher purpose. I am a child of God; He loves me and will do everything in His power to save me. He knows I am a sinner, and yet He gave up His only son to save me. This thought humbled me to the very core of my body. Why me, God? Why choose to love me, to save me? I do not deserve anyone’s love, I do not deserve Your Love! Even now, I cannot fully explain it. It overwhelms me, the thought that God, supreme being that He is, would choose to save me for Himself.
Slowly, I found myself returning to God. My prayers became intimate conversations with Him, I joined prayer meetings, I joined bible groups and before I knew it, my days were filled with the Lord. Back then, I never really had time for any of these things because I was always busy with work, and with all my drama in life. But now, I find that I surprise even myself. Where did I find time and energy to do all these things? I don’t know. All I know is that I want to serve the Lord. I want to spend the rest of my days serving Him. I want to fill my mind, my heart and my soul with all that He is. I’ve never felt such happiness like this before, I’ve never felt such peace. I don’t ever want to go back to my old ways. I no longer need drama or complexities in my life. I don’t need challenges to define my purpose. My real strength comes from God. He is the only One who can fully sustain me and who can provide for me. I can now lift up all my fears and all my worries to Him because He is the pillar on which I build my life on, and it is a foundation, I believe, that will never be destroyed.