You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! —-Romans 5:6-11
Back when I was little, my parents always fought. Dad was the abusive one and he nearly took my mom’s life away. I was only 3 or 4 years old and my brother 2.
They fought in public: in the malls. This is how I get to develop sensitivity over fights. It gives me anxiety, especially social anxiety. I couldn’t take away the picture of the fight at all. It affected my studies and social life in school. Mom fortunately is still alive now. She was strangled back then and had a bruise on the eye. She left dad and decided to live with my grandma and my younger sister. Then I was left with dad and my younger brother. I developed resentment towards dad. I moved to another school in kindergarten hoping things will change because in the past one, I was feeling emotionally unstable.
The school I moved to is a Christian school (Makati Hope Christian School). I made a few good friends since kindergarten until 3rd grade while my parents were always conflicted; dad was very materialistic and often viewed things, their worth, in terms of money. The real reason they fought was just because dad didn’t want to spend money on my little sister’s first birthday and mom disagreed over it.
Although my parents are together, it is as if I have no father figure—to say the least, a supportive one. Mom always shouldered the burden of raising me and my siblings. Dad was mostly a drag. He had temper problems and sometimes it turns ugly to the point that everyone at home can’t sleep at night. He’d keep coming into the rooms to pick up an argument.
Mom handled fees, food, gifts to show affection, and the other things that supposedly sustained us. If it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t know what life would be like today. Dad always complained about his lack of income, his debts, but he usually spent it on unnecessary luxury (e.g.expensive gadgets and clothes; he rarely spends for other stuff. He also cheated on mom once).
I vowed not to become like dad ever. So in school I took my studies really seriously even to the point of having little to no friends. I was caught up with my problems at home and it seemed like the life energy for me to make friends was thinning. I had high standards when it comes to making friends. It was hard for me because I was interested in many things my classmates couldn’t relate with: mostly idealistic deep stuff and making art.
They were often talking about celebrities, lewd things, the latest fashion, Korean drama, etc, while I was focused on trying to understand life (haha). I decided to observe people instead and I got interested in philosophy.
Anyway, in school I was the silent type. I took interest especially in Bible classes because somehow I got some questions answered and it was sorta a therapy for me listening to my teacher. But I viewed it as a religion. As being good to be able to cope with life’s hardships and a way to cover up shortcomings. I thought maybe obeying a set of rules will make my life easier and less troublesome. I was wrong of course. I still had my insecurities creeping on me.
In grade school, I lost my closure with my friends because of the transition to high school. And while it did confuse me at first, the least I could do was write down my burdens (the event that I couldn’t forget when I was a child) on a pad paper during break time. I thought it would take away the emptiness and loneliness. It didn’t. I kept writing it whenever I could hoping someone would hear my help. I was afraid to open it up to people because they all seemed okay and happy. I thought telling them would make them further distant. I mean I felt very different. I was a stutterer in class and didn’t like public speaking very much.
When I started high school, my little sister dreamed I had jumped off the building. I was unaware that I had developed depression. I was blind to it because I thought that was all there is to it. But yes the dream shocked me too. I didn’t think I would ever reach that point. Then near senior high, I decided on something different.
I decided to pray that God give me a friend who would know how to treat someone like me. It was different because I usually only pray for success in my academics; like to pass a test and just to get by everyday. I was skeptical but out of desperation I decided to. I mean bottling up all my burdens was hurting me.
I had pride issues: academics being my sense of worth and security, I sometimes unintentionally vent out my anger on my classmates. I didn’t understand myself either why that happened but later I figured it’s because so many tangled knotted emotions were in me for so long.
Then in high school senior year there were 2 new classmates. One of them became my friend. She was different (later on I found out that she is a Christian). I decided to tell her what was bothering me. Her usual response was to tell me a story of someone else having life more difficult than me.
She was telling me in short I wasn’t alone and others too have similar and far worse problems. I understood her point intellectually but emotionally not really. I rejected the idea that there are possibly people who need to endure more than enough. Her name was Patrizia Yao.
I rejected it because until then my parents were still in conflict. But I still stuck to be her friend because I didn’t have much people to talk to. Then, there was this other guy who was a new classmate. He was different too. He excelled both in academics, sports, music, etc. many fields, and I found out later that he is a Christian. I secretly admired his humility because there are not a lot of people like that. His name was Alain Pinsotes.
At the same time, I was questioning about the meaning of life. I was wondering what is it that will satisfy indefinitely. I made many different observations from my brother who was addicted to computer games, yet failing school subjects to those people like my dad who love money. Dad’s perfectionism bothered me much. Yeah I get it: it’s nice to be successful, rich, and all but I wonder what’s next when you do achieve it. It’s the same for other activities. It’s like turning a switch on and off. Sometimes you feel happy but other times you are looking for something more.
Then, many of my teachers in high school seemed coincidentally nice. They told about personal stories and how they changed, and how others can change too.
I was drawn to it. So in the library I often looked for books on it. I usually read on fantasy, classics, comics but rarely about the spiritual. Then I found this book about people who experience God and His plan in their lives. It was unexpected because well, I thought it’s all about doing rituals to make God happy so that voila your life can be perfect.
Haha I was wrong. It was mind boggling. I also was puzzled by the Christian guy Paolo because he was like really nice and although some guys made fun of him, he made friends with them.
And he was especially talented in talking. I observed him a lot in my free time. I saw his posts in social media about God and stuff and I was always asking in the back of my mind, ‘what’s he talking about?’ .
One day, I had a fight with a classmate. She asked me to help her out with a question on scouting class. I was very stressed that time so I said out of the blue, “Don’t copy me”. She received it negatively because she started crying. It was a bad call because my whole batch witnessed it. I already had a bad reputation years before; being a loner with anger issues. So what happened was so humiliating. Then, this girl who was her friend didn’t want to choose sides and tried to reconcile the fight into forgiveness. I was still so down by then.
So down that on dismissal while everyone was downstairs trying to resume normally, I went upstairs all the way to the 4th floor bathroom.
I was crying really badly and felt so sorry and angry at myself. Then I had conversations on my head. Conversations like “this is really it, there is no hope for me”. I wanted to commit suicide badly by hanging myself with the belt I had on. I was reluctantly afraid to do it but being emotionally conflicted, I tried and got scared. Then something unexpected happened.
I heard a voice that went, “Stop this. Your life is a gift.”
I was like “where did this thought come from?” Because being a pessimist, that’s strange. Surely how can someone who is trapped in despair think that way ? Then I found out it was God.
The voice continued, “If your life is a gift, there is a Giver”.
But I tried fighting it, in my mind I was saying I’m pathetic and all.
But then some realization from God came up:
“All this time you’ve been looking at things pessimistically. You want to change don’t you?”
Me: “Yeah…I do but I don’t know where to start..”
God: “Start with me then. Just give it a try.”
Then, I replied back in my thoughts, “I’m not a perfect person to follow you. Why are you asking me?”
Then, a reply, “Do you think I gave up my son for nothing? I wouldn’t do it for nothings. I gave Him up while you’ve been feeling unworthy. You may think you are but I say you’re not.”
I decided to ask God for forgiveness and to ask Him to change me inside out. And it came to me that only He could do that and clear my conscience. And that I have not considered before about surrendering my dark past and how it’s going to not overwrite my whole life.
But I chose to do it. It wasn’t easy but I decided that it’s better to have a clear conscience. My new friend Patrizia “Tria” heard about this issue and she wasn’t actually there to witness it that time.
I asked her, “You knew about my past issues with my batch mates, didn’t you? Why did you continue then to be my friend?”
She said, “I don’t know either but maybe this happened for a good cause and as something God is trying to impress in you.” Then, I became speechless but in a contented way.
Near graduation, I decided to attend the church fellowship my school had. I never joined in before so I did when it was the summer after senior year. I made great friends there from the fellowship’s summer camp and they’ve always inspired me to keep pressing on. They are my friends and still encourage me until today.