When I brought up the thought of setting up this blog to my husband and securing his permission, I knew I had to set boundaries on what I would blog about especially when it comes to our personal and family life. As a really private person, my husband is adamant when it comes to our privacy and prefers not to reveal so much about our personal lives and our family, especially in this seemingly infinite virtual world where you don’t know who are getting hold of the information you share.
This entry is a very personal one but I believe I should share as part of my introspection as a
new “returning” blogger with a hope of inspiring and touching someone’s life. So before hitting the publish button of this post, I asked my husband to read it first and sought his approval.
Now, let me tell you my story about something that I strongly believe in: something that totally changed the way I view things, something that plays a really important part in my life — my faith and my personal relationship with Jesus.
My Life’s Greatest Moment
I grew up attending Sunday School at our church when I was a kid so the idea of God was not new to me. I listened to Bible stories, attended kid’s camps, fellowships and Daily Vacation Bible School, sang songs of worship and sang in the children’s choir. Like many other kids in our church, I was an active Sunday Schooler. But I didn’t understand what being a Christian and salvation mean until my adolescent years.
One day in my tiny room back home, I was reading the devotional book Our Daily Bread then I flipped the book to the last page which tells about the ABCs of salvation. It read:
Admit that you are a sinner. “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
Believe on Christ. “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31).
Confess your faith. “If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10)
I put special attention to these words and I knew that moment that I needed to dig deeper into what it meant. So I ran to Kuyang, my oldest brother who is a Christian and asked him what salvation means and why Jesus died on the cross for my sins. I didn’t accept the wonderful gift of salvation yet at that moment but I knew in my heart that was where I was going. On a separate occasion, I mentioned about what I read to Diko, my second to the oldest brother who is also a Christian, and the beautiful message of salvation was reaffirmed in my heart. Diko closed our conversation with this Bible verse:
“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Revelation 3:20 (NIV)
I locked up in my room after that heart-to-heart talk and prayed intently to the Lord and accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and personal Savior. I felt the presence of the Lord that moment, His loving arms wrapped around me and that was the greatest moment of my life – that night of April 21, 1999.
The Biggest Trial
I have been a Christian for 15 years now but my spiritual walk was a bumpy one. I backslid, stumbled and fell several times in my journey — wrong relationships, occasional drinking that got me home wasted at times, cursing among others — and justified my wrongdoings by reasoning that I’m an adult already and I have the liberty to do whatever I want with my life and that God is a God of forgiveness anyway. I felt a false sense of happiness and freedom during those times, but deep inside I knew there was a hallow, a God-shaped hole, in my heart. I was missing my First Love so bad.
I heard the Lord speak to me at my lowly times, telling me to come back to Him. I acknowledged His presence, tried to rekindle my relationship with Jesus by attending church service and joining a small group but that was short-lived. My heart was not really listening to the Lord and I didn’t turn away from the kind of life I was living, a life so far away from God. I was struggling with obedience to the Lord at the time.
In 2010, the unthinkable happened to me, something that I was not prepared for. I found out I was pregnant with my non-Christian boyfriend for 5 years who is now my husband. Upon seeing the 2 visible purple lines in the pregnancy test, my body began shaking and tears began welling in my eyes. I hoped those were tears of sheer joy and happiness but they were not. They were tears of heartbroken-ness, fears, shame and failure as all happened at the time when I felt like everything was just out of place in my life — I was spiritually down, my career seemed to be stagnant, I had no savings, I had a huge credit card debt to pay and we were not yet married and yet, we were going to have a child. And being the only girl in the family, I couldn’t imagine how my parents and brothers would react. This was not how I pictured things would pan out in my life.
“How am I going to tell about this to my parents?”
“What are the people going to think about me especially my churchmates?
“Am I ready to be a mother? How am I going to raise my child?”
These were just some of the questions that ran through my confused mind after learning about my pregnancy. But one thing I’m thankful for during that ordeal was that the Lord was there for me through my boyfriend-now-husband who never left and abandoned me, gave me strength to face the world, and stood by my side all the time.
After my crying spree and getting some clarity of thought, my boyfriend and I talked about our plans and next steps. He said he was going to marry me and we would build our own family. But for the immediate actions, he suggested that we tell my youngest brother, Sangko, who I shared the apartment I was living with, first about the situation then tell to my parents in the province.
In my solitude, I prayed to the Lord for forgiveness for disobeying Him and for strength and courage to confess about my situation to my family. I prayed that God would prepare their hearts and that I put whatever the outcome of that confession would be to His hands.
Together with my boyfriend, off we went home to my family in the province and made the most frightening admission in my life. We asked for forgiveness from my parents and told them about our plans of getting married before I gave birth. The house was filled with tears — from me, my dad and my mom — because of this unexpected event in our family. I didn’t hear them say, “Yes, we forgive you”, but I was thankful to the Lord that He softened my parents’ hearts and allowed them to accept what happened.
Coming Back to My First Love
Marriage and motherhood turned my life upside down. Almost four years of married life and now with two kids, the once self-centered woman that I was who thought nothing but myself now puts the needs of my family’s especially my kids’ above mine. More so, the same person who believed that love should be reciprocated at all times has learned to show love without expecting something in return when my first child came into this world.
Marriage and motherhood have also given me immeasurable happiness. I enjoy being with my family and spending every minute with them whenever I am home. I actually look forward to being home after work and I count the weekdays wishing it’s always Friday so that I get to spend more time with my family especially the kids on the weekends. I enjoy taking care of my kids’ needs — giving them a bath, changing their diapers, feeding them, eating, playing, reading books and bonding with them and putting them to sleep.
I embraced this change in my life so much that my family became my top priority and not God. I neglected attending Sunday worship service and reading the Bible for a long time. I felt okay with it because in my mind, I’m with my family anyway and I’m a wife and a mother already and who else am I supposed to prioritize but my husband and my kids. However, the happiness that this new life brought me didn’t feel complete. I knew that there was something missing and that is my relationship with Jesus which I set aside knowledgeably for quite sometime.
A few weeks ago, I was feeling a little down and lonely because of the emptiness I felt inside me. So while leisurely surfing the internet during lunchtime at work, it suddenly crossed my mind to visit the CCF website and check on the Sunday worship service messages and testimonies. As I read through the testimonies, tears began rolling down my cheeks. I was deeply moved and reminded that the God who saved me 15 years ago and gave me joy and contentment in life is the same God who continues to change lives and give fulfillment until today. And that no matter how many times we have ran and walked away from Him, He is just there waiting for us to open up our hearts to Him, ready to forgive. 1 John 1:9 says, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
God continued to speak to me through one of Pastor Peter Tanchi’s message during CCF’s 30th anniversary that I streamed online. Two things totally struck me:
1.) “You are either lost or found. If you are a follower of Jesus, you have been found, no longer lost. One who is lost is not in the presence of the Lord (2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). It is a tragedy to be lost. The greater tragedy is when you are lost, you do not admit that you are and you do not do anything about it.”
Those times when I knew that I was living far away from the Lord and getting lost but didn’t get bothered by it and didn’t even bother to do act on it and find my way back to Him, I already summoned myself to a great danger, a great tragedy.
2.) “Anything that takes the place of God in your life is an idol. It could be your career, wealth or relationships. Until you identify the idols in your life, it will be hard for you to follow Jesus. You must surrender them to Him.”
I put my family especially my kids on top of my priority list replacing God. I have created them as my idol without even being aware of it.
The beautiful thing amid all these realizations is the goodness of God and the greatness of His love for us that He is more than willing to lift us from where we fell and welcome us back to His arms. We may have been lost at some point in our lives, but we can be found. We may have deprioritized God, but we can always put Him back to His rightful place in our lives. We just need to acknowledge this, ask for forgiveness, turn our hearts back to Jesus and follow Him.
Identity in Christ
For quite a time in my spiritual walk specially those times when I was “lost”, I had an identity crisis. I was a Christian but living a non-Christian way. I couldn’t talk and I felt awkward talking about Jesus to anyone because I knew that my actions were not Christ-like, so I decided I better keep mum about my identity as a Christian. The devil had successfully deceived me.
Having been found again by the Lord, I am a work in progress and my character is continually being refined by God. As He teaches me again how it is to truly follow Jesus, I may and more likely to struggle and stumble again because of my imperfect, sinful nature. But I’m very definite of who I am now in Christ. Amidst all the challenges of being a follower of Jesus, I have got something to hold on: the promise of God’s love and grace that will take me through.
With my renewed faith, I have a choice to either claim and profess that I am a Christian and that Christ lives in me or just shove this truth away and get caught by the devil’s deception that my life is not a testimony of God’s love because of my sins. I choose to be clearly identified as a daughter of God and this is what will come out in my mouth and show in my actions through the grace of God.
I shared this very personal story of my faith because I want to establish my identity as a believer of Christ as I blog and reveal more about me and some of the things related to me and to not be ashamed about it. I also want to remind myself that I belong to the Lord and I’m bearing Christ’s name with me and therefore I should live a Christ-like life. Baring this layer of myself is part of the sharing and inspiring purpose of my blog that I hope and pray would somehow touch a person or two’s lives.