Not until a couple of months ago I was agnostic, and this isn’t something I usually say out loud. A lot of things just didn’t make sense to me and a huge part of my disbelief came from seeing other people who know their Bible verses, regularly go to church every Sunday, and proclaim God’s name whenever something good happens to them or whenever they try to ask for something but then these are the same people who are always so quick to judge and discriminate or do a lot of un-Christian things. I just couldn’t stand it and at the same time I didn’t want to end up like them. My resolve was to go on with my life, trudge on, and make my own destiny. I thought, Hey, I can go and pursue whatever I want as long as I don’t hurt anyone, right?
And so I tried to live life attempting to reach a sense of independence and accomplishment, none of which I achieved. Even when I tried to be a doer instead of nothing but a plain ol’ dreamer, I still felt like I was wandering aimlessly. I had a goal in mind but it didn’t seem to be working for me. If it was, then why were there moments where I’d lie wide awake at night feeling a deep sadness I couldn’t explain? I’d read all these self-help or inspirational books and feel enlightened for a flickering moment and then it’s gone. It was like no matter what I did, nothing could completely fill the void that I had.
I had Christian friends, both from my high school and even work, who’d share the Gospel with me, but I always had my ears covered (figuratively). I didn’t like being told what to do and I didn’t like someone else’s faith being forced unto me. I couldn’t appreciate those people who preach in public transportation especially if after sharing the Word of God, they’d hand out envelopes, asking for donation. I questioned their motives. I didn’t want to be a victim to those who prey on other people’s faith for their own gain. My own father would also tell me to pray whenever I have self-doubt or feel sad but I just couldn’t get into it.
So what changed? To be honest, I still am baffled and in awe at how the Lord has worked His way to me and in me.
I had just spent Christmas and New Year with Mico and his family in Maryland and he was driving me to Washington, DC where I’d be riding a bus back to New York. A song was playing on the radio. I’m not sure exactly what song it was but it was a worship song. I was reminded of my late grandmother who would always sing songs of praise. I remembered the tattered and yellowed pages of a book or a pamphlet that contained all the worship songs which she had taught me to sing. All of a sudden everything that didn’t make sense to me finally did, and I was awakened to the fact that all this time, I didn’t even know exactly what it was I that I had been rejecting.
It took me a while to completely open up about my renewed faith here because I wasn’t so sure how I should even begin to tell my story. And even after a couple of paragraphs down, as I am writing this, I’m not quite sure if what I’m trying to share makes sense in another person’s eyes.
Just a week ago, I was up late at night and I was crying really hard because I felt inadequate. It’s one of the motions that I go through every now and then that I can’t quite explain. Sometimes I’d feel worse for feeling what I feel because I’m conscious of the fact that I probably have it easier than a lot of people out there but it’s something that I struggle with even to this day. And amidst of all the tears that I tried hard not to shed but still did, I was praying really hard to God to take away the self-doubt, the sadness, and the pain that I was feeling.
I had always wondered how it happens—praying and eventually getting those prayers answered. I’ve heard friends tell me how in times of doubt or not knowing what to do, they’d ask God for help or guidance and that God eventually answers them. Even in a non-spiritual sense, I wasn’t one to completely believe in or hope for “signs” that would tell me which is the right path to take. I wondered if it was something that could happen to me and it did. It wasn’t until last night that I finally got a response from God.
I decided to join a Hillsong connect group meeting in Jackson Heights last night and the message was about “Making Progress” and at its very core, it says that whenever you feel like you’re not going anywhere in life, just put your faith in Him and follow obediently and remember that He is always with you. You are never alone.
In such a fast paced life that we have today, we’re always looking to get everything that we want in an instant, forgetting that not everything is available to us the moment we want it or the moment we ask for it. Sometimes we have to learn how to be patient and that being at a standstill isn’t all that bad. Because sometimes it’s in these quiet moments that the Holy Spirit is trying to work out God’s provision for us. So wait and allow for the Holy Spirit to move. This was God’s answer to my feeling of inadequacy. All these things that I wished I had right now but didn’t have are just things. Things that I probably couldn’t bring with me to eternity. I was reminded that sometimes having enough is better than nothing at all. That simply being alive right now is already a huge blessing and something that I should not take for granted.
There’s something to be said about the humility I feel right now as I share these words, this story. I finally found who could fill that void in my heart. He’s always been there, I just refused to see Him and the fullness of His love.
23 Jesus replied, “Anyone who loves me will obey my teaching. My Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. 24 Anyone who does not love me will not obey my teaching. These words you hear are not my own; they belong to the Father who sent me.
25 “All this I have spoken while still with you. 26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. 27 Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.
— John 14:23-27 (NIV)