By Gracia K
I remember one particular moment when I was standing in front of the mirror combing my hair. As I looked at myself in the mirror, deeper questions about life surfaced. The questions posed to me were, “Who are you?”, “Why were you born?”, “What should you be doing with your life?”, “Where are you going?”
As a young 15-year old, I didn’t know the answers nor did I know how to go about finding answers for those questions. Looking back at that moment I saw it as a moment of grace. For me that experience was an instance of my God making Himself known to me. I am convinced now that we can only find our true selves when God is in our lives.
Anger With God
My teen years were not easy ones. I was 15 when I lost my father. Losing someone at that very fragile stage of a teenager’s life was traumatic. I didn’t know that I had to go through the process of grieving. I was angry with God. I found myself saying, “You took my father away so I don’t want to have anything to do with you.” And I also remembered asking myself questions like, “How come God has taken someone I love and who loves me? How can He say He is my God if he is a jealous God?” I disliked going to Mass, but I had to, because I felt guilty not going and because it would cause my mother further grief and worry.
The emptiness within
As the years went by I felt there was a bit of emptiness in my life but I was not giving it much attention. I thought it will just fade away. That perhaps it was just part of life of a growing young adult. I was focused with my studies and being careful not to mess up with it. I wanted to finish my studies and at the same I wanted to reward my mother for all her hard work in raising us her children. She had been the sole breadwinner for the family.
I finished third level and I was lucky to get a teaching post right after graduation. I was happy with it. I thought then that from there I would build my future. But I felt unfulfilled and my life seemed empty. I felt the emptiness in me and I felt the hunger. I also felt burdened by the emptiness and I didn’t know what to do with it. It was this time in my life when I began to get much closer to God. I began to pray. I started talking to God as I would to a friend I trusted.
A covenant with my God
Time came and went. One particular night, I was preparing my lesson for my class the following day. This time I was at my lowest ebb as I was not getting any answers after my so-called efforts, of my so-called searching and waiting for God’s response. Then I kind of heard an inner voice saying ‘Stop’. ‘Just stop’. ‘Listen to me’. I knew then the time has come. I felt a divine presence, a loving presence. A presence reaching out to me so lovingly and generously.
In a moment I felt the urge to cry. I didn’t know why I should be crying but I cried. Literally I felt my tears flowing profusely down my cheeks. I felt so loved in this Divine presence. There I reached out to God as I never did before. It was only when my tears began rolling down my cheeks that I understood why I needed to cry. It was time for ‘surrender’. I reached out to him in all my emptiness, in my fears and anxieties, in my unanswered searching, in my inability to do things on my own without God in my life, in my unfulfilled life, in all that I was, raw and broken.
It was at this moment I ‘surrendered’ to God. Surrender I say because I had to let go of the barriers that were hindering me from my relationship with God. I had to let go of my pride and learned to bow in humility before God. I had to let go of my inability to trust. Before when I was asking God what he wanted me to do with my life, they were just empty words. Before, there was caution, fear and worries. And I was not letting them go. But on this particular night, I needed to die from my pride, from my fears, worries, anxieties and my limitations.
Yet in my process of dying to these, there emerged a new understanding, a new meaning to the relationship I had with God that I was to embrace. It meant recognizing my dependence on a higher being, a life force, the god – presence at work in my life and to accept the challenges that came with building this relationship with God. That is trusting in God’s love and providence. Surely for me, this moment was an acknowledgement of God’s presence and my nothingness without him.
Entering into deeper relationship with God, called for a commitment. To listen more and to spend more time with him. As I listened more, I felt drawn to look at those deep questions that I have been wondering about for some time already. It was through this deeper encounter with God that I began to hear some kind of answer to my questions and pondered them even more in my heart as Mother Mary did.
One day, I was talking to a nun and she asked me if I wanted to subscribe to the ‘Misyon’ Magazine, a magazine published by the Columban Fathers. Thinking that it would be a good material for my religion classes I put forward a subscription. I received my first copy of the magazine and as I flicked through the pages, I saw in one of the pages, an ad saying, ‘Have you thought of being a lay missionary?’. I was struck by this statement. I thought to myself, ‘I never heard of a lay person going on mission before. It was interesting I thought. I put it aside and have not given it much thought.
At last, an answered prayer
I was clearing a cabinet and there I saw the magazine again. I was reminded of what I read in it a year previously. I looked at the page again. Then it dawned on me that this could have been the answer to my prayers all along. It felt like I finally got the answer. It felt right and I needed to do something with it. Maybe it was chance, coincidence or fate. I felt it was time to make a decision and to follow the desire of my heart. I also felt that God was with me on it. Then decision time came. It was not an easy one to make as I would have to leave the comfort of being with family and friends and a job.
It was also around this time of my searching that my heart has been awakened to love but even then, it did not stop me from following my call. Taking all these factors in my discernment, I felt that the call to follow God’s will was stronger. So in joyful faithfulness to the covenant God and myself made, I felt it was time to seek what my calling meant and make it a reality.. . There then began my vocation to the Columban Lay Missionaries.
Sixteen years passed. Life on mission has its challenges, its joys and sorrows. And through it all, God has constantly shown his love for me through the people I met on my journey as a missionary. They give me life and hope. I pray that I may grow each day in faithfulness to my God and meet each new day with joyful anticipation of what is to come.