For months I’ve been thinking of how to write this blog. To tell you honestly, as I write this now, I still don’t know how it’s all gonna pan out. All I know is I want to tell my story, because I need to tell my story. I’m sure a lot of people will tune out as soon as they see the word Jesus or once I start talking about what I believe in. I know so because I was like that before I even gave Jesus a chance to show me what He’s all about. Looking back, I was really mean to those who believed in Jesus, to those who said they have been ‘born again.’ The moment my friend mentioned Jesus, I told her to shut up. To some, like my family, I was a bit more polite (I think) to decline church invitations and other church events. Whether I was polite or rude, it all boiled down to I didn’t want to have anything to do with this whole church and faith thing they were all so crazy about. Not my cup of tea, thank you. I don’t know why I was so negative about it, I guess I just felt the whole “if you’re not born again you won’t enter heaven” line I heard when I was a kid made me go “OKAY?! YOU CAN HAVE YOUR HEAVEN THEN” I remember even saying, a number of times actually, that I would NEVER want to be a “born again” Christian. Oh little did I know that the Jesus that I mocked, was the exact person who’d pull me out of the deep dark whole I burried myself in.
I grew up going to a catholic church, a catholic school and eventually a catholic university. I went to hear mass but I would usually fall asleep. I tried to read the Bible our school required us to buy, but I never got past Genesis. I knew the prayers and the rosary, but I wasn’t really crazy about it. I’d try to confess my sins right before our quarterly or semestral exams, hoping that would help me answer the questions I barely studied for. I knew some saints, but never really knew their feast days or what they did….so I guess I wasn’t really a good catholic.
My parents were good folks. They had an amazing relationship, and my relationship with them was and still is really good. So they can never be blamed for all the wrong decisions I made, specially after I graduated from college. (Just saying, coz I’ve heard so many people blame the family they were born into, and I just want to set the record straight – because I owe it to my family, after everything I put them through).
I could tell you every little juicy detail of every wrong decision I made before getting to where I am now…but that wouldn’t be necessary. But just so you have an idea of how deep that whole I was buried in….
Right after college I got pregnant. I almost got married but lost my baby 3 or 4 months into the pregnancy. The wedding was off and I moved on. I got into a relationship my family didn’t approve of, so I left them to live with him. It was a very challenging relationship but I learned a lot from it. As it ended, we explored our options. Not knowing anyone or anything, except for an emailed job offer as a receptionist at a local pub, I decided to leave my year and a half old son to work in London. I left Manila broken, I was hoping to come back fixed, or at least something close to it. Almost six months later, I thought I had actually achieved it when I came home calm and collected and at peace with the universe.
To deal with my loneliness in London I partied hard. Those were the craziest months of my life. I once went to a party and the place literally looked like hell. Big and small candles were all over the place, I’m surprised it didn’t burn down the warehouse. I mean, with the number of drink and high people in that packed place. It was insane. Drugs were sold left and right, people who had passed out just lay there, it was hot and sticky and the place wreaked of sweat and vomit and I should stop right about now. You get the picture, I’m sure. Eventually I ended up working an office job. I thought the craziness would end but it was far from over. Our boss, who was new in town, made us look for stuff she could snort and make her high. I still have no idea how, but we got her what she needed. As soon as we handed her the goods, she made a line for us and told us to snort it or we were fired. So we did. She gave me a little extra which I kept ever so safely at home…and I knew things were getting really bad when I used it one saturday afternoon when I was alone – just so I could clean the house. What?!
But I wasn’t really worried about what I was doing to my mind, body and spirit because every morning I would get up really early, take a bath so I would be clean as I presented myself to the gods as I did yoga, with my flat mate who was an esoteric yoga instructor. I’d cleanse myself with crystals too, so I felt it was all good. If I wanted something out of this world, all I had to do was talk to the universe and ask if for what I wanted.
What I really wanted was love, because aside from missing my son so bad, and I also desperately wanted to be loved by a man. There was just such a void in my life and I thought I needed to find that man who would fill that void. So I dated. A lot. But nothing really worked out, surprise, surprise.
Like I said, I came home calm and collected and at peace with the universe. But looking back, I think that was all just on the outside because truth is, on the inside, I was more confused than ever and I was crushed beyond repair….
A few months after I got back from London, I went back to working at the call center I was with before I left, but this time as a language trainer. I felt it gave me an amazing platform to talk about esoteric yoga, crystals, meditation and communicating with the universe. I had even told a number of classes that I was planning to go to India to study to become a yoga teacher and eventually put up my own yoga center here in Manila.
One afternoon as I was teaching a class, all of a sudden I felt really cold, it was coming from behind me. There was already a lot of talk that the room we were in was haunted, so it was no surprise to any of us when one of my students said she saw a spirit put her arms around me. They told me to tell the spirit to go away. As soon as I said “go away” – I felt like something or someone was sucking out all my energy from my right side. Feeling so wobbly and unbelievable weak, I remember sitting down and dropping my head on the table and my heart rate was way up there (according to a few students who were actually nursing graduates.) Then I felt like my whole back was on fire and I think that’s when I started crying. My students then had me lie down on the long table in our room as I was starting to get hysterical. The guys in class were trying to pin me down but I was able to kick and scream and push them away. I remember my tummy lifting and dropping, bending my body like crazy, my head turning side to side. I remember my spirit crying for help, I wanted it to stop, whatever it was. At least 8-10 guys tried to carry me to the car but they found it so difficult because I weighed way more than I should have.
When we got to the hospital I had three more attacks. After every attack I felt so weak. They sent a priest in but the doctors sent him away soon after he did what he had to do. I remember seeing two doctors laugh at me. They probably thought it was all an act, or that I was crazy. A lot of people must have assumed that too. I can’t blame them. It all sounds coo-coo to me too. And to be able to put on an ‘act’ like that…I should have switched careers in a heart beat. I wish it was all just a nightmare, but it wasn’t.
A few days later I had to host a big gig. It was a big beer gig. I remember telling my friend that I felt horrible, I almost didn’t finish the gig. As soon as I got home, he helped me settle in. Half my body was burning hot while half my body was ice cold. I could barely move that night, and the day after. I was just so weak. The next day, my mum came over to check on me and to be with me since it was my 27th birthday. When I saw the look on her face when she saw me, I knew my condition was serious. I was almost paralyzed and all I wanted at that point was for everything to be over. People around me asked if I wanted a pastor or a priest to pray for me. I was determined that I still didn’t need God. What I needed was a paranormal or a faith healer, and that’s what I got.
On the night of my birthday, a faith healer with a candle and basin filled with water started telling me about how I needed to pray. He told me that the people I talk to believe in what I say, so I should make sure that I what I talk about is right. He said so many other things and most of them were about God, believe it or not. Even he seemed surpirsed abuot the words that were coming out of his mouth.
That night I TOLD God to heal me. And I thought that was that. I was so full of myself, I tell you. The next day I felt a bit better and I thought things would be back to normal and that I was ‘healed’. But the day after, it was back. I started to turn red in class and I felt like I was gonna explode (and that’s the only way I can possibly explain how I felt). I knew I needed help and this time I was determined to see my uncle who was a pastor. It was mid afternoon when I showed up, unannounced, at his place. At that point I was nauseous, I felt like I was a huge balloon just about ready to pop. Oh it was such a horrible feeling. After I told my uncle and his wife what had been happening, they started to pray for me. I remember stopping them at one point to ask why I didn’t feel anything. I was so sure I was supposed to cry and breakdown, or something like that. But all I felt was my stone hard heart, thumping as stubborn as ever. They told me that I had to want it, I had to pray, I had to ask God to forgive me and I had to ask Jesus into my heart. I was desperate and I was at a point where I would do anything to end my nightmare. So I prayed. I don’t really remember what I said but I’m pretty sure I got the message across that I needed someone to save me from where I was and being the superman that He is, God touched my heart.
You know how I know? Because I felt it. I felt my stone hard heart melt from top to bottom. You can say God isn’t real. You can say what happened to me was something medical, or something insane or made-up. You can say whatever you want and you can call me whatever you want but I will say it over and over and over….God is real. God touched my heart because I felt it and nothing can make me deny it. After that prayer I was healed. I was better. Way better. The nightmare was over, and so was my old life.
My uncle gave me a Bible that night and when I got home I started to read it. I read more the day after. Then I read some more. I read beyond Genesis, and this time I understood what it was saying. I was like a baby thirsty for milk. A thirst coming from deep down was being quenched every time I read my Bible. It was nothing short of amazing. Then slowly, things started to change in my life as I read the Bible, joined a Bible study/small group and went to church to get spiritually fed. Then the words ‘born again’ started to make sense.
I am by no means perfect five years after I admitted I needed Jesus to save me. I am still a work in progress like everyone else. I still find it hard to forgive every now and then. I still catch myself wanting to take the easy way out when things get tough. I still make a few wrong decisions every now and then. But what’s different is now I know and accept that I need and I want help. If I make a wrong turn here and there, or if I trip or fall, I know someone is gonna give me nudge and point me towards the right direction. I know that someone’s gonna pick me up, dust me off and help me carry on. Now I have a relationship with the God of the Bible. Remember that void I was talking about? That void is filled now. I now live each day knowing that no matter what I do, I am loved unconditionally by God – and His love, it’s different. It makes you do crazy awesome things you never thought you would do. The high I get from thinking about God or talking to God is way better than the high any pill has ever given me.
Oh now I remember one of the reasons why I didn’t want to be a Christian!! I thought I’d end up living a boring life, no longer being able to party and go crazy. I WAS WRONG. The God of the Bible has such an incredible way of making you feel he loves you. One thing I know for sure is He is a God who loves parties too! I was at a birthday party one time when I met Ron and Joyce of the Edge Radio (a Christian media ministry here in manila). Meeting them jump-started my radio and voicing career and a few months later I started working full time as a media missionary at The Edge. Now, not only are Ron and Joyce my mentors, but they are also two of my closest friends.
It was also at a party where Rommel and I got to hang out and talk for the first time…and well, obviously that worked out! 🙂 After everything I’ve done and everything I’ve been through, God gave me a man who would honor me and respect me for who I am. I am blessed to have a husband who sees me as God’s precious princess and not as a rag doll. I am blessed to have Rommel as my husband. Period.
As I look at my two kids and husband sleeping as I write this, I cannot help but feel so grateful to God for giving me this life. Would I have still been blessed with all this if I didn’t have Jesus in my life? Most probably. But the difference is, now I have someone to thank for this beautiful life. And dear reader, believe it or not, that high – that feeling that you can say a big THANK YOU to someone way way bigger than the universe feels way better than giving yourself a pat on the back, saying all this happened because of you.
Grace. It is amazing. Really. And yes, it’s true. God, He is good. So it’s well worth giving Him a chance. If you don’t like what you see or what you become, you can always say ‘it’s not my cup of tea’ just like I did. But know that no matter what you say, He loves you and that’s the truth. 🙂
Happy 5th birthday to me. Thank God I was born again. 🙂