I was born into and raised in a Christian background, which was strongly influenced by my Filipino culture. As a child, I believed in God, Jesus, and the Holy Spirit, but it meant little to me outside of an hour-long Sunday mass every week. I knew God existed, prayed frequently, and even knew some stories from the Bible, but lacked the sense of understanding that is crucial in turning those written pages into God’s work throughout history. I was young, and didn’t exactly know where God stood in my life, nor the depth of Jesus’ sacrifice.
In 2008, my cousin Kaila introduced my family and me to Grace Community Church. It was the Easter service, and we all thought we’d give it a try to see what it was like. To say it was different would be an understatement. One thing I remember is that, rather than reciting songs that I didn’t know the meaning of, we worshiped with a full band, playing dynamic and modern-sounding music. But there was a bigger difference that I noticed in the people around me. Everyone seemed to be singing the songs with feelings of passion and abandon that I hadn’t seen anywhere else before. Pastor Mark delivered the first sermon with a message that I, for once, clearly understood. A simple yet important one – Jesus died on that cross and was resurrected for me, so that I could be granted the gift of eternal life in heaven. For the first time, it felt personal. This was what the people around me were so passionate about, and this was something that I knew I was called to be involved in. This moment sparked a growing desire in me to pursue Christ, and learn more about his love for me.
I wish I could say it was happily ever after following this, but fast forward a few years later, and I began my journey into college. My faith was there, but it had become somewhat passive and stagnant. I joined the Christian organization known as Cru in order to actively pursue my faith, and ended up being involved and meeting some of my best friends that I still hold dear to this day. It was these friends that would stand by me as I met one of the hardest faith challenges of my life.
During my sophomore year in 2016, I lost both of my grandparents, who had each played significant roles in raising me, my cousins, and my sister. Up to this point I had never lost someone so close to me, so losing them left a feeling of emptiness in my life.
Through the process of grieving I became lost, confused, and questioned God’s love for me. The pain also affected my family members, causing them to become bitter and resentful towards one another, eventually leading to a falling out. This created a sense of hopelessness in me, leading to emotional instability, and even affecting my grades in school. My heart was in a bad place, and I was broken.
But God wasn’t done with my story yet. Through his grace, I found healing in learning to celebrate my grandparents’ lives and keeping the lessons they had taught me. I have also learned the true meaning of praising God through the storm, and not losing sight of who he is. My family discovered forgiveness and was mended through time, patience, and, most importantly, God’s redemptive power. My life now is still far from perfect, but I embrace that imperfection. It helps me glorify Jesus, and the perfect life he led for me to learn from. It’s true that life’s storms will come, but I know now that I have an anchor that will hold me through all of it.
I am choosing to be baptized in order to continue pursuing an active faith and to profess that faith to the church that I’ve come to love and call home. I also want to use my story to inspire others who may be going through similar things that I went through. I want people who feel hopeless and broken to know that there is real, living hope found in a real, living God.