Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Grace Under Pressure

By Ma Fe Corazon Arienza
CLM Trainee

Azon, from Cabadbaran City, Agusan Del Norte, is one of two currently in orientation with CLM Philippines. 

When you ask God to do something for you, be prepared for His answer. You might be surprised on the funny ways He will reveal it to you. That’s what happened to me. As I look back from four months ago, I can’t help but remember the reluctant girl who came in the Columban Lay Mission (CLM) house. I was debating with myself if I am making the right decision to join the program.

The orientation program for me is my second chance to life, a second chance to create a better version of myself. When I started my CLM journey, my first prayer to God is for him to mold me to a person He wants me to be as His and I got my first lesson in humility few months after. People who knew me back home know that I am not a forgiving person. In fact, I was often viewed as arrogant, bossy, proud and stuff like that. That experience I have had on humility was really tough and I cried so much for it. I cried because it was so much harder to fight against yourself. That feeling when you wanted so much to retaliate because you felt that you were wronged but said “I’m sorry” instead. It was never easy, but I’ve grown to embrace the beauty of becoming at the receiving end because you get to test where your limit is and you felt good in the end knowing that you have won over your greatest enemy----yourself. I guess what helps me to have won over myself is that I bear in my mind and in my heart that it was me who asked God to mold me into His liking. He only responded so I have to do my part of being open for the fulfillment of His task.

During a mission promotion in Olongapo City
And another few months after, the lesson on being selfless was revealed to me. As the youngest in the family, I am used to having all of the attention and provided with all of my wants. When I came here there are a lot of things that I don’t understand. There are a lot of people as well that is hard to understand. But God revealed to me that the people I encountered are mirrors and they are a reflection of myself. I am also the type of person who’s hard to understand and perhaps they’re struggling also to do the same. I learned that we came to hate people because we failed to understand them and we don’t like how they remind us of ourselves. We failed to get to know who they really are because we are selfish---I was selfish. I only accepted situations when it’s not difficult, I only like people when they’re of the same interests as mine. In here, I came to appreciate the beauty of diversity and individuality. That what bridge the gap between my uniqueness and that of others is our respect for each other. That we cannot ask somebody to change for us because that is beyond our control but there is that one person that we can get a hold of and that is our self. Lesson; change must come from within.
With classmates during Integration Day at the Institute of Formation and Religious Studies

Perhaps the hardest lesson I’ve ever encountered in the orientation program is forgiving myself. I never liked silence. I’m uncomfortable with silence because in silence there are a lot of thoughts that enter my mind and mostly it goes back to confrontation with myself. In one of my reflections, I realized that I never knew how broken I was until I chose to confront my past. There are a lot of things that we have done in the past that we are not proud of. There are situations that we let ourselves into and wish we hadn’t gone to that stage. These are the hardest to let go because you felt that you are unworthy to experience happiness. And for me to be tied to my past is my way of accepting that it might be my punishment so I have to carry it with me. But God revealed to me that I am not defined by my past. I was not my past. Just like what 2 Corinthians 5:17 says “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” That’s why we were given every new day to remind ourselves that God is giving us another chance to redeem and revive ourselves. 

I know I will have more of these learnings, lessons, revelations or whatever they are called as I continue on my quest to becoming what God wants me to be. There will still be lots of happy moments to experience and challenging ones too. I will still come across with difficult situations and difficult people but I know in my heart that If I keep on reminding myself that it’s God who holds the biggest space in my life, no disappointments could ever make me turn my back on Him. I’m glad I said YES!

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