By Chrismae Laolao
This year will be unlike any of the 25 birthdays I had because I am celebrating my first birthday in the Church of God. Every tiny detail of the superficial life that I used to live, for all its trivialities and foolishness, prepared me for this new life. It took me so long to come to a full circle here, but God’s plans, albeit ironic, are always perfect that I cannot even begin to spell it.
For a long time (a little over 6 years to be precise, since my parents and siblings were baptized in the Church of God in March 2001), I had been a regular at countless mass indoctrinations/bible expositions/International thanksgivings in Apalit. I admit I did all that half-heartedly, if only to please my father so we wouldn’t have to fight over my apathy towards religion.
Although I went to a private catholic school for ten years and blindly celebrated their traditions because, hey it was fun to wrap and unwrap gifts during “Christmas”, I never really believed there was some ONE big and great who made things as they should.
Religion to me then was, to quote Karl Marx and the mantra of my activist/journalist friends in UP, an opium of the masses. I rallied with them for justice and higher state subsidy, to scrap STFAP and kill the education budget cut.
I wasn’t one to cry Amen. I believed, for all my cockiness that whatever I have achieved was because of sheer talent. (Not!) I couldn’t accept that the God in the bible actually tells you how you should live your life–to not chop off girls’ hair, wear long skirts, etcetera. And I was like, what??
Whatever happened to feminism? What of jeans and bobs? But whether I accepted the doctrines or not, I respect any printed material. Having written for UP-Mindanao’s University Publication for four years, I wouldn’t believe in anything if it wasn’t written down in black and white.
And such was the bible. And THE Bro. Eli who, by God, makes the bible come to life.
I started fearing for my soul especially because I traveled a lot. I didn’t want to be thrown in the lake of fire should the flight I was on crashed!
Then again it wasn’t enough for me to heed God’s beckon. I had been so driven with my own personal ambitions I couldn’t find a place in my heart for the “Dating Daan”. It came to a point when I would snap at my father and practically yell “hindi-ako-tupa-at-lalong-hindi-ako-tinawag” (I am not a sheep; more yet, I was not called.)
Woe to me! I can’t imagine I had given God so much heartache. I relied on my own capacities and drew from my own strengths until there was nothing left. A lot of the things I wanted did not happen, no matter how hard I worked to get it.
“Hindi kalooban” (Not God’s will), my father often told me. How convenient. I was stuck with the what-Mae-wants-Mae-gets syndrome. To cut the story short, I hit rock bottom. I’d wake up in the morning and wonder why I even bothered. Although I would soon brush it off as my regular out-and-out drama queen tendencies, deep in my heart I knew I lacked faith. It was truly God’s grace that I never tried to slit my wrists during those horrible days.
November 25 last year was one of the most emotional moments in my life. Like graduating from high school ten times over, and more! If I ever try to put it into more elaborate words just so you’d understand it’d probably lose its meaning altogether.
On that day I didn’t go back to Manila to take the Law Aptitude Exam at the UP College of Law, as was scheduled. I was supposed to transfer my MA units from Ateneo de Zamboanga University (ADZU) to the University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman this semester, but the Singapore job opportunity was hard not to accept.
Now, I am in a far better position than I could have planned or hoped for.
I can’t be more thankful to God for this chance, to know that I am breathing for a reason. I can’t be more blessed than today, and then each day until we all see His face. There can’t be a better gift than this chance.
Salamat sa Dios sa kanyang kaloob na hindi masabi. (Thanks be to God for his unspeakable gift).