#YouAreLoved at #TheFeast

I met this girl in college. She was a good companion, maayos kausap, at masayang kasama. Eventually, we engaged into a romantic relationship.

Ang definition ko ng love noon was “I will give everything.” So I eventually gave myself and everything to this girl. Mahal ko eh! Basta masaya siya, okay na ako kahit hindi ko unahin ang sarili ko. Hanggang sa hindi na ako nagsisimba kasi I was so focused on her. Dito na rin ako nagsimulang maka-experience ng premarital sex, and we became addicted to it.

Kabibigay namin ng sarili namin sa isa’t isa, huli na nang ma-realize namin na nauubos na ang pagkatao namin. Lagi na kaming nag-aaway. Mabilis na akong mainis at magalit. Naging on and off ang relationship namin until eventually, we decided to break up. Ang natatandaan kong dahilan ng break-up ay dahil din sa addiction ko sa computer games. #DOTA #LOL pa more!

March 2015, I started flirting with different girls and engaging in premarital sex. I did these things to feed my addiction. Gusto ko ring patunayan kay Ex na hindi lang siya ang babae sa mundo at kaya ko pang magmahal ulit.

Days passed, I realized na siya pa rin ang gusto ko. I prayed na makapag-usap kami ulit. It happened eventually, but I was too late. Meron na siyang iba, and three months nang pregnant. I didn’t blame her, kasalanan ko naman talaga kung bakit siya nawala.

THE GRAVEST SIN

After that, I became devastated and depressed, so I continued my vices and addiction. I went to different bars alone. I hooked up with different girls.

Then another storm came into my life. Nakabuntis ako ng ibang babae. ‘Di ko alam ang gagawin ko kasi ‘di ko naman siya mahal. And this is the first time that I’m sharing this in writing…

Sa takot ko, I asked her to ABORT THE CHILD.

So it happened. I committed the gravest sin. It’s all on me.

Fast forward, I was so scared kay God. Sobrang lumayo ako sa Kanya, and hindi ako makatuntong sa simbahan. I accepted my fate na wala na talaga. I even thought of killing myself kasi alam kong sa impiyerno na ako didiretso eh. Kaya lang natakot din akong patayin ang sarili ko. I even ended up asking God na kunin Niya na lang ako. I lived like a walking dead. ‘Yung tipong gigising ka, you feel empty and guilty. Walang direction sa buhay.

November 2015, my auntie told me na pumunta ng Kerygma Conference. Sabi ko, “Ha? Ano ‘yan? Alive-alive, alien-alien ‘yan eh!”

“Naku! Naibili ka na ng ticket.”

“‘Wag na. Benta n’yo na lang sa iba.”

Then eventually, na-convince niya ako. “Maraming chicks dun!”

Sabay sabi ko, “Ah, sige. Saan ba ‘yan? Ito na nga, magbibihis na ako eh.”

FINALLY HOME

So I went to Kerygma Youth Conference 2015. Pagpasok ko pa lang, kinilabutan na ako. Hindi ko maintindihan. ‘Yung purpose kong mang-chicks sana naiba. I started raising my hands. Hindi ko namalayang unti-unti nang pumapatak ang aking luha habang sumasabay sa pagkanta. (That time, ‘di ko alam na worship na pala ang tawag doon.) Kasama ko puro youth na dati sa bar ko lang nakikita, pero meron din pala roon. Maiingay pa rin at nagtatalunan, kaso this time, may kasama eh. May iba na hindi ko mapaliwanag.

Until I met someone na nagbigay sa akin ng sagot, hindi lang sa araw na ‘yon, kundi sa lahat ng mga nangyari sa akin. He became my best friend. He accepted me. He embraced me. And He loved me. His name is JESUS. Wala akong narinig kay Lord that time kundi, “WELCOME HOME, MY SON.” In the Parable of the Prodigal Son, I was the son who returned and was accepted by the father after all the sins I did.

You know what’s ironic? The theme of Kerygma Conference 2015 was Coming Home. This was the time when I slowly started to learn how to love and accept myself. This was the time when I stopped running away from God. Tama na ang tago; suko na ako sa pagmamahal Niya na hindi ako tinigilan hanggang makabalik ako sa Kanya. Ang nasabi ko na lang, “I’M HOME, GOD.”

God didn’t stop there. When I was in Kerygma, I told Him, “Lord, gusto kong mag-serve sa ‘Yo. I want to stand there in front and lead Your people through prayer.” (‘Di ko alam na ang tawag pala dun ay worship leader.)

Around three to four months later, I became a worship leader in Feast Baliwag. I started growing my faith and relationship with God. I also found my spiritual family that eventually became my brothers and sisters in Christ. Isa sila sa instruments ni God to help and guide me in my spiritual faith.

UNCONDITIONAL

One day, I decided to go to confession. Kinakabahan ako habang naghahanap ng pari. (Coincidentally, the name of the priest is Father JESS.) I told him everything—my addiction, suicidal tendencies, and abortion. What he told me next astounded me. Sabi niya, “Anak, mukhang gustong-gusto ka talagang patawarin ng Panginoon ngayon. Alam mo ba, na recently lang, ibinaba na sa amin na puwede na kaming tumanggap ng mga ganyang klase ng confession. Dati, sa isang bishop ka lang puwedeng mag-confess ng ganyan.”

Wala na akong nagawa kundi umiyak nang umiyak sa harap ni Father.

I asked him kung ano penance ko. I was already expecting na mga 200 na Our Father, Hail Mary, and Glory Be every day. Pero ito ‘yung sinabi niya: Ang ultimate penance ko is to say 1 Our Father, 1 Hail Mary, and 1 Glory Be.

I asked, “‘Yun lang po ba talaga, Father?”

And he answered, “Hindi.” Dahil sunod niyang sinabi na sa bawat batang makikilala ko, ituring ko itong parang anak ko. Ito ay panghabambuhay kong gagawin.

Hindi ko na pinigilan pa, inilabas na lang lahat ng kaya ko pang ilabas na luha.

Ito ang isa pang surprise sa akin. Sa curiosity ko, inalam ko ang buong pangalan ni Father Jess, at nalaman ko na siya si Reverend Father JESUS G. Cruz. I was speechless and ayun, iyak pa more.

God didn’t stop surprising me there. Around September 2016, I was called to become the Youth head for this amazing group of young people in our Feast. Siguro ito na ‘yung sinasabi ni Father Jess sa akin? It’s a penance yet a big blessing.

Nung 2017, sa Best Year Ever talk series, I was called to preach the Word of God in our Feast. Fast forward, I also became part of the Singles Ministry. So ‘eto na, napunta ako ng Feast QC dahil sa Love Life Retreat and sa friend ko na babae. (Her name is Maria Michaela Azagra or simply Mikka, worship leader and singer sa Feast QC FT).

God made me grow spiritually for almost three years of serving and loving Him.  Kaya pang-finale: MIKKA BECAME MY GIRLFRIEND—one of my biggest blessings from God.

Sabi nga nila, save the best for last. Kapag complete and ready ka na, God will lead you to someone who is the same as you are.

Let me end with a reading: “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” (2 Chronicles 7:14.) 

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