Growing up, I had bullied and had been bullied as well. In high school, I participated in riots, got caught by the teacher cheating, slept or played “luksong baka” during classes, distributed pornographic materials and watched them with my “barkada,” drank alcoholic beverages inside and outside the campus on a regular basis, and the list goes on and on.
Unlike some adolescents who became delinquents because of family problems, my case was different. My family has been very supportive all throughout my life. They taught me values, granted me understanding and forgiveness, extended financial help, and gave me all the love in the world.
But as a teenager, I was greatly influenced by my “barkada.” They are rich, and I pretended to be like them to gain approval. So instead of doing something to improve myself, I got into the hobby of weaving white lies, eventually turning my whole life into a one big lie. I wasn’t able to pursue the things I really wanted because I was busy being someone else. Concepts remained concepts. Dreams remained dreams. I got older and older, but inside, I was still a child.
My unscrupulous lifestyle continued until college, the intensity and magnitude of my curiosity and vices escalating. I went to parties all the time, flirted, and even slept with women. I even considered it a hobby offering romantic hope to women despite not really being interested. I chose DOTA over having good grades, tried marijuana, had Tinder dates, and stole money from my family numerous times. Again, the list goes on and on. I enjoyed the ride and lived in what millennials call YOLO.
Then came payback time.
One night after work, my workmates and I had a drinking session in a bar with dim lights, dance floors, towers of beer and drinks, loud noise, and plenty of opportunities to know almost everybody. We had fun drinking, cursing our boss, dancing, flirting with girls. I was so drunk when I finally decided to go home.
It was 4 AM. I was walking along the streets of Cubao on wobbly legs, just trusting my instinct. I don’t really know how I got into a bus which dropped me off some gas station along Monumento. I tried getting a taxi, but in my obvious drunken state, no one wanted to take me in. Worse, my vision faded and my burned-out body slowly collapsed on the pavement where cars drive through toward that gas station. Like a man possessed, I hysterically screamed and shouted for help. I didn’t care what people would think of me; my only concern was to survive.
I have avoided death a couple of occasions in my life, but that was the worst/luckiest avoidance of death—I could’ve been run by a car, stabbed by dangerous strangers, or probably got into prison for causing a scandal. But yes, the latter part almost became true when a police officer dragged me to a safe place, waited for me to calm down, gave me water to drink, and asked for my mom’s number. He called my mom to pick me up. Luckily, my brother was home that time to help my mom hoist me into the car and bring me home.
When I woke up the following morning, the first text that I received was from the police officer. He wished me well and reminded me never to do it again. I cannot recall his face, but the first thing that came to my mind was: Is he God?
During that near-death experience, I finally saw God’s work in my life.
I’ve encountered rejections while trying to engage in a romantic relationship,* which I’ve been longing to have, but realized later on that they were just God’s redirection. He knows I am not ready yet and may just hurt women if I insist on doing so.
He gave me Patrick, my youngest brother who was diagnosed with autism, to teach me how to be responsible, patient, and accepting of other people.
He redirected me from being an engineering aspirant to being a Psychology graduate—making me realize that the ones I like may not be the things that will make me grow. It reminded me that His plans for me are bigger than mine.
He sent my Christian Living Education teacher in high school to require me to render hours of service in the church, thus, paving the way to what I love doing now—being an instrument of His love as a church servant.
I believe it’s not a mere coincidence that Daddy Obet Cabrillas, the first Feast builder God introduced to me, had a past similar to mine. Also, my spiritual community consists of young faithful followers of Jesus who had faced problems bigger than mine but have a bigger heart because of Him. Through these, I gained what was lacking in my life: a personal relationship with God, thus, creating a pathway to a life directed by Him.
IN GOOD HANDS
It is never too late to walk with God. It is never right to say that age does matter, when our God doesn’t give us any age restrictions when applying to Him, any mileage for us to keep up with Him, or any deadlines for our faith.
He is a God of unlimited mercy and unconditional love. He is a God whose love is far greater than any of our sins.
Yes, there are still many questions left unanswered, goals unreached, visions unclear, but surely, answers are truly inside our faith. I know if I worry less, blessings will chase after me.
“Lord Jesus, I’m sorry that I had to become vulnerable first before I learned to trust in You. I surrender everything to You. I do not know what future lies ahead of me, but with You, I’m willing to take it one step at a time knowing I’m in good hands.”
* Editor’s Note: This sharing was written in 2017. At present, Bro. Kevin is already happily in a relationship with a fellow servant whom he met through the Feast Singles. Truly, God grants the desires of our heart at the time we are ready.