It was sort of a requirement. My director asked me to go through the Living Waters program first before applying for the training to be a full time missionary. A close friend of mine had enormous challenge as a missionary trainee because of the different issues that surfaced during her training year. Our family background is so much the same. The training center would want to avoid such case. And so I got that message that I might cause the same mess if I won’t settle my issues prior to the training. I was badly hurt. I felt like my capacity as a person was marred by my family background. I thought to myself, “What’s wrong with this guy? How could he possibly refuse such an asset like me?” Nonetheless, I obeyed. I indignantly obeyed to be honest. I just want to get through this requirement.
Growing up from a broken family, I have learned to be a strong, self –reliant woman. My life is a constant chase between acceptance and self-worth. Side-line expectators are on the look-out to my failure. My elementary teacher concluded that I had difficulty maintaining my rank in the class because I have no mother; a church elder told me I might have multiple partners soon because my dad is such; a high school teacher said she won’t be surprised to hear someday I’m cohabiting with someone else. There seem to be no good expectation from a child who was left by her parents at the age of one; nothing even neither from my parents nor from my relatives. So I strived all the more to prove them wrong. I was quite successful I think. I drowned myself with ministry, grabbed every leadership opportunity, excelled in my academics, made it to a well-known university and even graduated with honors. Being the achiever in the family, I enjoyed the admiration and respect that I received from relatives and other people. I was the intelligent, pious girl of the family; a trophy my parents and relatives would always brag about. Yet, no matter how much I clouded my heart with medals, titles, and even ministry, it remained untouched, unalive.
Sitting there in the session hall with other fellows, hearing testimonies of abuse and brokenness, I was quite bored and afraid. “What the hell am I doing here?”, I thought to myself. “That’s not how horrible my life is”, I commented from one testimony over another. Or is it really not? Then God, being sometimes the “villain” won’t let my passivity hindered His activity. It was that particular lesson about narcissism and relational idolatry that I can no longer keep the thick wall of my heart. Surely, it’s easier to put the blame to my parents. After all, had it not been to their separation and selfish pursuit I wouldn’t suffer much from running life on my own, getting people’s approval, clinging from one person to another just to feel secure only to find myself ruined each time. No matter how much blame I poured to my parents for my misery, the Lord won’t stop dealing to my personal sinful responses which led to my predicament. For days, I struggled with the sense of loss to the self I knew as God revealed how I created a self acceptable by everyone around me; a self seemingly alive in the outside yet slowly decaying inside. I was bewildered as the lies of the enemy tried to fill in the empty unknown self. You are just a bitchy woman trying to draw people to you, a beggar for love and yet remained unloved. The lies were too real I forgot they were actually lies. I never felt unworthy as I was at that moment. I never saw myself on how a sinner I really was. The lies were crippling and my true state was too much to bear.
What can take a dying man and raise him up to life again? What can heal a wounded soul? What can make us white as snow? What can fill the emptiness? What can mend our brokenness? What restores our faith in God? What reveals the Father’s love? What can lead the wayward home? What can melt a heart of stone? What can free the guilty ones What can save and overcome?
The song echoed in my room as I tried to find solace to my aching heart. Forgiveness. Grace. Love. I have heard of these things already – even preached them. Yet the knowing could not progress to believing. Not that their power had been diminished but that I have not let the power overrule my heart, sweep me if it must until every trace of doubt and sin be washed and eclipsed by the Glorious One who alone saves.
The invitation to come at the foot of the cross on that particular Tuesday night wasn’t an ordinary one. I was uneasy, tripping over every thought of shame and doubt, wondering if I was worthy enough to take even just a single step closer. That place was full of agony and wailing I couldn’t endure. But where else can I find empathy and comfort? Who else can fully understand?
…There was nothing beautiful or majestic about his appearance, nothing to attract us to him.
He was despised and rejected— a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief…
[Yet] it was our weaknesses he carried; it was our sorrows that weighed him down.
[But] he was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins.
He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.
Isaiah 53:2-5 (New Living Translation)
Lingering there at the foot of the Cross, Love never failed to amaze me. Overwhelmed, I succumbed to the Man whose greatness was withheld so to endure every wound inflicted to Him just to give the wholeness He so desire for me to experience. It was there where my sorrow and His joy met, my death and His life kissed, my end and His beginning embraced. I cannot comprehend such sacrifice but it was enough to pierce the darkness in my heart and calm the turmoil within.
Even now, I know I am not yet free of struggles. The enemy is even working double time to reclaim his place I once allowed him to have. I still have to put guard on sentry duty to the lordship of Jesus in my heart. Only now, I am more than hopeful for He promised, “And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.” Ezekiel 36:26-27 (New Living Translation)
The Cross has never been more painful and piercing. Yet, it has never been so life giving.
Jesus reigns. Kristia