My husband and I are currently attending a 5 month catholic program called School of Mission (SOM), organised by the ICPE Missionaries in Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. Being in such an environment really challenged me to come back to who God really says he is, and what this means for me, therefore allowing my faith to be real and practical in my life.
Laying Down False Ideas
A big part of this journey involves laying down the false ideas I have of God (or who I made God out to be). Having the opportunity to look back at my childhood and looking at my family of origin, I found that the false image of God I’ve carried around with me all these years is that of the ‘overseas parent’. Growing up, my dad had worked long hours to support the family, hence we had few deep moments of connections. However, I knew that if I needed any form of financial support or if something major happened, I could count of him. The image of this ‘overseas parent’ was then projected onto God, and God became someone who was not there for me emotionally and intimately, but only there when I needed something. Hence, I found myself being very self sufficient, and someone who would rather depend on myself because deep down, I felt that I can’t trust that God will be there for me all the time. Yes, I hear it in church or read in the scriptures that Jesus is always there for me, but in my personal reality, this truth has not entered my heart. I found myself constantly seeking for the approval of others, doubting the gifts and talents that I had and constantly trying to fix myself and figuring out what my purpose in life is all about, on my own.
Over the past few months of formation, I’ve come to a deeper understanding and revelation of who God is, and every of such revelation from God has an implication on our lives.
What is My First Step?
The first step to making right the relationship with God, is to know who he truly is, before we can love him for who he really is. Otherwise, we are just loving who we think God is, but not who he truly is. Hence, know ourselves rightly and love ourselves the way he loves us. When we love ourselves rightly, we can then live the unique call he has for us in our lives because we know that all that comes from him is love and goodness.
Who is God to Me?
In my story, God had been the ‘overseas parent’ and hence, I found myself having difficulty loving this God who could not be there for me. When that happened, I find that I also had difficulty knowing and loving myself, because I saw myself as abandoned and rejected, and hence, making other people love me, notice me and like me soon became my purpose in life.
However, in one of the prayer sessions where we were meditating on the story of the prodigal son, I was particularly touched by what the Father said to the older son. “My son, you are always with me, and everything I have is yours” (Luke 15:31). This was the first time that I felt that God was being fully present to me and I could then open my heart to know who he truly is. No longer do I see him as distant and unavailable, but he is now the Father who includes me and who can be there for me. This revelation from God has an implication for my life. Who we say God is, affects who we say we are. If God is my healer, it means that I am healed. If God is my saviour, it means that I am saved. For my life, if God is someone who includes me, it means that I am chosen. And since God is someone who is there for me, it means that I am never alone.
Knowing Who I Am Now
Knowing who I am therefore, allows me to live our God’s call for me in my life. Someone who is chosen and never alone, no longer has to grasp for the love and affection from others, but can be fully secure in who God made me to be. I can then fully reach out and be a gift to another without the expectation that they need to love me and approve of me. Responding from a place of security and love, and reaching out to others in this way, I grow in my conviction that God is present, available and faithful and therfore, further affirms the true image of who God is.
“The desire for God is written in the human heart, because man is created by God and for God; and God never ceases to draw man to himself. Only in God will he find the truth and happiness he never stops searching for” – Catechism of the Catholic Church, 27.
Returning to the Right Relationship with God this Lent
This lent, let us take the time to look back at our lives and childhood and take an honest look at who God is for us. Let us not shy away from looking at Jesus rightly again because it is only in Him do we find the truth and happiness that we are searching for.
By Pearlyn Neo