By Karen Garcia
CFC SFL Laguna
A month before this year’s Committed Servants’ Weekend (Driven by Grace), I was blessed to lead a Christian Life Seminar, which we entitled “Forevermore: His love endures forever”. At first, I was hesitant to accept this chance given by God, but I realized later on: “Wala namang mawawala kung susubukan…” and since si Lord na ang nagbigay ng opportunity na ito, hindi ko na sinayang. And not only that, I had also the opportunity to give a talk for the first time in the said CLS. But when I chose to give the fifth talk, which is Loving your neighbor, the struggle within me began to sink in. Just barely days before my talk, a friend of mine from YFL suddenly called me unexpectedly, and she asked me some things, most especially regarding the status of our friendship, which I cannot really tell her at that moment. Because, few years back, we had been challenged on how our friendship will go further. To the point that we stop having communication to each other. So that’s how my struggle in myself began. Hindi na ako yung dating masayahin at bibo na usual na pagka-kilala sa kin in YFL & SFL.
Then after that phone conversation, I asked God: “How can I say that you should love your neighbor if I have this hatred within myself, especially to someone close to me? Ang hirap pala kapag may kagalitan ka tapos ito ang talk na sasabihin mo sa CLS. So, the bottom line is I end reviewing my talk with a prayer. Then I said to the Lord: “Kayo na po ang bahala sa akin, lalo na po sa emotions ko as I give this talk”.
But the Lord is really true to His promises, He never let me down. He guided me all through out when I gave my talk. Even the unexpected words of wisdom just suddenly came out, aside from those in the talk outline which I studied. Then after my talk, I continuously prayed for inner peace in myself, because I need to endure these hardships that are happening to me if I want to know how God really love me and how can I have a forgiving heart.
And when the day of this CSW came, I was clueless of how God will surprise me further. Pero sabi nga, si Lord ay madaming surprises. Kaya naman ito ako, sobra ang excitement na nararamdaman. Pero syempre, may kalungkutan pa rin ako. Ang dami ko paring pasang struggles sa buhay, lalo na sa sarili ko. Natanong ko agad si Lord bago mag-start ang CSW: “Kakayanin ko po ba na mawala ang lahat ng problema ko na dala ngayon? Hindi ako agad sinagot ni Lord. Talagang puno ng surprises itong si Lord. Kaya, I just patiently waited for His response.
CSW First day
CSW Talk 1: Captured by Grace
Clueless talaga ako kung paano ako nahuli ng Diyos sa Kanyang grasya. Pero sabi nga sa talk, our lives had been already planned by God since we decided to serve Him. So, I concluded na nasa plano na talaga ng Diyos na mag-serve ang family namin dito sa community. Ang galling naman talaga ni Lord.
Damascus walk activity
Grabe sa totoo lang, kinakabahan talaga ako dito sa kung paano ang gagawin sa activity na ito. Tapos nung sabihin na “get a partner”, mas kinabahan ako nung naging ka-partner ko ang isa sa mga kino-consider ko na pillars ng cluster namin. Inisip ko: “Ano ang pwede kong ikuwento tungkol sa buhay ko kay ate? Nahihiya ako. But God’s voice spoke to me: “Kaya mo yan, anak. Ilabas mo yang masamang nararamdaman mo. At kung gusto mo, iiyak mo na din yan. Kung yan ang way para maging magaan ang kalooban mo, gawin mo”. And things changed when I exchanged stories with this sister. I was amazed that this sister I looked up to ay mayroon din palang struggles in her life. And I felt somewhat relieved after that conversation. And as a line in the song Thinking Out Loud by Ed Sheeran says: “Take me into your loving arms”. That’s the only thing that I had said when we reached the last station of the Damascus Walk wherein the Holy Eucharist was exposed. Because as I look in the Body of Christ that time, I can’t help but to ask God while crying: Why is it that you still never want me to give up in serving you in spite of being a sinner? Most especially during the times that I’m outside the community? The only thing that God said to me while He’s embracing me was: “BECAUSE I LOVE YOU, MY CHILD”. Ang tanging nasabi ko kay Lord, Thank you po Lord…I love you.
“What are your thorns in the flesh experiences?” That question echoed in my mind all throughout the talk. Inisip ko tuloy: Meron pa rin ba?
Nakuwento ko na naman halos last night. Ok na siguro yun. Meron pa rin pala. Kaya naman, eto ako nag-kwento ulit. Then, I cried again. Later that I realize, na kahit di pala ako masyadong nakaka-attend ng mga ilang activities namin, akala ko di na ako tanggap ng mga brothers & sisters dito sa community. But I now realized na the more I can’t go to some of the SFL activities, the more they are loving me and the more they are praying for me. Because honestly speaking, I don’t put leadership into my head ever since I had been appointed to be a leader on our area. I just want to make myself just a mere simple servant serving along with those brothers and sisters that are a little behind me in terms of duration of stay here in SFL.
Workshops: Mentoring & Pastoring and Spiritual Journaling
Sobrang excited ako sa mga workshops na ito. But, I asked myself during the Mentoring & Pastoring workshop: Natanong ko agad sa sarili ko: “Kung sakali, sino kaya ang pwede kong i-mentor?” Then a sister that graduated from our recently concluded CLS came in my mind. Hindi ako mahihirapan na i-mentor sya kung sakali because I’ve known this sister since YFL days. All we need is time.
Excited ako dito sa workshop na ito kasi sa isip-isip ko, para kasing diary lang ito. Simple lang kung pakikinggan at gawin. Pero mahirap din pala. Kasi kay Lord mo directly ikukuwento ang mga inner thoughts & feelings mo. Kaya naman before the workshop ended, we are asked to write down a sample spiritual journal of ours. And just like the previous day, naiyak na naman ako. Meron pa kasi akong secret na i-unlock na naman kay Lord. At dahil dun, umiyak na naman ako ng sobra. I don’t know where I got all the courage to confess to God na minsan ko nang gustong di mag-serve sa community, especially sa Kanya, way back nung last 3 years ko sa YFL (2010 up to the first half of 2012). Naiiyak ako habang sinusulat ko yung love letter ko na yun kay God. Natatakot ako sa kung anong pwedeng sabihin sa akin ni God sa long time secret na natago ko. Pero alam ko na masaya si Lord sa ginawa kong confession sa kanya.
CSW Talk 3: Driven By Grace
“Go, Grow and Give”. Mahirap gawin pero kakayanin ko. That’s the only thing I said to God. Because I know that after this CSW, I’ll be back to the reality of life, back to the reality of struggling in my service. But God assured me one thing: The more you are struggling, the more that will love you. The more I will give you unexpected blessings. And since I’m already equipped by God’s grace, so what I’m been getting afraid of? Therefore, I’m preparing myself to be energized in my service again. But, I’m doing it again one step at a time. Dahil ayoko ko nang maging wasted ulit ang buhay ko habang in service ako kay Lord. Gusto ko na maibalik paunti-unti yung dating ako nung nagsisimula pa lang ako dito sa SFL, yung bibo, masayahin, makulit at walang masyadong problemang iniisip. Hindi madali, pero alam kong kakayanin ko ang lahat para ma-accomplish ulit yun.
The whole CSW experience left me a life-learning & changing experience that I will surely bring forever. Every tears that I had shed throughout the entire weekend was full of repentance & forgiveness. And I felt the Lord want me to drive my life with His grace. And all of my questions was answered by God, but not perfectly. And in spite of really not knowing how am I committed as a servant of God, I just go on with my life serving Him. Kasi, dahil sa pagli-lingkod ko sa Diyos, natuto akong pasanin ang Krus Niya. At masasabi kong mabigat talaga ang Krus na ito. All I need is to endure all the pain. Because I believe that every pain that is being felt is worth it as time goes by.
And also, this CSW taught me once again to endure every struggles that may come along the way and of course, always along with prayers. Because every struggle is a way to measure my strength & faith in God. And it will be surely replaced by abundant & unexpected blessings in return. All we need is to return the favor to the Lord by serving Him as long as we can.