Sophie’s Peace

(Inspired by true events.)

Peace has been loosely defined these days. It could be the ability to sleep soundly at night, the calm before a storm, relief after a surge of trials, momentary cease fire between combatants, or earthly success. For Sophie, peace is something else.

Sophie grew up in a dysfunctional family. She lost her mother at a tender age of six. She loved her mother. She was the epitome of love for her. She would cuddle little Sophie every night even though she was often physically drained from all the activities at work. Sophie’s mother was a teacher. She excelled in her craft and would have been the next headmistress in the school where she taught. But the universe had other plans. At a young age, Sophie was left to fend for herself. Her father was of little help in her emotional downward spiral as he quickly became the doting lover of Sophie’s stepmother.

Without a parent to attend to school meetings and red-letter days, Sophie slowly but surely became the brunt of jokes of her classmates. She was bullied, emotionally and psychologically harassed. Unbeknownst to her, she gradually morphed into a disturbed teenager who yearned for acceptance in a world that shunned her. She became an outcast at school, a stranger in her own home. She could not bear to glance at herself in the mirror because she was her own enemy. Her everyday life lacked any tinge of peace. Whenever she stayed home, she wondered how the sweet home she grew up in has been reduced into a desolate and bleak house that gobbled bickering for breakfast. She felt like Cinderella, minus the kind part. She could never pass for being kind. Every day she met the world with anger and so much hatred because she knew the world hated her, so she hated it back. She was angry. Her heart was filled with discord. Even so, she wanted the world to believe that she did not care at all.

In college, Sophie resolved to make things different. She was tired of getting bullied. The sidelines were not for her, she thought. She wanted to be in the spotlight this time. But more than that, she yearned to be accepted by anyone who would willingly take her as she was. She joined countless school organizations and immersed in extra-curricular activities that she seldom stayed home. She loathed home. She wanted to be anywhere else but home. She finally had a group of friends who shared her interests and who understood her. She started going into late-night drinking sprees and out-of-town escapades under the guise of a “school requirement.” She found it amusing how gullible her father and stepmother were when they believed her. For a time, Sophie felt elated.

Having made herself available to the marketplace, Sophie had herself a boyfriend. He became her closest confidant. In her ups and downs, he was there. He was her biggest fan, and she adored everything about him. They were crazy in love with each other. Sophie was sure this could be what she was looking for—the answer to her melancholic life. That’s what Disney fairy tales promise after all. She grimaced at the thought of still believing in fairy tales. She thought she knew better. Unsurprisingly, she threw all her hesitations out the window and made bad decisions that sounded good in the spur of a moment. But she didn’t care. In boyfie’s arms, Sophie felt somewhat secure.

After college graduation, Sophie took to her word and left town to live independently—free from the admonitions and taunts of her family. She worked during the night and slept during the day. She bought whatever her eyes fancied, went to different places with friends, and stacked up on luxurious things that she wanted but never needed. She was finally free to do whatever, whenever. She squandered her hard-earned money just to experience fleeting happiness. Unfortunately, when the shopping and sightseeing were over and she was left alone by herself, sadness reared its ugly head again. That void in her heart that she thought had long been patched shut had been growing bigger and bigger without her realizing. Mundane “wordfights” started to become the norm between her and her boyfriend, her so-called friends couldn’t care less, and her family seemed to have remembered her only when they needed monetary assistance. For the nth time, Sophie found herself in limbo again, groping helplessly in the dark. The pitch-black night seemed to have monstrously eclipsed the thin sliver of light that was Sophie’s only source of hope.

Years went by and the happy-go-lucky Sophie eventually faded into the background. She was, by now, itching to put an end to her miserable life. However, her attempt at killing herself, well, she screwed that up too.

One day, a friend invited her to a spiritual retreat. She could’ve refused outright and acted indifferent about it, as she has ingenuously mastered all her life. But of all days, that day she felt so weak in body and spirit that she lowered her guard down and threw in the towel.

The three-day retreat helped clear her mind and leave her worries for a time. On the last day of her short excursion, the speaker asked all participants to write all their struggles and worries and surrender them all to the Lord. Sophie wondered what he meant by “surrender.” Nevertheless, she obliged and scrawled a list of all her heartaches ever since she had a mind of her own. What a long list it was! In her retrospection, a strange mix of  emotions coursed through her. Her list only made her feel worse. She felt so unloved and unappreciated. What she thought was an event that would lift her spirit only dragged her to the gaping pit.

Just as the resolve to up and leave formed in her mind, Sophie heard a familiar name. She inadvertently stopped in her tracks as though she had hit an invisible wall. Sophie has known Jesus since she was a child, but she never really had a personal relationship with him. He was just a name that people utter when saying grace before a meal. The speaker said that Jesus loves all people, including Sophie. That Jesus demonstrated this unconditional love by dying on the cross for the sins of all people, including Sophie’s. That Jesus did this so that men can be reconciled to God and have life to the full. That though Jesus died to pay for the sins of humanity, He remained victorious because He conquered the grave on the third day and is alive today.

It took a huge chunk of Sophie’s strength to take all this unfamiliar information in. Suddenly, her heart of stone started to soften. Scenes from the movie Passion of the Christ flashed in her mind, and she wondered why. This movie did not even make it to her favorites list. For the first time in a really long time, the proud rebel that was Sophie fell to her knees with tears uncontrollably streaming down her cheeks. She tried her hardest to force the tears back to their ducts, but it was no use. She could no longer keep her pent-up emotions inside. But she was not one to yield so easily. She started to rationalize. Whichever way she looked at it though, she could not begin to comprehend how someone would willingly die for her despite all the evil things she had done in the past. She just did not deserve that love.

On that grueling, fateful day, Sophie’s last line of defense was conquered. She relinquished control over her life and gave Jesus the wheel. She finally understood what “surrender” meant. Invisible chains that have been binding her for a long time broke loose. She felt like a bird that has just been set free, ready to soar on eagle’s wings.

While Sophie found peace, she knew that her life would never be immune to troubles and disappointments. After sunny days would eventually come rainy days, storms even. But what she found and what she had become because of it would undoubtedly usher a new shade of perspective. The anchor that she had tightly attached to her possessions and earthly relationships began to loosen and drop into the depths of the ocean. She coined a term for this new feeling:peaceful anxiety. She felt as if her life was turning upside down, but she still thought God was in control. She learned to keep still and let God fight her battles. She yielded her plans to God because she now knew that His plans for her are so much greater than she could ever imagine. Ultimately, the anxiety in Sophie’s heart has been replaced by peace that she has never experienced before. Sophie finally found the missing piece of the puzzle that she had been searching for all her life. It is through this eye-opening discovery that she arrived at a conclusion: Genuine peace is not of this world. It can only be found in the One who created it.

 

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

— Philippians 4:6-7

Leave a comment

Filed under Rants

Coz When I’m Weak, I’m Strong

Frail as a flower, wobbling like a wonky wheel.
The sun beautifully shining while scorching my skin.
The journey is anything but easy.
Things always find themselves messy.

Marching on, forward, I go forward.
In complete surrender, dropping my guard.
Knowing that when my strength fails me, and it surely will.
It will be Your grace I will see and feel.

Leave a comment

Filed under For Jesus, God is good.

God’s Rebuke

Sometimes God uses other blessings to test how well we would do when exercising our freewill in decision making. Do this or that? Stay or go? Most of the time, it is not easy to choose which to accept and which to turn down.

It was one of these hard moments that I was presented with two choices. I chose what I thought would make me happy. Later that day, I became uneasy, almost as if my decision made me guilty. Then I realized it was God’s rebuke. For a moment, I felt ashamed. For how could I truthfully say that I follow Christ when I cannot let him Lord over ALL of my time?

If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will save it. —Luke 9:23-24

What was I thinking? Immediately thereafter, I lost no time in making things right. God gave me a change of heart. Another chance. I would’ve failed that test, but God—most gracious and loving God—gave me a second chance.

Soon after, I had a good night’s sleep and woke up this morning with vigor renewed. I thank God for rebuking me when I was about to make a decision that I would soon regret. Small voice. We have to listen hard to hear it. We have to listen hard.

Leave a comment

Filed under For Jesus, God is good.

Faith

I choose to believe that there is a God.
A God who cares for me despite my iniquities and transgressions.
A God who loves me in times when I could not even love myself.
A God who willingly gave his only son to spare me.
A God who is faithful and true to every promise.
A God who has a plan for me–to prosper me, not to harm me; to give me hope and a future.
A God who gives one blessing after another from the fullness of his grace.
A God who will never leave me nor forsake me.
A God who is compassionate, slow to anger, and rich in love.
A God who disciplines me, as a father disciplines his child.
A God who directs my steps that I may never go astray again.
A God who is above all gods.
I choose to believe.
And I am overjoyed.
#livebyfaithnotbysight #faith

Leave a comment

April 21, 2014 · 3:20 PM

Grace

Spit on. Insulted. Whipped. Humiliated.
This man was innocent.
Yet he took it all in.

A healer. Master of nature. The best teacher. Son of God.
He could have made it all go away.
Yet he took it all in.

For you. For me. For the very people who persecuted him.
This man was innocent, blameless, sinless.
Yet he chose to die to pay for the sins of all mankind.

This is no justice. It can only be GRACE.

Leave a comment

April 19, 2014 · 11:08 AM

Untitled

I am weak, Lord.

Rebuke me when I am tempted to talk back, complain, or criticize.

These do not glorify you.

 

I tend to forget, Lord.

Remind me that I live for you alone–not for the people around me.

They do not have the slightest hint of my relationship with you.

 

I am easily troubled, Lord.

Teach me to give it all to you every day, without ceasing.

This makes you smile.

Leave a comment

Filed under For Jesus, God is good.

Struck Down but Not Destroyed

Two days ago, a little before noontime on a fair Friday, a menacing fire broke out in a nearby barangay, which spread into ours, devouring houses and business establishments along the way. The conflagration was fueled by a strong wind that, as fate would have it, was going our house’s direction. That day, I had one of the most emotional conversations I had with God.

I lost no time and ran out to help some relatives whose house was only in front of the alleged source of the fire. All of them were able to get out in time, but the things were beyond saving. The fire was so furious it dove and bypassed the firewall. When my aunt and her dog were put to safety, I came back to offer more help, only to find out that the fire already consumed the house from ground up. It was hungry for more. By the time it crossed the street, I was certain it would come for us.

Nearly only six houses away, my family decided to gather as many things as we could out of the house in an effort to salvage as much possessions. It was a fair day, the sun shone brightly, but the overcast cloud of smoke hung above us. Little pieces of gray ashes and charred wood fell from the sky. Smoke from the fire stung our eyes. I had watched that scene many times in the movies, but last Friday was my first full-view, first-row encounter with such grotesque fiend.

Miraculously, I was able to singlehandedly carry a large TV through one and a half flights of stairs. And as I was stowing law books, clothes, and anything I thought important into a sack, as everybody was panicking, as others were screaming for help, as hysteria reached higher level, I stopped on my tracks and had a hands-on epiphany: Everything we think we own through years of labor—books, gadgets, appliances, wardrobe—can be gone in an instant. All that we have are merely borrowed, and the owner can take them away anytime. ANYTIME. Ready or not, God can take everything away from us anytime he pleases. Because it is only by his grace and mercy that we have things to call our “own.”

Only four houses away and I was almost certain the fire would have our house and everything left in it for lunch. We were not able to get everything out—either because they were too difficult to carry or we were too physically drained already to carry any more. Minutes later, I saw the only fire truck leaving the fire scene. The people around me said it could no longer spray water because its tank had been dried out. Without a fire truck to combat the furious fire, our house and many other houses’ chance of surviving was dim. I began to expect the worst, but I refused to let go of God’s hand. I knew he was in control.

More moments of hysteria passed by, and I saw God’s first answer. A fire truck from Buenavista passed by the house and went straight to combat the fire, which was still consuming more and more structures. A few minutes and another fire truck came. (I am still crying as I type this. God is amazing. His test is never easy, but if we only hold on to him and trust him fully, whatever happens, he can get us out of any seemingly hopeless situation.)

There and then, the fire was snuffed out. I could imagine God putting his palm on the raging fire, covering it with his mighty hand until it was no more, saying, “This far you may come and no farther.” (Job 38:11, NIV)

I have never had a chance to update my blog since I started law school last year, but God gave me a new beginning—or, shall I say, an awakening. The least I could do is offer a blog entry for his glory. I will never tire praising you, Lord. You are my king, my lord, and my loving savior. I love you always. And I will do everything I can to make you smile.

 

3 Comments

Filed under God is good.