“Looks like you’re having a milestone one after another,” a friend messaged me recently. While I liked her comment with an eye-hearted emoticon, I couldn’t help but remember how hard the journey has been. My friend did not know that I haven’t been on social media for the past six months.
In a way, I hid from the world. I needed to step away in order to heal. It was difficult, but here’s what I learned:
In the hiding, I found myself again.
I realized that learning to love one’s self is a continuous and lifelong process. What helped me heal and get through the valley were prayer and purpose.
During this time, a good friend invited me to facilitate a recollection for freshmen. I was scared and wasn’t feeling too confident about it. But I did it anyway and braved the morning rush (more like battle) at the LRT just to get to DLSU-Manila at eight in the morning each Thursday. It was a difficult journey, but it was all worth it. For the recollection also re-collected me. It reminded me that when you give love, love returns to you a thousandfold. Although I gave my mind and heart and all my energies to the students, the truth is, being with them restored my soul.
God made me whole again through my serving. I am truly grateful for this time. Serving takes your mind off yourself and your own problems. When you empty yourself for others, God fills you back with joy.
In the hiding, I found God again.
Though I was alone, I was never really alone.
Some days, I would go to the Blessed Sacrament when no one was there. It would be just Jesus and me. Those moments are precious to me. During those times, God held me close to His heart. I would not trade those dates with the Lord. The sharing, the crying, the complaining, the just being myself in all my weakness. He accepted me as I am. He valued me. He truly is a good friend.
I gave Him my troubled mind and heart, and He embraced me in my brokenness. He needed the time to fix me, too. He gave me his rest and his peace. Sometimes, we need to send our roots down deep again so we can bear fruit. It means stepping back and spending time with the Lord. It means focusing on what truly matters. Sometimes, we need to be pruned of things that do not help us grow. Stripped down and back to the basics, you can return to the core of who you really are sans the noise of the world. It can be painful at first but it is good for you in the long term. No worries, God gives us the grace we need to endure. In the quiet, you can really hear yourself, and you can hear God speak to you. In that quiet place, He can heal you and fill you up.
I found that when we are wounded and hurting, God is no less faithful. In fact, He is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). My broken place became sweet because God was there. I am no longer afraid to go through the valley again if only to feel that close to God’s loving heart. He is really drawn to the hurting. He can’t help but heal us and love us to wholeness. What a merciful God we have. He is always present to us. We need to remind ourselves to be present to Him.
In the hiding, I found the one thing that truly mattered.
I realized that at the end of the day, all we really want is to love and be loved.
Sometimes, we can get traumatized from the pain and the hurt of loving people, and we need time to heal, but it shouldn’t stop us from loving again. I realized that we can love again. It’s true!
So rest (retreat) if you must, but don’t you give up on love.
Love is who we are. This is our truest and deepest identity. God made us in His image and likeness. And God is love. (1 John 4:18) We are made for love.
Love is truly all we need. When you think about it, this is the root of all our striving. We want to be loved. But here’s the truth: we are already loved. We just don’t know it.
God loved us first. (1 John 4:19)
Remembering this truth made all the difference. It started the healing process. It started my song of ascent.
I believe that we will be all right because God loves us. He goes with us through the valley into the highlands. But in both places, He is faithful. All the more in the valley because His grace is abundant there.
I want to share with you this hope.
Wherever you are in your life right now, God is with you. He will journey with you from the valley to the mountaintop. And you’ll understand that when you’ve got the Lord, you already have what you need to get through it. He will be with you all the way. It is His love that will bring you out of the shadows into His wonderful light. Believe me, I’ve been there.
I wish you His healing, joy, and peace. Everything will be alright because we have a faithful God.
Sing with me? 🙂
“Whatever I walk through
Wherever I am
Your Name can move mountains
Wherever I stand.
And if ever I walk through
The valley of death
I’ll sing through the shadows
My song of ascent.”