The pandemic’s adjustments are getting normal, and we tend to continuously adjust like it’s natural. Sometimes we have time for ourselves, and many times, we have none. Lately, I have been seeking some me-time where I can do what I’m craving to do. I’ve been reading this book entitled “Life by the Cup by Zhena Muzyka.” It was given to me by one of my sisters in the community, and I read some pages when I get a chance to read it. The more I flip through the pages, the more I realize that everything we experience is just part of the process that God has for us.
As an employee, I’m having a hard time adjusting my body clock to our changing monthly shifts. I only get the chance to fully serve my mission area during weekends, and sometimes, I need to do it while working. There were times that if I served, there would be an issue or problem with my work and vice versa. It’s hard to do both things all at the same time. What makes it more difficult is that I don’t see the fruits of what I’m working on—both in work and in my service to the community. The more I exert effort and the more I give, the more I see people leaving me or the community. And it made me feel alone. I’ve lost my confidence and motivation to keep going on, to the point that escaping all of these is the only way that I can do.
Yet, God is holding me tightly so that I see myself showing up in activities even when I do not feel like it. The routine of getting tired at the end of each day continues, and I often catch myself still pushing through even though I feel empty.
Furthermore, it became a routine to just show up, then I had time to talk to a person in our community who asked me, “How is your prayer time?” After that moment, I consulted myself again on where I really was in my relationship with God. I wanted to shrink because I was guilty of not discussing these things with God. I started to build my prayer time again and to talk to God about these things I have in my heart.
Showing up is good, but showing up with hope in your heart is better. I still encounter challenges in life, but now, it is lighter to keep going because I am with the Lord. Yes, our mission is important, but we cannot fully do the mission without God by our side. Even when you are crying in a heap, you are worthy of grace and love. Keep yourself open to the Lord and do not hesitate to ask for help. Not asking for help makes us feel like we are in control, even when we’re not. When we are giving, we are in control, and when we are receiving, we aren’t. The waves of challenges will continue to sweep us away, but our connection with the Lord will teach us how to sail.
We are like a rough block of wood. The pain we go through and the feelings we have as we move through this life is the hand of God carving us. The act of carving makes us feel bad, but He is forming us into something that can hold more and more. As each stroke causes pain, He carves me to be better and He takes the rough pieces away—my sins and hardness of heart. This makes us have more and more space to love and to hold things. I’m still in the process of keeping my grip of faith stronger and it has not excluded me to still feel the challenges in life and service. Yet, the hand of God is shaping me, deepening me, and refining me for greater things that He is preparing for me. The pain is the fire that makes us into diamonds. The pain and challenges will not easily go away; it will continue to move through us, but it will give us more capacity to love.
Through this experience, God taught me that loving others means being selfless and choosing the lowest place. It might feel scary but that is okay because God will continue to fill us up. God never fails to sustain me as I learn to embrace my weaknesses and as I show up in my prayer time. I also learned the value of showing up but even more to show up in my relationship with the Lord because it will give me a ticket to show up in heaven.
Jean Ramos is a Mission Volunteer of MFC Youth serving in the Luzon Missions Team.