Monday, June 9, 2008

The Power of Testimony

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to give a testimony concerning God’s work in my life to nearly 100 students and parishioners from St. Tom’s. Although I knew I would be giving this talk over a month before the event, I did not begin preparing until three days prior. My initial thought was that “testimony preparation” could be something done at the last minute since it requires absolutely no research. While a visit to the local library was clearly not in order (assuming that no one has written a biography of me yet), it did require a prolonged examination of the soul that, after reflection, took much more energy than any long day at the library. It is true that my past encompasses many joys but it is also deeply imbued with sorrows and regrets. I was forced to look at both sides of the introspective coin so as to present an authentic portrayal of my journey to faith in Jesus Christ. Amidst this reflection, two illuminating thoughts came to me that I would like to share with you.

The first revolves around the very nature of my reflection. As the final preparations were made to my testimony I felt an increased sense of “self-existence.” I realized that my past was not a self-enclosed reality, but rather a reality that was and still is intimately tied to who and where I am today. Due to the demands of the present, I have spent little to no time reflecting upon my past over the previous few years. Being confronted with it now, my mind was opened to the reality that who I was is as much a part of who I am now. Only upon death, by the grace of God, will my past, present, and future conflate to one eternal present in heaven. In other words, I will be completely me! All the joys of my life will be re-experienced but on an infinite level. All the sorrows and regrets will be redeemed by the blood of Christ, and transformed into infinite joys.

Of course, these gifts are given to us, barring we do not abandon Christ and His Holy Church. This is why our actions are all the more important to a Christian. To a member of the Body of Christ, every decision made is literally a self-defining moment. It is only by the graces afforded to us by God that we can make good and fruitful decisions, thus expanding our spiritual vessel to receive even more graces. I am much more aware now of the consequences of my actions, and I have become even more dependent on God for His infinite mercy in my life!

The second thought elaborates on a truth stated above. Life inevitably throws sorrows and regrets our way. While having hope that such tragedies will ultimately be redeemed in Heaven, what about now? Is God actively involved in healing psychological, emotional, and spiritual wounds at the present moment? If my testimony holds any persuasion, then the answer is yes!

The turning point in my journey of faith revolves around a rather rocky breakup during college. Brook and I had been dating for just over a year when the unexpected breakup occurred. I quickly spiraled into a significant depression. I loathed God for His “indiscretion” regarding my life.

While I would never go back to relive the emotional, psychological, and spiritual pain that occurred during this breakup, I’m incredibly thankful for it. This event ultimately became God’s megaphone to rouse me from my spiritual slumber. If it wasn’t for this valley in my life, I would have never experienced the peaks of freedom in Christ. If it wasn’t for the breakup, I might never become Christian. If it wasn’t for this breakup, I don’t think I would have become the Catholic I am now. And if it wasn’t for this breakup, my father would not have rededicated himself to the Catholic Church ultimately giving his life in service as a deacon. The joys that rest upon this hurtful event are nearly endless. I must also add that Brook was baptized and received into full communion with Catholic Church because of this event.

While life is difficult at times, God always remains good. I pray that amidst the valleys in our own lives, we would remain steadfast in God’s love, knowing that He does in fact have a beautiful plan for each and everyone one of our lives (cf. Jer. 29.11-14).

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