At the end of my first semester, I was stressed as heck and got sick once every month starting from January, as well has having the worse hit of an allergic reaction of my life. They warned that it was going to be bad this Spring but it was much worse for me since I am not used to the environment.
I couldn’t breath through my nose at night and it got worse at the Alpha weekend away on Bowen Island. After I came back, I woke up with intense pain, watering and blurriness in my eyes and had to go to the emergency in the middle of the night. Praise God there was no line up (saved us hours of waiting!), which is very rare. After I got referred by the doc to the eye clinic, I finally found out I had allergic conjunctivitis and had scratched my cornea in the process. But it has healed after a week or so with the eye drop prescriptions… thank God.
After a few days, I went to my family doc to consult on my overall health since I had heart palpitations and felt weak in every aspect. She directed me to take a blood test, urine sample and even a cardiology test to see why I was getting sick so frequently. I felt like a guinea pig. She then asked for all my symptoms and if I have been feeling depressed and emotional lately. I said yes and then she solemnly told me that I might have depression, so come back within a couple of week and we will see. Immediately I felt helpless and vulnerable… like the sorrow hit me like no tomorrow, something that I could not save myself from drowning in.
Honestly, that is what I had been feeling with everything going on and I struggled with it on the way to my Psychology class. While we watched a video on overcoming fears, I began to break down emotionally and after the class was over I asked my professor if he had a moment to talk. I shared with him an overall of my transitioning being rough and the need to process things were being neglected because of the lack of understanding from some people I’ve encountered plus having so much change in the past few months. I felt overwhelmed, run down and tired so that I could not deal with personal and interpersonal conflict I have been experiencing. Having no way of debriefing what I was feeling, I was pushing it down in order to be able to cope in the present.
He was very understanding and told me that I had to give myself credit for the things I had to overcome by being back in school and to not be so hard on myself. And my fear of the doctor labelling me with “depression”. Being clinically diagnosed scared the living daylights outta me. He reassured me that there is nothing to be scared of and that the things I am going through were natural to experience post traumatic stress when you take a look at what I have come from. It was very affirming to have an authority figure show that he cares. It just shows that I don’t need someone who can relate with me but it just takes a caring heart and a listening ear. After that emotional release, my health became better and my confidence finally blossomed by final exams and I even got an A- on my social work exam and left the exam an hour early. The understanding and prayer of my parents contributed a lot to it as well. So praise God that I did not give into the label of clinical depression cause it’s a doctor’s way of diagnosing patients who are looking for an explanation to their symptoms. When I went back to the doctor’s office a couple of weeks later, the receptionist was amazed by how much better I looked compared to before and that I looked more alive. The doc then told me that all my tests came out normal and the only thing was my low immunity but that was it.
As well as going through all this sickness, I experienced much interpersonal and spiritual conflict. As someone going into the field of social work, I knew God wanted me to deal with the issue of setting proper boundaries. I tend to take on burdens that are not mine to carry.
Hence why people who carry a gift of evangelism need to be part of a church that fully expresses those gifts of reaching out to others as well as to yourself. I’m learning to rest in God instead of trying to be Him by trying to rescue people all the time. In Social Work terminology, this is what they call “compassion fatigue”. The thing with having a strength is that it can easily be turned into a weakness if it is cultivated in the wrong environment. Even those in ministry needs accountability, especially when they are dealing with the broken and those in need. This is also what I encountered in ministry in the Philippines, people are so focused on the norm of poverty that they still have a victim mentality even while knowing God’s truth and helping others. But there is a difference between enabling neediness through sympathy and empowering those who desire to overcome and rise above it.
What I have found is that when I cannot be an objective person to talk to without getting emotionally involved, I connect people to others who have the needed expertise since at this moment I lack healing and rest for myself. But because of the lack of willing people to help shoulder the burden, I have had emotional episodes because of the overwhelming weight on my shoulders that should be evenly distributed to others. No man should be an island.
I felt burnt out by the in the ministry in the Philippines. Now it was happening all over again except I was now in Canada. I feel like I am already doing the work of a social worker, which is to empower people, equip them with resources and connect them with the proper people. I had to learn to not rely one just one church but the whole body of Christ, and building relationships with all types of churches and sharing the resources. I am so blessed to have met key people during my last furlough a couple of years back, who are part of a variety of churches. I now understand that it is integral that all churches should have proper pastoral care or mentor-ship when it comes to taking care of the flock.
In order to heal others, we must be healed ourselves in a transparent and nonjudgmental environment. In the Western culture, we tend to try to look like we have it all together on the outside because that is the tone set for a lot of churches who fail to acknowledge brokenness, as well as their own. Yet isn’t it the broken that we are reaching out to? Truthfully, everyone is broken but the ones who recognize it are farther on the path to restoration than the ones who put on a “perfect Christian” persona. We need to humble ourselves and confess that we need a Saviour and not rely on what we portray ourselves to be by the world’s standards.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
2 Corinthians 12:9-10
No wonder the media flocks to hypocrisy among Christians when there is a disconnect of Relationship to the Father and then to each other happens, which leads to a spirit of Religion. Churches need to see more foundations built internally before they focus on the number of attendees and encourage its members to serve, which can lead to obligation. There is a fine line between God’s will and man’s will. People may know your deeds but God knows your heart and the intention behind it. You can guess which one is going to set you free and how the other will keep you a slave to doing good works, which is also known as a religious spirit instead of the Spirit of Sonship.
“For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship.”
My family and I decided (separately but at the same time, amazingly) that it was time to leave our church instead of trying to fit into a mold of what their focus was. I love connecting with people from different churches who have the same goal in mind. We have a desire to see the city of Vancouver saved. I need to come to that place of being Spiritually poured into and feeling at rest before I can fully be released to my calling. My parents are networking around town to see what God is up to in other churches and coming alongside to encourage them. My dad is an ordained minister and has connected with pastors whom he has gone to seminary with and has been asked to preach at a few of them already. My gift is evangelism, my mom’s is encouraging, and my dad’s is teaching. We make a great team but we are not sure what our collaborated calling may look like in the future but we are just trusting in God to bring us to that place where we will flourish in our calling as a family and have a community to support it.
Let me leave you with a dream I had at the beginning of the year. I even submitted this as a journal to my English professor who enjoys talking about conspiracy theories and the crazy talk from random people on the internet professing to be Christian, whom I would be embarrassed to associate myself with. I wanted to let her know that we are not all weirdos.
After handing in my dream journal, I believe I gained some respect as a Christian because later on she mentioned that there were other Christians in the class and she thought she’d let the other Christians in the room know. God is giving me a heart for those who just don’t have the resources or relationship with Christians to know the difference between deception and truth. Unfortunately many are misinformed by relying on the internet or media for their sources. Teachers have such influence in what is taught to their students and they should not be overlooked when it comes to reaching out to people… even in the most subtle ways.
In my dream, my mom and I each owned a black dress that was the same as each others. For some reason, I wanted to know how much it was worth so we went into a thrift store. There was a man, who owned the store that I approached but he barely gave it a glance, got distracted, and went to the back of the store.
So I approached his wife at the counter and asked again, “How much is this worth?” She took the dress, observing it closely and my thoughts said, “I bet it’s only worth $1.” But to my surprise she said without hesitation, “Mmmm.. $169.00.” I was flabbergasted! “What?! That can’t be right!” I exclaimed. But she assured me that it was for real.
For some silly reason, I felt the need to buy it back even though the dress was mine in the first place. So I protested, “I don’t have the money. No I need that back.” She told me that the dress was going to be sent to another thrift store if I was not going to buy it and said I could exchange my dress for something else. I was adamant and extremely frustrated. My mom was standing by and told me that I could wear her dress but I was unyielding. I then woke up from my dream in a panic. I knew exactly the issue God was dealing with.
I traced back to what the dress symbolized and I knew that it was to do with my self-worth. How I went to the man first to ask how much it was worth and then going to the lady for affirmation again. It was like God knew the weakness I had been dealing with in this area and it needed to be addressed. I originally thought my “self-worth” was worth much less than what the lady told me and although my “worth” was mine all along, I felt the need to buy it back but by then it was too late. It was with me all along but I failed to acknowledge how much it was worth.
I felt like God was addressing specific issues in my life that kept coming up and it all boils down to how I view myself instead of how God views me. I am learning to take my focus off of others and put it back on the Father…who is truly pleased with me and knows everything about me.
Speaking of thrift stores, my family and I checked out this church called, “The King’s Way Church”, where my dad had known the pastor years earlier. This church meets at a very small thrift shop, which is also their ministry. They reach out to the poor and needy and have Sunday service in the back, where they push all the clothing racks to the side and put a keyboard and chairs out… its an awesome sight to see!
The pastor has been doing this for 15 years. Him and his team are very personable, easy going and a fun bunch to joke with! You feel immediately welcomed in the casual atmosphere and even though there’s just a handful of people attending, there is a precious humility that cannot be replaced by any form of grandeur. After service they serve lunch and up to that day I had become very weary with my circumstances and had been anticipating for God to speak to me.
I even told my friend the day before while reassuring her that there was nothing she could do even as I am crying out for help, “I do not know how and I do not know when.. but I know God is going to speak to me in some way.” When service finished, we all had lunch and a couple of girls wanted to hear my stories as an overseas missionary. They were inspired by how God would connect me with different people randomly for the purpose of sharing His love to them even in Vancouver. Afterwards we had a time of prayer and one of the girls prophetically broke things off that people have said over me… and she was completely right about it all and told me I had to forgive in order for God to be able to release me fully in ministry and produce more fruit. I was emotionally released and Spiritually validated right then and there. Praise God when He shows that He truly cares. The pruning process hurts, but it is necessary for God to fully use you to produce a fruitful harvest.
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.”
I have decided it’s time to settle in my own place without a room mate. My dad went with me to house hunt and we came across a house owned by a Filipino landlady whose husband was away on business. The house was built just last December. The suite that was listed was taken already but the one next to it became available. A single mother was going to move in but had gotten back together with her bf so she backed out. The current tenant is a student who is leaving by this weekend.
The landlady was so sweet and even suggested we could go shopping together in the states and if I needed anything for the kitchen she could get it for me. She also said that I could come up to the house to watch TV or chat if I wanted. She is already treating me like family. Plus the girl living in the other suite is from Langara, and is just a year older than me. God truly knows how to meet my overall needs! The fact that this lady was from the Philippines is no coincidence! I am going to feel right at home… It comes fully furnished with everything included and the amazing thing is she has my best interests in mind, I can pay monthly. I could see myself living there for the long run. By the end of this month, I will be living in my own suite. I cannot wait for all things new!