by Danica Tanjutco
If you told me a few years back that I would be living this life I have now, I never would have believed you.
Time and time again, I have always said that I never intended to travel the world. I mean, let’s be real, I am just a small town girl from the Philippine archipelago. But in a snap of a finger, God changed the course of my life and He put an entirely different meaning to the word ‘desire’ in my heart. As I was growing up, my faith has also matured and it completely changed my point of view.
You see, I came from from a Christian/Catholic family. This was a very common thing in the Philippines too! My mother’s side was Protestant and my father’s side was Roman Catholic. So there was a little lapse in my beliefs, because I was confused and did not know what I should really believe in. For a kid, that could be quite confusing. This also made me question my judgment, my own beliefs, and morals. I was a really confused kid.
I was sent to a Catholic school from pre-school to 4th grade, and we were fed beliefs that didn’t really make sense. Not to attack the Catholic Church or anything, but it just did not make sense to me. So I felt lost, and I spent most of my early life wondering if there was more to God than the stone statues I see in the church and in school.
Everything changed when I went into high school. My parents saw my struggles and how I hated being forced to go to a church that I did not see the meaning in. You see, when I was studying at the Catholic school, we were ‘forced’ to attend mass every Sunday. As proof that we actually went, we had a ‘Mass Card’ that we had to give the priests for him to sign. I mean, come on? It was ridiculous. You just don’t force people to go to church because they’ll end up bored, not listening or just absolutely hating it. I felt all of those. I, honestly, did not feel closer to God nor did I feel a sense of peace within myself. Loathing would be an understatement.
In the summer before going into high school, I spent quite some time with my mother’s sister, who was a very good Christian (set by my standards). She was the Christian woman that I longed to become, and every time she would tell me stories about the Bible and about Jesus, my heart would just open up and just be glad. I had never felt that way before, but it felt amazing. She also introduced me to the art of keeping a prayer journal…this is something that I still do at this point in my life. Sadly, my beautiful aunt passed away when she lost her battle with cancer in 2012. How I long to see her again in heaven and tell her about my adventures one day.
In high school, I begged my father to enroll me into a Christian school. It was a bit of a struggle since it was not his beliefs, but he obliged. For me, it was the best decision I have ever made in my life. I learned so much about myself, and I learned so much about the Bible, which made me very happy. I felt at peace.
But school was just a stepping stone for me into reaching my full potential as a strong Christian woman. I will admit that there were times that I have doubted my faith. There was also a time when I tried to take my own life because I deemed myself unworthy of living this life that God has blessed me with. Not my proudest moment, but it happened and I am glad it did, because I am so much stronger than how I felt at that point. But forever, I am grateful that my suicidal attempt did not succeed. If it did, I would not be able to realise how amazing and blessed I really am.
Over the years, my faith has changed—and my faith has changed me. I have learned to control my temper more, to love other people more, to understand situations better, and so much more. God has widened my horizons and he has made my heart bigger. He restored what I had lost, and he replaced it with something even better. Looking back, I would say that my faith has been a huge help in my life. If I had no faith, I would simply just give up.
I urge you, dear ones, to hold onto your faith in the Lord. Life gets better in time, and faith keeps your heart stable as you hold onto the promises that the Lord made for you. Believe in Him, and do not forget to trust that He knows what He is doing. Keep holding on to the Word of God. Have faith in everything—especially in yourself, and in God.
“Start children off on the way they should go, and even when they are old they will not turn from it.” Proverbs 22:6 NIV