I can’t forget these past few days. I’ve never been so attacked in life as these days of heavy raining.
As if feeling alone (I am not closing my door on the probability of romance and settling down) and unaccomplished at my age isn’t enough of a cross, I’m now in danger of being jobless, after the Australian project I’ve been working on abruptly ended due to changes in the client’s plan. God knows I’ve been wishing it to end because I had found the work more and more enervating in its repetitiveness, but I didn’t expect it to end in such a rude manner, which left me feeling helpless and humiliated.
As though this was not enough, I’ve been battling with health issues for more than a year now – hypertension and signs of ageing, withdrawal symptoms, side effects from the medicine I’ve been taking, including a possible interaction with the herbal supplement. This has brought me dizziness, weakness, tiredness, anxiety, palpitations, and sometimes depression. This particular hardship makes me feel like I could go anytime, so I live life from day to day. But this scares me, for I don’t think I am ready to pack my bags. The sad irony is that I just came from a deep psychological recovery, which has made me feel that my life has just begun. I have been anticipating a restart at 40, so I have welcomed this new decade as a new chapter with much excitement. Instead, I feel like I am punched in the face, to quote someone. It’s an awful reality that is sometimes best left denied than accepted. ...Until real life reminds it in my face, that is, in moments when I desire to dash to the mall for some items and I couldn’t anymore.
It doesn’t help that friends laugh at me, for being like a hypochondriac elderly, while here I am feeling like it’s the end of my days. It’s quite insulting, if I did not stretch my understanding.
My arrears in my rent are piling up too, while the apartment is crumbling before my eyes with the passing of the extreme seasons (literally blowing hot and cold). I feel quite guilty and humiliated whenever I am reminded of my cousin (who owns the place) from whom I owe so much money. The least I could do is spend for the repair of the house, but I couldn’t do even that due to lack of funds. I am not sure how I can stretch what I have, given that I have stretched it to the limit. How much more should I give up?
I have a sister who’s going through so much in her marital life. She says there’s a third party, so of course it bothers me how she’s coping and how the three kids, whom I love dearly, would think and feel.
I am also deeply affected each time a little niece or nephew gets sick. Two of them did, one after the other; the first a case of fever, flu, and diarrhea, and the second a case of mysterious rashes. I didn’t foresee that blessings like children could also be sources of great worry, when I’m not even their father. I guess the bigger problem is me, or my excessive engagement with my family, as the savior.
Just last month, a younger brother’s wife, whose sudden pregnancy and civil wedding brought me resentful feelings, suddenly gave birth prematurely. The stress from the thought of where to find some cash to help them out, plus the anxiety over the fragility of the newborn, added up to my worries.
In a way, I had anticipated all these attacks. After all, I’ve been very active lately in service in the fields of the Lord, as though to make up for lost time, the years I spent soul-searching outside the confines of my community. I’ve been active in the prolife advocacy, including anti-LGBT matters, evangelization of some young professionals in Ayala plus a youth group in Bulacan, plus my usual tasks/duties in community: choir member, fixing assembly materials after the gathering, the self-imposed note-taking I do, and attendance in assemblies and activities. I am very certain the enemy is not very happy with me.
But then, I noticed that some of my friends also go through the wringer like I do, even though they are not really active in service. One is even an avowed atheist, and yet he is not spared of suffering. He has reported being rushed to the ER because of phlegm, which left him unable to breath, delayed salary in the school he’s teaching at, and father issues. Another friend reported about his place being flooded, damaging his car, and meanwhile his mother is confined at the Heart Center for a serious ailment. I wouldn’t know what to do if I were in their place.
“Life is like that,” the latter friend told me. The reaction is consoling, I have to admit. I feel relieved to know that I’m probably not being punished for my past sins all the while I was giving my all, my 101%, to God. I know I should be consoled by the fact that no one is spared of suffering while going through this life.
What was I expecting anyway? I must have thought that, since I was serving full-blast, I’d be favored by God with peace, happiness, and loads of material goods. Maybe I have been unconsciously bribing God, paying him with good works and sacrifices, to manipulate him into loving me, or at least preventing him from letting me be tormented with simultaneous moments of suffering. Maybe I’m afraid of God, and now that he allowed what scared me the most (facing squarely the possibility of sudden, even painful, death), I can’t help but feel angry.
These days of trial, however, have brought me to the end of my spiritual rope, enough to learn to pray: Lord, help me love you right because I just can’t, on my own. You know that I can’t. Help me learn to follow you not because of fear but out of love. Help me to love you and believe you even through so much hardship, or as that song about (ironically illicit) love says, "through the limit, through the wall." Don’t give up on me even when I feel like giving up on you.
This is really not the first time I’ve been in this place – I’ve been here several times enough to be able to complain as cheekily as Teresa of Avila did (“That’s why you have very few friends.”) -- but this seems the worst thus far. In moments like this, I keep near me the scrapbooks of blessings (of the obvious and happy sort) that I’ve compiled through the years to remind me how much I’ve been favored in various unexpected ways. In a way, this act is sad because I know that each time I hit my archive of marvelous memories, I know I’m in the bottom of the barrel again.
What I really earnestly wish for is not for the sweet memories of the past long gone to suddenly resurrect, but for this heavy rain to just stop. If God wills it, I want my life back. While I’m grateful for the breakthroughs (my niece and nephew getting well, for one), I will be even more grateful if God intervened so as not to prolong the agony. How much more hurdles can I jump over? How much more heavy downpour to survive the ensuing flood? I’m afraid not much.
So dear God: You know I am not a saint, so please bear with me.