Growing up in a Catholic family, I had always recognised the presence of God in my life and was content with the relationship I had with Him. Though I proclaimed to love God, I only turned to Him when it was convenient for me, when I was faced with problems, or when I had no one else to turn to. Other than that, I knew about God but did not spend much effort or time in forming a relationship with Him. I did not realise how one sided this ‘relationship’ I had with God was. And as a result, although the image I had of God was of a good, mighty, and everlasting God, I just could not understand how such goodness could love an unworthy being like myself.
All these things which I prided myself in, though not necessarily bad in nature, drove me further away from God as I placed these things at the centre of my life, rather than God.
Being unaware of God’s personal love for me, I was blinded to the truth of who God was and who God made me to be and so I turned to other things for love, recognition and security — my friends and the leadership roles I took on. As a result, I based my identity on these areas of my life. When I fell out with a friend, my entire mood would be destroyed. When I compared myself as a leader to another, I would feel terrible about myself. All these things which I prided myself in, though not necessarily bad in nature, drove me further away from God as I placed these things at the centre of my life, rather than God. On hindsight, I believe that my love for God was genuine but I did not know how to place Him at the centre of my life.
Alysha (leftmost) performing together with fellow School of Witness participants
One Decision, One Step
However, this all changed when I made a radical decision to spend two months of my post A-levels break at the School of Witness (SOW) organised by the Office for Young People (OYP) in 2017. It was not an easy choice to make because many of my peers were all taking on internships, part- time jobs and building up their resumes. However, after much encouragement from my loved ones, I decided to commit the eight weeks to attend the school to grow in faith and learn how to live as a disciple. Throughout the course of the eight weeks, I came to learn how to receive God’s love with my heart and not just my head. Through the many teachings, I began to discover how beautiful our Catholic faith is and how much I had been missing out on in living a life without Christ. It was also in the School that I realised how God has been longing to build a genuine relationship with me as He had been patiently knocking on the door of my heart, waiting for me to respond to Him. Once I took the courageous step of opening that door of my heart to God, there was no turning back for me. Opening that door meant letting God into my heart to clean the dirt and dust that had accumulated from all the lies about myself that I believed in, all the hurt that had been inflicted on me and all the sins I could not forgive myself for. As God began healing me during the school, I found it increasingly easier to trust in Him and grew deeper in love with Him. On top of all the internal change that had begun during SOW, God has also blessed me with many brothers and sisters who inspire me to live more like Christ everyday. Witnessing them strive for holiness further spurs my own desire to grow in holiness.
I realised how God has been longing to build a genuine relationship with me as He had been patiently knocking on the door of my heart, waiting for me to respond to Him.
Falling Scales, New Vision
Once I had tangibly encountered the extravagant love of God, I began to see things differently. The theme of my SOW was John 9:25, “I once was blind but now I see” and upon reflection, I can testify that I entered the school blinded to God’s love for me but left a changed person with new sight. Like the scales that fell from Saul’s eyes, the scales that used to blind me from receiving and responding to God’s love were removed, leaving me with new vision to see Christ in everything. Never once have I looked back or regretted entrusting my life into God’s safe hands.
I used to live life blindly, only allowing God into certain aspects of my life. But now I see my life as only worth living for the sole purpose of glorifying Him in all that I do and in all that I am. Before letting God into my heart, I used to struggle with my self worth. I would question my significance as a person and struggled to believe that I could make a difference because of how small and insignificant I felt. But God has been healing this area of my heart and I have learnt to claim the truth everyday that I am significant and I am seen by God. God has been very gentle with me as He calls me to greater things in His name, to things that I never imagined myself being capable of doing. Rooted in my identity as His beloved, I no longer allow my fear of not being good enough to hinder me from glorifying God through my being!
Rooted in my identity as His beloved, I no longer allow my fear of not being good enough to hinder me from glorifying God through my being!
Little by Little
In this season of my life, the Lord’s call for me is to continue to grow in His love. He is inviting me to live life as His beloved, continuously growing in confidence and trust in Him, even in the discomfort of living a life of discipleship. Ever since I said my first ‘yes’ to God in allowing Him to enter my heart, I have visibly grown in courage, faith and obedience that have ensued the many more ‘yes’s to Him that I have never once regretted. Thus, despite how challenging it is to choose to trust in the Lord not knowing what lies ahead, I yield to God knowing that He knows best and that without Him, I am nothing.
Personally, I never recognised the gravity of needing to let God into every area of my life before my encounter with God. It was only when I chose to be open to acknowledge God’s gentle knocking at the door of my heart that I came to the revelation that the Lord of the universe was patiently waiting for me to let Him into my life to transform me to be the Alysha He made me to be. And He is also knocking at the doors of each of our hearts at this very moment! Why would God be bothered with someone like me and you? Simply because He loves us and He is the very embodiment of love. He is Love that could never harm us nor disappoint us. People say some things in this world are too good to be true but I can confidently proclaim that our God is the only one thing in this world that is so good and yet so true.