I lay on my bed as steady stream of tears flowed down my left cheek soaking my hair and pillow underneath. I was alone in my unlit room but I clutched another pillow to my face muffling my sobs. No one else would resolve my problems but I.
As I close my eyes, I found myself alone in a place of infinite darkness. There were no walls around me that I could lean on, no roof above me to provide shelter, and the floor I stood on was hidden from my sight. I had no one to turn to, nothing to hold on to and nowhere to go.
I resigned from an Events and PR company in exchange for a higher-paying job in the Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) industry. Prior to my resignation, my dad got into an accident and couldn’t work for a few months. I decided to forget having a career in events or in media production. I had hoped for an exciting job but it was also my dream to provide greater comfort for my family, and I figured it may take a long time in a local company.
June 2007, I went to my final appointment with a recruiter. As I scanned the contract, my eyes grew wide when I saw the start of training: August 2007! But I can’t back out now, this is the company I want and the line of business (LOB) I want. I signed it but I was preoccupied with finding a solution on how to fill the two-month gap.
In my ignorance and rigidity, I considered unemployment as incompetence or laziness or both. Even with a definite job waiting for me, it was still unacceptable. I cannot be unproductive for two long months.
Of course, there were a lot of activities that could keep me busy. I could read, study, research, learn a new recipe, a new skill, a new language, etc. One can never run out of things to learn or do. But it doesn’t change the fact I have two months of unemployment in my résumé!
I searched for a part-time job but found out I needed to commit for at least six months. I had no choice but to wait.
I thought I’d go crazy! Two months of unemployment was like losing what I valued the most – my work – which signifies my usefulness, purpose, value, security, and success.
Having no source of income also defeated my goal of providing for my family. All the emotional and financial stress soon resulted in a conflict with my mom.
Everything I could have held on to and sought after was either gone or distant. For the first time in my life, I experienced how it felt like having nothing. I had nothing I could call my own, I had no one to turn to, nowhere to go and nothing I could do to resolve my problems.
But there’s one last Person I could turn to — Jesus. He had often been my last resort. There was nothing else I could do but pray. I flooded my bed with tears as I recounted all my misery to Him.
I know I had committed a grave sin when I deliberately continued my affair with a married man. My relationship with my family was dysfunctional. Most of all, I was jobless which meant: no achievement, no purpose, no value, no success, no money and I cannot even help my family.
I was alone. Useless. Wretched. Wicked. Worthless. Helpless. Hopeless.
Then, unexpectedly, He spoke to me in a soft and gentle whisper, “I love you.” His voice was not audible yet was very clear.
“But You love me.” I echoed to Him, relishing each word.
After telling Him all my offenses and uselessness, He responded with I love you? Despite my wretchedness, wickedness, and worthlessness, Jesus loves me?!
I never doubted this truth I learned since childhood, but hearing it from Jesus Himself at that moment made it real and relevant in my life. How could He love me even when I was at my lowest and had nothing to offer except my sins?
At that moment, I remembered those times in college when I noticed God answering my prayers. His work was evident because they were desperate prayers of a student asking help from Jesus who had often been the last resort. Jesus is the only one who comes to my rescue, even in seemingly impossible situations. He is the only one who has seen every detail of my life and has stood by me in times of grief.
I grew up self-reliant and I find it difficult to ask for help or entrust other people with things I consider important, such as school or work. Other people, even my own family, have their own responsibilities and problems to attend to, so why and how could they help me? I can never tell if others could help me at the time and the way I need help. There were also instances when I desperately asked for help and was disappointed.
So I learned not to expect help from other people with things I consider important.
But Jesus has always been present every moment of my life, I just didn’t acknowledge it because I was too busy directing my own life.
I remembered a Bible memory verse that was made into a song:
And He said
‘Cast your burdens upon me
Those who are heavily laden
Come to me all of you who are tired
Of carrying heavy loads
For the yoke I will give you is easy
And My burden is light
Come to Me and I will give you rest.’
I have been carrying all my burdens by myself because I knew no one can truly help me the way I needed. But remembering everything Jesus has done helped me understand that I needn’t carry my problems by myself. He has proven Himself ever-present, trustworthy, and dependable. It was no longer just a concept or lesson in school, He showed me through my experiences and His evident answers to my prayers that He truly cares for me.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NLT)
Jesus used this low point in my life to help me realize that everything I valued in this world, all I have acquired and worked for, everything I do and have achieved, even my knowledge, capabilities and vigor, and everyone I cherish can be taken from me in an instant.
However tightly I hold on to anything or anyone, God is still ultimately in control; the One who gives and takes away. It dawned on me that I cannot define myself with anything in this world because they are all temporal. Once they’re taken from me, they will cease to define me.
After all, we brought nothing with us when we came into the world, and we can’t take anything with us when we leave it. (1 Timothy 6:7)Tweet
The only thing I can eternally hold on to is Christ’s love which will never be taken from those who truly belong to Jesus and have a personal relationship with Him.
Jesus opened my eyes to see the truth:
who I was — no one
what I had — nothing
what I valued — empty and fleeting
how I lived — sinful
what my condition was — alone and wretched
And there is nothing I can do to save myself from my wretchedness. Jesus is my only hope. He alone can save me.
In my wretchedness, Jesus spoke tenderly to me and told me He loves me. His love for me is not dependent on what I have done (good or bad), nor on what I can do. He doesn’t need anything I can give Him; He is God. He doesn’t love me because I am worthy of His love, I will never ever be worthy, rather He loves me because of who He is.
None is worthy before God. There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one.
There is nothing in us that would merit salvation. Because everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. His standard is perfect holiness.
When people sin, they earn what sin pays—death. This death means punishment with eternal destruction; forever separated from the Lord and from His glorious power. Therefore, man is condemned to eternal death and punishment because of sin.
But because of God’s unfailing love for us, He made a way to reconcile us back to Him. God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Jesus Christ, the Son of God, humbled Himself, came into the world, lived a holy life and willingly sacrificed Himself on the Cross as payment for our sins. So that everyone who believes in Jesus and trusts in His sacrifice on the Cross as payment for sins shall have eternal life.
Eternal life through Christ Jesus is a free gift of God. Salvation is not earned by our own effort or merit. It is a free gift by God’s grace (undeserved favor) in response to our faith in Christ. For if keeping the law (following God’s commandments out of our own strength) could make us right with God, then there was no need for Christ to die.
It was Jesus, not us, who fulfilled God’s requirement for a holy life and He is the only perfect sacrifice given by God to pay the penalty for our sins. It is all achieved by Jesus, not by us. So none of us can boast about it.
And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:26)Tweet
I planned my activities to fill those two months of unemployment. There were a lot of things I thought of doing, but for reasons I didn’t realize then, I did not do what I would have typically done. I became curious about things I never paid attention to. I was busy with school and then with work, so I didn’t have time to stop and think about life.
Is there more to life than this? Is there more to life than being born, growing up, studying, graduating, working, making money, getting married, raising kids, growing old, then dying? Is that all there is to life? (To be continued next week . . .)
Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world. And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever. (1 John 2:15-17 NLT)
(This story was first published on August 7, 2017. Rewritten in August 2019)
A personal testimony of Ma. Olivia Jill Temporal. Learn more about her on the Author’s page.
Read the whole series about her life story: