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Courage.

It’s something that has been missing all my life. I had always avoided my sufferings. While I wrote about them, I never owned them. I always took the easier route, making excuses and justifications to disguise them as the right choices, or sentimentalizing them. But then, these choices have brought me to where I am today: a man seeking to forgive himself and reconcile his soul to the Faith.

I took one big step into conversion by meeting a man from Courage Philippines, an apostolate which seeks to support men and women struggling with same-sex attraction to help them develop lives of interior chastity in union with Christ. It was a huge step because I knew I had to be vulnerable and open my past. I knew I had to face the recklessness of my youth and unburden it to a stranger. But that stranger listened. And as I unburdened myself of the sins and stains which marked me, he also interrupted well enough to help me see clearly, under the lenses of faith and with a deep and profound empathy, what these thorns in my soul were.

He asked me difficult questions. He asked what I did in the past. He asked me of my fears. He asked me of my sufferings. He asked me of where I was spiritually. He asked me about my affections for CL, which was difficult because I felt so ashamed and foolish about liking someone. But I did not feel any judgement whatsoever, only compassion, only charity, only love.

While I’d like to keep the bulk of our conversations in private, I can say one thing: our discussion has enlightened me enough to wield the courage to abandon myself freely to Christ – and upon personal reflection, to Mary – and let him transform my heart. He revealed to me the roots of my affection and challenged how I approached my relationship with Jesus. He minced no words. He told me I had to face my cross, carry it, and be honest about it to Christ.

After that meeting, I realized finally what CL’s role is in my life. No, he is not there as some passing fancy or an imagined trouble. As his presence came at a turning point in my interior life, the reality of CL made me recognize that the pain I have been trying to minimize by avoiding it (as I’ve always done before) was a cross I had to bear with joy. In trying to draw his attention and subsequently making mistakes along the way, I was finally able to rectify my intentions for responding to God’s call for conversion. CL – even if he never knows – brought me to closer to God.

By unsettling me and shining a light on the disorder plaguing me, I finally truthfully saw that without God, I was nothing: a man incapable of any goodness on his own. CL made me dependent on God; he stirred in my conscience the desire to know the Truth and accept my weaknesses. He made me recognize that there is so much room for improvement. He, through God’s providence, has really helped me strive to become the best person that I can be. And through the help of the stranger, I now realize that CL was brought into my life so I could discover a greater love – one that does not rely on feelings or affections or ephemeral sentiments. This love is one full of certainty because it is Love itself, in its purest form: God.

So rather than avoiding CL or forcing myself to dislike him, I thank him for making me aware of my frail state. And I thank God even more for the stranger who, enlightened by the Holy Spirit, shone a light in me too. He gave me, most of all, courage to love again despite of my brokenness.

On a personal note, the last few months of my life has brought in me a greater desire to write. And with the encouragement of the stranger, I started a new journal, dedicated to documenting spiritual imperatives, personal reflections, and interior musings of a heart learning to love God and yearning to love him more.

So thank you CL. And thank you, dear Stranger. And thank you, my Beloved, for using them as instruments to help this flawed vessel steer its way back to you.

A new journey begins.

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