Francisco Uy, Youth Speak News

Overcoming my spiritual desert

By  Francisco Uy, Youth Speak News
  • November 20, 2015

It was in my last year of high school when my school’s chaplain asked me to come to his office one day. We talked about what I’d been going through. It was clear to myself and to others that I hadn’t been myself.

I stopped going to church on Sundays, stopped participating in the morning school prayers, stopped taking Communion in the occasional school Mass, but most of all I forgot the warm feeling of comfort that I had once felt when I confided in God all my worries, all my sins and would ask for His forgiveness.

School had replaced God in those four years. Prayers were replaced by homework. I stressed over what assignments I had to do and whether I would do a good job.

Conversations with my classmates about religion left me rethinking my faith and later becoming embarrassed about expressing it. I was afraid of being made fun of every time I tried to join in school prayers and I was afraid that I would be looked down upon for what I believed in. I soon lost interest in keeping up with my faith.

Debates with my mother over going to church became more and more frequent, her arguing why I should go to church, me arguing that I didn’t have the time. My last year took a toll on me and led me to a part of my life where I saw everything in life as a void of greyness.

This is what I brought with me to the chaplain’s office that day. I remember the chaplain asking me why the Earth rotates, why the grass grows, why sun gives heat, why is there air, why is anything anything.

He asked these things to remind me that past the due dates, past the worries, past the homework, there is some form of beauty in life. That whatever I believed in, there very well could be some force, may it be a logical or mystical force, that had made things the way they are and that all the things I’ve been worried about are as small as a crumb compared to the bigger picture of life.

I remember him telling me about Jesus, His temptations and suffering for 40 days and 40 nights in the desert. Jesus was once tested in the desert and persevered to achieve His purpose in life. Many others have crossed this desert. Many are in it right now. Now it’s my turn to cross it, to find myself.

I imagined myself alone in the harsh desolate dryness of the sand. In every inch and corner of my life, my faith was tested and I had failed, or so I thought. This is the test given to me by God to find my purpose, the chaplain said. This is part of His grand plan for me, as grand as the mysteries of the universe.

I remember the chaplain asking if he could pray and then he asked me if I wanted to join. He closed his eyes and clasped his hands together. And I followed. He made the sign of the cross. And I followed, for the first time in a long time, with no shame. I was with God, and He was waiting for me and I felt comfort again as I followed.

Coming to the chaplain and opening up to him with how I felt about myself, about everything, brought a feeling of security in life. He was the wise teacher who helped show the path back to my faith when I lost it and reminded me of life and its beauty.

Now I’ve entered university with the same stress and worries I once had in high school, but bigger. (Heck, I had a hard time juggling the writing of this column with school work.)

But I am different now. I still have to find myself but I feel less alone. I know if times are tough there are people I can fall back upon; support that I can lean on. And I know that God is waiting for me. Waiting to carry me.

(Uy, 18, is a first-year advertising student at OCAD University in Toronto.)

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