I grew up in a very religious family. I was always proud to be a Christian. When chaos happened in my parents’ marriage, the three of us had to live with my grandparents while my mother had to work away in Taiwan. My grandfather is a church pastor, so what do you expect from a pastor’s granddaughter? I was always a good girl in the eyes of the church. All three of us were raised up with faith in God, we were taught how to pray and how to pray Jesus into our hearts. I was also confused that time because every time I met with a missionary, they would all pray the ‘Pray Jesus Into Your Heart’ prayer. Well, I didn’t really care. Prayer is a good thing, right? God likes to hear prayers, so I just prayed. On the other hand, I was baptized last November 11, 2011 because I was excited to swim in the pool. It was a church outing and we all had to wait for the baptisms to be over before we could even swim, so I thought why not become a part of the baptisms to be the first one to dive in the water? I was told that all my sins will be forgiven through baptism of water and Spirit, but I was never really aware of my sins. I didn’t have a repentant heart. And everyone was as easily qualified for baptism just as I was. You can be baptized twice if you want to, they will never know.

When I finally reached the right age, my mom revealed to me the true reason why she had to leave, and everything that happened between her and dad. My mom explained to me as to why we had to grow up seeing flying teapots, why we always had to be there to hide our kitchen knives whenever they fought. I saw that my whole life was a lie, realized that I was always rooting for a warped motivation, for a false hope. That was the time when I started to avoid the house. I treated school as an escape.

Before I became a Christian or a disciple, I was terrified and at the same time desperate of love. How scary is it really, to admit that your happiness and enjoyment of life relied on one individual. I wasn’t sure whether it was true love or just some infatuation with the idea. But regardless of all that, I gave and I gave and I gave until I gave that person the power to destroy me. I became impure, and I learned how to be impure. I allowed myself to become a material that he can use at his own convenience. I have truly loved only one person in my life that I was willing to give up everything, but that person didn’t even care to notice. After him, that’s when I opened up my heart into entering a same-sex relationship. I thought it was fun. I felt like I have finally found someone who can give me what I exactly needed. I became the precise opposite of what I was before. I became selfish. Knowing that one day she’s going to leave me, I made sure that I took away single pieces of her each day so that she will never forget about what she did to me. I was resentful, full of hatred.

After high school, I was certain that I was going to enter UP. All my life I have always wanted to become a Veterinary Doctor. I had all these amazing dreams about myself, thrilled to escape the provincial life. I looked forward to feeling free, to finally be able to decide for my own. Every decision that I made in my life were all like chess pieces, and that was when God started to move. I enrolled in an expensive review center, took the UPCAT and failed. I lost my dream. All my veterinary dreams shattered into pieces. I was hopeless. I had one dream for my life yet I cannot reach it. Still, God blessed me with a qualifying grade for reconsideration. I got wait-listed so I considered other schools and took the PLMAT. I made my move, and His grace was sufficient. I passed the exam and PLM became a life-changing refuge for me, because it is where God knocked on my doors.

I lived my college life as a typical college student that attends her classes to learn, and to learn alone. I learned how to adapt to the normal culture of being corrupt with your words because everyone’s going to call you ‘weird’ if you didn’t. I had no social life and I didn’t trust anyone, had the accompaniment of 4 people who were only there because they were stuck with me. I had 0 self-esteem and had a hard time communicating with people. I reached to the point where I get suffocated from unnecessary conversations, preferred to be alone most of the times, because it is when I get to breath. Then I started to struggle mentally, as well as with my faith in God. My doctor told me that my anxiety is back and that I am depressed. For 4 months, my life was very dark, and I struggled just to keep my head above the water. Stalking bands became my only source of happiness, went to their hotel and would come back to my dormitory by 5 am. I took my Manilan life for granted. Then one afternoon last September, as I walked out of the university, alone as always, I crossed paths with this beautiful and amazing warrior of God, Keyk, who was sharing her faith in PLM with Clark. She asked me if I wanted to study the Bible with her and I said yes. That moment, I felt like I had someone that I can connect to, like she was so familiar. Meeting a stranger never became that significant to me.

So we studied the Bible during my final exams week. At first, everything was just getting into my head, and I was kind of distracted at the time. I tend to lose control over my emotions when I’m sleep-deprived that’s why I broke into tears during the Coming of the Kingdom Study when I was asked about my thoughts with regards to the Church. It was really awkward crying in front of Priscoo, Arwin, and Keyk, but probably it is in that study when God’s words went down into my heart and softened it. I accepted the challenge to attend the Wednesday Congregational Midweek Service even though I had to finish 2 reports for final grading the next day. When I entered the doors, it was very awkward. They were hugging me. I felt like my personal space was being invaded that time. But I was really blown away by the fellowship. Everyone is talking to everyone and I felt like my mind couldn’t store anymore names of people. Also they were singing while they were snapping. How cooler can it get? And why is everyone screaming “Come on!” and “Awesome!” like these were the only words in their vocabulary? I thought to myself, I didn’t belong here. But I knew in my heart that I wanted to.

Having a tight schedule, I had to persevere in coming home to Laguna every Saturday night and in going back every Monday morning. Saturday October 8 during my Cross and Church study in the Malnegros, I was challenged to stay in Manila until the next day because I knew my mom would never allow me to leave for Church in Metro Manila. My mom persecuted me at the time and told me that she would cut my allowances, kung saan saan na raw ako nakakarating, etc. but I knew that the sacrifice was worth it, for it would mean that I was finally going to be right with GOD. I also pondered about what the Bible says about my sexuality. I contemplated a lot and tried to justify my impurity. My heart was corrupted by the patterns of the world, but God knew exactly when to intervene. On October 9, 2016 at 2pm, I made a decision to make Jesus as my Lord and Savior and got baptized. And because of God’s grace, I was also able to help my family become Sold-Out disciples of Jesus Christ.

In defining what the cross means in my life, I just want to share this particular Scripture, in Philippians 3 beginning in verse 7.

“But whatever were gains to me I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ and be found in him.”

So for me, the cross means GAIN.

Every time I have lost something, many times it were lesser things I had settled on instead of letting Christ be my all. It took a major adjustment of my life for me to recognize that, but when I did, I realized how foolish it was to ever hold on to temporary things in the world when there is fullness in Christ. I realized that I didn’t have to sacrifice this much to get a person to love me, that I didn’t have to depend my worth upon people’s definition of me if God’s unwavering gaze is fixed on me.

I finally found the large piece of what was missing in my heart, a gain that required me first of losing everything.

There is nothing greater than knowing Christ in sharing in His death and life, for my true life began at the feet of the One who died to save it. He sees us inside and our every sin in all its horror, and he is willing to forgive us. He took our sins upon himself when he became a man named Jesus, crucified once and for all for the sins of the whole world. I am now forever forgiven. I stand forever forgiven, always beautiful to God. Now I can finally see myself through his love.

I crossed and took the surpassing worth of knowing Him, even if that meant loss for me, because He is my greatest gain.

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