Truth Heals: My Journey Towards Healing

I am a rape victim. The one who did this to me may have a different take on this. But this is the whole truth of the story.

The courage I’ve got to tell the story is all because of the healing I received from JESUS CHRIST through the “sacred spaces” HE gave me. I am sincerely grateful for the people HE used to journey with me until I reach the full healing I received as a gift from HIM.

Before I entered ATS, I was a broken person. I have deep wounds that I can’t even fathom. It seems like I was exiled from that dangerous place where it all took place. ATS has been a place of refuge for me since then.

Allow me to back track a little bit further. The details of the story only made clear to me when my psychologist friend asked a series of questions in the year 2012. She was the one who corrected me and said I got raped. That I was a rape victim.

Allow me to share to you my journey towards healing.

During my college days, I strived to keep my purity (in all aspects) for the LORD and for person the LORD has prepared for me as a lifetime partner. I wanted to give my wholeness to him as a gift he truly deserves. I was faithful in my commitment to the LORD in my pursuit of purity and integrity. HIS grace sustained, enabled and empowered me along the way.

2007-2009. When I graduated college, I entered fulltime ministry. I was 20 years old back then, young, excited to serve the Lord in a family church. It was a small church composed of 7 families. I’m grateful that I started fulltime pastoral ministry in that church. I got referred by a “kuya” who’s also pastoring a church with his wife and kid in a nearby town, about thirty minutes away from the community where the church I was located.

I enjoyed serving the Lord through the church. I’ve been active in helping neighboring churches, communities and the minister’s association of our denomination. Little did I know that the “kuya” I’ve trusted for so many years have a vested interest in me. I’m not aware that he had a deceitful plot towards me back then. I usually visit the church where this “kuya” pastors because we maintained the spirit of “familyness”. We collaborate and help each other’s churches. He and his wife invites me to stay in their house whenever I spend some day off from ministry work. So, their family is like a home away from home. My mom and my sister works in Manila that time while my dad and my brother stays in our home province.

One day I stayed in their house. In the middle of the night, I woke up to use the comfort room. I was schocked that someone was staring at me in the dark. I got scared. And then immediately his hand closed my mouth because I’m about to shout. He whispered to me while holding my mouth and my hand. It was kuya so I got relieved because I thought he’s just putting a prank on me the way he used to do in our college days. But he didn’t. He didn’t let go of me. I can feel the force he exerts in controlling the movements of my body. I got scared and whispered to him to let me go. He started kissing my lips and touching my breasts. I panicked. I pushed him and slapped him in the face. But he didn’t stopped. He was very forceful. He told me that he was attracted to me since college days and that he loves me more than a younger sister in the Lord. I told him to stop and wake up in his senses and begged him to spare me. I even told him to remember his wife and child. But he didn’t listen to me. He took me by his hand and raped me. I don’t recall what happened during and after. It was traumatic that my memory don’t even want to remember the details of that tragic night. I only remember crying. I wanted to run as fast as I can and flee but my body is very weak. I just wanted to get out of that place. I was so horrified. I wanted to go home but it’s difficult to find a ride. So, I cried river of tears, feeling sorry to myself, feeling dirty, deeply hurting because I was abused. I was violated. Seeing how satisfied he was because his sexual urge was relieved while feeling proud that he was the first man to take away my virginity, hurt even more. He saw me crying in the corner. He must’ve realized he did me wrong so he approached me and said sorry. He tried to console me but I cried even more. At the back of my mind, I said, “How could you say sorry just like that? I begged you to stop. I begged you to spare me. You took away my purity and dignity. You violated my body. How could you do this to me?” He tried to comfort me but he heard his wife opened the door of their room. He explained to his wife that I have a problem at home that’s why I’m crying. My mind is shouting, “You’re lying”. It was painful to see him act normally in front of his wife after what he did to me. I didn’t know what to do. I was silent all the time and his wife told me to go to my room and get some rest. I went to the room and cried myself to sleep. The next morning, I decided to go home because I can’t take it anymore. His wife asked me what seems to be the problem. But I remained quiet out of fear that she won’t believe what I’ll say and side with his husband. I’m in their territory and it’s more dangerous for me. So, I told her that I can manage it. I just need to go home quickly.

I told the members of the church where I pastor that I’m not feeling well and I needed to go home. I went home to my province. I didn’t intend to go back and planned to send my resignation letter. I feared telling my brother and my father about what happened to me. I don’t really know what to do that time. I don’t know who to trust and to seek help from.

A week after, this “kuya” visited me in our house. He was gladly welcomed by my father because he’s really close to our family. I was in my room that time. He told me that the members of the church were asking about me and that I needed to go back for the sake of ministry. I cried while saying I can’t anymore. But he didn’t respect my answer. He made up a story so that my father will convince me to go back.

Fast forward, I went back to pastoring the church. I feared that the church will stumble if they’ll know what happened to me. I fear that I might ruin a family. So I kept quiet. I asked for the Lord’s mercy and grace to see me through. But my silence only allowed the enemy to prosper. I battled with my self. I was so hurt and confused and at a lost. I was put in a situation where I got blackmailed emotionally. This “kuya” knew the right buttons to push. Looking at it now, I got manipulated. Thinking no man would want and accept me and hoping that this kuya won’t do it to others, I became a willing victim. I confused my brotherly love for him with the love toward opposite sex. And that made me thought I committed adultery/fornication. I was living in constant fear that time. I feared getting pregnant. I feared getting caught. I feared rejection. I feared men. But I keep asking the Lord to remove me from the pit I’m in. I don’t want to live a life of fear. This kuya made me do things that I can’t even swallow.  When his wife discovered what’s happening between me and her husband, she got so mad that she forcefully slapped me in the face many times. I can’t blame her so, I willingly allowed her to slap me in the face. I didn’t even feel the hurt physically because I’m deeply wounded and scarred. I wanted to die that day. I filed a resignation letter and went home to my father. I was so broken to the point that I attempted to kill myself many times. But my fear of the Lord took over. I didn’t have the courage to end myself. I asked the Lord’s forgiveness and cried out for help. GOD provided people to help me that time. These friends housed me and help me heal. I visited my father and brother once in awhile and sometimes spend a night in our house. I stayed one night with my father. One morning, I was surprised that my dad told me I have a visitor. It was him. The “kuya” who raped me. Since my father didn’t know what happened to me, he allowed him to enter my room. This “kuya” cried in front of me, begging me to come back to him and told me that he loves me so much. That he didn’t want to lose me. I heard from the LORD clearly that it was a lie. It was another plot of the enemy. So I told him to stop sinning and turn in repentance to the Lord. If he truly loves the Lord, he’d let me go. I pushed him away and told him to leave immediately. If he won’t, I’ll tell my dad about horrible things he did to me. So, he left.

I decided to leave my home province immediately. I wanted to flee because I fear that he might follow me again. So, I called my mom and told her that I’m no longer pastoring a church and I’m ready to go to Manila to study in ATS.

March 2009. I arrived in Metro Manila. I didn’t told my mom and sister about what happened. I was full of fears.  I helped my mom in her workplace to busy myself. Come 2010, I took an admission exam in ATS. My prayer that time is to heal and learn. Ever since my college days I prayed to study in ATS. I passed the exam and my mom paid for my tuition fee in the first semester. I received a scholarship grant the next semester. I also went to church. But I didn’t join in any ministries of the church where my mom and my sister used to attend. The first two years in ATS was very meaningful to me. I met good friends who became brothers and sisters in the Lord. I was integrated in the community. I hungered to learn more. I also prayed for a church where I can serve, provided it doesn’t involve any leadership or pastoral role. I church hopped for a year. Then, I met students in ATS who were members of DCBC and got invited to join their church. I prayed earnestly about it, seeking the Lord’s wisdom. It was December 2010 when I finally decided to join DCBC (I wrote about this in one of my blogs). My father and brother migrated here in Manila as well. So, our family needed to adjust living together.

I realized I really didn’t get formal counseling sessions when I entered ATS because I usually share my burdens to my friends. Some of them were counselors. But my stories back then came from the perspective of me committing adultery/fornication. They took time to listen and journey with me. They gave me books to read. Most of them were good reads. Now I realized that the Lord’s healing came in various forms and shapes. Second semester of 2011, a major crisis happened in the family. We were financially broke. My brother got his girlfriend pregnant. Major conflicts happened in the family. I was always caught in the middle. I was the sponge and schock absorber. That time I was maintaining my scholarship in ATS. But our family was so chaotic. Plus the fact that I was being asked to quit my seminary training. I keep telling my siblings that I can’t quit ATS because if I lose my scholarship, I’ll pay for the units paid by my scholarship grant. I didn’t want to leave ATS too because it has been my refuge. I find it hard to explain to my siblings. One night my brother was so drunk. He poured out his heart to his childhood friends. In all the pains and the hurt, I was put to blame. I got triggered by what my brother shared. He didn’t know I was in the room and heard everything that he shared. I was so hurt. I feel such a failure in all aspects. To cut the long story short, I went through a long period of depression. I didn’t know how to write papers anymore. I struggled finishing paper requirements. I was so broken. Since I can’t cry at home, I cried in ATS and DCBC. I was advised by our registrar to take a leave of absence. I wasn’t able to finish paper requirements in the required period. And so, I failed three courses and lost my scholarship. It was very painful.

2012. I needed some time off from my family. They didn’t know what’s happening to me. I tried to keep a strong presence. I tried so hard to be strong for them but I was breaking deep within. We were almost homeless because we can’t pay the rent for our apartment anymore. My family decided to move to Taytay because the rent there is cheaper. I needed time away from my family so, I didn’t transfer with them. A friend from ATS allowed me to stay in their house for a month. I’m really grateful because their family was very generous to me. Then I transferred to the student center of our church. I was still in the long period of depression. People thought I was too affected with family problems. I was affected with family crisis. But there’s a deeper problem. My unhealed past got triggered. My view of my self was horrible. I was drawn to self-condemnation. So many conflicts took place too. My relationship with some friends were affected and we drifted apart. But there were friends who stayed with me and continued to journey with me. One day, my IVCF West V friends working in Manila asked for a reunion. I was very nervous that time but I tried to keep my cool. I felt very strong in confessing to them what happened to me in the past. I asked forgiveness for not showing up in the Leadership Camp-Discipleship Camp in 2009. I told them what happened to me. I cried while sharing my painful experiences with them saying, I committed such sins. My psychologist friend interrupted us with a series of questions. I answered her to the best of my memory. It was painful to recall what really transpired that time. My memory was sharp in telling her the details. She got so mad, trying to hold herself. Then she told me with a heavy heart that I was raped. It didn’t sink in. She had to repeat herself saying, “Nest, na rape ka!”. I didn’t know what to say. Tears keep flowing in my face. That night the Lord revealed the truth to me. It was very painful but it’s also liberating. I got liberated from self-condemnation. I prayed to God to continue healing me and asked Him to use my life to help people who somehow had the same experience as mine when I get healed.

2013. Slowly, I’m healing. I moved to Matatag. I was adopted by the Gicain’s and stayed with them for 4 years. I also worked in Residencia Boracay’s Reservations office here in Manila to support my family. I went back to ATS as a part-time student. I changed program thinking I needed the training for cross-cultural missions in a broader perspective. When I asked permission from my department head, I was able to share my life. I remember our department head saying, “lament is the deepest form of worship”. I understand the depth of it’s meaning more clearly now. That year, it was very difficult to balance work and studies. So, I decided to take another leave of absence. I must admit that I was in a crossroad. I didn’t know which direction to take.

2014. After the missions trip in North Thailand, I felt really burdened to go back and serve there for six months. So, I told some elders and pastors from our church, filed a resignation letter in my workplace and enrolled in TESOL. I thought I was in step with the Spirit. My prayer that time is a clear sign from the Lord. If there are people from ATS and DCBC who opposed my going, it’s a “No” from the Lord. I was told by a mentor that it’s not good to leave if I have unfinished business. That time I didn’t want to finish ATS anymore. True enough, the Lord didn’t want me to leave because there are areas in my life that needs to heal. It was a painful learning experience but it taught me to fully trust the Lord’s work in my life. I felt the need to find a job. I entered the world of BPO and worked there until August 2015. I tried to save money to pay off my debts in ATS but I needed to prioritize my family’s needs. I wasn’t able to save money for my seminary training. I was asked to serve in DCBC as a worker in the Afternoon service. I resigned from CVG, served in DCBC September 2015, and enrolled again in ATS August 2015. The Lord cleared the path for me. Although I wasn’t prepared to resign from CVG, I chose to see it in the light of God’s sovereignty. It was very difficult for me to handle ministry and studies at the same time. I didn’t finish paper requirements on time because for some reason, eventhough I studied so hard, I don’t really know how to put it into writing. That difficulty is somehow affected by the maintenance medicine I take for my epilepsy, according to my neurologist. But it’s only one factor. The rest is about the mental and emotional stressors, the difficult transition process in terms of work and academic requirements and unhealed areas in my life. I kept filing for incomplete so that I won’t fail the courses I enrolled. I also got busy with church ministry.

2016. Even then the Lord never failed to provide for all my needs. I somehow knew I needed to ask for an accountability partner to journey with me. Some of them weren’t able to maintain the relationship. So, I asked God to send me the right people to ask. The Lord provided a spiritual companion who’s also a counselor. Also, God answered my prayer to minister to broken people like me. I needed a person I can be accountable with. And the Lord provided the said spiritual companion. I was able to share my struggles and sins. I was led to a more closer walk with Christ. I’m almost done with my degree program in ATS. I only needed to finish 6 units more. But then I really can’t overcome the incomplete requirements. I exert so much effort but I really can’t deliver. It was very frustrating. One time I needed to accompany my friend to do library research in one of the Universities in Q.C. During lunch break, we talked about writing papers. I shared to her my challenges in writing. I even shared to her what happened to me in 2012. I shared so many things to her. And she listened attentively. You see, she’s also a counselor. I realized I wasn’t able to sort out things with myself. I cried while sharing how frustrated I was with myself. She noticed that fear of failing was prominent in what I shared. It made sense to me. I realized I operated in fear. That part of me was unhealed.

2017. So, I strived my best to overcome my fear of failing. I studied and worked so hard. I was determined to outgrow myself, fully relying in God’s grace and enabling. Eventhough it was very difficult to write papers without a computer, it didn’t stopped me from finishing paper requirements. I was completing requirements for two courses: the one I took the previous year and the last course I took for AY 2016-2017. My professors were very gracious to me. I wanted to give my best to submit all of the requirements in the scheduled deadline.

April 2017. My father had an accident. I only have a few weeks left to finish the paper requirements. When my dad got discharged from the hospital, I tried catching up. I’ve had sleepless nights. But it’s okay so long as my brain energy isn’t low and I’m still following my schedule. I  needed to balance ministry, family, and academic responsibilities. I remember sleeping in different houses just to focus in writing papers. I only borrow other’s laptop to write papers because my netbook died. The good Lord met all my needs. He sustained me and enabled my thoughts to be fluid. Also, I didn’t have any seizure attacks.

May 2017. Deadlines week.

One night I fell asleep. I woke up at 6am. I panicked and began to feel such a failure again. Suicidal thoughts played in my mind.  When I came back to my senses, I sent a group message to my closest friends to cover me in prayers. Two of them called me and accompanied me that day while others prayed for me and sent comforting messages.

May 15. I received a call asking for a meeting. We met 3 days after. I received a schocking news. I remember going home exhausted. I told myself I needed to rest a bit before I write again.  But my body got so tired. I slept all  night and woke up around 6am. I panicked again because I’m way past my deadline. I emailed my professor the general details of the reason why I failed to submit my paper requirements. My professor extended grace to me by extending my deadline. I tried my best to finish my papers but reality hit me. The news I heard triggered me so bad. It was very painful. I didn’t know how to finish my papers anymore. I failed to submit the said papers in the extended deadline. I find myself grieving. So, I asked my counselor friend if it’s possible for us to meet because I can’t take it anymore. I’ve had several counseling sessions with her. I was able to identify and sort things out. I was able to see and understand my responses upon hearing the news. And I’ve seen the Lord’s healing mercy and sustaining grace in my life. I know my failure to submit the said requirements automatically entails a failing grade. But I still tried to appeal. The decision was to follow the policy. I failed the course and I can’t graduate with my M.A. Christian Education track yet. I accepted the decision with peace from Christ. I also inquired if it’s possible to downgrade my program to Graduate Diploma in C.E. to be able to graduate because it’s really difficult to explain to my family what happened. My grades were evaluated. And my GPA passed. The Lord is faithful to his promise. Graduating allowed me to appreciate God’s grace and mercy, goodness and faithfulness even more. I only graduated in ATS because of God’s grace. And I’m no longer defined by my past failures. Repeating the course I failed isn’t cheap but if it is a good learning venue for me and will help refine my character, I’m more than willing to repeat the course next semester.

After two weeks of not going home, I finally went home. I felt the need to update my sister about the many changes in my life. I also realized it’s high time to tell my sister about what happened to me in the past. It was a very emotional conversation. My sister got so mad with the man who abused me in the past. She even asked for forgiveness that she wasn’t there to protect me. She hugged me so tight and began crying. I never felt so free after a long period of time. I’m not ready to tell my parents yet but I think this is the start. It took 10 years to finally close that chapter of my life and begin moving forward. The healing and the transformation process wasn’t easy but it is possible. Healing is available. Those many years led me closer to the Lord. HIS attributes, nature and Word became more real to me. It wasn’t easy to live a celibate life for 10 years. But the Lord kept me. The Lord preserved me. I believe one reason why I never entered a relationship with the opposite sex, the reason why I locked my heart for many years is because I wasn’t prepared. I wasn’t ready because I wasn’t fully healed.  I can’t give my broken self. But God is the God who knows how to heal. His timing is perfect. His love is unfailing, unconditional, never ending, never faileth. His love endures forever. He restores and redeems. My security is in Christ alone. “My worth is not in what I own… My worth is in my Redeemer, Greatest Treasure, Wellspring of my soul. I will trust in Him no other. My soul is satisfied in Him alone.”

Let me end by sharing this quote to you.

“The changes that will reorient our inner compulsions that spring so often from our wounded self, come by way of purgation and painful transformations. Inner change involves self-confrontation, disarmament, relinquishment, and the journey toward wholeness. On this road there are no shortcuts and certainly no quick fixes. God’s renewing work is not to do violence to us but to heal us and make us whole. This is the strong but gentle work of God. This is purging the darkness and healing the wounded places.” -Charles Ringma

My heart relates with this statement so much. It’s a summary of the lessons I’ve learned throughout the years. I am certain that this season is a culmination of my healing narrative.

Beauty for Brokenness

IMG_20170523_235627

Thursday. Pouring rain and thunderstorm wake me. It’s as if all that I have kept deep inside my heart came bursting forth like a pouring rain and the thunderstorm. Yesterday was a time to process things… a time of listening… acceptance… a time to grieve over losses… a time to weep… a time to embrace the unseen… a time to show love unconditionally. In the midst of deep sorrow, the Prince of Peace met us… God is our refuge and strength.

Reflecting upon the experiences yesterday led me to Christ’s heart. I questioned God where is He in all these? And I’ve discovered that in all that has transpired, HE was there. JESUS was there. HE never left us.

As we grieve over losses, as deep sorrow overwhelm us, Christ is with us. HE too experienced deep pain. In all the wounds and the scars, no matter how the enemy steals, kill, and destroy, nothing can separate us from the love of CHRIST. And HE came that we might have life, life in its fullness. That in man’s depravity to sin, God’s holiness prevails. Through CHRIST, there is forgiveness, redemption, restoration, healing and grace. Yesterday is just the start of the journey. Many things will still unfold in the coming days.

Nevertheless, I’ve seen that even in our brokenness, despair, afflictions, and scarred past, God is able to keep us from falling and to make us stand in His presence. That even though we walk through the shadow of death, we will fear no evil for CHRIST is with us.. The Shepherd’s rod and staff comforts us. HE remains the Shepherd of our wounded soul. HIS unfailing and unconditional love sustains us. There is beauty for brokenness.

Letting Go

Tuesday morning.
I woke up ready to meet the LORD. Gospel songs and God’s Word prepared my heart and mind to listen. This self-introspection made me realize I have so many unsurrendered cares and concerns to Jesus.

And so, I’m letting them all go.

I’m letting go of my fears

I’m letting go of my dreams

I’m letting go of my anger

I’m letting go of my frustrations

I’m letting go of my pain

I’m letting go of my brokenness

I’m letting go of myself

I’m letting go of my unbelief (if there is any)

I’m letting go of people I hold dear

I’m letting go of controlling circumstances

I’m letting go, I’m letting God take over

Fully, completely, mightily, beautifully.

Silent Cries of the Heart

Sunday morning.

I woke up early to meet the LORD.

I finally had a short “me time” before getting busy with church and the ministry. I’ve been going through a lot the past weeks but this week has been the most longest and painful week after a long while.

Heartbreak. I feel like my heart is being torn apart, breaking into pieces. It will erupt anytime soon, I guess. So many things going on. My head is in chaos. I thought it would be helpful to sit under the tree and rest my weary and hurting heart in the silence of the day. I’ve nowhere else to go but to my loving, heavenly Father. I wanted to go somewhere far, far away but I can’t. Thank God for UP Sunken Garden, one of my favorite places to go to when my head is in chaos.

Silence. That was the longest silence I got for this month. Sitting at the bench under the tree allowed me to sort out my emotions and give my brain a little space for the sake of mental health. I thought to myself, I wanted to be like this tree, standing strong and beaming.

I was able to savor the cool breeze of the wind.  My eyes was pretty fascinated with the falling leaves. But suddenly tears keep pouring. My heart is grieving. Tormented. It’s too painful to bear. I wanted to be held in the Father’s arms. I wanna feel His warm embrace. I wanted to pour my heavy heart and find rest and peace in Him. But the Father is silent. I cannot feel Him. I felt His absence. He just let the tears flow in my eyes and re-assured me that He’s there. He’s nurturing presence is with me. And that’s more than enough to still my heart of storm.

 

Happy for you

Just seeing you smile and happy

I’m happy too, I’m being sincere here

I guess “that’s what friends are supposed to do”

I may not be physically present most of the time

But know that you’re always in my heart, mind, and prayers
And I’m striving my best to make my presence felt in the simplest ways I can
And if you still don’t feel my presence, it makes my heart sad 

But I’ll still do my best just to let you know and feel you’re important and special to me.

Just Fight!

Don’t ever, ever fail the people who believes in you

Trust that you’ll make it, I’m sure you’ll do

HIS grace will see you through

Fight with your life

Fight with all your might

I know it’s not easy, but you gotta thrive

Strive harder, rise from the ashes

You’ll find beauty in the midst of brokenness