There was a question I dreaded to be asked while I was still at the peak of burnout and bewilderment, it was "What are you going to do next, Ella?" I'd asked myself that countless times. I'd bugged God about it morning, noon and night time. I still didn't have a proper answer, so to be faced with such uncertainty was torture for me then.
It was largely my fault, for I'd heralded every little twist in my journey in this blog, on email, and in person, so that my friends naturally started to expect that I had a short and sure answer to that question after I resigned from Lingkod. Surely, my God and I, who had weathered the storms of the bar nightmares, career decisions, service "crucifixions" (some services were personal hell but my God & I endured them all), recurring heartaches, and similar catastrophes, would take no time in moving on from that point of uncertainty. So what if I was giving up something I had prayed and fought for with blood, sweat and tears? It must mean a better place just around the corner.
But I moved at a snail's pace. There were days when I hardly wanted to move at all. Outwardly, I was filling out applications, showing up for interviews, and registering for online job matches. I was just going through the motions so that I could tell God, or the world, or myself, that I was doing something about my life. Inwardly, however, I just wanted to pause and reflect. What happened, why was I there, and where was God taking me?
It was only after reaching a clear dead end that I decided to do what I should have done in the first place - LET GO. I let go of my dreams. I let go of my plans. I let go of my fears. I let go of my wants. It was time I started being a human being and not a human doing. These were not new lessons, and I had even shared them with others before in my talks. I saw first hand how I could not relinquish control of my life to God one day and take it back full force the next! I had to listen to my heart, which was tired, unhappy, and distressed.
It was at that time that I learned to trust everything that I had learned - from my parents, teachers, mentors, and spiritual directors. They said, I seemed to remember, that I would never run out of options in life, that God gave me so much that I would never run on empty. I doubted myself at some point, reached depression and faced all my insecurities once more. I felt like I was good for nothing and almost forgot that I was God's daughter - chosen and precious - meant for His Kingdom. I forgot that all that I had came from Him; that He who created me knew where to place me and make me bloom. Him - The Potter, The Vinedresser, The Shepherd, The Father; Me - The Clay, The Branch, The Sheep, The Daughter. Truly, when darkness surrounded me, the truth of God's Word revealed in His Son was my only anchor of hope. I'm thankful for that.
What happened? Did I wake up one day to a perfect world? I still did not. Slowly, however, I started to pick up the pieces of my life and see the gems that had always been there. I saw what I valued and recognized what I treasured. I said "yes" to God one day at a time, consulting Him in every decision, and accepting opportunities to rest and recharge.
That was when I found myself at an almost unbelievable job (albeit temporary) - helping one of my best friends in high school set up a travel website and agency. It was a welcome opportunity, and just what I needed. It came at the right time. It was not yet the final thing I felt God was calling me to do, but for the time being, it was something that made use of my brains and talents and gave me chances to travel and earn while doing what I did best - writing from the heart and relating to people. As DiscoverPH's Business Development Manager, legal consultant, and travel writer, I was able to go around Bohol, China, and even Old Manila. I worked for a very good friend whom I respected and admired. Somebody commented, "That's not a job, that's a paid vacation!" It IS Easter, and I WILL recognize that blessing. :) My God fully paid for it, not me.
Now I have to pause when asked what I'm doing now, for really, there is not one thing that defines where God has taken me. I pause not out of lack of things to say, but due to uncertainty as to which blessing to share first. There's the travel sideline, the parish council, the youth ministry (which might involve serving as choir master, if I gather enough guts), the covenanted community (still investigating), and the former Lingkod branch full of supportive friends. I might take two trainers' training courses - one for work, as a trainer for customer service specialists; another for service, at the Institute for Pastoral Development, where the best of both worlds, Ligaya and St. Benedict's, just might meet in my heart, mind and soul.
I am serving different communities by giving talks and retreats, which is true to my call as I clearly heard the Lord many years ago. I have a meeting with one of my mentors, a lawyer, for a possible project or employment in her company next week (please intercede, it's the nth time that they've offered me something and this might be it). I'm still waiting for the government to lift the hiring ban after the elections to see if I made it to that agency I want to work for (not the one I wrote about early this year, that took a veerry slow turn that allowed me to re-assess if I wanted to work there, but will see after June).
Do I have a simple, one-sentence reply to "Where are you connected now?", something brothers and sisters ask one another every now and then? No, all I can do is smile and give a non-responsive but nevertheless honest reply - that I know that Easter has come. I celebrate Christ's victory in my life this Easter because I saw a brutal, personal Good Friday. I understand more how Christ was able to rise again: it was because first, He allowed Himself to suffer and die.
I can better appreciate my life's "resurrection" because I went through a long period of suffering with my share of little deaths. Good thing I have a Redeemer who took on everything on my behalf, so that when I join my heart to Him in prayer everyday, I receive enough grace to realize more that I have been saved already. It IS Easter. I may be a long way from heaven, but here on earth, I shall not be depressed anymore.
"And as I wait
I'll rise up like an eagle
And I will soar with You,
Your Spirit leads me on,
by the power of Your love."