Cliche as it sounds, we learn the most valuable lessons in times of difficulty.
The past two years, most specifically the past few months, were the hardest times for me.
Ticking off a few from the checklist of life’s dagok (strikes) are (in no particular order):
- Finished the rigorous medical school training (sleep-deprived, food-deprived, pressure to excel, some difficult people to deal with)
- Presented a paper for an international medical schools conference
- Volunteered for an NGO, got a pretty good case of how it is to be culture-shocked
- Gave my all for Milk Matters and various service activities (pawis, luha, dugo) (blood, sweat and tears)
- Contracted a debilitating pulmonary tuberculosis
- Got me a good scolding from the parents for not taking better care of my health
- Struggle to support myself financially
- Letting go of some relationships
- Pre-residency in UP PGH Pediatrics (repeat pattern of sleep deprivation and skipped meals)
Come to think of it, what I thought were strike outs– heartbreak, rigorous medical milestones for a student becoming a doctor, an infectious disease– were, in reality, God’s blessings. Looking at some of my difficult experiences, I realized that blessings and burdens are actually two sides of the same coin.
I was a bit baffled as I was listing the experiences above ,realizing I cannot set a definite demarcation between blessings and burdens. That I cannot just compartmentalize burdens to just that: a purely negative experience. No, they’re not. Burdens are actually blessings waiting to be learned from.
I can only say this in retrospect. I needed time and the grace to be changed for the better to see and believe.
As an imperfect human being (thank God for this realization), I wish I could say I’ve learned this blessing-in-a-disguise-of-burden as I was undergoing the dark phases of my life. Looking back, if I hadn’t really held on to God, hindi ko alam kung saan ako pupulutin ni Lord. And if I had let go of His Hand, as I was tempted to and did let go several times, He still held me.
What a faithful Being.
I was supposed to say goodbye to some of God’s gifts to me: my sorority sisters, my precious relationships with friends (brothers and sisters), my community…
The severity of the pain was blinding. I was tempted to let go and just leave the people who love me.
But God stayed. God wouldn’t let me go. And that gave me the safe and secure space to hold on to Him as well. I was safe and secure in His love for me.
I was supposed to say goodbye. But God has other plans for me. Better plans for me.
I would hold on to His promises. For I know the plans for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
PS. By saying goodbye, I do not mean to end my life. It was a way of staying away from some relationships.