Olivia is one of our teen writers, she is not your ordinary, 16-year-old teenage girl from Manila, Philippines. She loves to read books on literature, write novels and her favorite subject is English. She dreams to become both a novelist and celebrity.
[Note from Vanessa: I know that on this blog, we have readers of all religions, backgrounds, and races. I wanted Olivia to write about how her experience with faith and Christianity has changed her perspective on life and dealing with others, I think readers of all religions can appreciate this post and get a view into the mind of teens who have strong faith, thanks Olivia for having the bravery to write this personal article!]
“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” Ephesians 4:32
I know that at least once in our lives, we have been subjected to foul criticism. (Come on, sometimes we have to accept the truth, even though the truth hurts.) We may be real good in turning a deaf ear towards it, but when we retreat to the silence and solitude of our rooms every night, we often get depressed, and we find ourselves asking God why some people had to be so mean. Well, one of the good news is, my fellow “victims”, is that God can see and hear everything, whether or not you say it out loud. When you hurt, He aches for you to come to him for comfort. Of course, when you are happy, He wants so much for us to share our happiness with Him. Remember, God is the only Friend we have that knows us more than we know ourselves. He knows what we are thinking in our subconscious minds (we may not know we’re thinking about something bad about another person, but HE knows), our thoughts and our actions even before we do it. You may ask, “Why would God even think of listening to me when all I do is complain?” Fact: He loves you so much, He died for you when we were still sinners. “But God proves His own love in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us!” Romans 5:8
No matter what you do, as long as you accept him as your Lord and Savior, obey Him in everything, and repent and do your best to stop sinning, God will work miracles in your life and make you a living testimony of His power and love.
When I accepted Christ as my Savior and Lord (December 24, 2003), I expected to be “transformed into Christ-likeness” immediately. I would wake up each day for a few weeks telling myself: “Okay, Via. Today is a new day. Try your best to be a Christian. Do what is right.”
You know what?
When I look back at those times when I was “starting anew”, I begin to realize that nothing about me changed a lot. Sure, I could control my temper (I try to; aren’t we humans?), stop myself from saying hurtful things to others and be “committed” to studying God’s Word, but was I sincere when I did those things? Did I really take to heart what I was doing? Did I understand the reason for it?
In case most of you guys don’t know me personally, one of my cousins lived with us to take care of my baby brother. Like most cases, the first days mingling with people you’ve seen for the first time is very awkward; she and I almost argued about who would take the first serving of rice since we were so “giving”, who would pour the drinks, who would clean the house – stuff like that. Then something changed. I didn’t know when it started, but one day, I saw something that totally blew my fuse –so I glared at her for the first time (so much for “starting anew”).
Since then, almost everything between us changed. There wasn’t a single day where I could find no flaw in everything she said or did. It would either be the way she ironed the clothes, fixed lunch, cleaned our bedroom, the tone she used when talking to me – just anything. I remember crying myself to sleep every night, just replaying certain moments of the day which I’d do anything to take back. The old saying is indeed true: “It’s easier to find fault in someone else than find one in you.”
“Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:13
This verse cut me deeply. After almost four years of enduring our strife with each other, an idea came to me (Did God give me the scheme?). I took a pen and a few index cards and just wrote what I felt about everything. I wrote on how bad I would feel when she said this that way or how she did that this way; I even put some suggestions that would (I think) lessen the occurrence of bumping into each other and getting into a heated argument. (I also included a pair of earrings as a peace offering.)
It worked…for a few weeks. Almost after a month since I gave her the letter and gift, we started feeling bad about each other again. It hurts so much to think that we could have become really good friends if our pride and bitterness hadn’t gotten in the way, especially when there were days when we got along real fine. What if I didn’t glare at her that day? Would things be different? Would we have become ‘soul-sisters’? If only I’d read this verse earlier, maybe…maybe…
God loves us so much; He doesn’t look at our flaws. He cares for us so much that, like our parents, He would go to such a great extent just to make us happy. Remember? He died for our transgressions. He died for us. Imagine what the world would be like if Jesus had not come down from heaven? I won’t imagine. I can’t. I would be dead by now.
So what happened to my cousin and me?
“Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’ Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’” Matthew 18:21-22
We both decided to try really hard not to step on each other’s toes. We did our best in shutting our mouths when we felt something nasty was about to come out. But we aren’t perfect. No one is perfect. Though I’d like to tell you guys that we never got into arguments since then, it wouldn’t be proper. But now, we’re so far away from each other, there’s no more time for heartaches. Now I really feel a deep longing for her to join me and my family in Oman. I never realized ‘til she was distant that my cousin was a very important part of my Christian walk. God used her to slowly mold me into a better child of God. He used His power through her to urge me to control the words that come out, the attitude I have around home and public places and the thing everyone in the world is looking for: sincere, unconditional love.
I know that it’s never easy to forgive someone who has greatly wronged you or used you for his or her own benefits. Believe me, I’ve had my share of those experiences back in high school. I admit that remembering those moments in my life when I was ridiculed and teased, gossiped about and avoided brings tears to my eyes. Even the teachers, who were supposed to comfort students like me proved to be of no help. I often say to myself, “When I become successful, I’ll make those who were cruel to me pay for my misery! I want to tell them ‘Hey, you teased me back in high school ‘coz I wasn’t a million things and you were – but look at me now. You’re just an ant deserving to be squashed compared to me!’” But then again, I wonder, What if I was popular in school? What if I had the experience of normal teens – being in the ‘in’ crowd? Would I have had the chance to know God and accept Him as my Lord and Savior? Would I have been privileged enough to be introduced to Him and to become His adopted? Would I be saved by now?
No. I don’t think so.
I saw a lot of my schoolmates –popular, outgoing, and attractive –who seemed to have every good thing in them. Well, almost everything.
Most of them didn’t have God in their hearts. Heck, they didn’t even think they needed Him! Some, for good image, say they believe in God and that He is at work in their lives. At work? If the Spirit was at work, these people would seek God and ask for His guidance during bad and good times. Being a Christian is one thing, being a true believer is another.
After all those years in my life, you may have expected that I became a person full of bitterness in my heart. Read this verse. “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” Matthew 5:44 Would He write in the Bible something He doesn’t do Himself? Consider the scenes in the Bible when Jesus was dying on the cross. He said to his Father in heaven: “Lord, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” How amazing do you think that is? Only God can say those things about bad people without so much as gagging. (Sorry, but that’s the only way I can describe it) We humans can’t even bear to say something good about our enemies; we’re just too prideful and Machiavellian. Good thing is He forgives us despite our iniquities. Admittedly though, I would be embittered, if not for God’s amazing love.
Okay, so I’ve been mentioning ‘God’s love’ from the very beginning but maybe some of you are still wondering, “What’s the difference between normal love and His love?”
God’s love is so wonderful it cannot be fathomed. God’s love sees no reason: you may be the most violent person in this world, yet He loves you, regardless of the flaws. The love of this world has to have purpose, ‘raison d’être’ or grounds. We often say “I love him because…” or “She’s just so sweet that’s why…” But God’s love may seem to us “illogical”. Why would God love me? Doesn’t he know the bad things I’ve been doing? Is He joking? Relax people, God isn’t kidding about anything, much more His love for us. When God says He loves you, He loves you.
God’s love is everlasting. Though all may fade away, He will remain, to love us, to care for us, to guide and be with us for eternity. The world thrives on worldly love; we disciples of God must thrive with His. I’m having such a difficulty in putting into words my feelings for my heavenly Daddy. All I know is that I feel His love everyday in my life and He has assured me that I will continue to feel it, past the grave, past death. I will be with Him in paradise.
I am not writing this to make others guilty or regretful. I just want to make everyone understand that the most wonderful thing you can do in your life is to accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior. It is a free gift – not requiring payment. All that is needed is for you to accept Him, let the Lord enter your heart, have complete control in you, follow His commands written in His Word, the Bible, and make pleasing Him your top priority.
It is not guaranteed that once you accept Jesus into your life, you stop sinning for good. We humans were born into sin, ever since Adam and Eve. So it is natural for us to follow in the ways of this world: sin, sin, keep on sinning; it is something present in us even before we are born. Now here’s a challenge: Sincerely give your life to God (I’m not talking about suicide, folks) and do your best in living a holy life, a life that God wants us to live. He wants only the best for you, but how can He pour out His blessings when you ignore Him so?
Think my friends, before it is too late.