The way I personally experienced God’s love was through the break up of a union that I thought was blissful and made in heaven.
It was the 7th of the month of September 1996 when I confronted my husband (he has since passed away in October 2005) about all the nasty gossips that had been reaching me.
“Yes, it’s true. My son is turning two this coming November and my daughter is only two months old” , he said. When I heard the truth straight from the horse’s mouth, my world crumbled. There he was … the man who was the center of my life for 27 years, crying copiously and uncontrollably, begging for my forgiveness.
Too shocked and too angry to react, I went along with the initial decision for him to stay with his children on weekdays and coming home to me on weekends. Because I was working Monday to Friday, I chose the weekends so we could make the most of Saturdays and Sundays together. I gave him my full understanding just so he would not totally go away. But the arrangement proved to be more painful than I had expected it to be. On Saturdays, he would come home pretty late when there was not much activity we could enjoy together for the remainer of the day. Sundays would be a routine trip to the church, movies, restaurants or madjong. When it was time for him to leave on Monday mornings, there we would be in the bedroom, by the bedroom door, by the stairs, by the car, embracing and assuring one another that the love was still there. It was painful knowing that this was the kind of love that I would have to learn to share with his children, sired out of an illicit relationship with a woman who had taken advantage of my husband’s desire to have kids which I could not give.
I am childless by circumstance. In August 1978, I underwent surgery that would render me unable to bear children for the rest of my productive years. But the post operation phase of our married life did not seem at all affected. Because we did not have kids, we could well afford to indulge in little luxuries. Our regular weekend activity was madjoing. We also enjoyed travelling to various parts of the country and the world, eating out in the finest restaurants in town and going out or entertaining friends in our well appointed townhouse in one of the exclusive villages at the time in Quezon City.
I was a pampered wife. IN 1986, i got out of the government service and travelled even more and wrote articles about my impressions of countries like America, Europe, Australia and other parts of Asia, some of which were published in local newspapers and magazines.
For years I was content writing on and off but mostly enjoyed just being around my husband catering to all his needs. We were happy. Or so I thought. I did not have the fainstest idea that my husband, a very quiet man, was already a father of two.
In November 1996, it got to a point where the excruciating pain had become unbearable for both of us. For him, it was doubly so as he had to deal with a guilty conscience at the same time. So the inevitable happened. We had to separate. He chose to be with his children. He begged me to allow him to be with his kids who needed his physical presence. I was helpless. I let him go because I felt that if I did not allow him, he could just have deserted me anyway. But if I had insisted on my right as his legal wife and pressed him to stay, I would not have felt good either with the decision that he was there, with me, but only because he just had to be.
For a time I kept the situation from my family and friends. I hid the pain and carried this cross without anybody noticing until my weight started to deteriorate. That was the time I knew I had to tell them of my hurt. The way my mother held her tears when she learned of it was still very clear to me as yesterday. How my mother loved Jimmy so much. He was her favorite son-in-law.
But while I was thankfull for the loving support of family and friends during this difficult time, no one could have ever felt the pain the very same way I did. It was an indescribable pain — the kind of pain that tore the heart, the kind of hurt that gnawed at the very fabric of my being.
The ensuing days were even more nighmarish. I had to learn to undo the things that I had become so used to doing with Jimmy. The dawn of another day would break and would find me still awake. On an extraordinary lucky day, I would doze off momemntarily only to wake up in the middle of the night with my heart pounding. It was extremely painful entering our bedroom and he was no longer there to embrace me, assure me and secure me with his love. Loneliness would grip me and I could only cry. Sadness followed me like a shadow as I would see him everywhere — in the man standing close to me in the elevator, in the man driving the car beside mine and I would feel him in anything that would accidentally touch me.
During this darkest hour of my soul, I thought about God. But then I was angry even at Him. I blamed him for the break up of my marriage. In one confrontation with Him, I said I was no big sinner. I was not a cheater nor a murderer. What did He have to punish me for?
In March 1997, my dear friends Chris and Gigi invited me to attend the Life in the Spirit (LSS) Seminar, a three day live in seminar designed to introduce one to a life lived in the power of the Holy Spirit. It provides people with an opportunity to find out more about that life and to be helped in taking the first steps of a new relationship with God. It aims to establish or deepen among the participants a more personal relationship with Christ by yielding to the presence of the Holy Spirit in their lives.
Blindly and immediately, I said yes. At that point I knew there was no else who could take me out of the pit of despair but God. I have always been pious. I never missed out on my Sunday and Holy Days obligations since I learned about God in our religion class. But given my current situation, it was not easy convincing myself that God could actually change my outlook about what creative suffering and genuine love was all about.
For three days, I sat and listened patiently to all the sharings and the talks about God’s Love, Salvation, New Life and other discussions as I secretly await for that “Aha” moment when I would feel the love of God, actually, physically. Then it happened during the Outpouring of the Holy Spirit. I did not know what came over me but I liked how it felt. It was overwhelmingly conforting. Immersed in 3 days of prayers, meditations, fellowships, talks and discussions, I came out of the seminar feeling light as a feather. I joined the seminar to find emotional healing and I got more than what I had bargained for. I had continued in my spiritual growth by joining the Bethesda Healing Ministry that caters to all supplicants who were emotionally broken as I was and to those who were physically infirmed as well. This went on until I left for the United States to make a fresh start in life without a man. No ordinary man. The end all and be all of my existence for 27 years.
As I reflected on these events in my life, I realized that God must have used the situation to allow me to see that there is no perfect and faithful lover than HIM. My attachment to my husband had driven me so far away from HIM and He wanted me to draw near to HIM.
The pain still rears its ugly head once in a while. But this pain has been a great teacher. It taught me to be more involved with the world around me. It taught me how to be concerned with others other than my husband. It taught me how to acknowledge my helplessness and powerlessness before God who is so full of mercy. It taught me how to look for the jewel in the rubble of despair. During times of extreme pain and sufferings, things that were lying hidden are exposed and jewels are discovered. I discovered the most precious jewel in fact. A deep personal relationship with God.
The waves of sorrow had polished and refined me and allowed me to show forth the power of God’s conforting and healing words. It took me a while to understand His ways. But the effort and the struggle along the way was worth every pain and misery. Now, I know how to deal with pain. When pain sets in, my best armor is prayer. I pray to HIM for strength, for light and for guidance. I have prayed to HIM for healing, acceptance and most important, forgiveness. In HIM, I found the grace to forgive my husband, the woman and the people who might have had a hand in our separation. I won over pain because I went to the winning side. I conquered pain that had left scars of bitterness and anger in my heart because I chose to have love in my heart instead. His forgiveness and love have helped me forget what getting even means. I now walk with love in my heart and beam love to those I meet specially those who are or have been emotionally wounded just like I was.
The love of Jesus has showed me that true joy is often hidden in the midst of sorrow and the meaning of life finds its beginnings in grief. He says “Unless the grain of wheat dies, it cannot bear fruit…. Unless we lose our lives, we cannot find them; unless the Son of Man dies, He cannot send the Spirit”.
My separation has been the cross through which I have embraced the pain. But through this pain I have found the joy based on the knowledge that I belong to God and have found in HIM a refuge and an assurance that nothing, not even death, can take God away from me.