The Road to Resurrection
Dear family, I am so sorry, but it has to be done. I feel trapped, hopeless, and helpless…”
The ink flowed from my pen onto the white parchment to reveal the feelings I had bottled up inside me. For the longest time, I had felt trapped. And I thought that freedom can only be sought when my soul finally leaves this mortal body. Even as I walk this earth, breathing its air, I never felt I had truly lived anyway. Death would not make much of a difference.
As I folded the last evidence of my existence, I thought of the best way to die. Maybe I’d slash my wrist. Or maybe an overdosage would suffice. However way I shall face death, it had to happen. Nothing was going to hold me back.
Or so I thought.
Death of Identity
I can’t remember how young I was when I learned the truth. My initial reaction was, “Why me?” The answer to that question never came, but the truth remained the same: the parents I came to know were, in fact, my uncle and his wife. At seven months, I had been put up for adoption by my biological parents who were residing in the province.
The pain of knowing the truth was somehow alleviated by the love my adoptive mom had showered on me. She was a wonderful woman. My adoptive dad, on the other hand, was a man of few words, but I believed he loved me just as much. Those were blissful seven years of my life until things changed. That’s when my journey to a slow death began.
Death of Heart
Mom and Dad grew cold and distant with each other. Gone were shared family meals, my parents stopped sharing a room, and weekends were spent separately with Mom and Dad. Finally, I was about eight years old when mom, my sister and I moved out.
Unfortunately, that was also the time the bullying in school intensified. Ridicule and teasing welcomed me in class every day. My arms would get sore with pinches from my classmates, and my lunchbox and pencils often got stolen. One time, I was even locked in the classroom during recess time. The bullying and the crisis in my family brought me down so much. Eventually, I had become withdrawn.
Through all of these, Mom played the role of a single parent so well. Though she was busy with work, providing for me and my sister, she always made up for lost time with vacations, movie dates and shopping on weekends. But then she remarried when I was 12 years old, so we had to move to The Netherlands, where my stepfather hailed from.
A lot of adjustments took place. I was in a new country with a Jewish stepfamily. I entered an international school, where kids smoked weed and thought differently than I did. The bullying rose to a higher level, too.
Resurrecting the Dead in Me
Broken, diagnosed with an unfamiliar disability, and filled with insecurities, I entered the halls of The Feast a year after, following an invitation from a schoolmate. I was yearning to find answers, to find God.
Being a regular attendee and, later on, a servant in several ministries of The Feast, I was being genuinely transformed, something beyond the “spiritual high” I used to get in a different church. I was being revived.
One by one, the dead parts within me were resurrected.
I visited my birth family. I learned that I was the sixth in a brood of nine, most of whom had families of their own already. Their home was near the ocean, and they lived simply — fishing, growing fruits and vegetables, and raising pigs and chickens. And for some reason, I didn’t hate them. I was, in fact, grateful to have known them. My relationship with my adoptive family, on the other hand, has also improved. I learned to be loving, forgiving and accepting of them and of myself.
I am slowly overcoming NLD with my renewed confidence, knowing that I am loved by the people around me. Gone is the shy, withdrawn and reserved Anna Katrina. I have blossomed into the woman God intended me to be but I am still in the process of knowing myself more.
Most importantly, I have started to see God in a different light — as my loving and forgiving Father and my Provider. Whenever death, in whatever form, approaches me, I run to God for safety. I cling to Him in times of both joy and sorrow.
When I look back at the moment when I wanted to take away my life, I say a prayer of thanksgiving that the act didn’t push through. It was God’s grace that had saved me, and for that, I am grateful.
Today, the only goodbye letter I’d be writing is how I have turned my back at death, because now I am truly free, no longer helpless, and full of hope. I have been resurrected.
At that point, I knew I was slowly dying inside; only the breaking point remained alien to me.
Death of Body
I was in ninth grade when depression took over. From being an achiever, my grades went down drastically. I became even more withdrawn, hostile and negative. That’s when I began tinkering with the thought of taking away my life. Had my friend not found my suicide note and showed it to my mom and stepdad, I would have been long gone. It was a postponed meet-up with death.
In an effort to save me, my mom had me attend therapy sessions. Later on, it was decided that I go back to the Philippines to stay with my dad and my half-brother. But Dad was hardly home. His work took him on months-long assignments abroad. I was left on my own, taking care of my young half-brother. Dealing with my own personal issues and taking care of a household took its toll on me. I began drinking and smoking to relieve stress. I was only 16 then.
After graduating from high school, I moved to the US to be with my mom and stepdad. It was in college that I was diagnosed with non-verbal learning disability (NLD). Less known than language-based learning disabilities such as dyslexia, NLD causes problems in coordination, visual-spatial organization, adapting to new and complex situations, and social perception, judgment and interaction. I, for one, experience difficulty in outwardly expressing how I feel and, at the same time, in reading gestures and facial expressions. I also get easily disoriented in time and direction.
Surprised at the diagnosis, I began to question God. Why did I have to suffer such? Weren’t my past problems enough?
Death of Soul
The slow death I had been going through had gone beyond the physiological; it had seeped through the bones and into my soul. I had a myriad of questions for God, and the answers I searched for outside the Catholic Church I grew up in. I became a Born Again Christian and was active in ministry. I was seeking God. But at the same time, my relationship with my family began to crumble. Tension grew between me and my mom.
In 2010, I moved back to the Philippines and lived with my dad again. Just when I thought I had escaped my problematic family relationship, I was proven wrong. My dad and I got into a conflict. It reached the point where we stopped talking. I tried to reach out to him, but he just pushed me away. Once again, I found myself questioning God. It was as if every aspect of my life was drawing to a close.
By Anna Katrina Lopez as told to Osy Erica
This article was taken from Kerygma magazine November 2014 issue. To order your copies of Kerygma magazine, call us at (02)725-9999 locals 101-108 or visit us at www.kerygmabooks.com. You can also buy Kerygma at your favorite bookstores nationwide.