This is a guest post by my beloved housemate and sister in Christ, Danielle Santos.
Words, it can make or break a person. It’s a powerful tool that we constantly take for granted. Even before I entered college and have a deep passion for communication, words had always been my identity; mostly, words that came out of other people’s mouth.
Being the first born and ‘Unang Apo’ (first grandchild) on both my mother and father’s side caused words of praise and favor to overflow. It was easy for me to get people to say what I wanted them to. But it only lasted to until I was followed by another Santos – my sister.
I was four when she came about. I started noticing differences between how our parents treated us. At an early age, I understood that having all the toys in the world felt different from having your parents notice and take care of you. That was what my siblings had that I didn’t have.
Entering school made it more difficult. I was an under achiever and excelled only on the things that I wanted to do like music, dancing, drama and just about anything you can do on stage. My grandparents, aunts and uncles, and even my dad would brag about me but never my mom. I looked everywhere. I tried looking for my mom’s voice in the crowd, like a baby penguin searching for it’s never before seen mother every time I perform. I only heard when gab, my sister, started school – her cheers were only for her.
My sister always had my mother’s support and most especially her words and time. Maybe that’s what caused her to excel in so many things, including her academics. And that, for my mom, is what matters most. So I envied her, and thus started our sibling rivalry. After sometimes we began to grow up but my hunger for my mother’s words of affirmation was made more intense.
I didn’t know it. I thought they were just childish thoughts that had to be put away. But it was there. A beast prowling, waiting for the right time.
High school was much worse. My first two years were great. I discovered the wonderful feeling that a boy’s attention could give you. So, I worked hard for that. Near the end of my third year in high school, I experienced my first heartbreak which bruised me deeply. The beast of insecurities from my longing for my mom’s attention was fed. I did not only felt incapable and incomplete, more specifically; I felt ugly, hated and stupid. This was followed by my batch-mates’ bullying during my senior year. I was so beat up and desperate for a cure without going through thorough diagnosis of the heart. I grabbed on to whoever and whatever offered comfort and sympathy.
I went into a relationship with a long time friend of mine who’s a year younger than me. Even though he already has a reputation of being a lady’s man, I still gambled and gave my heart to him.
In my sixteen years of experience then, he was the only one who went down to meet me at my own love language which were words. I began to build my own identity with the words that he told me. He told me I was beautiful, so I felt I was. He told me I was strong, talented, smart, excellent kind-hearted and so I believed. To him I was perfect and I felt invincible. I built myself around him. A day came when I all went crumbling down to powdered dusts when he told me how disgusted he was of me. In his words, “Ayaw ko na sayo. Pagod na pagod na ako, sawang-sawa na ako sayo at walang ka nang magagawa para mahalin pa kita ulit…” (I don’t love you anymore. I’m tired and so full of you. There’s nothing you can do for me to love you again.)
I decided to take my own life that night.
I knew I believed lies. Flatter, for better terms. Ironically, his voice just then, felt like truth. Truth saying what people had been saying all along, over and over again: Dee, you are an insignificant, worthless being and tonight you are better off dead. Why? Because you are ugly – not worth loving; you think you have something to offer but you are not enough, never enough.
I can’t describe how painful that night was. I grew up in a church-active family. I was taught about the Bible and I prayed a prayer of acceptance at a very young age. I thought I understood what it meant to surrender my life to Jesus when I was 7 years old. So why then have I gone to the point where my only option was to kill myself? I never really understood what a surrendered life meant.
Slowly I took the blade out of its packet. I slowly held it and aimed at my wrist. I was about to cut myself, but I accidentally made a slice at my thumb. It was a small but deep wound. Blood came trickling down to my palm and then to my wrist, I sat still, starring at the blank wall.
“Why?” A gentle, weeping voice was conversing with me inside my head.
“Nobody loves me,” I told Him.
“Don’t I love you?” He wept gently.
I was astounded with His answer even when I had known it almost all my life through every Sunday school I attended and the many Bible stories I’ve read.
I refused to back down. “I know You showed it to me on the cross, but I never really felt it!”
“Have you read it?” He gently suggested. “My darling, I told you I love you as I died on the cross. And because I created you, I know you more than anyone could. My expression of love for you did not start and end on the cross. Even during the old times I have expressed myself as a Creator, a Father and a Lover to you constantly admiring your beauty. I told you, you are beautiful. I told you, I love you even when you are unlovable. I told you, you are a queen to me even when you’ve become damaged goods from other men. I held you as if you are a precious jewel. I have great plans for you and paid for you. I paid for you with My body and My suffering so you can no longer feel pain when time comes. So why then are you hurting yourself?”
Jesus loves me, this I not only know but I have and continually understand. I read His word – the Bible and proved that His claims are true.
1 Peter 1:18-19
New Living Translation (NLT)
“18 For you know that God paid a ransom to save you from the empty life you inherited from your ancestors. And the ransom He paid was not mere gold or silver. 19 It was the precious blood of Christ, the sinless, spotless Lamb of God.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
“5 But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed.”
New Living Translation (NLT)
“13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, He identified you as his own[a] by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom He promised long ago.”
I was experiencing an identity crisis because words, as simple as they seem are interpreted differently by different people. As for words from people, they’ll just break you. They can suffice but can never satisfy. I choose to listen to Jesus’ truthful and faithful love letters – the Bible. There I found my identity – Christ is; unshaken, unmovable, awesome.