By: JN Tingcoy
How deep is our sense of believing? Do we really believe when there is nothing else left? Or do we consider faith as a perfect scapegoat from sorrow and limited rationalization? What if you are on the borderline between faith and skepticism, which would you choose?
I spent my eighteen years of academic life under the expertise of the Jesuits. Both my parents came from provinces with strong religious culture. By the age of five, I knew by heart the sequence of the mass, as well as most prayers. In short, I grew up in a conservative catholic environment. Much to the expectation of everybody, with such background, everyone would agree that I had a good foundation on faith. Even I did. But I was wrong.
About twelve years ago, my father was diagnosed with stage four prostate cancer. By that time, doctors would consider him as terminally ill. The disease struck my family off guard: I was fresh from elementary then, with a few siblings earning a living for the family; since both parents were retired. More to the cancer, he was also suffering of paralysis from his hips down. We had to carry him to a wheelchair to mobilize him. Young as I am, I was opened to the probability that one day, I would wake up seeing him gone. I was opened, but not prepared. The only consolation I had was prayer. Every time I go out for school, my only brief prayer would just be: “Lord, I hope today is not that day” and that sufficed me to pursue my day. It had been that habit every day for five years, until the day came when it was time for him to go. There was nothing we could do but to accept it.
Seven years later my family would then experience another heartbreaking event. My eldest brother, at a young age of thirty five, was diagnosed with stage four osteosarcoma (cancer of the bone). My family was so devastated, but we knew faith wouldn’t despair us. This time we were more educated. We knew our possible options and what was at stake. We made him undergo chemotherapy. Within a week after his treatment, there were already signs of positive response. But much to our heartbreak, a little less than a month from his diagnosis, we lost him.
I could not understand the fury and frustration I had with my God. It was as if He denied me of something that was so important. Something I fervently asked for, not for myself, but for someone I love. I kept on asking “Why couldn’t I understand?” and sure I know most answers would be “there is a better plan.” But what could be a better plan than a life for someone else?
The two instances were the pivotal events of my life. I was inclined to skepticism yet I asked myself whether I really had the right amount of faith. Today, I am still on my walk back to knowing, understanding and living my faith. It is easy for us to say and show that we have faith, but at turning moments, sometimes we realize it is also easy for us to let go. It is difficult for us to live our faith, more so, to live it daily. I could not say how to live faith since each has a different story, a different struggle. But what I encourage is try to walk back the faith you have and try asking yourself: do you just believe it? Or do you live it?