Friday, February 25, 2005

Who is in Control?

I wrote this article for Youngblood sometime June 2000 but I never got around to sending it. Instead, it was published in the website of Christ's Youth in Action and then in the October 2001 issue of Kerygma. The Kerygma version was cropped. This is the whole story.

Who is in Control?
by Laura C.H. del Rosario

It was not supposed to be this way. Nobody expected that I would celebrate my twenty-sixth birthday jobless and still dependent on my family for support.

At an early age people had pointed out to me my potentials. They said that I had leadership qualities. They saw that I excelled in school, that I could write, and that I could play the piano. Therefore, I could be anyone I wanted to be. Convinced that I was meant for something great, I planned to heal the world, eliminate hunger, and make a difference. I thought I could achieve all that by becoming a lawyer.

In college, my undergraduate course in the University of the Philippines was what people told me would ensure my entrance in the College of Law. Even though I hated the Economics side of Business Economics, it must have helped boost my confidence when I took the Law Aptitude Exam afterwards.

Law school. For the first time in my life, I could not rely on cramming skills to pass my subjects. I was forced to study for hours everyday. I contented myself with passing grades. I was humiliated repeatedly in class. I missed out on parties and gimmicks. But I endured all that because those were all part of the Plan. While my peers were already earning, getting assigned abroad and even giving birth, my concerns revolved around highlighters, tape flags, self-stick notes, and other school supplies that law students love to collect if only to reflect some color in our otherwise maddening lives. I refused to compare myself with others, though, because I believed I was going the distance in order to reach my goal.

The occasion eagerly awaited by everyone, even by my parents’ friends and my friends’ parents, arrived – my graduation with a degree of Bachelor of Laws. Now it was only a matter of time before my name made it to the front page of the Inquirer as a bar topnotcher, Everyone said. I had my doubts but I did not want to pop their balloons. They believed in me more than I did. To them, I was unstoppable, the hope of the nation. "Kayang-kaya mo yan," they said every time I complained during bar review. They did not see the warning signs that I was losing faith in myself. When I took last year’s bar examinations, I lost control. Those were not my type of questions. They did not make sense to me. The four Sundays of September were pure torture that I simply wanted the sufferings to end.

But after working in my ideal law firm and finding out that Christian lawyering is possible, I forgot about my actual performance in the bar and believed in myself again. The months of waiting for the results I spent working, traveling, and partying. I would save the world once I become a lawyer, I thought. I postponed getting life insurance, working out, and writing to Youngblood, among others, until I passed the bar. My whole life was suspended.

And then, sometime during Mass last February, God spoke to me. He asked me what I would do if I failed the bar. ME, FAIL? Lord, I said, my personal life could be a mess but NOT my career. I had it all planned out. I did all the required steps. I was in control. But the voice was so strong, my siblings suddenly found me shaking and crying. For the next few weeks I had sleepless nights, my whole life flashing before me. One time the Lord asked me which of these two I wanted – to pass the bar or to have true love. Are they mutually exclusive? I asked Him. Eventually, for my peace of mind, I chose true love, albeit reluctantly. I thought it was the right choice.

Just before the bar results came out a reporter from a major television network pestered me for an interview to ask how a barrister felt about the delay in the release of the results and the controversies surrounding the 1999 bar. I refused to grant the interview because I did not want the entire nation looking for my name on the list of successful examinees. I had a premonition.

Thus, when the actual results came out, Everyone in my support group was shocked. I thought that the Lord had readied me for failure but nothing compared to the real feeling. The humiliation was too much, I wanted either to go insane or catch a disease in order to have an excuse to live.

Until I remembered my choice, and realized that I was going to get what I wanted after all – true love. Things began to look up after that. True enough, the people who loved me not for my title but for who I am inside slowly formed an intricate, solid and comforting network of material and moral support with everything I needed to bounce back. I was given the time to find myself again. I was assured that I was strong enough for this. I was provided my own apartment, fully furnished, with food and water delivered to me regularly. I was sent heartwarming e-mails. I was hugged and reminded that I was truly loved.

Sure, I lost some people in my life who, to this day, do not know how to approach me about my situation. But I have everyone and everything I would ever need. I am studying not only for the bar but for life in general. With friends who visit me, treat me to meals, and text me sweet messages; with a family under whose eyes I did not transform into this monster failure but who still loves me and believes in me; with partners in a law firm who say I could still be one of them someday; with brothers and sisters in Christ who walk with me in my journey and who inspire me so much; and with a God who gives me TRUE LOVE, I am content. My life is more meaningful now than, say, if I had passed the 1999 bar examinations.

As for my second take, I hope that when we all look at the papers for my name next year, we would not be disappointed. And if it is not there, do not worry about me. I have learned that God is in control of my life and He knows what is best for me. I have learned to let go of my own life so that I may live it in full. Someday I still hope to heal the world, eliminate hunger, and make a difference. I still hope to have a successful career and to give back all that I have received. But as to HOW I would achieve all that, I am now open to all possibilities. I am no longer limited by my own perceptions. I am no longer pressured to meet Everyone’s expectations.

I am no longer afraid.

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