Tuesday, February 03, 2009

A Lesson About Hope

I've been away from you for far too long...

I'm sorry for not updating this blog.  There was too much going on and I could not sit still enough to reflect.  Really.  I had a busy January, what with all my siblings and their respective spouses coming to Manila for a short holiday.  Suffice to say that it was their vacation, and my turn to drive.

So when a friend of mine, sounding distressed, called me to ask for "spiritual advice", I hesitated.  I doubted if I could offer anything to her at my state.  My prayer life was not as it had been due to many excuses, and I felt my friend was better off talking to a priest or a nun.  She insisted that I was the only who could talk some sense into her stubborn head, and so I relented.

Before seeing her today, I prayed for her.  I felt the Lord stirring my heart to be a friend and a listener, and not to worry about being her savior.  Of course.  That was Jesus' role.  I wanted to cancel our appointment several times, but I sensed something in her voice that made me forget my own troubles long enough to listen to her pain.

I knew that my friend was contemplating how to leave her husband of 12 years, who had been intermittently cheating her and beating her up.  I was afraid she was already suicidal, so I rushed to meet her.  I was shocked at her appearance - she was skin and bones, her hair, usually shiny, was unkempt, and she looked pale and distraught.  

Like a person in trauma, she updated me on her husband's latest escapades, but she spoke in broken sentences, and her story about her futile attempts to find concrete evidence that she could hold against him was not told chronologically.  I advised her to concentrate her energy on saving her career and taking care of her children, as there was no point in stressing herself over every indiscretion.  It was already creating a negative effect on her, and it could pose a danger to herself and her loved ones.

She asked me, "How come God is still blessing my husband?  Why doesn't he punish him?  What if I can't wait for God?  I want to catch my husband in bed with his girlfriend and to hurt him."

I looked at her body language to check if she was capable of violence.  She had shifty eyes and clasped and  unclasped her hands.  She told me that she was not satisfied with what a priest told her, that she was called to forgive.  She asked me if it was a sin to talk about her husband's philandering ways, and to be angry, for she was angry.

As a lawyer, I could only give her so much legal advice.  As a friend, I just listened to her ranting.  As her sister-in-Christ, I knew she needed my prayers and support.  Only prayers could save her from hurting herself and/or the people around her.  She had the classic battered wife syndrome - one minute hating her husband, the next minute talking about him proudly, and then the next minute saying she deserved how she was being treated because she was a bad wife, mother, and lover.

I almost did not want to let her drive home in that state, but it was late and we both had to work the next day.  She thanked me for giving her advice I did not remember giving.  Most of the time, people credit me for giving sound advice, when all I really did was to mirror back to them what they were saying, and what they knew to be the right thing to do all along.  

I had no answers for most of my friend's questions.  I, too, could not believe how a man who professed to love her till death could do the things he had been doing.  I wanted him to suffer the consequences of his actions.  But I had to rely on what I told my friend - that God sees everything, that He protects His children, and that He is already acting on the situation, though it may not be obvious yet how.  I cautioned her against taking matters into her own hands, and told her I would pray with her every step of the way.  

I got home still bothered by my friend's situation.  I prayed for her some more, and entrusted her to God, who, unlike me, was always with her.

I have never been cheated on like she had, but I know how it is to be lost.  I have seen how, when I was  in a state of darkness and confusion, it was so hard to pray, look up to God, and patiently wait for His answer, when all I wanted was for the pain to go away.  

I have learned during those times that survival lies on fixing my eyes on Him, the source of light and hope.  Sometimes I am afraid to ask for help, not knowing that others are more than willing to be by my side, and are in fact better at finding the words to pray on my behalf.  It was also good for me to be with my friend, for listening to her, and responding to her, made me realize my own values, and my need for God to fill me with hope in times of confusion.

I hope I am coming closer to the light at the end of a very dark tunnel that I have been trapped in for many years now.  For my own problems, I run to other friends for help.  And wait on God.  I continue to wait.

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