Everything is Grace

Danielle PaesteI have never been exposed to a lot of people not until I joined and became active in the Church. If it’s not for Jay Marlo Huraño’s patience and constant befriending, I would have still stayed in isolation. Not many people knew of my conversion story. It was not a one-time-big-time event. Every now and then, I experience something new that would bring my spiritual life to another level.

I FALL ALL THE TIME. And from someone who used to live secularly (by this I mean being a nominal Catholic), frustration creeps in in an instant every time I fail at practicing my faith. The world I’ve been used to is too different from where I am now. The closest around me knew how much I despise my old self. How I wish I could just bury everything under a rock and just forever delete that part out, like a computer getting repaired.

But life does not work that way.
I can’t change the past nor can I make myself and other people forget the kind of person I was.
But God keeps no record of wrongs.
He is indeed merciful.

Everything that has happened in my life led to a bigger purpose, to His ultimate plan that’s too different from my own plans.

Say for example, me being a delegate in the National Youth Day 2017.

Never in my entire life did I expect myself to be active in the Church, to know the Lord, to know my faith, much less to be a delegate in an event that I don’t even deserve to attend. Ever.

I am no holy-holy.
The path to sanctity is too far away.
I am not even a youth minister. I am just a member.
There are people who are more deserving than I am to attend that event.
When the big day came, I felt insecure.
I don’t know this. I am new to this.
If practicing the Catholic faith is like getting employed in a company, I’m still at an entry-level position.
I am a baby. I am just starting out.
I could remember sharing my story on the second session.
I was ashamed. I was crying like onions had just been placed in front of me.
But my group mates consoled me.
It was a very encouraging experience.

The presence of a parish priest in our group made the sharing experience even better. He was the last one to talk and gave synthesis.

Now, the Parish Night event was a whole new experience.

It was different. A good kind of different. That kind wherein I found myself crying profusely at the end when the Zamboanguenian youth started performing the animation of the 1995 World Youth Day theme song, “Tell the World of His Love.”

For the first time, I was able to ponder on the lyrics. I have been hearing this song for years but it didn’t really set in to me until that night.

I just listened to every song that was played. I was not able to do animation at all.
My parishioners and co-delegates started to notice.
They asked what it was but I wasn’t able to bring myself to speak.

All I was thinking that very moment was, “how I wish I started earlier. I wish I would have known the Lord earlier. I wish I had responded to His invitation to know Him earlier.”

I guess for my case, it is never too late.
The tears I shed were tears of joy.
Tears of gratitude.
Tears that cried out to heaven saying, “Thank God! I found You!”
Turns out He was right there all along.
I was blind.
It was grace. It is grace.
Everything is grace.
Thank you Lord!

(Danielle Alexa Paeste)

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