I wasn’t always like this. Some years ago, the only thing I promoted was the world. I was a supporter of functional saviors, misplaced hopes and appetites, and morally objectionable behavior. Before Christ (B.C.), I was a misguided party girl.
And this is my testimony.
My night life began when I was 18. One evening in January 2004, a handful of my best friends came over and asked if I wanted to go out. Extremely thrilled and playfully curious, I said yes. Back then, Eastwood in Quezon City was the happening spot in the metro, so that was where we headed.
I was overwhelmed by the abundance of bars and clubs at the complex. I felt like I was Alice, sucked into a hypnotic Wonderland. Blinding lights. Sounds at full blast. Girls wearing next to nothing. Men flashing their American sports cars. It was amusing. It was fun. It was my initiation to what I thought was adulthood. No curfew, no care in the world, no nothing. Just me and my friends having the time of our lives. I drank the experience down to the very last drop.
After that one night, clubbing almost instantly became a habit. The once-a-month became once-a-week. I even started calling it a weekly pilgrimage to the clubs. I felt as if I would fall ill if I stayed in on a weekend. Eventually, it turned into an addiction. I would go out more than thrice a week. As long as the clubs were open, I was there. I skipped work, blew entire paychecks on expensive liquor, allowed the night to consume me. I’d leave the house after midnight and would return home by noon. I’d sleep the remainder of the day away and would rise well after nightfall so I could rush to the next big event. At times when my friends were unavailable, I’d still go out alone.
I worshiped the feeling of losing myself in the few hours of euphoric madness. It was like a pill that I took to forget, to escape, to be free. I looked for happiness in all the wrong places. It was my personal golden idol, carved by the malice of my hands.
With all that ungodly merry-making and self-indulgence, I exposed myself to iniquity. I was unguarded and this environment fed my vanity and insecurities. Without even realizing it, I had dropped my moral standards to bare minimum. I began believing that one’s pride was the most important thing in life, it should never be damaged nor threatened. Grave sins did not seem so deadly anymore. I thought I could do whatever I want as long as I played it safe, cleaned up after my mess, and left no evidence. I made several wrong turns, surrounded myself with wrong company, and suffered greatly when these decisions backfired.
Some people hated me. Sometimes, I hated myself.
It went on like that for years.
Until one day, I woke up and the things that I once found exhilarating weren’t as exciting anymore. I went on hiatus for a couple of weeks before deciding to ignore the warning and partying on. I concluded that it was just a classic case of quarter-life crisis, nothing a great night-out wouldn’t cure. I maintained the lifestyle, kept doing things my way.
That was when things started to crack up. I lost things that were valuable to me. I suffered from relational issues and financial breakdown. My career stagnated. Illnesses plagued the household.
I hit rock bottom. And I was miserable. I felt so alone.
It was during that time that I realized how hollow and artificial my happiness was, how exhausted and depleted my rickety heart was. I had been investing in things that were not meant to last. The hole in my soul, which I tried for so long to bandage up, was growing exponentially. All the accumulated shame and guilt that I turned a blind eye to attacked me on all fronts and I was helpless against them. No matter how hard I scrubbed, I did not feel clean. I was massively damaged.
For the first time, perhaps in my entire life, I wanted to go to church. It was my last resort. I had nothing left to lose. My only hope for survival was this Being I did not know, Someone who I wasn’t even sure existed. I remember listening to this song over and over, and crying out, and begging for an answer. I needed to know if He was indeed out there, and if He could hear me.
Now, there was this acquaintance of mine who I knew was God-crazy (and I’m not sorry for calling her that). I phoned her and asked if we could meet up. I don’t know. Maybe I just wanted someone to talk to. Someone outside my social circle who would not find a deep spiritual conversation weird. Or uncool. I still had an image to uphold.
We went out for coffee and I started firing my questions away. Why is this happening? Why am I feeling this and that? Why am I longing for something I don’t even know what? I can’t recall exactly what we talked about, but I remember how she answered each question sincerely without a hint of condemnation or disdain. I noted how collected and serene she seemed. Like I could almost touch that peace and contentment that emanated from her.
Coffee date ended and we agreed to meet another time for dinner.
During this second meeting, I wasted no time in uncorking the self-reproach that I kept bottled up. I told her about some of my darkest secrets, the most disgraceful things I had done, yet she did not seem scandalized nor bothered. She just listened, shared her own B.C. stories whenever appropriate, remained silent at the right moments.
And then, after I had poured my heart out, she introduced me to Jesus.
I was born to a Catholic family, so I had a clear picture of who Jesus was. But the Jesus she told me about seemed different from the Jesus I knew. She sounded as if she had a personal relationship with Him, as if they were childhood friends. I couldn’t wrap my head around that. I had always seen Jesus as good and loving and perfect… but distant. I mean, He’s God and I’m all flesh and blood. Who was I to desire a relationship with Him? I wasn’t worth it. I was okay with the God-subject thing we had going on.
You know how you realize how dirty your hands are when you’re to shake hands with someone neat and tidy, clean as a hound’s tooth? That mortifying feeling. Only in this case, I was faced with the purest hands, making the shame hundreds and thousands times worse. I felt so filthy and unworthy.
But then, this friend told me that no matter how much of a screwup I thought I was, Jesus still thinks I’m whiter than snow. And that He would welcome me home with outstretched arms. Perhaps even come running. She believed that I was there with her because God had called me by name. He planted a seed in my heart to want to get to know Him. It was my appointed time.
But somewhere deep within, I knew she was right.
So, right there, under the roof of Pancake House, High Street, one week night, I received Christ. I was 23.
And as another first in my life, someone stood with me in prayer.
This might sound fantastical, but in the days that followed, my problems solved themselves. Just like that. I excelled in an industry I was new in. Funds flowed in from here and there, most came as a surprise. I met wonderful friends who prayed for me. He surrounded me with goodness and mercy. And he closed the doors that must be shut, and opened the ones that I needed.
Christianity does not promise a storm-free life, but it creates storm-proof people. My faith was tested several times. Sometimes, I struggled. Sometimes, I wrestled. In the end, having Him made all the difference. Heartaches did not seem so bad, failures were not as depressing as they used to be. Whenever I strayed, He’d pull me back. Whenever my grip was loosening, He’d hold my hand tighter. He never let me go. He became my Strength, my Shield, my Provider, my Absolute Everything. All-in-one. He covered me with His everlasting love. And I feel safe, happy, contented, and at peace in it.
I was the disobedient one though. Thus, it took another couple of years before I totally surrendered my life to Jesus. He is Savior, true. But He also is Lord. And if He’s not Lord of all, He’s not Lord at all. Once He took full control, things just got better and I believe He still has a whole lot in store for me.
Each one of His good promises will come to pass.
The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:12-14)