Known to all my closest friends and relatives, my childhood story was not the usual toys and plays but rather of pain, envy, endless searching for answers. Yes, I was the unwanted child of 10.
I grew up with 6 sisters and 3 brothers, me being the penultimate child. As the ninth child, everything went well until at the age of 7 during a siesta hour with my mom, she finally made a confession which confirmed the rumors I have been hearing around the neighborhood that I was thrice aborted. Yet, that abortion thing did not finally sink in having little knowledge then of the process, but unknowingly, that noon time siesta revelation marked the start of a somehow psychological trauma that has engulfed my entire childhood and teenage life.
Then here comes the back-of-the-mind curiosity. I began to become interested in topics related to abortion. Every time I was in school library, I would search for books related to it so I could grasp ideas how the process is done. Until I read a colorful medical book in high school explaining the process of induced abortion which gave an indelible mark in my mind, in fact a scary picture of a fetus forcibly being decapitated with instruments I never thought existed such that of forceps and tongs, aspirators, the basiotribe, which is used for perforating and crushing the fetus head and the decapitator which is used to cut off the fetus head from the neck. The picture of those instruments, whatever were their names during those time, got stocked in my mind and left an endless searching for answers, why of the 10 children, I was singled out?
But the process of the attempt to abort me was far from that of medical processes. Mine was the classic, old time and century-old process in remote villages where my mom has to endure a second-layer-skin peel-off around her tummy region as a result of manually decapitating the fetus. Proven to be tough, I survived the first attempt but that did not spare me from escaping yet another attempt. Manual external effort rendered them useless, forcing them to try a bitter-tasted herbal roots from deep down the jungle floors in the mountains of Siquijor. That rendered them futile as well. The third one were those abortion pills, thank God I came out physically complete, but not internally.
As the usual teenage years were supposed to be one that was full of peer group escapades, mine was never a memory of “first-time experiences”. I devoted my time reading, studying and trying to figure out how I could excel in class so that I could prove to the people around that my academic achievement was worthy of the chances I was alive. It was like every move I have to make has to justify the privileges I existed, I walked on the surface of the earth and mingled with people around. It was like every wrong move I take, I lose the chances to breathe. All those years were spent trying to prove my independence, my worth.
Then, I got those numerous medals, school representations in national academic contest, scholarship grants, those were the best gifts I believe could repay it all. Yes, I made my family proud, I never gotten into vices, I worked at night during my college years to support my own schooling, yet those accomplishments did not seem to fill the emptiness; in fact, the shallow portion in my being remained the same. I was never free from the bondage of bitterness toward my parents, yet I made them proud and I earned that spot in the family being the favorite of the 10 siblings. But there just seemed no love around. I earned the respect of my neighbors, with one mother saying “Mike, I wish you were my son”. I smiled and said to myself, “I wish my parents wanted me the way you do”.
Seventeen years of endless searches, 17 years of exhaustive role play being the smartest, the most intelligent in the family, self-centered, the achiever, the “No Single Mistake” person. I grew up as if I was a perfect son, and yet those accolade never freed me from that agonizing psychological trauma and mental stress, all upon learning I was unwanted. I never seem to feel the love, the feeling of being wanted from the very start, and that piercing voice in my mind repeatedly saying “You were killed, you were killed”. Then that awkward feeling begins to revolve in circles with no way to escape, time and again.
Until I found Jesus in my life.
It was during my second contract abroad where I felt terribly exhausted and empty and here came Pastor Villi Solomon in his bicycle, invited me to a gathering. That was the turning point, I began to learn to read scriptures and that act alone has granted me the genuine freedom I sought for 17 years.
Then I learned the anguish of Christ on the cross which provided me freedom from the bondage of sin; a classic display of that kind of love, which I never experienced from the people I expected to accord it to me. That was grace. That was Jesus.
The place called grace is where I do not have to prove to people it was worthy to live, that I do not owe my breath from anyone else but HIM.
That place called grace is where I do not have to climb to that very mountain and offer to him on bended knee saying “Jesus, here are my medals, set your eyes on me”, because He already was on the look-out of me from the time I was conceived in my mother’s womb. His hand was already there with me, providing me cushion, moving me from place to place to escape from all elements that had me disposed off. In fact, He was there with me counting my very own hair.
That place called grace is where I do not have to convince Jesus that I have done my best to become the ideal person that I am, in a move to repay Him of this chance of life.
That place called grace is where I do not have to beg Jesus for LOVE because I never had it from the very start.
That place called grace is where I do not have to try hard enough to be perfect, and commit no mistakes in an attempt to prove the worth of my existence. In fact Jesus has done the perfect sacrifice that freed me from the traumatic bondage of being unwanted.
Jesus never wanted my past, my academic achievements, my bachelor degrees, my personal effort to please Him. All I ever needed is His blood, His life laid on the cross, so that in his pain, I am healed. In His captivity, I am freed.
The greatest gift upon knowing and accepting Jesus as my Savior is that He filled the shallow portion of my being, so that once I hated my parents, He simply erased those ill-feelings toward them, as if I woke up one day, not feeling anymore traces of those awkward past. Jesus deleted the ugly memories of my childhood which haunted me for years. He has indeed set me free and that love has extended to my Mom as well.
The greatest recollection I had with my Mom before she died was that one night when I brought her bouquet of flowers and handing to her she asked “What does this mean my son?” to which I replied, “Nothing mom, I just want to treat you like the rest of the Moms should be treated because you so deserve it”. That reply was simple but it meant a complete freedom from hatred.
Jesus Christ has provided me that freedom because He himself is Grace.
To my Mom, wherever you are now, I wish to say “thank you for giving me the chance to live”.