“I had a difficult relationship with my father. He was verbally abusive. I was at a point where I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as he was.”
“My faith was darkened by doubts”
One day, along a promenade by the sea, a group of people caught my attention. They were singing casually as they were having a picnic and as I approached them, I realised that the songs where religious ones. I stopped and kept on listening and watching them. My faith was darkened by doubts. Is there a God? If there is one, how can all this evil prevail? How do believers claim that everything comes from God, and yet still worship Him? I was not happy with just accepting whatever I heard at Catechism classes and during homilies. I wanted to experience God.
Something was attracting me to that group of people. One of them saw me and gestured to us to join them. We did. He started to talk to us about God’s love, and as he went on, all I could think of was that perhaps these people had found what I was so ardently looking for. After a long chat and a glass of wine, he invited us to attend the weekly prayer meeting they held at Ta’ Ġieżu Church, Valletta.
“How could I ever forgive my father?”
The following Thursday we were there. The meeting was already half way, because we were late. As I kneeled there, I knew that He was asking me to forgive my father. He was verbally abusive, and with time I learnt to defy him well. I was at a point where I couldn’t stand to be in the same room as he was.
I told the Lord that I didn’t know how I could ever forgive my father, but that I was willing to if it was He who was asking me to do it. That very moment, it was like a huge burden was lifted off my chest. I was filled with anger and resentment and I never realised how much these feelings were weighing me down, until I was set free.
“Although everything remained the same, everything changed”
From that moment on, although everything remained the same, everything changed. With God’s help I stopped answering him back. With time I even tried to reach out to him and speak kindly to him. Sometimes it was very difficult and it was a struggle. Yet it is true, God is near to those who call upon his name and helps them.
As I continued in my journey, my questions still remained. However from that point onwards something was very different: God was not some distant figured, blurred in the fog of irrelevance, but a loving Father, who, when I was so eagerly looking for Him, he came and found me. Now I realise that what changed mostly was not what was being said. I was changing. With a revival of God’s Spirit in me and with renewed faith I started to understand.
“I don’t remember my father ever going to Church but he accepted that I pray with him”
Years passed. I got married and started having kids. By then my father got sick and when his health was quickly deteriorating, I felt that God called me to do the most difficult thing I have ever had to do, till this very day. A few days before the Holy week I felt in my heart that I needed to go to my father and pray with him. I don’t ever remember him going to church, and the only times I had heard him speak God’s name was in vain. I prayed and fasted for 5 days and on Good Friday, which happened to be on his birthday, I went to visit him. I cried all the way to his house, so scared was I. Trembling I gave him his birthday gift and I asked him for a gift in return: that he allows me to say a prayer with him. And he did. I put my hands in his and we prayed.
“I felt so grateful”
One year later, he was admitted to Boffa hospital. I was still praying for him to make peace with God. Then, one day my mother called me to tell me that he had received the sacrament of confession. No words can explain the joy I felt that day. No words. As days went by we never left his side even though most of the time he was heavily sedated. One night it was my turn to stay beside him. He was having a lucid moment: he was aware that it was raining, when a nurse came in. My father turned to him and said: “What a daughter I have: I am not worthy of her”. And those words seemed to make up for all the other words spoken in the past. I was healed. A few days later my father passed away. Those were the last words I heard him say. I am eternally grateful for those words.
“All things work together for good for those who love God”
Yes. There is a God. And he is all good. All merciful. All powerful. I don’t believe that bad things like suffering and sickness come from Him, but I know that “all things work together for good for those who love God.” Romans 8:28
Published: April 2018
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