Growing up, I have always wanted to be in the scene. I joined numerous organizations, performed multiple tasks and portrayed different roles in school because I wanted to be productive and well, I wanted to get noticed. To be praised every time I did something good. To be at the center of attention. All along I thought there was nothing wrong with that. After all, I was just using the talents and skills God has given me.
But then my hunger and thirst for attention blew out of proportion. I was always out during weekends – partying, drinking and going home at 2 or 3 in the morning were very normal for a teenage girl like me. There was even a time when my siblings were already back at home from Singles Connect and I was just about to leave the house to start my night. I knew my parents and my siblings were getting worried, I felt it but I didn’t mind it. I went ahead with what was making me happy and that was being with friends and meeting new people. There were times when I wanted to change my lifestyle already because I didn’t want to feel ashamed every time I’m going to see my family the day after I went out. But it was very difficult especially because I spent the last few years of my student life living in a condo beside my school with a few of my closest friends. I had to deal with peer pressure and temptations every single day but at that time, I didn’t mind because I was getting the attention and the feeling of being belong – and those made me happy. I was solely dependent on people who gave me their attention.
But God is good for He gave me a great support system – my family. They never got tired of trying to bring me closer to God. They fed me information from the Bible which honestly I thought at that time was a waste of time because I felt like I had more important things to do. The things they told me were merely facts and information about God until I saw the changes in their lives. I noticed that they weren’t just happy, they were joyful. My siblings, especially my sister, never failed to invite me to Singles Connect or even Jzone every Saturday but I couldn’t even bear the thought of being in church on a Saturday night. So I went on with my unending list of excuses and reasons. Until one day, I decided to just go to one worship night because well, maybe I ran out of excuses and reasons already. My first time in Singles was not really a memorable one unlike others. I can’t even remember having a key takeaway that night but what I will never forget was the attention each and everyone gave me. The kind of attention I knew was very genuine and sincere. I felt that I belong even without trying to belong. So my attendance to Connect shifted from just once or twice a month to weekly. But that was just it. I still went on with my old life. After all, Singles Connect is just every Saturday.
Until just last 2013, during the prayer and fasting week, God clearly talked to me through Pastor Joby Soriano’s message – he said, “What you’ll ultimately gain is far more than the sum of what you’ll be giving up”. I literally felt God was talking to me, right then and there. I got super curious and again became hungry and thirsty for attention – but this time, for His attention. And so I committed the next few weeks just getting to know Him, being active in my ministry and finally joining a dgroup where I met the sisters I knew God has sent to watch over and guide me with my walk with Him. I never felt so belonged and accepted. All my life, I was trying to be noticed by everyone around me but little did I know, all I needed was HIS attention. I started falling in love with Him more and more every single day and my urge to go out and be in the scene all the time suddenly stopped. I don’t know how it happened but I know it was all Him.
Now here I am, living a new life with Him at the center. I thought from here on everything will be okay because I have Him. But trials didn’t stop. In fact, I experienced so many things I never thought I would in just a short amount of time. First half of 2013 for me was all about letting go. I had to let go of the old habits and some important people in my life not knowing what will happen next, but I did. I let it all go. Because I realized that all this time, how can I seek for God’s love and attention if I’m still holding on to what was hindering me from receiving His love and attention. I realized that if I want God in my life, then I have to empty myself OF myself.
From my friends to my loved ones to my colleagues, almost everyone judged me because of my new life. A close friend of mine told me that I am a hyprocrite. Because for her, my love for God was all talk and only for pure show – just to get everyone’s attention. A workmate told me in front of our other officemates that he hid me from his Facebook timeline because I annoy him with posts about my relationship with God. A loved suddenly left me simply because I was too religious. All these happened in a span of 2 months and when I was just starting my walk with the Lord. I really felt like giving up and just going back to my old life because surprisingly it seemed simpler. But then every single time, I ask myself, WHY? Why do I want to just give up?
And the more that I think of reasons of giving up, the more I realize that I shouldn’t.
2 Corinthians 10:5 says, “Take captive every thought to the obedience of Christ”. I am imperfect and there will be a lot of times when I will be tempted to sin especially with everything this world has to offer, but it’s always important to keep in mind to obey the Lord. And once we do but still feel like nothing is happening, that following Him does not get us anywhere, just remember in 2 Peter 3:9 it says, “The Lord is not slow in keeping His promise” He is a faithful God & with Him no doubt that the deliverance is sure. There is always hope when we hope for the Lord.
I know that I am no expert when it comes to Scriptures but everyday I pray that the Lord may just be reflected in my life. Nowadays, if by any chance, people notice me or give me their attention (which is what I was longing for and holding on just 2 years ago) – I just pray that it’s because they see Christ’s love for me and how it transforms me day by day – that’s it. Because I believe that if you have that love for the Lord, it will speak for you.
I am Efril Lagman, a woman who used to want everyone’s attention now serving just an audience of one.
To God be the Glory!