My name is Jeni Tagao. Growing up, I’ve always known how to push everybody’s buttons to get my way. I even got our driver to let me drive the family van when I was just 11 years old just because I insisted. I was the girl who was in control.
In 2008, I was 25, beginning my journey into the corporate world after having wound up a business I shared with my sister.
Given I had a late start & my batchmates/barkada were all ahead in the business world – I was on a mission to chase them and climb the corporate ladder the fastest way possible. I started as a Junior Officer in a corporate sales role with a small local bank. My goal was to be VP at 35.
Impossible? I could make it possible. I got hired even though I had no previous experience in banking. Going through intense training, mentoring, and hard work on my end, I became very successful. After just over a year, it paid off and I got promoted. In my impatience to rise the ranks, I began my calculated plan of skipping a few steps on the ladder by moving to other banks. Offers came, but the one offer I couldn’t refuse was an offer from the largest local bank which I set my eyes on. I managed to negotiate a higher rank and a much nicer package for myself.
In my new job, I was a hard worker. My numbers were the highest. Recognition came by way of receiving an award as the best account manager for my segment, and a promotion after only 2 years. The downside was I found myself restless, anxious and angry all the time. Someone or something would make me lose my temper every single day. I was turning into a very demanding, unreasonable person. People who worked with me either feared me or secretly cursed me. But I didn’t care. I was on top and I was closer to my goal. Or was I?
2014 was the year when everything started to shift. My mom, after 4 years of being bed-ridden due to complications of diabetes, suffered her 4th stroke. I knew this attack was different. We ended up staying in the ICU for 2 and a half months and I believe it was only through God’s grace that the money poured in from friends and family and we were able to take her home from the hospital. I was constantly fixing client concerns at work and at night I would go home to solve another set of issues that came up with my Mom’s condition. My body felt weak, my mind was desperately trying to keep it together but most of all I felt my spirit being broken down. It had been me – all me, up to this point and the girl who was in control was seeing the pieces start to fall apart.
It was around this time that I started to look for the Lord more & more. I felt that my prayers were good but I needed to encounter Him. A friend of mine invited me to attend the True Life Retreat hosted by CCF Eastwood. I’m glad I said yes because it was here that the Lord came to me & I found Jesus once again. He was there all along, I was just so intent on grabbing the keys and sitting behind the driver’s seat of my life to even notice that there was someone else in the car with me giving me directions. It had always been me relying on myself to take care of ME and ensure I had a prosperous future waiting. I never really took the time to pause or be still because to me that would mean failing. Immersing myself in his Word reinforced the importance of waiting on the Lord – for his perfect plan to unfold in his perfect time. More often than not, when I go my own way I just encounter a lot of unnecessary detours and distractions & eventually circle back to Him and seek his wisdom.
Though my prayer life drastically improved, all my prayers couldn’t interfere with the Lord’s plan for our lives – My mom finally went home to be with Jesus August of 2014. It was excruciatingly painful. Rather than be angry or question him why, I leaned in and understood with the Holy Spirit’s peace: Mom didn’t have to suffer any longer.
As our family struggled to find our new normal, again I grew increasingly restless at work. Though my numbers were high, I felt everything was meaningless. I wanted out. I had no peace. Iin what seemed to be “perfect timing”, another bank came swooping in with an offer which I could not refuse. Long story short, my exit was very disgraceful. The company I served tirelessly for 3.5 years and awarded me kicked me out. I had no chance to say goodbye to friends & partners, no chance to turnover, not even enough time to find boxes for my things. I felt betrayed and embarrassed. To add further complication, rumors started swirling around about the reason I left/was made to leave abruptly. It was unprecedented.
I decided to leave everything behind and move on to my new beginning. Three months into the new job I couldn’t adjust. I called upon the Lord and asked for clarity but the weeks passed and there was no other answer but “wait”. I was moved 3 times in a span of 7 months. Everything was constantly moving & the girl who was in control found herself on shaky ground. It was so stressful for me that I started having bleeding episodes due to the stress. Consulting my doctor, she told me that the myoma (benign tumor along the line of the uterus) was getting bigger and it was in a very threatening position. Nothing was going right: I was still grieving my past, making sense of my present, and now dealing with a very uncertain future of possibly not having children.
This finally drove me to my knees and surrendered my broken pieces to God. I told Him, “Lord, I always had a plan B. Now I don’t have an exit strategy. I don’t know what to do & where to go from here. Can you please take over?” I had no career moves left. I and my doctor can make my myoma disappear. But, truly – it’s in our most desperate times that God shows us his power to restore and make things new. Two weeks after my breakdown, I got a call from my previous job. There was an opening and they wanted me to come back. In one swift rising motion, God gave me hope and peace. He was showing me Who was in control. Was it possible to come back? It was. What’s impossible with man is possible with God.
I’m happy to say that it’s been 9 months back – old company, new role. But I’ve never been happier. I wake up every day looking forward to going to the office, seeing my teammates and serving our clients. I also have such an amazing relationship with my boss who truly mentors me & inspires me to pay it forward and share the knowledge with peers. Health-wise, God-willing, my doctor and I be able to schedule a surgery later this year to remove the myoma. It such a bonus that the Lord has surrounded me with people who love Him the way I do at church and work.
God never fails to ease the worries of my mind and arrest the panic in my chest. When I find myself struggling to snatch back control from him, I remind myself of Psalm 46:10 He Says, “Be Still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” It’s a continuous struggle for me – a complete surrender of all aspects in my life but as I continue to walk with him, he teaches me to trust in his perfect ways and to choose humility, peace, and patience. Though challenges come, I fear not because I know he is with me. He is the rest my soul has yearned for and the love that I’ve been looking for. To God be all the Glory.