His Pursuit part 1

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A couple of weeks ago I was prompted to write “my testimony.” When I finished it, I immediately began questioning whether it served any purpose to the goals of this blog, and whether I wanted to get this personal. While my life prior my conversion was not outwardly messy, it was inwardly dark. So I’ve been sitting on my story for a while, but like many things in a faith led life sometimes you just have to obey and let God do the rest. If nothing else for freedom’s sake. So with much love here it is part of my story which I’ve divided it in three installments.  

About 13 years ago I came to United States. I spoke not a coherent word in English and I could barely put the words together to understand anyone trying to communicate with me.

I was living at my step-uncle’s house in Southern California. Although he is a Christian man he felt compelled to take me to a Catholic service on Sundays. Like he put it, I didn’t have to go to his church but I had to go to church. He assumed since I was Mexican, my faith was Catholic.

I never had the heart to tell him not only that I wasn’t a Christian, but also that I wasn’t a believer of any sorts. My heart had been hardened, a learned mechanism of protection from the loneliness, fear and the anger accumulated from my childhood. I became skeptical of anything but things I could see, hear and witness in the physical world. I didn’t need things of the heart or spirit for I had a sound and brilliant mind.

Skepticism was a form of life. Very early on I learned how religion was used to subjugate entire societies. I was an avid reader.  My morality: I believed in personal consequences, a loose understanding of karma, if you will, heaven and hell here on earth. The world, the universe was random chaos, no divine justice or intervention. Religions were lies given by churches, monasteries and mosques around the world to the weak-minded to control them, and I was not going to let anyone, or anything control my life or choose my destiny.

Because I was not ready to have those conversations with my uncle, more out of the fact that I could barely ask for salt at the dinner table, I began attending Catholic services on Sundays and it quickly became my weekly break from the English bombardment at home. It was a time for me to turn off my mind through the predictable movements of Mass, which despite being held in English I could follow: Kneel; stand up; Padre Nuestro (it has the exact same rhythm in both languages); now someone is going to read from the Book that I never put much attention, Credo, line up to eat the ostia (you don’t want to let everyone think you carry an unforgivable sin if you don’t partake), etc..

One Sunday morning, during my cousin’s leave after he graduated from Boot Camp, he invited me to join him with the rest of the family for a service at their Southern Baptist Church. That week I had been feeling particularly lonely and homesick so I decided to join them.

The first thing I noticed was the dozens of cute American “churchy” kids about my age. I joined them to their College group, which it was held in a classroom. It felt like Catechism class all over again, yet instead of stories of mythical gardens, giants and endless repetitions of prayers they were having a conversation in History, Theology and Geography. It went right over my head. I only sat there and smiled, with a little bit of pity for their little minds being brain washed while they felt so academic and important.

Then we went to the main sanctuary where for the first time in my life since I can remember my heart was stirred to be connected to something more, at that moment, God began His relentless pursuit for my heart. (I suspect the pursuit might’ve started long before, but my heart needed to be completely broken until I could let Him in).

My command of English was very limited; the only things I could watch in T.V. were reruns of “Friends” because I knew many of the episodes in Spanish. But during worship, for reasons I could not explain I began crying. Maybe I was tired, but I didn’t feel embarrassed to cry in front of everyone. No one minded. Then the pastor began speaking and I could understand every word. I heard the words as clear as any I have ever heard in my native language. It was freaky, but I figured the sermon was to be understood by the masses so the message had to be a simple one– one that I could understand.

Then I heard “for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut 31:6b) No sentence ever spoken before by anyone ever felt that personal. I knew he was speaking about the loneliness I was feeling at that moment. It was directed at me as if preceded by “Fabiola… For the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” I can’t explain it: open ears, open heart. It was a promise for things yet to come. Then I felt warmth in my heart, literally like falling in love. 

When the service was over I didn’t share the experience with anyone and I was shocked when in the van on our way home, everyone’s voices became muffled. Their language undecipherable as usual, I wanted to demand them to speak with the speaker’s voice. “Enunciate,” like my uncle repeated it when I tried out his language in my mouth. Staring out of the window His promise “I will never leave you nor forsake you” began circling in my mind. Could it be true that the Creator of the Universe was after me?

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God Size Dream

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart; I appointed you as a prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5

Ever since I was a kid I knew I wanted to be a writer. On sixth grade this dream was fed by a little bit of competition with one of my best friends and academic rival: Monica. By the time we were in Jr. High we even made a bet of who would win a Nobel Price or a Pulitzer. We were very young and naïve; But profoundly in love with Spanish literature.

We went to different high-schools and it was during this time that our dreams changed. I was to be a lawyer. It happened gradually as I began reading Plato and I found out I enjoyed the pursuit of truth and justice and crafting arguments. I still wanted to write, but also to be able to earn a living and keep my independence as a single woman.

At the end of high-school, I was admitted to law school and not just any law school, but to La Escuela Libre de Derecho, one of the most prestigious schools in Mexico. Still, at 17 I began having second thoughts, I was going through inside turmoil and insecurities of an adolescent carrying scars of a broken childhood. I didn’t feel prepared to take that new step. I was spinning without real direction.

My step-dad  and my mother encouraged me to spend a year with their relatives in United States. The plan was for me to learn English, and then return with a clearer vision of what I would do next. School would wait for me, while my acceptance letter guaranteed me a Visa.

 God is the Composer. Your life is His musical score. God is the Artist.

Your life is His canvas. God is the Architect. Your life is His blueprint. God is the Writer. You are His book.  Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle

 That trip altered forever the course of the life I had planned for my self.

It was in the United States that I became a Christian. Despite growing up with a Catholic background, I was a unapologetic agnostic veering towards full-on atheist. And it wasn’t that people didn’t share their faith with me before; my best friend is Christian and she tried (although she mostly focused on Catholic to Christian conversion when I wasn’t interested in either option). I believe I couldn’t hear because my ears were clogged with hate and resentment. I sensed that if I had survived  for so long,  it was up to me to make things better for myself. I wanted to believe I was intelligent enough and capable enough to work through whatever was sent my way and the idea of God seemed like a superstition that would only get on my way.

But Jesus pursued me, found me and changed me.  He created in me new dreams and new hopes.

I’ll share my testimony with more detail another time. Probably is worth noting I never went back to live in Mexico and I also didn’t ended up studying Law.

When I enrolled for the first time in College in the United States I had to take many English classes, only to be able to start taking College level classes. I still remember with amusement the face of my counselor when I said I wanted to major in Journalism. His job was to tell me that it was a really bad idea; perhaps I would be more interested in a Chicano Studies degree. In order to be admitted into the Journalism program at State, I would need to pass a nearly impossible test.

It wasn’t until the third attempt I passed such test. And kept onward. I graduated with a major in Journalism and a minor in Economics from SDSU– A small feat for many, a gargantuan for me.

After graduation I remember telling God, well thank you, I got it from here. At the same time He told me, give it to me. I didn’t understand. I didn’t want to understand. But a seed was planted that would take three years to germinate.

Like I’ve said before, I love journalism. It’s at the essence of me. I don’t discard a career in journalism, but for now God has given me a new dream. In retrospect He had been working early on at the heart of who I am, at the core of my talents and as I work to hone and acquire new skills He keeps prompting me. That’s why when the opportunity came with Amor I took it. I knew it was a God dream. And the dream has grown that now I can’t imagine doing anything else.

While I’ve not raised the monetary support I need to work with Amor, some doors have started to open up in that regard, and I pray more people decide to partner with me and believe in my calling within the organization.

In the meantime I am writing, again. For now even if the only story I have to share it’s mine, I’m writing. With each word my writing becomes more coherent, more full of faith. I’m discovering the voice He gave me, to use for the job He has ahead for me.

And I no longer want to be independent. I like living in interdependence with my husband, family and friends and to be completely dependent in Him.

As for Monica, she studied computer science and has written in the sidelines, poems, and short stories. She’s a mom of a beautiful daughter and has created a beautiful family and I’m sure in her way she’s living her dreams.