By Anonymous Lightworks Attendee
I want to start off by sharing one of my childhood memories. I grew up under a mother who was a hardcore Catholic who demanded me and my brother to spare at least 30 minutes a day praying the rosary. I remember her dragging us into the house from the playground every day, making sure we complete our daily prayers. At such young age, I honestly dreaded those moments, and even wished that she would skip a few days so we could play without interruptions. At one point, my brother and I got clever and started rounding the “Hail Mary’s” to end the prayer quicker. And it went something like this: within a second into me saying “Hail Mary full of grace”, he would jump start his response of “Holy Mary, Mother of God” shortly after, almost sounding like the rounds of “row, row, row your boat”, and we were basically overlapping each other’s prayer parts… you get the picture. Oddly enough, our mother never scolded us or stopped us from speeding up the rosary, which, by the way, we conquered in less than ten minutes, depending on how competitive we wanted to be as to who can say their parts faster. And I used to think it was because the Virgin Mary was on our side, feeling sorry for us, and put some hypnosis on our mother, allowing us to finish the prayer in such speedy mode without her noticing. Just kidding… I have no idea why she let us do it, but thinking back, I think our Mother was just happy that we sat through the whole seven minutes of rosary.
During our teen years, my brother served as an altar boy, and I was dragged into being an organist for our small Korean Catholic church we attended. My mother glowed with pride and joy. She cried in every mass! And we never skipped Sunday masses! She used to tell me that it is our duty as Christians to serve and take parts in a Catholic community we belong in. So I did, to satisfy her expectation.
Despite my young adult Christian life style, and a religious mother, I have not always been faithful in terms of living by the Catholic rules. I have defied my own religion, doubted God, hated myself and others, and to sum it all, I just stopped going to church all together. I had my reasons and life events that led me to that stage of life during those difficult days. I wandered around, seeking for answers myself, thinking I didn’t have to be in church to be happy… Among many other thoughts in my head, I basically excused myself from going to church for many years.
Now, fast forwarding to two years ago, my family of five, including three kids, moved to VA from GA. Two months prior to moving, my husband was in a horrific accident with couple of deep lacerations on both sides of his legs, and one that cut through his tendons by his front ankle, which resulted in an emergency operation. This happened while he was packing his office to get ready to move when one of the mirrors broke in half and landed on him. I’ve never seen so much blood in my life. I remember being so scared as I witnessed the entire ordeal, as it happened right in front of my eyes. We were also in the middle of renovating our house to sell when this happened. I felt a strong sense of hopelessness and fear that shaded my conscious. I had nowhere to turn, and no one to turn to. So, I turned to God. I remember crying hysterically for hours on end. I prayed and prayed. I prayed every day for his fast recovery so we could get on with our lives. Unfortunately, we had to fix up our house ourselves with no contractors because we had no savings left. He had to find a way to work around his crutches and casted legs, with a little bit of my help. Lo and behold, after two months of hard work, it finally paid off when our house was sold on the first day it was listed on the market. We even had three solid offers who asked to pay more than the listed price. We made some nifty profit, which helped with moving and living cost of being in a new state. However, I started to worry again when my husband wasn’t finding a job quick enough.
When I started to feel hopeless, God showed his grace and saved us again from this worrisome and gave us a business that my husband was able to run! I thank God every day for His blessings and so I decided to give back to Him and started going to church more often, as I haven’t been religiously going to mass for many years until we moved here. Life was just hard, but I realized now that God was always with me, and He always answered my prayers. I wanted to give back and started volunteering more at church and joined some prayer groups and actively attended some retreats as well. In the midst of my journey to serving God and giving back, I have met some great friends, who I believe God sent to me. I am very grateful for them because they are the ones who encouraged me to find God again and helped me see through His grace. And that’s how I was introduced to this Lightworks program.
Before the 14-week program, in fact, all my life up to that point, I probably picked up a Bible less than what I can count with my two hands. I’ve always been intimidated by Bible and didn’t really know how to interpret scriptures where it meant something to me. Funny thing is, I always had this notion that I must start reading from Genesis in the Old Testament first before I can even explore other chapters. But the thickness of the Bible and the size of the small fonts really discouraged me to even challenge myself in reading the entire Bible. It just overwhelmed me more than anything. And coming from an avid reader myself, who can read 500-page novels in just a few days with no-sweat, I should really be ashamed of not being able to complete one entire Bible! This program made me realize that my approach to the Bible was completely off. I don’t know why but it never occurred to me that reading the Bible was one of the ways to talk to God and being closer to God, until now.
This program focuses on using “Lectio Divina” method of meditation. It’s one of the ways to communicate with God and to increase the knowledge of His words by using four stages of rules and guidelines when reading Bible verses: read; meditate; pray; and contemplate. This ultimately leads to another stage of “action” where we try to imitate Jesus’ life.
The Bible scriptures we studied and prayed together in this program were from various excerpts ranging from the Old Testament to the New Testament. It was recommended that we read assigned passages daily before the following week. At first, I found it to be a bit challenging because I just didn’t know what to say and share during our weekly meetings. But as I listened to other members in our group sharing their experiences with such candidness and openness, I started to express myself more as time went by. Forming a habit to open the Bible every day, and practicing Lectio Divina, has helped me remind myself that God’s words are truly amazing and that His love is so divinely infinite. I know I still have a lot to learn and that 14 weeks isn’t enough to fully understand His divine nature, but now that I know this program exists, I will be actively seeking to join more sessions in the future. I am so grateful for God’s blessings all my life, even if I realized it late, through this program, I learned how much He loved and protected me all along, how He stood by me in every obstacle of my life. I humbly offer myself to Him today and praise Him for all the grace He bestowed upon me and my family. Thank you God, my Lord Jesus Christ, my Savior! I give all myself to you! Amen.