Thursday, 7 January 2010

When God Answers Prayers

It was the day after my 25th birthday. It was the day I stood up in front of the church congregation for a last-minute testimony to thank God for the quarter of the century past. It was the day I met my Destiny.

I can remember it almost so vividly now. I stood up with all the confidence I could muster. I stared at the friendly faces looking back eagerly at me. I opened my mouth. Then as expected, I started croaking like a frog. But it didn’t matter. I was in the company of the people who would listen anyway.

I have spent twenty-five years walking with God, sometimes stumbling along the way but always getting up stronger after the fall. Most of the time I have been stubborn, insistent upon my desires but I learned that whenever I let go, I could never fall. There have been moments I have faced uncertainties, battled with indecisions but never once did I doubt the existence of the Force that answered my prayers more than not.

But I also do remember telling everyone how despite all my blessings, I still somehow felt disappointed because I was living a life so different from the one I imagined I would have at 25. How I was scared that I would never experience what most people already have. And yet how, despite the gloomy future, I remained hopeful that I am still to see the fullness of the plan my Master has drafted for my life.

I had no idea then that the wheels of destiny started to turn that day.

It was at a joint birthday celebration where the rest of the Filipino community got together a few hours after I finished with the Open Arms. Drinks, Filipino dishes, karaoke and photo sessions are the flavours of the day. And of course, Tita’s friend from the hospital would be coming along later that night.

Most of my friends have met him in April, three months after he came over from the UK with a six-month contract as a nurse at the hospital. I have heard stories about him and received invites to go out with them for drinks or coffee where he was also expected. I was never interested; I couldn’t be bothered to be “talking in English”. Besides, I have never been sociable with men, how much more with men from another ‘planet’,.

So I only had a quick look of him that night (and I thought he’s cute). I wasn’t able to witness his videotaped karaoke performance of “I Swear” in his more-than-one-glass-of-wine state as I was busy with my photo shoots and playing with the little kids. He couldn’t even remember me from that day. I was just “one of faces”.

After becoming an adopted member of the Filipino community in Gibraltar, we’ve met a few more times during the gatherings and the special events but we never talked. Except on one occasion towards the end of July when we celebrated the receipt of our schengen visa with a picnic at the Rosia Bay. It wasn’t even a conversation; I just answered a question or two but that was when he first remembered me.

Then Morocco happened, a reluctant trip I took in August because I wasn’t allowed to take a previously booked holiday in Rome. And so in Tangier where Santiago (of ‘The Alchemist’) began his search for his Treasure I began the quest to follow my greatest dream.

It may be the mystique of the tiny alleyways all over the Medina or the magic of the exquisitely made carpets we have both been talked to buy. It may be the smell of the incense from the little shops along the way or the taste of the kuskus from the local restaurant where a di Caprio movie was shot. It may be the atmosphere of adventure after crossing the seas to another continent or the tone of romance looming over the air. Or maybe all that conspired in merging together two different worlds in one universe.

But nothing magical happened then, except perhaps it made him realize that I was indeed more than just a blur in the traffic of faces that walk past his mundane existence.

When we met again in a camping trip to Marbella, I found myself being drawn out of the cocoon that was my comfort zone. Before I knew it I was talking about myself as I would to people I have known for years. Suddenly I was stripped off my inhibitions, fears and insecurities. And the consciousness dawned on me: this is the man I have only dreamt and written about.
It was such a painful realization because I remembered a Jane Austen quotation from Northanger Abbey:

"No young lady can be justified in falling in love before the gentleman's love is declared, it must be very improper that a young lady should dream of a gentleman before the gentleman is first known to have dreamt of her."

But instead of wallowing over my confusion and building more walls that would block the imminent heartbreak I thought I was meant to suffer, I prayed like I have never prayed before. Yet more than a prayer from a weeping child desperate for a toy that would easily break, I surrendered my heart. Because I know He will lead the way, however long it will take for me to get there.

Then just when I least expected Him to, God answered my prayers—a bit too quickly. It was scary at first. Some people thought it was too sudden, how he didn’t even need to earn my heart. I have always been the predictable one: practical and ‘too analytical’. But when I made my plunge into those waters, the first one I’ve ever made in my life, I’ve let go fully.

There was never an ounce of regret. There were no what-ifs. And yes, he is everything I have ever written him to be, his love more than I have ever hoped I could find.

So when he knelt on his knees and asked for my hands, I couldn’t say no. He didn’t really need to ask. I knew of his existence long before I’ve met him. I knew of his love even by just the look in his eyes. I knew of his promise of forever, the moment God answered my prayers.

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