Today, Jeorge speaks to us about forgiveness, her resilient childhood and true grace.
Tell us a bit about how you grew up and your childhood: I grew up in what was like a picture-perfect home. And while I had a lot of great memories of our family’s lavish lifestyle back then, I was broken and always in search of happiness, meaning, and purpose in life at a young age.
My dad was a prominent pathologist in our region and adored by many for the great man he was. But he was mostly known for his humility and compassion, despite his stature. It was not a secret to many that my dad has a mistress he housed for almost 30 years. He was 45 years old, married, and a newly minted physician when he met my mom, who was 17 at that time, at a cabaret where she was forced to keep male customers company to earn a living.
Growing up, my brother and I didn’t notice anything peculiar since my dad was present in the house most of the time, but mainly because everything was kept from us until my dad suffered a stroke leaving my mom with no choice.
We were well-provided financially, gastronomically, and other things more than necessary for a comfortable life. However, what was in abundance materially equally lacked emotionally and spiritually. My brother and I suffered from physical, verbal, and emotional abuse from our mom. We were bound by numerous rules and regulations that needed to be adhered to strictly; [or] else, a chaotic home.
We were supplied with expensive toys as a reward system but also to mean staying at home. Outdoor play was not encouraged. If allowed, a time limit had to be observed. Failure to comply normally led to either corporal punishment, starvation, or [being] locked outside the house.
The lack of attention and validation while growing up made me strive to perform well academically. I had to make up for the emptiness with popularity and my performance in school through numerous extracurricular activities to cover up what was missing inside.
I was living in the comforts of the fantasy books I bury myself into, the movies I marvel at, and pouring out myself into my journal.
Inspiring biblical passage of the moment: It has to be 2 Corinthians 12:9-10.
“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
Spiritual growth focus at the moment: It’s funny how we set goals to grow spiritually, only to find out later that we are in an exactly opposite situation than planned.
I started the year eagerly lining up all the books and stuff I wanted to do for this very reason. And God and I sure did have the same goal in mind but little did I know, He had a far different version than mine.
I was in a season of intense fire for learning and revelations, for quite some time. And as one would expect, I thought I was “spiritually strong and stable”. After that season, however, I struggled miserably with disappointment that I barely had the desire to read the Word, let alone open it. It didn’t help that guilt and doubts started creeping in because I felt I wasn’t being a “good and faithful” Christian. I started to see and realize things differently soon after.
Experience has taught me far [more] than my knowledge (of the Bible and who God is) could ever take me. More than the dos and don’ts of a “good” Christian, I am reflecting on what it means for me to be living under God’s grace over these “standards”. Faith should grow in character, not in knowledge.
While Scripture is an essential source of encouragement and hope, as it tells the heart of God for mankind, we can not also limit the extent of what He is capable to do to fulfill His will over our lives. There is no one-size-fits-all journey in Christianity.
“Faith should grow in character, not in knowledge.”
Profession: I’m a licensed nurse but took a career in the corporate office where I started as an agent then became a Language & Product Trainer. Currently, I’m enjoying being a full-time housewife with plans of renewing my license and take on my profession but will specialize as fitness and nutrition nurse instead, while also looking into pursuing a few passion projects along the way, Lord willing.
“There is no one-size-fits-all journey in Christianity.”
If you wrote a memoir, what would the title be? Lavished In Perfect Grace.
When did you first encounter God and how did you encounter Him? It was around May or June of 2015. The story isn’t as most but equally memorable. It was like any other ordinary workday. Unbeknownst to me, God sent His perfectly imperfect children on a mission for my redemption. A group of Quality Evaluators was scheduled for onboarding for the next 5 days or so that week. I didn’t expect anything unusual to happen as this was typically my job as a trainer, but there was something about them collectively that lightened my load and brought unexplained joy to our sessions. I can not exactly remember how it came to a point in our conversation that led to an invitation to join a Sunday service in a non-denominational church here in the Philippines.
I can only recall laughing so hard in most of our sessions that I had to move the training to a more confined space so as not to disturb others with our boisterous voices. There was something unexplainable that drew me into them. Because of this and how casually the invite came up in the conversation, it was easy for me to join them Sunday that week for my first ever Christian service.
Looking back at that moment from time to time, I still find it ironic and fascinating that not once did these people even mentioned the name Jesus ever in our conversation nor mentioned any Bible verses whatsoever. On the contrary, we were even laughing at jokes to which, at this point, I think it is a bit too mean. In fact, one of them who has the most impact in my life was under a Pastoral class at that time, I recalled, and on his way to becoming a Pastor. Yet, I didn’t see any exclusivity in the way they talk nor did they made me feel completely different from them knowing I wasn’t a Christian back then.
Had it been a completely different scenario, I doubt I’d welcome their invite. Indeed, God knew exactly the way to my heart. He pursues us in the most distinct and personal way. After all, He is our maker.
“He pursues us in the most distinct and personal way.”
How has your relationship with Him changed you? God healed me from all of the bitterness and unforgiveness I was bottling up for so long. I have been enjoying the freedom I have in Christ, being freed from all the pain, pride, envy, greed, worry, anger, shame, and selfishness. And the list doesn’t end there.
1 Timothy 1:14-15 is a reality to me. “And the grace of our Lord overflowed to me, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus. This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst.”
Every day is a journey, and it sure ain’t easy as I continue to be His work in progress for every season of pruning and molding.
What has helped you grow spiritually in this season? Experiencing His grace and faithfulness in pursuit of me!
Just read/currently reading (and what has it taught you?): From the obituary of Ravi Zacharias: “In certain strands of evangelicalism, we sometimes think it is necessary to so humiliate someone of a different worldview that we think unless we destroy everything he holds valuable, we cannot preach to him the gospel of Christ…what I am saying is this, when you are trying to reach someone, please be sensitive to what he holds valuable.”
“He saw the objections and questions of others not as something to be rebuffed, but as a cry of the heart that had to be answered. People weren’t logical problems waiting to be solved; they were people who needed the person of Christ.”
Some of the things we need to be reminded of when sharing the gospel. Many times, I’ve witnessed Christians fall into the trap of argument to win the debate instead of winning people for Christ. And I was no exemption to that in the first few years of my walk, trying to force things their way in my strong conviction for the truth.
More than the knowledge we possess about the Bible and the gospel, it is how we are able to love people during these difficult conversations that we are able to display what the gospel is truly all about.
I am at the point of my Christian walk where I don’t even think of the division between believers and “unbelievers”, an item that most tend to make such a big deal about. Jesus died for all. His death on the cross was not for an exclusive group of people. It was for every single one of us. It’s just a matter of renewing our minds in Christ just like before I came to know all of these. We may condemn prostitutes, the gender-confused, thieves, the sexually immoral, a felon or whatever state in life they may be in right now, but if any of them gets a chance to hear and experience God’s love for them a week, a month, a year after, we may be surprised to find them ten times more on fire for the Lord than we do.
And this is true for my case. Who would have thought that I would surrender my life to God October of the year 2015 when three months back I was a sinner rotting inside completely lost and broken.
Sometimes, in our fullness of knowledge about the Bible and our conviction for the truth, we tend to forget who we were before we met Christ that it becomes easy for us to pick the flaws of others.
When I am overwhelmed and focused by all the dos and don’ts of Christianity, I remind myself that I am called to love God and love others first. If our hearts are overflowing with the presence of God, everything else will (supernaturally and easily) follow.
Top three essentials: Jesus, sleep, and my phone.
How did God speak to you recently? Through a season of drought when one would expect not hearing from Him being spiritually dry.
Hobby: There’s a lot that I wanted to do but for this season, I’m learning more about fitness and nutrition. So, I workout. I love discovering recipes and try them out. I also like organizing and creating so I often browse through Pinterest and Instagram for sustainable and minimalist lifestyle ideas along with boho home styling inspos as we plan to move to a new place soon. I’m also into watching movies and TV series.
Top three practical tips for staying spiritually strong: Remember that faith grows in character and not in knowledge.
Just be yourself in your daily conversation with the Lord, like you are talking to a friend. That means being completely real and honest regardless of whether it’s just a short prayer for help, a hymn of praise, or just a simple cry “Jesus”. Talk to Him in just about anything whenever and wherever. However little we have to offer to the Lord is enough because He is more than enough. I remember reading this from Well-watered women.
Personally, it helps that I keep a journal of all my answered prayers, miracles, blessings, and the graces I received so when come pressing times. It’s a reminder of the reality that the Lord interceded and saved me countless times.
Favorite person in scripture? Paul.
What do you want people to learn about God when they look at you? “And the grace of our Lord overflowed to me, along with the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 1:14-16
This is a trustworthy saying, worthy of full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am the worst. But for this very reason I was shown mercy, so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display His perfect patience as an example to those who would believe in Him for eternal life.
How do you engage with your community? As the Spirit leads, I try to serve and help out others in any opportunities and any way I can.
Favorite holiday? Christmas and New Year’s Eve.
A goal you have: A healthy lifestyle physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.
A special tradition you and your family engage in or keep: Family reunion on Yuletide season until New Year’s Eve.
Question you will ask when you get to heaven? I don’t have any mind for now. I’ll probably be too overwhelmed to even ask.
Thing you want to raise awareness about:
There is no sin too great that God cannot forgive.
There is no one too messed up that God cannot redeem.
There is no mountain too high that God cannot climb just to pursue us.
You don’t need to do a lot of rituals to get to the heart of God. He’s already crazy about you, even when you were at your worst.
What does your morning routine consist of? Slow quiet mornings with coffee, music, my thoughts, and Jesus. Oftentimes with sunrise, too.
What is on your nightstand? Phone, Bible, journal, pen, and my night balm.
Define Christianity in a sentence: Christianity for me is all about Christ’s unconditional and faithful love towards mankind.
For more Jeorge:
Until next time, keep witnessing!