A Step Forward

By Apryl Gretchen Cofin

When I was young, my mom brought me to Mass every Sunday, though I didn’t know what was going on. During my elementary days, I sometimes felt forced by her to go. Because Mom was a catechist I felt very ashamed if we, her own family, didn’t attend any church activities.  Maybe that’s why I went every Sunday without conviction and didn’t pray sincerely.

Because I saw myself as a devout Catholic, I sometimes became very defensive when members of other sects criticized my religion. I couldn’t run away from my hurt and anger if they continued criticizing. Though I sometimes ignored the existence of God and often went to church just to be present and pass the time, I didn’t like my religion to be attacked. I admit that sometimes I was a hypocrite, cheating myself and the Lord. My attitude didn’t improve when I reached high school.

My First Downfall

Entering high school was really terrible and was my downfall. I lost the opportunity to be a good student. It began in first year when I wasn’t included on the honor roll. This really shocked my family and me. My elementary teachers were also surprised and asked me about it but I preferred to remain silent. Maybe they didn’t see my hurt, but deep inside I was really crying. I was like a bomb ready to explode. I attended Recognition Day but left during the announcements. It was really painful, all my hopes and dreams of achievements in high school vanished.

I joined Youth for Christ (YFC) but that didn’t work. I got even worse. Losing a medal became a tragic moment in my life, but I didn’t accept defeat. That’s why I became a pessimist and preferred to stay in a dark corner and hide my dark shadows. I was afraid the things I was hiding would be revealed and that others would reject me.

Painful Past

During the following years, I didn’t concentrate on my studies because I stuck to my belief that I’d no longer be an honor student. What was the use of studying hard? I’d been disappointed once and didn’t want the same thing to happen again. I kept blaming others, not realizing that I should blame myself also. Studying always reminded me of what happened in first year. The pain kept coming back, each time a fresh wound, no matter how much I tried to forget everything. I had a really poor self-image, always looking on the dark side of life. My friends commented on my wrongdoings but I did what I thought was right for me.

Feeling of Emptiness

I was always making foolishness in school and happy doing it. One time I threw a big stone onto the roof of the sophomores’ building. I was called to the faculty room and badly scolded. After all of this, though ‘happy’ with my foolishness, I felt empty inside. I was searching for something that would satisfy my hungry and thirsty self. I attended some church activities but there was still no change because I didn’t really want to hear the word of God. Sometimes I heard comments from my classmates, ‘Hey, Gretch, you’re going to church but you never change.’ I felt very ashamed but just ignored them.

I’m now in fourth year, still struggling with my poor self-image, taking my studies for granted because what happened before keeps flashing back. I’m finding it hard to leave my dark corner.

Time to Change

I’m really tired of pretending. I want to change but don’t know what first step to take. During our Youth Encounter in January, I really talked to the Lord for the first time and really cried. Before, I prayed only when I needed something and saw prayer as boring and a crazy thing to do. But today I want a new atmosphere and a new world for myself. I’m already beginning to cope with my mistakes in life. I want to leave the past that brought me so much agony and live a better life today. I know that today is more important than yesterday or tomorrow. I need time for myself to know who I really am. I can’t turn back time so I need to look forward.

And I need your prayers for me  to change totally.