There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens: … a time to kill and a time to heal, a time to tear down and a time to build, a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance… (Ecclesiastes 3:1, 3-4)
These verses sum up pretty well my year 2016. Up to now, I am still at a lost with myself, wondering where all the hours have gone, wishing I can go back and do things over again. Year 2016 has been an overflow of 2015; when I look back on it, I cringe and my heart aches.
2016 has been a year of tearing down and shattering for me. But at the same time, it is during this year that my faith has been refined and purified; testings came as I have not expected them to be and I went through them with the Lord.
I’d like to think about all these things in 2016 as the perfumed oil that I have gathered in my precious alabaster jar.
And there was a woman in the city who was a sinner; and when she learned that He was reclining at the table in the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster vial of perfume, and standing behind Him at His feet, weeping, she began to wet His feet with her tears, and kept wiping them with the hair of her head, and kissing His feet and anointing them with the perfume. (Luke 7:37-38)
What’s inside my alabaster jar?
- Time. My most important resource, this is the currency I expended to do things I wanted, needed and planned. I admit that in my eyes, there are so many wasted time this year because of my ongoing struggles. But I know that in God’s vista, nothing is ever wasted. The time that passed by allowed me to be what I am now.
- Hurts and disappointments. Woah. I really can’t enumerate everything here but looking back, all I can remember is that 2016 has torn me down. God has slayed me emotionally as I have suffered the consequences of choosing to hold on too long to an unrequited love. God has slayed me physically as I was in and out of the hospital, laboratories and clinics. God has also slayed me spiritually as I have backslided too many times this year. God showed me how untested my faith was and how idolatrous my heart was. He had to tear me down and wall me in until I have no way to turn to but to return to His love.
- Expectations. I had too many expectations in my career, my lovelife, my financial plans and my ministries. Yet all the while, many of these expectations were not centered in God’s will, made with impure motives (as I look back now) and were not mostly backed up and sowed in prayers.
- Depression and anxiety. I have been battling with these for 2 years now but it is only this 2016 that I became bold enough to admit it in myself and to other trusted people. Living with depression has become a norm for me this year. There were literally days, weeks and months when I almost gave up on life itself. Waking up has been a very difficult task. Sleeping at night has been a tiring feat. But truly, when I confessed about this, it was when God’s light shone through the darkest nights of my soul. Support showered me and I was blessed to even minister to real people dealing with this. Truly, truly, I have comforted others through the same refreshing comfort my soul received from Jesus and others.
- Singleness. Yes, you read it right. Singleness is included in my alabaster jar. I just celebrated this year my 25th birthday and I was ushered into what the millenials now call as “quarter life crisis“. Being a NBSB of the marriageable age myself, it makes me think about my lovelife upon seeing continuously in my Facebook newsfeed the people my age getting married, getting engaged and starting their own families. Add to it the pain I endured from being too emotionally involved in a man who was never committed to me. Thanks to my newfound friends at P.S.A. (Philippine Single Association) who adopted me last November, just a week after my heart endured its hardest blow for the year. Also, my discipler, Ate Carla Rendon, helped me to accept the situation and see it instead in God’s loving perspective and purposes.
- Brokenness. It is during this year that I saw how beautiful brokenness is. Brokenness shattered the pride in my heart that has built a strong wall around myself, masking the real me, blocking the purposes God intended for me to live by. God took from me, He has broken my bones, He made me drink gall yet, still, I will praise and bless the Lord! It is in this utter desperation that I saw God so very near to me, skin-to-skin, penetrating the soul.
- Relationships.How funny it is that years back, people usually told me how relational I am. Yet, this 2016, I ran out of friends, literally. Or maybe I ran out of them. There were broken relationships. There were tainted trust-relationships. On the other hand, there were new relationships formed and budding friensdhips formed. One thing I resolved this year was that the peace of my soul is more important than pleasing unfruitful and destructive relationships. I need to heal.
- Ministries. God has allowed me to come back to my D12 as well as to continue discipling a group of now 6 ladies. I was able to join at least 1 outreach in Paoo at the start of the year. Also, I was privileged as God has revived my talent in playing the guitar as I led worship for 2 events in our CCF discipleship network, November Hands Together and our Network Christmas Party. I have also maintained this year my real blogsite and Facebook page (Revive Our Hearts Jesus) with my primary goal of letting the reality of Jesus be known to as many people as possible.
- Good and happy things. I managed to continue to live despite my lack of will to live. I resorted to many creative things like baking, writing, playing guitar and amusing myself with arts and reading books. I have a family. I decided to live independently just this December 2016. I am seeing hope again. I was even able to attend a retreat before the year ends (Refresh retreat).
- Answered prayers. My prayers of desperation that bothered heaven for so many months were finally answered when God opened my eyes to the reality of His love, mercy and grace amidst this depression I am in. He also promised to make a way for me in this wilderness. God provided for our family in so many unimaginable ways. My sister is now also involved in ministry and committed herself to discipleship at CCF Cainta. My father and sister got baptized this year also. We commemorated the 1st death anniversary of my mother with joy and acceptance in our hearts.
- Dreams and plans.God rekindles in me dreams of pursuing further studies as well as finally writing a book of my own. I dream of finally being free to serve God 100% despite my iniquities. I dream of meeting my “God’s best.”
Turning toward the woman, He said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave Me no water for My feet, but she has wet My feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave Me no kiss; but she, since the time I came in, has not ceased to kiss My feet. You did not anoint My head with oil, but she anointed My feet with perfume. For this reason I say to you, her sins, which are many, have been forgiven, for she loved much; but he who is forgiven little, loves little.” Then He said to her, “Your sins have been forgiven.” Those who were reclining at the table with Him began to say to themselves, “Who is this man who even forgives sins?” And He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.” (Luke 7:44-50)
And tonight, as I am counting the minutes towards 2017 (51 minutes as of this paragraph 😊), I am breaking this precious alabaster jar that is myself. This jar may hold so many good things for me but still, no matter how good they were, I have to shatter it at Jesus’ feet.
I am emptying myself again to usher in the new and better things that God has in store for me this 2017. I know God is the Creator and He can do so much awesome things in my life out of these broken pieces of my alabaster jar.
I pray that the oil I pour out at Jesus’s feet be a sweet aroma that is pleasing to Him. I am offering all I have, all I am, for His glory alone!
My Father knows the deepest desires of my heart now. As mush as I wanted to detail my life plan now, I know that my knowledge is limited to the things that are good for me. But I am letting go of all the plans I have for myself and trust in the better purpose He has for me.
I am Katherine Castro. This is my alabaster jar. And I broke it now and pour everything to the One who is more precious than this perfumed oil, Jesus! 💜