This is my personal testimony of how as a child, I unknowingly was slowly changed by one self-destructive negative emotion after another. ANGER – this one emotion … that through the years … spawned other destructive emotions. It started as being a surface anger, and then slowly began to turn into rage. Then from rage into fury, and fury into a death wish.
How did that all happen? Bottled up anger will drive a person to self-destruction, one way or another. Not only will it kill you … one way or another … but it can be the GREATEST hindrance inside us from discovering God … and experiencing peace and joy with Him, and discovering our purpose for our being created in the first place.
Thus, this is also my personal testimony of how God shed His wonderful grace upon me, and delivered me from the many prisons I had inside me that all came from bottling up my anger … so it is a testimony of HOPE for anyone else who can identify with the prisons I had inside me, and may even be contemplating killing someone they are angry with right now … or killing themselves.
God never created us to be vessels of anger – not for very long, anyway. Anger is a normal emotion God gave us, but we must come to learn how deadly it can become. There is an unseen evil force in the world that takes great personal pleasure in helping instill anger in everyone he can, especially those who desire to know God the most, because if he can help get us angry and keep us angry, he knows it will most likely keep us angry at God. Being angry at God will short circuit our ability to get to know God, which then enables us to flow WITH God, instead of against God.
This evil presence is angry at God because he will never have the opportunity to be at peace with God ever again. He once had peace with God – a long, long time ago, and experienced joyous glories that we can’t imagine. Yet he chose to rebel against his Creator and our Creator, and was sentenced to this planet, temporarily.
The Bible clearly and bluntly tells us this in Ephesians 4:26: Be angry, and do not sin: do not let the sun go down on your wrath, nor give place to the devil.
You may not believe right now there is a devil that delights in keeping you angry, but I can assure you, if you remain angry for very long, you will lock yourself up in a self-made prison, and sadly … never even realize you were IN a prison. If you’ll take the time to read my testimony, I’ll help you see how God let me out of my self-imposed prisons, and by God’s grace, trust God to use my testimony to point you to the way to get OUT of your prison of misery.
I feel to start out by saying some hard but critically important words of wisdom to fathers and mothers:
PARENTS – Don’t let these words become your child’s heart cry: “I am so tired – so messed up inside. I want to give up – I just want to die!”
I was one of those growing up children. I was so hurting inside that suicide seemed to be the only option left for me. But it was not. Not at all. God never gave any of us a chance to live to just end our lives by trying to destroy it through suicide, just because we are miserable in life, though I surely didn’t know it at that time in my life.
Millions of lives have been changed over time when people gave the mess of their life to God … and let him resurrect that mess into one glorious message of praise to Him, such as what I am doing by writing out my testimony.
I feel impressed to share the mess I was … and share the glorious message I now have to share with others … to be used of God to give other’s hope and direction, so their life will begin to count for something of eternal significance. Surely YOU want your life to count for something of eternal significance, don’t you? Please, then, do yourself a huge favor and read what I have to share.
I was born on the 8th of June, 1950, thus I am 58 years old as of this writing (2008). To describe it very briefly here, my testimony is initially one of hopelessness and of being in many prison cells — even the ones that have the most devastating effect in one’s life, but that such cells do not easily come to the minds of most people. But here they will be explained.
So – I came face to face with only two options in my mind: Either that I would commit suicide, or surrender to God.
Some desperate people don’t see it quite that way. Some people deicide they are going to commit suicide, and take their chances with God in the next life. Not wise. Eternally unwise, in fact!
But let’s start from the beginning. I was told that I was separated from my parents at the age of two months. I was raised by my grandparents. Thus, I did not have the benefit of being adequately nourished by my mother’s milk. Perhaps such was the reason why as a child, I was very, very sickly.
But God is a great balancer; He gave me a keen mind. Even my employers had to admit that my real strength lies in my analytical mind, so they said. At work, I seemed to be okay, but no one knew what I had in the inside. I was raging with anger, yet I was slowly dying also inside.
My sport, which was Shutokan karate, was one of my outlets for stress. On the bad side however, I became one of the most feared fighters/instructors in all of Japan Karate Association, Philippine Chapter, for I vented all the rage within me in that martial art and I truly became good at it, so they say, that at one time prior to a national tournament competition, I was told that my first match would be so easy for me that my opponent decided to embrace shame and went home before the start of the tournament, rather than face me in battle. It must have been very humiliating for him, but I could not have care less. I had no feeling of compassion at all. I just simply liked playing tough at every twist and turn possible and no one could reach me nor break me.
My karate, which was supposed to be a way of perfecting character – a way of discipline and restraint and builder of respect for others – could not even help me one bit. I was so hopelessly one-track-minded … and so lost. I was buoyed up though my accomplishments – like my last exposure to international goodwill competition. I could still win the “Best Karate Player” medal, coming from a sabbatical of three to four years.
But see this: I did not realize then that my medal was at the great sacrifice of my opponent – who towards the end of our match – could hardly lift up his left arm to defend himself. I hit him several times at the left ribcage, which he then just resigned to be beaten and broken. Good thing I did not break any of his ribs.
At this point you might ask, “So, where were the truly devastating big problems in your life?” I’d answer you, “They were deep down inside of me.”
Now, here are some of the details. My mother was an only child and by our country’s standards, came from a wealthy family. But the reverse is true with my father. I was given to my grandparents as a peace offering to those who were against such marriage between my father and mother. And more than that, I was born into the biggest clan in our town that almost 60% of the total population belonged to my clan. In time, at the death of my grandfather, I would be their leader. And my grandfather, sitting me in his white horse one time, made sure that our tenants knew that I was the “heir to the throne,” so to speak.
In a “clannish” family situation, the first son is destined to take over the lead role in the clan. I was then destined to take that role, thus I was trained for it. Now, what my relatives did not know was that I was a full blown coward in contrast to the leaders of the clan who came before me. Their bravery preceded them. I say this for you to realize that what is expected of the leader of the clan is for him to lay down his own life if need be, if only to protect any one member of the clan from those who maim their lives.
Before I continue, let me trace back to where I was still a child in the grade school, for there we would find the root cause of the inner rage within me.
“Children Are Individually Unique. They Must Be Treated Accordingly.”
So there I was, separated from my parents at an early age. By God’s grace though I had an inborn gift of sensitivity to things, and an analytical mind. On the negative side however, I had a temperament that was later on aggravated by the things I faced in life. But one thing that escaped my attention to details though was that I did not see that the gap between me and my parents was getting wider and wider as years passed.
Most especially that I never heard them say, “I love you” nor ever experienced the affirmation of such verbal expression of love by way of a hug, nor ever received a gift from them on account of my grades and medals in school.
I am sure that my parents loved me in a special way and that perhaps it was some difficult situations that prevented them to show their love and nearness to me. We only see from our own personal perspective. Often-times, if we could know the facts from our parent’s perspective, perhaps we would think differently about matters. But it takes parents to be honest and open and vulnerable about it, doesn’t it?
At the age of 19, my grandfather died, and I just eased into the role of the leader of the clan. No fanfare – no nothing. Tradition just came alive. Thus, people naturally gravitated to me with their problems, even if it were only to tell on others of their misdeeds.
It was thrilling at first, but when it became my routine and that I was losing my young and carefree adult life, I began to hate, resent and I eventually rebelled against it, though there was nothing I could to stop from playing my part. I had to continue, and thus it fueled continually my anger, rebellion and arrogance to the point that there was no more room to know and express the gentle emotions like love, compassion, kindness, mercy and the like. Consequently, the level of fear that I had, continued to rise. There was no escaping that.
And all the more, I had to carry a shotgun to protect members of the clan, even my family – particularly my father – for in our part of the country, we were known to settle our disputes not in courts of law but by the point of a knife or a gun or with a hand grenade. And on top of that, I found myself alone fighting our battles. There was no one to team up with. It was fearful and awfully lonely.
It came to a point that I even feared the ringing of the phone for fear that such was bringing another summon for me to pack up and go to battle once more. Day and night thus, I lived in fear. Fear that in one of the confrontations, I would get killed, or that I’d kill someone or several people.
In essence then I was in prison. And the prison cell was called, “FEAR.” Fear was one of the most destructive emotions that I kept bottled up inside me, and it burned with growing intensity.
As I continued to play my part in the clan, four other prison cells came into my life. One was named, “LONELINESS,” which at this point became more evident. Another was called, “YOUTH GANGS”. “EMOTIONAL BURDEN” was the calling of the other prison cell, and the fourth one was called, “BETRAYAL”.
As with any young man, I also yearned for someone to love and to love me in return. Later on, I found a girlfriend in our home town, but there were some complications. She had problems with me. I did not know how to relate well in a love relationship. I did not know how. Oh my fate! I did not have a point of reference!
Emotion-based prison cells are more devastating and painful than literal, physical prison cells. Such is what I have learned in all these experiences.
My girlfriend’s problem with me was that I did not know how to behave in any kind of relationship in a mutual fulfilling way, much less in a love relationship. Plus it was compounded by the fact that I was not exactly what her family dreamt of as a son-in-law.
We clung to each other in love though, even as a long distance relationship, yet in the end, her family succeeded in totally separating us. Thus I entered my prison cell of utter “LONELINESS”. I searched for things that would buoy me up and I ended up with one that I initially thought would give me love and acceptance – “YOUTH GANG MEMBERSHIP”.
It did for a while, but then as I got deeper into the activities of the gang – which was more of gang dominance and warfare – my fears rose up to a higher level, for this time we were actually against authorities, and the wars were pretty serious. The gang I joined was one of the most notorious university gangs. I was in a state of great anxiety and confusion and fear, but remember – I was actually a full blown coward.
And while all these were happening, things were also happening back home in the province. From the city, I went home to my province, for I was also taking charge of the affairs of the family/clan long distance during school months – instructing my parents to go back home to take care of the three old ladies who were left behind to fend for themselves when my grandfather died. They were already old. People – even relatives – had started to take advantage of our grandmother with her valuables, even the sale of some of our properties.
Knowing that there would be some hesitance from my parents, given that my father was not well accepted, I told them that should they refuse to go back home, when they were old, I would treat them the same way that they would treat the three (3) old ladies. And they went home. One day the inevitable happened; one of their “fights” caused the death of my mother.
During the wake, while I was sitting alone in a lonely place, all of a sudden came my father in tears, and with a grieving voice told me that had it not been on my account, my mother would have been still alive.
My father blamed me for the death of my mother. It was short of telling me that I killed my own mother. And this was how my prison cell called, “EMOTIONAL BURDEN” came into being. Though I pushed this event in the deepest recesses of my being, I know now that I carried this emotional burden all through my adult life.
Then one December 25, at about 12 midnight, while everybody was awake and jolly and I tried to be one with them – my father came to me discreetly to tell me of some very bad, bad news. He had received news that the woman that I loved so dearly and have actually shed my blood for as a testimony of my love for her, was already married and that she was then pregnant. WOW! A double whammy! The news sunk slowly in, but the pain was almost unbearable. It penetrated the very core of my being, and that is when I thought I came face-to-face for the first time, with my prison cell called, “BETRAYAL”.
It should not amaze anyone, I am sure, that the next prison cell that came into my life to hold me prisoner like the rest was called, “ADDICTION”. It seems to follow “BETRAYAL” much of the time. So I drowned myself with gin, beer and women. Even at my workplace, then a middle management executive in one of top 10-15 Advertising Agencies in the country, it fueled my addiction; for such vices were parts of the givens; parts of my work environment. Two big manifestations of my addiction to hard drinking were trembling hands when not “under the influence,” and nausea and feeling of weakness all over.
Then as if the prison cells that bound me prisoner were not yet enough, the next prison cell I entered was, “DEATH WISH.” I was so messed up … my mind was in a whirl. I was so tired of holding on … I truly wanted to die.
All it takes is one emotional problem unchecked in the life of a child to get him or her to the end of his rope, or spawn a chain of emotional baggage to eventually bring him down, if left unchecked.
PARENTS: Please bear with me when I share this, for little children are so precious in the eyes and heart of God. For He says this in Matthew 19:14: But Jesus said, “Let the children alone, and do not hinder them from coming to Me; for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.”
At this time of my life, you could find me beer-joint hopping almost every night, and my rage was getting out of control. At times I would be throwing beer bottles inside a beer house (and interestingly, no law enforcer ever confronted me at those times) even when at one time I tried to throw a bouncer of one beer joint down the stairs. In my deranged mind, I also had pulled the trigger twice on a man at point blank range.
Another time – I was about to enter a beer house. There were these two rival gangs throwing beer bottles at each other and I just simply joining in the fray and when all were gone, I was still throwing beer bottles in the direction of the other gang. I never knew why I joined them. But today, I know why. I just simply wanted to die. My death wish was at the threshold of maturity. For then, I was in great fury!
I Hated Myself – The World – God!
I hated myself, the world and God! And I would seek the darkest streets to get home … hoping that there would be robbers or muggers lurking. Even while all alone, I would challenge gangs to a fight. One time — one group of addicts of about 8 to 10 responded with their kind of anger, and we had a beer bottle throwing incident at point blank range.
When I saw a policeman, I would get so close behind him while saying in my mind, “If he would only touch my skin even lightly, I will kill him in two seconds flat with my martial arts technique.”
Part of me wanted to die, but not yet to take my own life. I was looking for a reason, and one person or group to do it with seemed to be the best way.
Then the Lord started to work in my life in a major way.
I had to leave our old apartment house for another. I managed to settle in one townhouse where my next door neighbor was a single parent with two little boys: ages five and eight. I learned later on that the unit that I took was reserved for another, but for some reason, I ended up taking it – which was next to their apartment.
A few weeks passed, and on Saturdays and Sundays where there would be no work, I would be with my gin or beer or brandy while watching TV. For some reason I could not explain … I simply would keep the door of my house open, and this was never my normal habit.
One day the older boy of my next door single-parent-neighbor was also watching the TV with me. I was watching cartoons, of all TV shows! (I learned later that their TV was busted). So – I let him in and, and next came his five-year-old brother. This became our routine, until I began to want to come home early so that we could be together and watch TV together.
This may be hard for some to understand, but I was so desperate for love and acceptance … I received from them love and acceptance, and much more. I saw myself – when I was still a child without my father – thru them. Had I been given the chance to marry my girlfriend, my children would have been at their age.
In my wounded soul, I began to behave like a father to them and they responded well as if I were actually their father. Their mother went along with our fun. Then in one of our romping days, the older boy suddenly blurted out his question. He asked if I was courting their mother. Triggered by the question – for the first time in my mind – I saw their mother – who also very, very pretty – in a different light. She never existed before in my mind, for it was still set on my lost girlfriend.
I answered, “What if you would find out that your mother wants me too? Would you allow me to marry her?”
The boy simply answered, “Okay.”
We continued our daily routine, but I began planning my move on their mother.
Now here it gets interesting. The two boys would leave Bible tracts on my bed, or Our Daily Bread journal, and would teach me what they learned at Sunday school … and they were relentless! They would follow up on me, and persist in knowing if I read the tracts and Our Daily Bread or not. So I was forced to read the Bible tracts and Our Daily Bread for their joy and satisfaction.
God Used Those Two Boys Mightily!
The Bible tracts, and what these little boys of this single mother learned from Sunday school, were teaching me were setting God’s initial work inside me – to expose me to His Bible – to implant in me words of life.
Up to that point in time, life made me very suspicious of people that I was not giving myself to. But, with these innocent little boys, I opened my heart … thus I became very, very vulnerable.
God says in His Bible in 1 Corinthians 1:27: But God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise and God has chosen he weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong.”
And how true God’s Word is, for he was using two little boys as His divine messengers, and I wasn’t even aware of it at the time!
As time passed, I decided to have them as part of my family, which then launched me to court their mother. My approach fell flat on may face though. She was controlled by the Word of God. In 2 Corinthians 6:14 it says: “Do not be bound together with unbelievers…”.
She was a Christian believer and I was not. She then withdrew the children to my great hurt. When I thought I found love and acceptance and solace – once more I got hurt. This time … it was the last straw.
The option to commit suicide seemed then to be so ripe to pick … but then there was another option. In retrospect, God’s timing had been perfect (It Always IS!). God had made the preparations well, and this was the result of God’s ministering work on me through the children and the mother.
From deep inside me, I found myself saying, “Lord – there are obviously only two options left for me to take now. The first one is suicide. The other option is to surrender my life to You. Now, Lord … I shall give You a chance at my life.”
I did not know from days prior that when the single mother and the children had invited me to their worship center, God was showing me where to go if/when – at some future time – I would decide to try Him.
I was the first one to arrive at the worship center. Nothing was happening during the first few minutes of the worship service, but deep down inside me there was a nagging feeling of surrender … but I did not know to what or to whom. I was still in a daze, like in an emotional fog of sorts.
Then – all my senses came alive when the congregation began singing the song: “I surrender all… all to Jesus I surrender…”
My Heart Was Bleeding Badly From Being Ravaged
In my youth days, I was taught never to show weakness – especially tears in my eyes. This time – with a great lump in my throat – tears were freely flowing down my cheeks, and I was allowing it. No more pretenses. No more “Mr. Tough Guy.” I was now baring all — for all to see. I did not care. I was dead-tired of hiding. I just wanted to “live” a better life.
As the song was being sung to its end, my whole life flashed before my eyes. I seemed to see the inside of my heart. It was bleeding very, very badly, and it was full of holes of pain. It was so torn up – messed up – so disfigured.
And as I was seeing my ravaged emotional heart condition, I heard these words of comfort: “You can cry now. You are safe here. These are my people. You can now rest your head on my bosom.”
Later on to come, I discovered those words were part of the essence of Jesus’ words in Matthew 11:28-30: “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy-laden and I will give you rest. Take My rest upon you and learn from Me for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and my load is light.”
And so today, these are my salvation verses. I gave my life to Jesus Christ that day at the worship center. Today – even as of this writing – I confess to you that I still find difficulties in life – even temptations. But where before I was hopeless … today … in Christ, I have hope.
I was in many prison cells. Yes – even the physical cell. I too had the experience of being thrown into a physical prison cell along with others who were also guilty as charged, but today, in Christ, I am free. I am free to admit it if I feel weak. I am free to cry if it seems to be the thing to do at the moment. If God cried, which He did the Bible says, then why should I be so embarrassed to cry?
I am free to receive and appreciate God’s unconditional and acceptance of me, with all of my faults and character flaws. I am free to ask His forgiveness when I have blown it. I am free to receive His forgiveness because He promises me He will, in the Bible. I am free to tell others that they’ll never find true and lasting peace in one’s soul, until they have become spiritually born again in and through Christ Jesus my Lord.
I am now free to be all that God created me for to be, even though much of my life on this planet is now behind me. I am free to turn the other cheek when wronged, rather than use my martial art skills to put fear in others, for I have leaned the secret of being truly strong.
It is to be man enough to admit that I am weak, for when I admit that I am weak, God’s grace begins to flow through me, and I receive HIS strength for every occasion. It is through the strength of GOD now that I can do whatever He asks of me to do. The Apostle Paul learned that secret, where he wrote in 2 Corinthians 12:10: “For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
It was on the 22 April of l990 that I got born again, and officially became FREE to commune with God any time I want, without fear that I won’t be accepted, loved, and taken care of by Him.
We are all relational beings. The home is God’s ordained place where all of us must first learn how to relate with others in a healthy manner. And this must start at the very early stage of life.
I say the above to parents, because it is so important. However, I realize there will be many reading this who would LOVE to be a parent, yet still haven’t even connected with the right person to even be married yet, or are people who have had divorce take its toll. I also realize there are younger people reading this who know of families that are unstable and parents not doing their part in rearing their children rightly.
But, it is never to late to learn, and help others God puts in your path to help have the family unit as the place God has given humanity for a child to be raised to be loved and accepted, disciplined when needed, and nurtured and encouraged in an atmosphere where Jesus Christ is put above all else.
Not religion. Not just rules and regulations. A personal relationship with the living God. If children don’t see their parents talking with God from the heart, and truly desiring to please God, then the parents shouldn’t be surprised that there children won’t grow up to easily do those things either. Children don’t need to be told about God nearly as much as observing their parents have a meaningful relationship with God. When children see parents pray and prayers get answered, children NEVER forget that.
Because it is indeed in the home that children must learn proper relationship with God and each other — especially love and acceptance, you can be almost certain of this: If they don’t find it at home, the world will give it to them … like the gang that I joined in. Dysfunctional children tend to hang around other dysfunctional children, because it is an atmosphere where acceptance is most easily found for most. Nothing much changes once a dysfunctional, emotionally scared child becomes an adult.
They still tend to hang around other dysfunctional, emotionally scared adults, because that seems to be the best place where they can find acceptance for being so emotionally handicapped. The most wonderful thing is that whatever we never received as a child growing up, God can not only meet those needs (and desires to meet them, in fact) … but He can use the painful things of our past to make us a better person in Christ for it, but we must let Him. He never forces Himself on us. He’s too gentle. He’s too kind. He tries to win us over to His way of doing and seeing things through His love and mercy and kindness, because He knows that is how each of us best respond to change.
The love of grandparents differs from the love of parents. For example, parents might say to their children, “Do not go to the carnival at this time for there could be wild people at this hour”, while grandparents might say, “Oh – let them enjoy youth; let them go; nothing will happen to them.” Parents are the protectors of their children that God has given them, but Grandparents reveal a glimpse of God’s grace in allowing things parents would not.
Even as God’s children, sometimes it is healthy for us to be allowed by God to do things that really aren’t the best for us at the time, but because it sounds like fun, so He lets us do it, even if pain or harm results from it afterwards.
Again, let me say to you; I am sure my parents loved me. Only perhaps either that they did not have the right opportunity to show it or they did not know how best to show their love for a uniquely sensitive boy that I was. Coming from any of those two possibilities, look at how messed up my life had become at the onset. I did not know that I was dying. Then, I wanted to end my life. My words to parents then would be…Please…please…please… little innocent and gullible children are little innocent and gullible children. Remember how I was. Please, I beg of you on there behalf, every now and then or perhaps… most of the time, you might want to whisper or say out loud to them the comforting and endearing words, “I love you”.
I never heard those words. Also, every now and then, affirm such verbal claim of love and affection with a “hug” here and there. I never experienced how it felt like to be hugged. I am sure that their path in life would not be the same path I took at first if you did these things to them. Please don’t let them be like me when I was growing up. The prison cells I had were worst than you can imagine.
They were worst than physical prison cells. I was hopeless, but now in Christ, I have hope. I was lost, but now in Christ, I am found. I was in many prison cells, but now in Christ, I am free. And for some others out there, some of you say there is no God. But look at my life. I could not have changed my life on my own for I was so deranged; so messed up and so full of blind fury, and all I could think of was how to die. And thus, there was no room at all for clear thinking even as I was so immersed in discipline training in my martial arts. It was as if I was in a hopelessly drunken state that I could not find my way towards changed direction from wrong to right.
Here is the conclusion of my testimony. I changed direction not on my own, but only by God’s grace. God is true and He exists! It was Him who pulled me out of the pit of destruction! And thus, please allow me now to offer to Him my humble expression of deep gratitude and love.
Our Father, Lord Jesus Christ, thank you for your unconditional love. Thank you for saving me. Thank you for my testimony of a changed life. And now please accept this humble offering of gratitude and love, Lord, God, our Father, “THIS ONE IS FOR YOU.” Please take it and do as You please for Your glory.” May Your praise be forever and ever, Amen.