Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Winter (11/14/05)
TITLE: Summer in Winter Time
By Jorge VanSlyke
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I’ve finally learned
That there was in me
An invincible summer”
There are phrases and words of wisdom that strike a chord deep within us the first time we hear or read it, encapsulating our life’s experiences and the things that touch us the most. They became mirrors that clearly reflect what is invisible to us. They became teachers who facilitate the culmination of what we have learned in life, and they also take on the role of a personal cheerleader, whose never-ending hurrahs keep on re-fueling our strength as we struggle through life. The lines above were shared with me by a special person. And now I will share them with you. This is my story.
I grew up with a debilitating disease which ensured my regular attendance to various hospitals where I lived. I had asthma. The kind that made me throw up every thirty minutes, even with nothing left, every time I had an attack. The kind that made my body nothing more than a big cushion for IV needles and all sorts of medical gadgets at least every other month. It made me face death as every breath became a plea for one precious more. In one of my worst attack, I remembered blaming God and questioning Him in my mind, one moment with bitterness and self-pity, begging Him to just end my life and not drag it like that, then the other with renewed strength, rallying the forces of faith from within with labored breath, to keep holding on, to keep on believing that there is a reason for everything.
I was 21 when I found out that my chance of having a child was 50-50. I was devastated. I used to have dreams of being pregnant and how ecstatic I felt, and now this. I was working for an adoption agency at that time and I knew from my clients’ experiences that hanging on to false hopes can lead to emotional downfall, not to mention the dent it can make to your finances. And I couldn’t afford both. So, again, I blinked back my unshed tears, especially every time I saw babies, and hang on to God’s peculiar reasons for His decisions in my life.
My next ‘winter’ was when I first came to China to work as an ESL teacher. I had to risk many things because my family needed me. I was given a job in a countryside school wherein not only was I treated as a second-class, to-be-tolerated-because-there’s-not-much-choice foreign teacher, but I was also the ONLY foreigner there. I came from a tropical country and was housed in an apartment that was as cold as Siberia in the middle of winter, with not much companionship due to language and cultural barrier. Their definition of entertainment was a park and two supermarkets. I was all alone, had nobody, was nobody. The only thing that kept me going was my students and that same belief that there is a reason for everything.
At long last, my belief was finally justified. For more than two years now since I came to China, the packs of medication that I brought with me proved to be useless. Yes, I am enjoying my asthma-free life and every breath, every day, is a thanksgiving day for He taught me to appreciate the value of a healthy life. I found a better job in a thriving city and was able to earn more than I expected and was able to help my family, as was my goal for coming here. My students from the countryside showed me their overwhelming appreciation and love by showering me with presents and letters when I left that made me feel that my efforts were not futile. They made me feel that my presence in their lives made sense and that I left them with something valuable to hold on to. And finally, after so many heartbreaks, I met somebody who epitomizes everything that I needed to fill in my missing half and make me whole. And we are now enjoying our lovely two-month old daughter, Amber…God’s bonus for hanging in there.
And so, however cold, however bleak my days would be, all I need to do is look inside me. God has planted an invincible summer in my heart that only grows brighter and warmer as life’s winter passes by. Thank you, God, for being my reason, for being my purpose in life. Thank you.
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