Tuesday, December 08, 2009

THIS IS MY STORY…by Tessie Aquino-Oreta

God, sometimes, plays a difficult joke on us if only to call our attention. I am so privileged to see up close how God moved and continues to move in the life former Sen. Ninoy Aquino's favorite sister, Sen. Tessie Aquino-Oreta.

Sen. Tessie is not running for any position in 2010, and so I guess she wouldn't mind my sharing her story.

By Tessie Aquino-Oreta

I've always thought of myself as a real favored child of God -- born to a good family, had good education, married a good husband, have good children. Whatever I wanted to do, I always succeeded. And somehow amidst the success, I forgot that I was only favored. Soon, everything went into my head. I began to believe that I, Tessie Aquino-Oreta, was great.

I started politics in the '80s. Very young and passionate, I ran in Malabon-Navotas even when surveys say I had very low awareness level. My brother Paul told me I was crazy for running when I was practically unknown. And so I challenged him, "What will make me win?"

A political strategist as he is, he gave me a long "to do" list and I followed it to the letter. When I won, the first thing I said to my brother was "See, I told you I can do it!"

I won a second term and then a third term. After my last term in Congress, I vied for the Senate. Again, my brother told me I was crazy. But I was confident. I never failed in whatever I did.

Somehow in the process, I forgot my successes were only God's favors. Pride crept into my being, into my heart.

When I won a seat in the Senate, I felt I was on top of the world. Sikat na sikat na ako! Sometimes, even just one phone call can make a difference in the lives of others. I tasted real power. I became proud.

Sadly, I started to forget that Someone up there planned for everything. And that everything that happens in our lives, and in my case, in my own life, has a purpose.

Fortunately, the one who planned my life didn't give up on me.

One day, at the height of my political career, maybe God thought, "My child, enough with your vanities. You have to know Who is in charge here. You need a little spanking."

And so, in January 2001, in just 5 to 7 seconds God caused everything to change. My world crumbled. I became the most maligned person in this country. I was used. Abused, if I may say so.

In that darkest moment of my life I remembered my God. The Lord led me to Victory Christian Fellowship. Soon, I became a regular not because of anything but somehow because I found peace and I found joy. People were so kind to me. They were going out of their way to provide me the strength that I needed. To guide me amidst the confusion.

It has never been a very easy walk for me. Not at all. Even as I regularly attend services and my small group Bible studies, I still had struggles. One day, I came into this verse -- "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight."

Suddenly, the Word became so clear to me. This is it. This is why even after I surrendered my life to the Lord, I was still confused – because I meddled in what the Lord was doing in my life. I had not really completely submitted to His Lordship.

Tessie kept interfering with what the Lord was doing in my life. So right at that very moment, I asked the Lord, "Lord, please take over. It's not anymore about me, Lord. It is all about You."

The Bible says that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Now, I came to fully understand that God lifts us up then breaks us in order to make us whole again.

That was exactly what happened to me in 2001. God broke me so that He can mold me, according to His ways.

As I studied the Word of God, I realized that for me to really enjoy His forgiveness, I also have to seek forgiveness from the people I have hurt. I realized that I have hurt the sensibilities of a lot of people for that what I did during the impeachment trial.

So in every opportunity that I have, I took it upon myself to ask for forgiveness from those who were hurt by my arrogance, by my haughtiness. It has not been easy. Yet, in so doing, I have seen how God has truly blessed me.

I used to keep on looking for a leader. But now I have stopped because I have found Him, my one True Leader. Now, I am very sure my Leader will always be here to guide me, to enlighten me, to tell me what to do. Now I have found a Leader who will always be there for me, to fight for me, One who will never leave me.

- End -