LIFE TESTIMONY: TUESDAY SORIANO


Someone said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart.”

I’m taking a break today from my ongoing series entitled, “Painting Inspired By A Photo”, to honor my best friend Tuesday Marie Soriano.

We came to know each other over twenty years ago.  A lot of things happened in our own individual lives, shared and unshared, but the friendship that has grown through the years is a treasure I cherish and thank God for.

With permission, I am honored and privileged to post her life testimony in this site.  It is a  life that has been touched by God,  transformed by His power, and being molded for her good and destined for His glory.

To you dear reader, it is my prayer that God may draw you near and that you may come to a seeking knowledge of His saving grace.   My hope lies not from the freedom of your will but from God’s sovereignty and the freeness of His infinite love and grace.

Mapped Out for Life

I received the Lord out of sheer desperation.

I am the eldest of 5 children. My mom was a public school teacher, my dad, a court stenographer, a baker, a house builder, a jack of all trades. My dad lost his job during my teenage years and my mom’s meager income sustained the family until she retired.

I did well during my primary and high school years. But lacking sufficient funds to send me to college, and hoping I would take over in providing for the family, my dad pulled strings to get me into college under a scholarship program.

But I was too shortsighted, only interested in hanging out with friendly classmates who taught me how to drink and smoke and took me to parties. After a year and a half of college, I dropped out.

My dad was furious and threatened to pull a gun to my head. Fearing for my life, my lola bought me a one way ticket to Manila. I was 19 when I boarded the plane. I felt excited and apprehensive, and unrealistically thought I would easily find work. Fortunately, my mom had called an uncle to pick me up at the airport. Had she not done that, I would have ended wandering the streets.

I lived with my uncle for a few months until I found work at a small American company. On the side, I joined an escort service agency. The job sounded simple and easy enough—accompanying or escorting corporate executives to meetings and events wherever in the world—naively thinking that it was a fun and great way to meet a prospective boyfriend.

I saw that men were interested in me and thought they were sincere in their intentions whenever they said ‘I love you”. I enjoyed their attention and did not realize that they fed my deep desire to be accepted and loved.

One of these men became a steady relationship that lasted a few months. I was reckless and didn’t consider the consequences of my actions. I was 20 when I became pregnant. The father of my baby chose to marry another woman.

Being unmarried and pregnant at that time was unacceptable, seen by society as a disgrace. As a result, I lost my job, most of my so-called friends disappeared, and I soon ended without a single cent in my pocket.

Of course, I couldn’t go home to Cebu and approach my parents for help. My dad had repeatedly said that he’d shoot me if I brought home with me an illegitimate child. So I relied on friends to get by. A former roommate took pity on me and shared her small room with me.

On the 8th month of my pregnancy, friends introduced me to an American missionary couple who were training Filipino students in Manila to be Christian missionaries. The couple shared the gospel with me and sobbing uncontrollably, I accepted Christ as Lord and Savior.

Jim Peck, the mission center administrator, and his wife Nancy, became my foster parents. They took me into their home at the mission center compound in Bulacan. I had my meals with the missionary students and while waiting to give birth, I helped out in the mission center office.

On May 1982, I gave birth at a small local hospital. Nancy Peck later testified that I had given birth lying on newspapers. All I remember was the great discomfort and pain.

Raising a baby on my own was more difficult than I imagined. Deep within me, I vowed I’d never let this happen to me again.

A month later, the Pecks endorsed me to a foster Filipino family who kindly took me and my baby into their home. They treated me like family and as soon as I was able, I went back to work and found a place to rent.

I earned too little to hire a babysitter or helper and without help, I couldn’t leave the baby alone while I worked. A cousin offered to help by taking my son and bringing him to their home in the province where her mom, my aunt, cared for him.

I soon forgot I had a child and did not send support faithfully.

Of course, being “single” once again swept me into the Manila party scene.

In 1985, friends introduced me to a Singaporean who worked at one of the top hotels in Manila then. I didn’t exactly like him at first but somehow, we ended up talking and burning the phone lines with nonsense conversation and dating regularly.

A few months later, he joined a Swedish hotel chain as head of their food and beverage operations in Xian, China. To cut a long story short, we ended up living together.

During the next 10 years, from 1985 to 1994, he moved from being food and beverage manager and became general manager of several hotels.

I lived a pampered life as the general manager’s wife—I didn’t need to wash dirty dishes, I didn’t need to scrub floors, I didn’t need to do the laundry. My business was to look good and play the part of the supportive spouse.

While he worked in hotels, I worked with foreign embassies that hired expatriate wives as staff. We traveled all over the world on holiday breaks.

On our 10th year together, at the peak of his career, he was assigned to manage one of the top hotels in Hong Kong. We planned to get married before moving only because it would be difficult to obtain a resident visa for me. In any case, this never happened.

While waiting, I flew to Cebu to take a short break and visit family. During a routine medical check, I learned I was pregnant. Because we didn’t plan on having a baby, the pregnancy made me feel both excited and apprehensive.

He made room for the baby in the future apartment in HK while I waited it out in Cebu because it was a sensitive pregnancy. I was advised not to travel if I wanted to keep the baby.

On the 8th month of my pregnancy, on his birthday, I called to greet him a happy birthday. And in response, he told me simply that he was confused, that he’d decided to cut off the relationship, and that he wanted out. After 10 years together.. I was shocked.

I was asked not to worry. I was told to be strong, I was told I would do fine—convenient and empty words, utterly irresponsible and under the circumstances, absolutely absurd.

For a split second, I wanted to slice my bulging belly off.

It seemed like God was playing a joke on me. Because the circumstances were, in my view, absurd and abrupt, I thought it was temporary. I thought it was a mood swing. One day he will return, I thought. But then that one day became a week, weeks became months, months became years.

Through the years, I struggled and tried to go through each day without feeling so helpless, hopeless and lonely and down and feeling miserable.

He had shipped all my clothes to me. These were all I got for the 10 years of being together. The parallel wasn’t lost on me. For the second time around, I ended with nothing, with not a single cent, and no job. Only this time, I was with my family.

I bore my child in 1995, a beautiful boy, perfectly carved from head to toe. But the pain of childbirth seemed magnified by the hurt in my heart.

Despite his decision, the father of my baby flew to Cebu for the birth and signed the birth certificate. He stayed until my baby and I were well enough to leave the hospital.

At home after he left, I laid my baby on the bed and said through tears, “Well, kid, it’s just you and me now.” And this little baby looks at me and gave me this most beautiful smile.. I’ll never forget.

Six months later, I went back to work and tried rebuilding my life. I was 34 then. And I was desperate. I recall sitting alone in a huge Catholic church in the city, praying for relief, seeking to be comforted, needing to hear from God and each time, I’d leave still feeling empty.

By divine providence, in God’s perfect timing, an old friend I hadn’t seen in years visited me. We met at the bar in the hotel I worked in. By then, I was drinking and smoking heavily.

For 10 years, she said she faced poverty in the eye, often left with nothing in the cupboard. And on top of it, she had to cope with an adulterous husband and faced insurmountable debts. From practicing sorcery and the occult, she had become a believer in and a follower of Jesus Christ. Broken in spirit and stripped to nothing, she found it easier to yield and accept the Lord as her savior and Lord. She found freedom from fear of anything and anyone. Despite the ordeal she’d been through, she found peace, and best of all, she spoke of being loved.

She looked me in the eye and said, look to Christ, he heals. Let your goal be God himself, not peace, not joy, not religion, not cleansing nor blessings, but God himself.  His terms are quite simple—that you go to Him, not He come to you, for He already has made himself available to you.  It is you who must say, “I want you in my life. You come into my life, Lord.”

She held my hands and said, “God loves you. The Bible says, ‘For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.’”

She said that I did not need to do anything or get cleaned up before I approach Him. All I needed to do was accept Christ and his cross and believe that what God says, he will do.

Sobbing my guts out, I gave my life to Christ in total surrender. I recall praying, Lord, if you are indeed real, hear my prayer. I’m sorry for all my sins. I believe Jesus is your son and I believe he died on the cross for me. I now accept your gift of eternal life. From today, do what you wish of my life.

My life since then changed irrevocably. By the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, I quit smoking right there and then. I stopped being irritable and angry at the world. I started reading the bible. I wanted to know more and more about the ways of God. I couldn’t get enough of it, everywhere I went I carried with me a small player and listened to pastors’ preaching whenever I could. My family was surprised at the change in me and asked my friend what she did to me. Of course, it was God at work in me.

Through the years, God has been gracious in providing good jobs that earned more than enough to support my son and me.

From the day my baby was born in 1995 until now, I’ve been a multitasker—juggling between raising my child, at the same time working to earn a living, managing a household, and often fighting discouragement and frustration.

Along the way, I met several men who I thought were potential lifetime partners. But they turned out to be all wrong for me.

In 2007, I met another Christian man whom I thought was God’s will for a lifetime partner for me. But it wasn’t to be. Three times during the 2-year relationship, he would say ‘I love you’ and change his mind.

Somehow, this short obsessive relationship left me with this incredibly deep ache in my heart. It messed me up completely—and left me powerless, not knowing what to do, what to think, and how to stop hurting. The pain literally kept me awake all night and no matter how hard I tried, I just could not shake it off. I didn’t want to close my eyes to sleep because it seemed like this big dark hole was going to suck me into it. I cried desperately to God for help. I didn’t want to stay angry and hurt for the rest of my life.

Help came when I joined the Glorious Hope recovery program of Christ Commission Fellowship in Manila. Through the sessions, God showed me that because I was raised a spoiled brat, my issues were rooted in a fear of rejection and a deep desire to be accepted. And because I was manipulating circumstances toward what I wanted, I was distrusting God and did not believe that He is in control.

God took hold of my thoughts, filtered only those that were from Him, reprogrammed the distorted thoughts I had about Him, and showed me how to process my anger and hurt.

I realized that if God is indeed omniscient over my life, I must believe that He is also omniscient over my relationships. This means that no relationship should affect me more than God’s relationship with me.

Up until now, God has been gracious to show me how he loves me unconditionally. He has shown himself to be a sovereign God who is in control of my life when he led me to LCA as a school for my child and now to LCF as a church.

In this church, I have seen Christian love in action extended to me not just once but many times over. It is here that I’ve learned by faith to put my expectations in God and not in man.

It hasn’t been an easy journey but I found in Christ the source of love. He is my peace, my solace, my comfort, and my love. In him, I see the stark contrast between man’s love which is inconsistent, changing, and unstable, and His that is consistent, constant, and faithful, a love that no man on earth can ever match, a love that does not abandon, a love that has my interests at heart, a love that responds and delivers without fear.

I was an angry and hurt person, sinful in every way, intent only in pleasing myself. But He gave me not just one, but two, three and many more chances and redeemed me at that cross.

Romans 8:1 says that there is now therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.

To God be all the glory.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to obtain an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade away,reserved in heaven for you, who are protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

-1 Peter 1:3-5 NASB

NEW CREATION

24″ x 24″ Acrylic on Canvas

Lyn Deutsch 2007

Original Painting is available for sale.

Price: US$450

 

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