Clarissa (second from right) and her cell group during her School Of Christian Leadership in 2019.
Photo: Clarissa Sim.
Leaning on God’s strength
Amidst the challenges of serving, God desires the renewal of Clarissa’s heart as she serves Him as a teen catechist.
Growing up in a Catholic family of five, I often felt invisible because there were so many of us, like I was the kid that no one really remembered or cared about. This loneliness developed into a belief that I was unimportant and did not matter. In time, I began to feel that I was too insignificant for God too.
God’s relentless pursuit
In my heart, I knew that God loved me but I found it challenging to believe it. I could not help but feel that He had more important matters to take care of, and this made me set my faith on cruise control. My faith journey plateaued, which later led me to leave the Church on multiple occasions. In 2018, my parish, the Church of Our Lady of Perpetual Succour, was in need of more catechists. The responsibility of guiding God’s children felt like a heavy and daunting mission, one that I was not prepared for. Yet, with the prompting from the Holy Spirit, I answered the call and joined the catechetical ministry. A L9 class which was preparing to be confirmed the following year was placed under my care and I had to manage different levels of receptivity among the teenagers. Some would excitedly listen to anything shared with them about Jesus and the truths of our faith, while others seemed less open, sceptical, and sometimes even resistant to my efforts. The challenge of encouraging the young teens in their faith whilst my own faith was rocky felt like God was silently telling me not to give up and never forsake Him.
The challenges of service
In 2019, I went through a difficult period in my life but by the grace of God, He prompted me to attend the School of Christian Leadership conducted by the Office for Young People. It was through this retreat that I came to recognise that God had been merciful and relentless in His pursuit of me. He had been waiting for me to come home to Him and surrounded me with His helpers who kept drawing me back to Him, even when I struggled to follow Him. Their genuine love and care for me helped me to realise the abundance of His grace and mercy in my life, and how truly important and significant I was and will always be to Him. I continued to grapple with managing challenging classroom situations. There were times when I would get caught up in the checklist of tasks I needed to complete to fulfil my responsibility as a catechist, and other times when the demands of service wore me down and added to the weight of the mission.
A gentle reminder of His love
In serving however, I have been brought closer to Him, allowing Him to stretch me and mould my heart to grow in His likeness. Once, together with my class, I had the privilege of spending time with Jesus in Eucharistic Adoration, and to sit in His divine love and embrace. This experience reminded me that God is the initiator who desires to draw closer to us, His beloved children, and that His love dwells in each of our hearts. I was prompted to enter into a greater partnership with Him and trust that He would do what I am unable to. After all, He is the most creative, the richest in resources, the best builder, the most patient, loving and passionate being and mentor. He is my chief shepherd and I desire to be His assistant working under His authority.
Giving Him my heart
Throughout this journey, God continues to lighten the weariness of my heart. I have come to realise how focusing on each challenge was a short-sighted view of the greater mission that God sent me for. I am reminded that Jesus doesn’t make my cross smaller, but instead, He carries the weight of this mission with me and brings people along the way to share and lighten the weight of the cross. I have learnt to be more God-dependent and to lean on His limitless strength rather than rely on my own.
Each one of us has been blessed with gifts from God, and it is our stewardship responsibility to utilise these gifts to serve the Lord and His people. Let us now answer this call from God and give back to the Lord for all the many blessings He has given in our lives, for it is when we give ourselves to God that we truly receive.