“And we know 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) This was the bible verse I quoted when I spoke during my trust walk the first time I attended the FAM. I told those present during that meeting that God has a reason why I was in SELF and reminded everyone that blessed is the man whose trust is in God. (Psalm 84:12)
I was like Job in that every time I would come to God during my morning quiet time (morning meeting) with Him, I would always pray for my sons. I always pray that my children would come to know Him in a very personal way. Indeed, God heard my prayer, but I never imagined He would answer me in the way He did. Like Job, I thought I was blameless before Him and only my sons needed restoration (rehabilitation).
During my time in the FAM, God started to use His behavioral shaping tools on me. God started with my conscience (pull up), making me aware that I myself am also an addict. He spoke to me (spoken to) and rebuked me (dealt with) through His word and made me aware of my addiction to pride and self-sufficiency. He used people including my oldest son, some members of the FAM, counselors, and family members to confront my infractions (haircut).
God allows trials and difficulties (learning experience) to strengthen me and allow me to grow in my faith, and when I still am stubborn He allows persecution (haircut with learning experience) and humiliation (demotion).
I was so glad that after meditating on my circumstances (reflection), I turned back to Him and accepted that I myself needed rehabilitation. Because of His great love for me, I am not consumed (Lamentation 3:22) and sent to the lake of fire, i.e., eternal separation from Him (banishment).
“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is — his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) It was difficult to change a counter-productive family system into a healthy family operating system. It involved a paradigm shift.
Like most human beings, I find it difficult to learn by insight; rather it was a lot easier for me to go through the experience. But with God’s grace such effective methods are being implemented in my environment.
As I continued to attend the FAM, little did I realize God was using the “community as method” (community as change agent) to change the negative patterns of my thinking and behavior through the group session we have during the meetings. When I am asked to share I begin to “confront myself in the eyes and hearts of others.” In this common ground I found the mirror that clearly reveals myself to me. God allowed me to experience the efficacy of self-help. As I help others by sharing and encouraging, I was helping myself; and as I help myself, I was helping others (mutual help). As God helped me appropriately and constructively identify, express, and manage my feelings, He slowly led me into the concepts of “right living”(learning personal and social responsibilities and ethics) and “acting as if” (behaving as the person should be rather than has been and being the person whom you are created to be). He was rehabilitating me. (“Relearning or re-establishing healthy functioning, skills, and values as well as regaining physical and emotional health.”) Our Heavenly Father was modifying my behaviors so that I may gain healthy attitudes as I look at life from His eternal perspective. And with the proper attitude I started to develop joyful feelings as I rediscover the values God has engraved in me from time eternal (The Values Circle). Indeed, all of us were created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27). And I thank Him for sending Jesus to reconcile (reintegrate) us to Him, to others and ourselves (Two Premises of the SELF Approach).
God is still working in me, through me and for me. I am God’s work-in-progress, “being confident of this, that He who began a good work in me will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)
As I continue on with my life, I am now “a person, part of a whole, with my share in its purpose” (TC Creed). “Though God has made me see troubles, many and bitter, God will restore my life again.” (Psalm 71:20) I believe my son, Jose Karlo, and I, Jose Bayani, “have become like a portent to many,” (Psalm 71:7) Just as SELF has become a portent to many.
“Over the years, SELF has witnessed the miracles of God as He transformed once troubled families into members with a true sense of mission in life!” (Martin R. Infante).
We “give thanks to the Lord, call on His name; make known among the nations what He has done.” (Psalm 105:1)
Praise be to God!
By: JOSE BAYANI ALILING, MD