I Have Found My Inner Joy
By Jinky Ucol
Evangeline “Jinky” Ucol is from Magsaysay, Occidental Mindoro. She joined the Columban lay missionary team PH 24 with Lily Faunillan and Jake Lunor, and left for Fiji in October 2017 for a three-year mission.
At 2AM, the phone rang asking me to bless the dead. By the time I reached the hospital room, the family was grieving and the dead body was already covered. That was good timing, otherwise it would have been difficult for a first-timer like me to bless the dead person. I was a bit scared and hesitant. Questions came into mind: What do I do now? How will I show my sympathy to the family? Basic questions that we are confronted with in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).
At 4PM on that same day, while doing my rounds, I passed by a woman of about my age who was hysterical. Her father had just died. I tried to comfort her. Then, I accompanied her to see her father. I saw the dead body that had been her father. I held it. What I did not witness that morning, I witnessed in the afternoon – just another experience we had to deal with in CPE. The woman's grieving was so intense that unconsciously I cried too. It was a sudden death and she could not accept it yet. She asked, “Why my father, when all that he was is a good man?” I did not know how to help her. I went home heavy-hearted.
That was my struggle with CPE at that time. I did not yet know enough. Later on, I learned how to handle my emotions; I learned not to absorb the negative energies, and opted to pray for others.
I learned later that when practicing CPE, I did not have to do anything; I only had to listen. But that was a big thing for the patients and their families. I did not need to know what to say to comfort them, much more how to answer their questions. Listening was the only thing I could offer.
I found it difficult to be truly sincere in listening to others when I have many distractions. CPE has called me to grow in my ability to listen. In listening, I learned the virtue of humility as I freed myself from my tendency to be judgmental.
To become humble, I had to admit to myself that I cannot control everything. Just when I would boast to myself that I can save the world and help everyone, I was confronted with the fact that I am powerless and can do nothing. There are things in life that are best dealt with by surrendering them to God. I can pray about them; I can accept that I can only do so much and, then, I must let God take care of them. When I realized that, my encounters, no matter how heavy the situations were, felt lighter.
Because of what I learned, I did enjoy my CPE.
Columban lay missionary PH 24
I also learned to be person-oriented. In the past, when students or friends approached me, I pretended to listen without really hearing what they said, because I was too focused on myself and the work I was trying to do. Now, I have learned to spend quality time with others and have become sensitive to their feelings.
Later, I was assigned in the patients' ward with cases of myoma. When the patients told me about their scheduled operation, I normally asked them how they felt. They would express how scared they were. Many shared their anxieties and then cried. I tried to comfort them by saying that I understood how they felt, but the truth was, I never really understood. Being able to listen somehow gave me a sense of fulfillment but it's a lot different when you are the one in the situation.
When I learned that I needed to be operated on for myoma, I cried. I had not expected this. That was the most difficult part for me. I remembered all those other patients during and after my operation. Now I really understood. I could feel with them. Being in their shoes made me grow in mercy and compassion. I can now relate with sympathy and sincerity with these kinds of patients.
God prepared me emotionally, spiritually and also physically. Before my diagnosis and operation for myoma, I could hardly accept any changes. But with my operation, I have learned to accept my situation, receive the generosity of other people, of what they can offer to help me in my needs, and the love they have freely given me. Because I am rather used to serving other people, giving instead of receiving, I used to be shy to accept the small and big things others offer me. However, I have now learned to recognize that each person has the capacity to give, and the more that I receive, the more that I can give.
I have been blessed to feel inner joy. Most of the time I stayed alone inside my room after my operation, but I was not moved to complain, neither did I feel heavy-hearted, nor was I filled with self-pity. I grabbed the opportunity to accept, to give even when I thought I had nothing to give, to be humble and to grow.
I also learned to be patient with myself, giving my body the time to heal. In the past, I was the type of person who always rushed things and expected results right away. I set my goals, planned my future and kept looking ahead. Because of this I failed to be attuned to the present moment. Now, I am learning to take things slowly, one thing at a time, one day at a time, for it is in slowing down that I get to see many things I did not see before.
God has brought me deeper into myself with this experience. I have found my inner joy. I am not yet done since my healing process may take a long time. But I am amazed at what I have realized. My thoughts, feelings and goals have been purified. Thanks be to God!