This pandemic may have caused many to become angry and resentful towards God. The writer Agvina Dicom too felt that way a long time ago when she lost her mother to acute depression.
By Agvina Dicom
SEPT 24, 2021
My fondest memories as a young child were the years spent living in Taman Garing, Rawang, in the early 1980s. It was a time embedded with countless gems of treasured moments and unforgettable experiences. Life was very simple and uncomplicated back then. I was free of the cares of this world, never knowing or even hearing of things like depression, anxiety, regret or resentment. It was a time when it felt wonderful to be alive.
All of that came to a sudden change when our family moved to Ipoh after my father’s retirement from teaching. Shortly after the move, my dearest mother went into severe depression. I was about 10 years old when it happened. It was a frightful and confusing experience for me to watch my mother go into her painful depressive episodes. There were days when she would cry endless streams of tears and express so much fearfulness from hearing strange voices that were a psychological manifestation of auditory hallucinations.
I suppose the tragic death of her one and only younger brother and the devastating news of her beloved mother having been diagnosed with final stage intestinal cancer was just too much for her to handle at one go. Even though we were always with her to comfort and support her, but she still carried a heavy load of sorrow deep within her heart.
From here onwards, my older brothers and I lived a much-altered childhood. While other children were preoccupied with playing and having fun, we were all busy helping our father to look after our dear mother. While my brothers would help dad with the outside chores, I would take care of mom by bathing her, helping her change her clothes, taking her for walks, doing the cooking and finishing up the household chores which she was too fatigued to complete.
Our years of growing up were not easy as people seemed to treat us differently; some would look at my mother strangely, and some would subtly ridicule her while others had their own judgmental remarks to pass. They did not understand the pains of her depression nor did they realise the wounds that they inflicted upon us each time they spread rumors or gossiped about her condition.
It was during these trying moments that my admiration for my father grew greater, for instead of listening to their criticisms and sinister words, he chose to continue to look after her and care for her until her dying breath. Every day my love and respect for my father grew more and more. He was a living saint in my eyes, full of loving-kindness and compassion.
For many years I was very angry with God for allowing this suffering to come upon us. I used to dread sitting through family prayers and my personal conversations with the Lord each night before I slept was that of lamentation and angst.
On the day when my dear mother died of a sudden cardiac arrest after nine years of her enduring severe depression, my anger and impatience towards God became even greater. I started to keep my distance from Him, drifting further away. I began to be more believing of what the world said of God; that He was a faraway supreme being that had no time nor interest for mere mortals, that the suffering of humans in this life was either a form of punishment or His twisted way of amusing Himself and that God and the Devil were no different from each other.
I continued to follow my dad for Sunday masses just for his sake and to keep him company but not because I wanted to attend mass out of my own accord. Slowly, I found myself being unable to relate to the mass – I would robotically recite the Rosary but my heart for some reason was not open to accepting the Blessed Virgin Mary as my Mother and the Eucharist was only an old fashioned ritual to me where the wheat host and red wine were merely symbolic representations of the Body and Blood of Christ and not really Him being present.
Whenever I prayed, I was unconvinced and doubtful of whether He was really listening and whether He genuinely cared of what I thought and what I felt, but He being our All-Knowing Father and an omnipotent God, had chosen to answer me in His own way and in His own time.
On one weekend, my dad asked me to help organise some of my mom’s books. As I was arranging them into boxes, a medium-sized, black-leather covered bible fell from the shelf. Opening it, I found a picture of the Scared Heart of Jesus and behind it were these hand-written words “Behold my wounded Heart, for very few Love Me, yet see here, for My Heart burns aflame with Love for You…and here I remain, waiting to be Loved”.
I burst into tears as I read these words over and over again for it described exactly what I was feeling. In all my resentment and anger towards Him, all I was yearning for was to be understood, to be loved and to be healed by Him. Reading these words made me realise that during all those heart-aching moments, He was always there; silently watching, fervently listening to my outpouring and patiently waiting for me to love Him in return. All this while, He had never once left me.
Slowly, yet eventually, He revealed to me the reason why we had to go through those challenging times of pain and suffering. I began to see His pre-destined purpose through my work in the lab attending to patients, during my volunteer work at the Women for Women’s Prayer and Counseling Crisis Centre and when I was serving in the Parish Integral Human Development ministry at the Church of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Puchong.
Every encounter with the poor, the sick, the marginalised migrants, the orphaned and abandoned children, the abused and mistreated women, the unwed teenage and young mothers, those struggling in broken relationships and those battling mental illnesses were all opportunities for me to reach out to these many individuals – opportunities to show understanding, to give compassion and to act with unconditional love.
In a way, I also believe that all these things that happened were God’s way of training me and preparing me to take care of my dear father when he developed Parkinson’s disease and ankyolising spondylitis years later.
During this pandemic, many people have gone through unimaginable miseries, sufferings and are heart-broken from losing loved ones. At this moment in time, all these emotionally wounded people will not be able to comprehend or accept why God had allowed these bad things to take place. Many of them will be angry and resentful towards God, just as how I was once upon a time. It is a mysterious process that God allows to unfold, that He may resolve our feelings of anger, anxiety and resentment towards Him and turn them into virtues of long-suffering, enduring patience and unshakeable faith in Him, that we may be reconciled unto Him in a stronger inseparable bond.
Now, I can honestly say that I love and cherish deeply my intimate relationship with our Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and our Lord Jesus Christ. I have begun to realise that the greater the uncertainties that lie before us, the closer They draw Themselves unto us. Now, every night before I sleep, I say this prayer unto our Lord Jesus Christ, the Lord of Divine Mercies – “Jesus, I love You; Jesus, I need You; Jesus, I trust in You”.
Agvina Dicom writes regularly for Journey With Us – Asia and these are her earlier articles:
On which side of the coin are you during this Covid-19 pandemic?
Memory of Fr Phillips Muthu lives on after four years
Church leaders in Malaysia should push for safer, ethical ways to treat Covid-19
Anthony Soosay – first sacristan at Our Lady of Guadalupe Church in Puchong – passes away
Dicom turns to God to cope with mounting Covid-19 cases