PSALM 139

March 3, 2018 - Faith development, Grief, Immersion, Lent, School life, Social justice, Student discipleship, Youth Ministry

PSALM 139

By Hannah Post | MacKillop College Port Macquarie

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.

My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,

intricately woven in the depths of the earth.

Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:13-16

This has to be, undeniably, one of my all time favourite passages from the bible as it speaks to the immeasurable potential all people encompass. How we can be so grand, so powerful in our goodness that we could be feared. And not feared in the way that provokes anxiety about being hurt, but feared as that there is no possible way in which anyone can quantify the greatness we hold. The Psalmist speaks of how God’s gifts were being weaved and blossoming in our soul as we were knitted in our mother’s womb: in a time before we knew, He knew us before we ever came to know Him.

The way I view the world around me is defined and reflectant by the people, experiences and interactions with God throughout my short 19 years of life.

Undoubtedly I have been formed through my deep yearning to help others, to be in joyful interaction with people, especially young people brings me incomparable delight. God has planted in me an unwavering knowledge of my purpose and before I had even accepted God fully into my life I knew this was why I was created.

I have been formed by God through my own struggle and through my witness of struggle. I have always felt deeply for those who struggle, and simply by witnessing their struggle, I experience it. And my hope is to always act upon that, to not just experience but actively attempt to improve in whatever way possible, their burden.

To always move forward in love.

I’ve been beyond blessed to have the greatest resource and example of a woman of God that I have ever encountered. Ellen has been a spiritual mentor of sorts for me throughout my highschool and now young adult life and she  has been the most influential person to bring me closer to Jesus and the life of the Church. She has inspired me through her authentic ministry and her unparalleled ability to draw people in to the life of Jesus simply through the way in which she ministers and lives her life. She has shaped me uncomparably and my goal in ministry is to form and accompany my students in even just half of the way she has paved the way to Jesus for so many young people.

Who do you let influence you? Do you have an ‘Ellen’ in your life?

How I’ve been formed, is reflected in my ministry through my fierce passion for social justice and my firm belief in the power the youth have for change. I’ve been lucky enough throughout my high school life to be involved in so many social justice initiatives and events such as Street Retreat, Sleep out for the Homeless, fundraising for our school in the Solomon Islands etc and they have helped strengthen and define my passion for helping others.

My one hope is to provide students with the opportunities to be involved in the same events that I have. So we can have even more students with developed and attuned senses of compassion and kindness.

We were all made in the ‘image and likeness of God’ after all.

Especially during this time of Lent we are called to be people of service, to participate joyfully in giving to others. This is my ultimate goal, to live a life where I view everyday as almsgiving. To be constantly of service to others.

One defining moment was my experiences in Cabouya, during the Philippines Immersion experience. It redefined how I view the world around me and how I view love. The experience of living with our individual families was unbelievably humbling, you experience the most basic forms of bathing, toilets, sleeping arrangements and living conditions, and yet are showered in the deepest and most unconditional love one can imagine from strangers.

I was particularly lucky, my foster mother spoke English with ease, which made understanding and communicating a whole lot easier as I only spoke the tiniest amount of Tagalog (the national language). Together we taught each other more of our own languages.

We laughed, we teased and in the hours we spent together, I have never been so steadfast in assurance that I was seeing the face of Jesus in my Filipino family of six. Through incomparable struggle they knew more of love than most people of wealth discover in their whole lives. These people lived in what can only be described as the most basic of homes, usually only rice at every meal and yet they had the strongest sense of community identity and spirit, unparalleled to anything I have experienced before. Most of the families in my street had only one source of income and yet come lunch or dinner, unfailingly, whoever was in their house; immediate family, extended family, not even blood related children, whoever, they would be fed without a mutter of grievance or annoyance.

It is this sort of unconditional love, time and time again, that was just embedded in the lives of these Filipino people. They loved in a different way to us, in what seemed a more pure way. This pure display of love opened my eyes to how this immensity of love was only a fraction of the love God holds for us.

My dad was diagnosed with bowel cancer the February of Year 12. Dad’s sickness shaped me in a way that was both highly beneficial to my personal and spiritual journey in the long term and highly detrimental to me emotionally in the short term. This was at a time where I was already struggling to juggle my many commitments and overwhelmed by the impending pressure of school. I had turned away from Jesus, too consumed in the rigor of school. I was so drained emotionally and personally I became someone unrecognisable, a bundle of anxiety and stress. This was because Dad’s sickness was one of the only times in my recollection that my dad has ever been in a state of weakness.

He is a man defined by his strength of character and integrity, a man of faith and of support.

Two phrases and one story immediately jump to mind when I am asked to think how to summarise dad. These two phrases that come to mind are:

  1. “rip in Hanny, go hard or go home”
  2. “finish what you started, before starting something else.”

But more definingly he regularly repeats the story his Dad shared with him…

“Han I would rather sit and eat with the janitor than the CEO any and every day of the week.”

This testament honestly reflects how he lives his life and captures his genuine, robust love for anyone who’s lucky enough to be witness to his inclusive, vibrant affection. He is a humble man, aware of his wits and limitations, never overstating his accomplishments but the first to showcase others. He is a true disciple of Jesus, living out his calling in life as a father, teacher and lover. He has shaped for me the greatest example of a man, living his life in reflection of Jesus and instilled within me some of the qualities I hold most dear.

I now realise God was growing in me, through my struggle with Dad’s illness, resilience. I didn’t gain it as a result of this experience, He just reminded me of it.

Through my journey as a YMO I am constantly learning and maturing in my relationship with God and trying my best to seek out the heart of my Creator. But the simplest way in which I can summarise my faith is in my love for life dancing with my love for others, and how these cannot exist without each other.

As I know…

“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them,” Psalms 139.