522614_200377533419633_212951722_n(by Marie Relucio, FLiQ Media)

I joined Singles in March 1995.  18 years ago.  I was 22 years old and I was ready to conquer the world.  After I graduated from the Christian Life Program, all the good opportunities started coming my way:  I got hired to work for one of Asia’s best employers … I fell in love and had my first boyfriend… I was actively serving in singles… I pursued MBA studies.  I was on a roll.  But in the process, the world conquered me.

I was earning a living, but not gaining a life.  I had huge debts to pay because of my credit card lifestyle.  I got heartbroken, and afterwards, I got into the wrong romantic relationships.  I made up one lie after another, put on different masks to hide my guilt, my insecurities and fears.  I was too proud to admit that I needed help.  In the end, God entered in and conquered my world.

My life was on its way to a disastrous ending, but God, through SFL, gave me a U-turn pass … a second chance… a fresh start.  Talunan na, naipanalo pa ni God.  Thank God for households, for patient household leaders, for brothers and sisters who were committed to help me move forward.  Actually, it felt more like a fast forward.  God rocked my world and He literally made everything new.  New job.  New lifestyle.  New places.  New friends.

In 2007, I resigned from my high-paying job of 11 years …  I paid off all my debts … and went to Latin America as a fulltime missionary.  I came back here in 2009, and continued to serve as a missionary for SFL in Mindanao and later in Metro Manila.  And since last year, I have moved to FLIQ Media, our community’s exciting Media Ministry.  And God continues to rock my world.

God taught me so many things in SFL.

While in SFL, I learned that developing good relationships is more important than giving a good talk. I met my best friends, the friends I’ll keep for life in this community.

While in SFL, I learned about giving.  In the beginning, I thought I needed community to give me something for my spiritual nourishment.  But through the years, I realized community life is not so much as to what I can get out of this, but what I can give.  The more I gave of myself, of my time, talent and treasure, the more I actually received.

While in SFL, I found my true love.  Knowing God’s unconditional love and mercy for me is the best gift that SFL has given me. His is the greatest love of all.  All the other love I have in my life now – from family, friends, brothers and sisters – all are but a bonus… a small reflection of God’s highly-extravagant love for me.

God used all 18 years I have been in SFL to teach me all these and so much more.  My life in SFL has been one beautiful faith journey from a life of brokenness to a life of wholeness.  This brings me to ponder the question:  What happens next after SFL?  Am I ready for Handmaids for Family and Life?  I used to be afraid of the thought of becoming a Handmaid.  I thought it was an end-of-the-road ministry.  Deadend. Wala ng pupuntahan.  Hindi na ako makakapag-asawa. But will I let these fears overshadow the great wonders that God already did and continues to do in my life?

And so, today, I am happy to declare that I am turning 40 this March – happily single, happily healthy and happily serving in this community.  God has blessed me with a sense of peace to be able to say that this is going to be my last WSC as an SFL member.  I turn 40 on Good Friday, and this season of Lent  has been like walking in the way of the cross.  Today, in particular, His word for me is this:  “It is finished.”  By the grace of the Lord, I believe my faith journey as a single young woman is now complete, and I am overwhelmingly grateful to SFL for making this possible for me.

They say life begins at 40.  But for me, life began the day I knew about God’s love.  SFL was a significant instrument in making the truth of God’s love come alive for me. In SFL, God molded me into the happy, contented, and strong woman that I am now.

I am excited to experience the greater things God has planned for me in Handmaids for Family and Life.  Yes, there are fears.  But this is the Year of Faith – a year that comes with a special grace to overcome all fears.  For me, this is the perfect time.  I don’t know what will happen to me in Handmaids.  But I am certain of this:  that the God who did great wonders in my life in SFL is the same God who will work miracles in my soon-to-begin life in Handmaids.  I am certain that God will continue to make all things new for me as I step into the unknown.  I no longer ask if I am ready for Handmaids, for that is really up to God.  I pray instead that God will grant me the grace to be a good handmaid, like Mama Mary.  And so next month, I declare that I will be an official first-time participant to the World Handmaids Congress!

Life begins at 40?  Nah. Life begins in Christ.  And because of SFL, because of brothers and sisters like you, I met Christ.  Thank you, SFL!  Now, I put this faith in God’s promise of ‘greater things’. Life, I know, is just about to go from good to better to best!   I am Marie Relucio and I will make my faith bigger than my fears!