My world was falling apart
An illness ended my career, but I found an unexpected answer
I worked hard to become very successful through my adult life and military career, succeeding and achieving the highest honors. My organizing skills, self-confidence and a high-energy personality were essential in this success.
One day I met a priest who told me, “Gerardo, God has a plan for you.” As a practicing Catholic, I wanted to give more to the Church but I was afraid of commitment. A verse of the Scripture kept resounding inside, “For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted” (Lk 14:11). In my heart I knew God wanted more of me, but I kept evading him.
In 2009, I suffered an accident that affected my back and limited my physical skills. Although my wife was next to me, I felt emotionally alone. I recognized my suffering and offered it to Jesus, trusting that I would recover soon.
Yet no matter how much I tried, the pain proved too much. The lack of exercise gave me enormous anxiety, which eventually started affecting my work and skills.
Jesus was working on me. He wanted me to be humble and was “pruning my branches.” I just could not see it. But his call became louder and louder inside my heart.
One day I was preparing a written evaluation at work, and I sat at my desk for what seemed like an eternity. The words would not come out. My mind seemed confused, the words jumbled up. I could see the letters, but could not understand them. Reading and writing became impossible.
I asked myself, “What is going on?” Somehow I knew God was working hard, and at that moment I understood that he was asking me to let go and let him work.
My prayer life increased, but due to the lack of exercise, I was not able to let out my energy, and my anxiety got worse. My wife was always by my side, giving support and encouragement. I recognized the face of Jesus crucified in my own suffering and offered my illness to him. I felt as if my world was falling apart in front of my eyes.
Eventually I fell sick and ended up in the military hospital. It was the end of my military career. Everything I was, everything I worked so hard to accomplish, had vanished in a few months. “He who exalts himself will be humbled.” I felt defeated. The only thing left was a strong spiritual belief that he had a plan for me.
The recovery was hard and a humbling experience. I felt down in the dumps, but somehow I knew God wanted me to answer his call.
I became involved with several ministries at my parish. Although it was a satisfying experience, something was missing.
It was in Chiara Lubich’s words in a meditation at a local gathering of the Focolare in 2012 that lifted me up. “Let me be nothing and let him be everything” gave me the answer.
I struggle with my illness every day. However, now I offer up my little cross out of love for Jesus Forsaken. Rediscovering him has been a true blessing in my life.
– Gerry Soto, Texas
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