"Don’t lie, don’t cheat, be kind, be respectful…"
As a little kid, I was bombarded with these words by people around me. It was always followed with, “Or else Jesus would be mad at you.”
It was that fear of making Jesus angry that prodded me to be cautious of all my actions. I remember that in everything I did, I would look up to His image in the altar. We have His big portrait and whenever I gazed at it, His eyes were staring directly at me.
It was my desire to please Him that at an early age of ten I began reading the bible. I learned to love parables which made my two younger sisters considered me as weird because I would spend my summer vacations reading.
My mother taught us how to pray the rosary at a very young age. She recited it in Spanish (or Latin? I’m not really sure) that I couldn’t remember much except, “Arapronorbis” I spelled it as I pronounced it that time.
What does it mean? I guess it’s “Pray for us”, because I could recall that it was almost at the latter part whenever we would say it. Oh, I also remember the words, “Santificado” and “Nuestros”; I have no vaguest idea what they mean. They seemed like a far echo of yesteryears.
I have no idea either where my mother learned how to pray the rosary in this language. As my siblings and I grew up, we learned to adapt the Bicol translation and later on the English. None of us learned how to pray it the way my mother did.
The praying of the rosary sometimes ended up with me and my sisters being reprimanded for not praying quietly or not reciting our part together with my big sisters. My mother would say that God is watching us and we were not showing respect to Him.
The values instilled within me sort of rooted from fear. Fear to anger God, fear to be in hell (I had recurring nightmares because of this), and fear to make anybody mad at me. I guess nobody was successful enough to enlighten me that there’s more raison d'être why I should live with those values.
I watched my every step hoping that I won’t commit mistakes. Whenever I did, I would have sleepless nights and conscience would plague me relentlessly. It was always accompanied by bad dreams.
I became slave of my fear that before I do things, I would look up at the sky or stare at Jesus’s image in the altar hoping that I won’t make anybody mad. That trepidation guzzled my sagacity of why I should do the right things.
As I ventured in the world of maturity, I started to dig deeper why people should not cheat and lie, and be kind and respectful…without being indoctrinated by the past.
It’s not fear that’s supposed to rule how people should act but the realization that when I cheat, I’m fooling myself, when I lie I’m being dishonest with myself, when I speak ill of others it says what kind of person I am, and when I am unkind towards others it shows what kind of heart I have.
Simple rationale which could have made a big difference…
On the affirmative side, growing up that way also helped me in a manner that I became more cautious with my actions towards others. It prompted me to have deeper communion before doing anything.
Now, that I’ve grown up, my values are no longer imprisoned by fear. I came to realize that God is not an angry God; He doesn’t punish nor get mad with little kids.
Some things never changed though. I still have nightmares whenever I commit sins. The occasional white lies and unintentional cruelty towards others are enough to give me sleepless nights…not because I am afraid God would punish me but because I know that I caused pain to others.
You see, it’s the silhouette of core values positively imparted that must speak of who we are…not fear.