Liao Xinci

Taiwan: "To let God love me"

Liao Xinci received Baptism in Taipei during the Easter vigil. A story that began eight years ago when she met some friends from CL in college, and that she recounts today in this letter…

My name is Liao Xinci (Allegra). I was a student in the Italian department of the Fu Jen Catholic University in Taipei. There, eight years ago, I learned about Christianity and the CL community. Before university, I only knew how to study: it was the only thing that could feed my self-esteem. I went from elementary school to middle school without too many hiccups. I was always very good at it and did well in school. In high school, however, I began to notice that my classmates were much better than me, and that I couldn't catch up. Everything I believed in and had built up in my mind, the image of my worth, my beliefs - which inexorably coincided with my performance - collapsed and no longer made sense. I was always sad, there was a huge emptiness in my heart and my mind was full of questions: I don't know who I am, what is the purpose and meaning of life. These were difficult questions for me to deal with at that time, they were abstract and unanswerable. I didn't know who to talk to or how to express them, I felt that I had many unresolved knots inside. I tried to find answers by going to the school psychologist, but I don't even remember what he told me that day. I hadn't received any answers or comfort. I had realized that I didn't know how to do anything but take exams and study.

With these questions and the knot in my heart, I went to college. At first I tried to participate in numerous clubs, activities, listened to talks, read inspiring and soul comforting books. I cheered myself up, and for a while I was active, but it didn't take long for me to give up: all it took was for the results not to be as good or perfect as I expected, to make me stop. I was afraid of failure, so it was better not to do anything to not risk it. But when I quit, I would later blame myself, "Why didn't I try harder? Why didn't I push?" I was searching for something, always measuring myself against successful, talented, courageous people; I hoped I could become that strong and useful. Until one day, a professor, Fr. Emanuele, invited all of us students to School of Community. The fellow who was sitting next to me at the time had been there several times before and told me it was very interesting. So I went.

I was immediately drawn to their music, their warmth, and their joy, and I began to wait expectantly; I was waiting for our next meeting because I wanted to continue to experience that joy of being with them. I felt I could finally be like a child. I didn't have to prove myself, I didn't need to please others, I just "wanted" to be happy. I remember when I would meet a priest on campus and would sometimes be able to muster up courage and ask: Can I give you a hug? The warmth and reassurance brought by that embrace was something I had never experienced with my parents. Yet I had only known them for a few weeks. That's what we read in the book we are working on: "You recognize it right away because it really corresponds to your heart.”

Friends from CL have the happiness and peace I desire, they take life very seriously, they tell you that everything has meaning and is a gift: you are, he is, and so am I! I have heard from them that there is Someone who loves you no matter what you do, who affirms all your goodness, your patience, your tenderness and weakness, your anxiety, your emptiness, the good and the bad. I think the desire we often talk about - the desire to be happy - is hard to admit: it's seemingly simple, but not easy. Yet it needs to be acknowledged, otherwise doing anything becomes boring, without meaning or direction.

I have often thought about how beautiful it would have been if I had met the movement sooner: I could have been loved sooner, been happy sooner, understood the meaning of life sooner. But now I just think: what a grace that God has encountered me, and that you will be there in the days to come.

This certainty gradually made its way into my heart and new values were established. My encounters with CL were fruitful and moving, but I would return to normal life, family and work, and often it was as if I had had a beautiful dream, far from normality, indeed almost in conflict with it, for example concerning the way of loving, what true justice is... All this started to make me doubt myself. More doubt and self-criticism: why can't I do this? Why can't I find peace? I pray, I work hard, and I put in a lot of effort. Why is it so easy to be defeated by reality, to be weak and still unsure about the purpose of life? Yet I am constantly reminded: I am not alone, I am loved, I have value.

Now it’s different. Before I needed to "create" my worth and meet certain standards to be considered a good student, daughter, friend, and colleague. Like awards. Now I fall and someone picks me up; I fell and was picked up.

I thought that all my problems would be resolved with these friends, and I kept believing that if I kept working hard, I would have a breakthrough, that when I got good enough, everything would be okay. Because, if God is on my side, He will hear my prayers, right? Isn't He all-powerful?

During the second half of 2021 I encountered many difficulties that I could not control at work and in my family. Unexpected events. But even though we say at our meetings that unexpected things happen, I couldn't understand what was so good about these "unexpected" things. I just felt helpless, angry, a victim of injustice, even abandoned, and I kept asking myself: Where is hope? Where is God?

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Even when I decided to be baptized, these words of despair came back to me, and so I felt unprepared, afraid that I could not be a good Christian. I imagined that asking for Baptism would be like a lightning strike, as it was for Saint Paul. I thought that all my problems and pains would disappear and I would decide to believe in Jesus. But they didn't. The moment when I really desired it, I began going to catechism to be baptized at Easter. And it was an ordinary moment.

I am as fragile as before, an ordinary person who often gets lost,
but Fr. Giussani says, "Do you know why we failed? Do you know why we made mistakes? Do you know why we were distracted? Do you know why we were despicably, despicably forgetful? Do you know why we betrayed a hundred times, a thousand times yesterday? Do you know why? God permitted it so that today, now, you can use this disaster as a tool to remember Him...” He allows it! That means I don't have to do anything, but just let Him love me! God doesn't love me because of how strong or brave or good I have become. And maybe that's what faith is all about, "信" (believing) and "仰" (looking up): a simple act, but one that requires work, perseverance and the courage to look up and say, "Yes, I do! I want to be Your daughter, I want to grow up in Your arms, I want to belong to You forever!"

Liao Xinci, Taipei, Taiwan