Felichi Pangilinan-Buizon: Growing In Grief

Felichi Buizon is one of the hosts of CBN Asia’s 700 Club whose website describes her as a “home-schooling mom, gospel songwriter, and seminar speaker on parenting and early childcare. She is involved in the ministry of teaching at her local church, Christ’s Commission Fellowship.”

Felichi Buizon
Felichi Buizon

I met Felichi one Wednesday at CCF last year when my dear friend, Peggy informed me that there was going to be a talk about Israel.  It turned out that we were late one week so instead, we attended Welcome Wednesday and got assigned to Felichi’s small group.

Last March at the three-day OMF Literature Writing Workshop with Miriam Adeney,  Felichi and I were assigned to the same table. On one of our many happy eating breaks, I told her I heard her son give his testimony at CCF of the time he turned away from what he was taught and I asked if she could give insights for BITS readers on her journey as a mother through that season. Sharing that chat with you:

BUTTERFLYINTHESPRING (BITS): Can you share a little bit about what you went through?

FELICHI BUIZON (FB): My husband and I agreed that we would put our homeschooled kids into mainstream education after elementary. My son’s turn came. At that time, he was into soccer. He got into the Soccer Varsity Team. Though he joined as a freshman, he got to meet the juniors and seniors as well.  He got exposed to boys with vices, enjoying things that my son never tried. They started teasing him saying he was sobrang mabait [too good] which probably made him feel alienated. Unknown to us, he began to make wrong choices. He got into smoking, drinking.
My husband and I ask the Lord to reveal to us if our children are into things that are not pleasing to Him, so that we can do something about it. God is faithful, I eventually found out.  Actually I already knew there was something brewing because our son became very quiet, when he used to be more conversant and transparent.  I’d ask him how school was but he wouldn’t say much.  I thought it was just puberty, he doesn’t wanna chika [chat] with his mama. Or it was a challenge for him to adjust. Slowly, he was succumbing to peer pressure. When I found out, it was painful.  I felt betrayed. Disillusioned. What did I do wrong? This was not the outcome that I was hoping for, having sown into their lives for so many years. We taught them about the Lord, His ways. Of course as a parent, we were hoping that these would be instilled in them and that they will not stray from it…  I felt really discouraged. I would find myself pouring my heart out to the Lord and questioning… “I thought You promised me this and You promised me that…”

When we are in that position, discouraged and desperate, it’s beautiful that we have a refuge in God. As I released all my distresses to Him, in the quietness of my heart,

the Lord reminded me, “Trust me, Felich. I’m doing something in the life of your son.  You may not like it, but I’m in control. I’m sovereign.”

The sovereign nature of God helped me to just keep going. I wanted to really reprimand my son, deprive him of certain privileges— the reactions that a parent would normally have. But I took the cue from my husband. My husband was not reactive. He was calm. I would say that was an answered prayer. I was thankful that by God’s grace, he said, “We’ll just talk to him (our son).” That moment when we confronted him, I already prepared what I was going to say.

My prayer was, “Lord, whatever happens, don’t let me get in the way of what You want to do.  When we talked to him [our son], I prayed, “Holy Spirit, take over.  I, who had so much to say, didn’t say anything the whole time. It was only my husband who spoke and when my son admitted what was happening, instead of my husband correcting or reprimanding him, my husband hugged my son.  I couldn’t say anything anymore. I was overwhelmed by the grace. I was ashamed by the thought that I would have just further discouraged my son if I said my piece. I was so thankful that that’s how it turned out. The Lord did take over.Changes did not come overnight. I was thankful that despite his confusion, he continued to have Christian friends. So he did not turn away from them.  One time he was in a youth event, he heard the gospel all over again and for some reason, the grace of God touched him and he just realized, “What am I doing? Why am I doing what i’m doing?” He realized that God wanted him to go back. That was his turning point when he finally recognized that he was lost and that he needed to go back.

From that time on, he let go of those vices, and eventually, agreed to give his testimony (in church).  I just thank God that it was not a long journey in the wilderness for him. He came back and immediately, he hooked up with his Christian friends and he began taking the Word more seriously. Now he’s serving in the music ministry and he’s still growing in the Lord just like all of us. I’m just so thankful.

BITS: When you were raising him, your husband and you were united in raising him in the Lord, was that very clear to your son?

FB: Yes, but of course my husband and I are not perfect.  Like him, we are constantly learning. We may have the same goal of raising him in the Lord’s way but our approaches can be way different at times. We have our own faults in terms of acknowledging our son.  He felt at one time that we put more emphasis on performance rather than the heart; that’s a fault of ours.  We are still in the process of reconciling the different way we see things. I can’t say we completely understand each other already but by God’s grace, communication lines are open.

BITS: Your son sharing his testimony was through the Dgroup?

FB: Yes

BITS: Were you surprised?
FB: Yes. Initially I was hesitant. It seems so close to my heart. I felt baka [maybe] I’ll feel bad again. But the Lord was telling me it’s not up to me nor about me. The commitment of my children to their God is not up to me. Even if i wanna take credit sometimes. It’s really the Lord. He’s the increase in the lives of our children. We can’t say “because I raised him.”

BITS: That time when you felt betrayed, was it by your son or by God?
FB: Both.

I felt let down by God. I knew also in my heart of hearts that God couldn’t make a mistake, that He’s perfect. He wouldn’t do anything to purposely hurt me and my family.  I just admit it because I felt it. What’s so  beautiful with the Lord is you can express to Him exactly how you feel without feeling condemned. But I soon got over that.  It wasn’t very long, because I made a choice to trust in His character, trust in His nature, that He wants what’s best for us, that none of this pain is needless and that He’s going to make sense of all of this in His time. I don’t have to be like a brat and insist that He makes me understand everything.

I also felt betrayed by my son.  For some reason, our children cannot really understand the hurt that they bring to us because maybe they’re not parents yet. Their perspective is different. Someday, I just know it will all make sense. My son will probably come up to me and say, “Mom, now I understand.” Meanwhile, even if that hasn’t taken place, I don’t want that to take away my joy that he is back with the Lord and growing in Him.

BITS: If you were to put a title to this chapter in your life, what would it be?

FB: I just wrote this kanina, Growing In Grief.

BITS: How much grief do you have now?

FB: I don’t know how to measure but I feel the Lord gives us a certain amount of it so that we will also identify with Him… as a suffering servant.  It’s there; it’s not like it’s on top of my mind all the time but whenever it passes, I feel it but I know that God is using it to just really draw me closer to Him.

BITS: If there’s a parent undergoing this kind of journey, what would you tell that parent?

FB: Take your pain to the Lord. Take your confusion, questions… pour it out to Him. He’s the only one who truly, truly understands. Hes’ the only one who can exchange all of those with His peace, with His wisdom, with the next steps you need to do in order to continue loving your child through the valley.

BITS: Was there a particular faith lesson you picked up as a parent?

FB: We cannot protect our children from a fallen world, only the Lord can do that.  We may not be able to protect them from the attacks and wrong choices they make but we can assure them that when they fail, we’ll be here. We will keep loving them no matter what.

BITS: It’s a high calling no? You suffer as they go through it.

FB: That’s why you can only do it by grace.  That’s why as parents, we all need a heavenly Parent to empower us and help us.

BITS: Do you in some way identify with the child?… with God  being the Prodigal’s Father and we needing to go back to Him… like ‘I’m to God like my son is to me’?

FB:  Of course, of course, of course. Sometimes it may not be peer pressure that pulls you down; it can be self-righteousness, lack of compassion. It happens to all of us. It’s like when you walk with the Lord, it’s really a life of getting lost and coming back, di ba? It’s just making the choice of coming back, again and again, as you grow.

With Miriam Adeney, OMF Family, and fellow classmates at the Nonfictionwritingworkshop OMF Literature. March 2015

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