By Amber Chinnapper

“Dear children, I, as a mother who loves her children, see how difficult the time in which you live is. I see your suffering, but you need to know that you are not alone. My Son is with you.  He is everywhere. He is invisible, but you can see Him if you live Him.” – 02.08.2015

 I grew up in a supportive and loving Catholic family, and for most of my childhood I was nurtured into self-confidence with an elated, care-free spirit. I struggled to maintain and recover this inner peace during the majority of my high school years. Boarding school proved to be a strenuous as I struggled to find a niche. I subsequently descended into depression, an eating disorder, and severe OCD. After countless phone calls with my parents, I decided I couldn’t continue living in such melancholy, and so I decided to strengthen my mind and positivity.

During this time, I clung to Jesus in desperation and in a kind of defence from all things and people who seemed to be a threat to my fragile inner realm. I prayed almost constantly (sometimes even whilst people were talking to me) and I delved deeper into learning more about Catholicism. Even though these have rooted me in my faith in so many beneficial ways, I was still living in doubt and fear. I wouldn’t allow myself to slip back into vulnerability in fear of imperfection and rejection. I hadn’t actually abandoned myself to God.

My stubbornness broke when a bout of unavoidable pain unexpectedly severed my bubble of control. During my first few months of varsity, my parents separated and my ‘perfect’ life I was trying to maintain was not so perfect anymore. I naturally depended on my own strength of mind and severe regimes to help counter balance the trauma, but this time I buckled.

But God was waiting for me to abandon all my earthly securities – even my own mind – into His full care. Gradually, I let go and decided to trust Him despite all the ‘flaws’ that unravelled before me. It was a daily struggle, but I practiced praying in trust of God’s plan, in abandonment instead of desperation and false security. I started to experience Jesus’ Transfiguration, His Divine presence, in my inner most being.

It was also during this phase that I truly found the immeasurable maternal love and solace of Our Mother Mary. It was like Jesus led me to her, and in turn she lead me closer to Him. And this is where Medjugorje comes in…

Medjugorje is a small town in Eastern Europe where Mary first appeared to six children in 1981. Since then, she continues to appear and many pilgrims have had their own experiences of visions, spiritual consolation, healing and conversion upon visiting this town.

After I had finished studying, I went on this life-changing adventure to Bosnia-Herzegovina. During the preparation of my pilgrimage, a special lady (who has visited Medj many times) warned me that pilgrims planning to travel to Medj are usually confronted with many trials before departure. I was not exempt from Satan’s attempts to dampen my spirit… but the more I abandoned everything to God, the more things fell into place.

I did not go to Medj in expectation of a vision, I went with an open heart for whatever spiritual enrichment the Gospa (Croation for ‘Great Lady Mary’) had in store for me. I didn’t have a ‘Saul conversion’ experience, but I definitely had a very deep, clear spiritual enlightenment that grew with each passing day. It felt/feels as if the ever-presence, truth, and all-encompassing love of God, with Mary and all the Angels and Saints, fused with my being – as if they became more tangible.

I encountered Jesus while listening to the visionaries give talks and through their Christly personas. I encountered Him in the special friends I made, in my mountain climbing, walking, stations of the cross, reconciliation which was always available, and in the Eucharist. I prayed rosaries and divine mercies with more bliss and meditative ease. My days felt so full even though they were so simple.

I found the value and peace of simple living, in a way of being that focuses not only on the eternal treasure of Heaven for oneself, but also on the fact that we each have a role to play in the salvation of all mankind. I offered up all my trials, my past pains and failures, for the conversion of sinners, and I learned that suffering, in this way, is very powerful and very beautiful.

The extraordinary little village of Medjugorje also proved to be a place of discernment in relation to my vocation.

Since a little girl I contemplated the consecrated life as a nun. By the time I was in my late teens and early 20’s, I was weighing up as to whether I was meant to marry or embrace the celibate life as a nun. There was a time when I felt deeply drawn to the latter. I made some dear friends who are nuns at my home parish, one of whom I specifically began visiting in order to gain some spiritual direction. After openly praying about both vocational paths, I came to the discernment that I was meant to be a mother.

Once I had gained understanding of my vocational path I had my expectations for a suitable husband. My gran gave me a prayer for the right partner, and so I prayed for God to take control. Whilst I was completely willing to be patient in waiting for the man God intended for me, I did not expect the chosen individual to be too different from my ‘boxed’ expectations. But God is full of surprises.

In 2011 I attended a church youth leader meeting in relation to the Catholic youth program, Lifeteen. Most of the attendants were my friends, but there was a new person: a shy Indian guy. Wesley seemed a nice, but I immediately ‘friend-zoned’ him. I did not consider him as a possible romance because of his race. This seems shallow, but it came naturally to me, most probably because of racial ideologies embedded in my mind from a young age. Eventually, after a few months of inner struggle, I decided to let go. I abandoned all my affections and uncertainties into God’s hands.

Not long after, Wesley and I started dating and what an enriching and spiritually fulfilling experience we’ve had since then. From the beginning of our relationship, in the face of some protestation, we have had to remain prayerful and dependant on God’s guidance in every way. And despite the trials and challenges, it all has been so blissful. The more we depended on God, the more things fell into place. We got married in December 2013, and now live in New Zealand. Had I not made the decision to abandon my entire self to God, the purpose and joy I have experienced since then would have only been a dream.

 


Profile AmberAbout the Author
Amber Chinnapper

‘Many times I have felt born in the wrong era. But God destined me for this one, so here I am! I am a woman who has learning to embrace and enjoy her many facets. I am artitsic, wild, traditional, and I feel deeply about the essence and truth of our individual beings. I am inspired by Mary the Mother of Jesus; classic literature and poetry; the vintage and the simple; Native American wisdom and connections to God and His creation. I need to spend time in nature and open spaces, and although I have recently moved to New Zealand, I love South Africa, my home soil. I have an inner yearning to create and to embrace health and fitness. Family life is incredibly important to me.’