The Butterfly Effect and Having Faith in Life

by Fernando Perfas

| Photo by Daniel Hall via Flickr/Creative Commons 2.0

It was a chance conversation between two men, one of whom was my father. It was about a lucrative fishing business in Malabon, a small town outside Manila, and increased demand for fishing boats from a shipyard. My father, a carpenter-builder, boarded a bus bound for Manila a few weeks later. He was reluctant to leave his wife and young children in a remote village in the Bicol province, but the promise of a job and regular paychecks was hard to pass up. That casual conversation changed my life forever. As fate would have it, my father died a few weeks later – far from his family, leaving us in disarray and chaos. His untimely death left unsettling effects for several years in my young life. The pervasive economic instability in my family that followed set the stage for a great lesson on faith.

I lived half of my life under conditions of great uncertainty. There was less of everything, and yet I had a great deal of faith that everything would be alright in the end. When I was younger, I used to worry a lot about how to deal with managing even the simplest needs of daily living. There were times when there was no lunch money, no bus fare, or extra cash for school projects. I never missed school, and I continued my education despite all these.

” … I learned early to live in faith even when I continued to worry each time I encountered what seemed to be insurmountable challenges. I want to think I have a lot of faith in life but not in a religious way.”

I used to worry about my fragile health, yet I have never seen a doctor for any ailments all those years. When I got sick, I would usually tough it out, and when I got seriously ill, I eventually would come out of it. Even when things looked desperately hopeless, somehow, things had their way of working out. Because I was so used to this kind of life, I learned early to live in faith even when I continued to worry each time I encountered what seemed to be insurmountable challenges. I want to think I have a lot of faith in life but not in a religious way.

My experiences with faith have made me somewhat fatalistic in my view of life — at least of my own life. I have several experiences of meeting the right people at the right moment, some strangers and some acquaintances whom I have known for a while. At first, they lingered in the periphery of my life then some events caused our relationship to deepen, and at the right moment, they played a crucial role in my life. Many were complete strangers who had pivotal roles in helping me with important assignments or personal difficulties.

Others were there at the right place and at the right time, and as quickly as they came, they were instantly gone. As if they just needed to lend me a hand and off they went, forever lost. I often credited myself unashamedly for finding them, when in fact, at the back of my mind, I knew it wasn’t all my doing. It was fate’s “design.” Many important events in my life have taken place this way, and they still continue to happen.

“Besides having faith, I have many reasons to be grateful in life. I cannot curse the past no matter how bitterly hard it was, for with it carried many blessings. It showed me what is essential in life. It taught me that forgiveness is better than resentment.”

My early struggles were meant to be lessons on “faith.” Besides having faith, I have many reasons to be grateful in life. I cannot curse the past no matter how bitterly hard it was, for with it carried many blessings. It showed me what is essential in life. It taught me that forgiveness is better than resentment.

I understood why I didn’t have some of the things I coveted in life. Some of those things would have led to my destruction in my own hands. I realize how a charity is from those with material things to give away and even from those with less or none at all. It is not what you give, but the exercise of giving, offering a kind thought or taking time to listen to someone, or going out of your way to help. In the end, things we give away are sometimes lost or forgotten; however, the spirit by which we imbue giving remains.

“Why am I in this particular space in the vast universe?” I often ask myself. I live in this time, place, and era, for there is no better time and place for me to grow. I believe and have faith that this is true.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR  Dr. Fernando B. Perfas is an addiction specialist who has written several books and articles on the subject. He currently provides training and consulting services to various government and non-government drug treatment agencies regarding drug treatment and prevention approaches. He can be reached at fbperfas@gmail.com.

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