I grew up in a family with two older brothers and my parents. We were never a close family. We barely communicated with one another, and lived separate lives. I was not close to my brothers and only spoke to my parents when necessary. When I heard that others had family dinners together, I was shocked because most of my dinners were spent alone in front of the television.
All this shaped my idea of family and relationships. Family was simply a group of people that lived in the same house as me. I became a very independent person and handled my own problems, never once seeking help. I brought this same mindset to my friendships. Friends were just people I hung out with at school, but I would never share my personal problems or struggles with them. To me, my problems were my responsibility.
In Secondary 2, I was invited to Youth Impact by my Boys’ Brigade officer. After hearing many praise reports, I was amazed at what God could do in other people’s lives and questioned whether these things could happen to my family. After attending Worship Experience for many weeks, I finally made the decision to receive Jesus into my life.
It was the first time I experienced God’s love in my heart.
After I accepted Christ, life seemed to go on as per normal until I was in Secondary 4. My mom sat me down and broke the news to me that she and my dad would be separating. This left me devastated, lost and broken. It was as if God had abandoned me. Praying and reading the Bible didn’t change my circumstances. Eventually, I gave up because I didn’t think God could turn my situation around. I tried to take control of my own life and family, hoping that it would produce results. However, this just left me feeling even more helpless. I reached rock bottom when my best friend in church left me too. I felt lonelier and even more hopeless, developing a bitterness toward everyone around me.
Attending church became very difficult because I saw no purpose in coming. However, my Life Group continued to love me and reach out to me and I eventually opened up to them. Although I felt vulnerable, this was the first time in a long time I felt loved. I did not feel pressured to be a perfect Christian but felt that I could be myself around my community.
The acceptance and openness of my community encouraged me to share without fear. Through reading the Bible and sharing with my Life Group, I began to understand what a healthy relationship was. I was able to love the people around me despite their past, which amazed me considering my struggle to love myself in the past. Slowly, I began to see changes in my family as well. I was able to let go of the bitterness I felt towards my parents. I was even able to hold proper conversations and celebrate milestones with my mother.
"All these things were only made possible because I realized the depth of God’s love for me. In my brokenness, God still loved me. "
This truth helped me to love others too.
Just a few months ago, I was preparing to enter the army for my National Service. As I had not spoken to my father in years, I was challenged to write a letter to him to restore our broken relationship. It was difficult, but eventually made the decision to fight for healthy relationships in my life. I wrote to him about entering the army and slipped it under the door of his home. I was surprised that he had contacted me back and even offered to send me off to the army camp. Though it was awkward, I knew it was the first step in mending my relationship with my father.
I had recently finished my Basic Military Training (BMT). While undergoing BMT, the completely new and uncomfortable environment forced me to adapt and make friends. I often hid and compromised my beliefs, choosing not to do the right things in order to fit in..
Through Becky’s recent sermon on “Follow: Fighting Fear of Judgement”, I realized how fear caused me to lose track of who God had created me to be. From then on, I was determined to trust God. I started fighting the fear of judgement and held firm to my beliefs. In the last few weeks in BMT, my relationship with my section mates strengthened!
The more I tried to fit in, the more I felt left out. The lesser I tried to fit in, the lesser I felt left out. This did not make sense to my logical mind, but somehow it worked because this was God’s way of relationships. I was trusting Him by building relationships His way.
I witnessed with my own eyes how my relationships with my friends became healthier. Through this, I realised I can be assured that my Heavenly Father looks after me and I do not have to fear how others think of me.
“Love is large and incredibly patient.
Love is gentle and consistently kind to all.
It refuses to be jealous when blessing comes to someone else.
Love does not brag about one’s achievements nor inflate its own importance.
Love does not traffic in shame and disrespect, nor selfishly seek its own honor.
Love is not easily irritated or quick to take offence.
Love joyfully celebrates honesty and finds no delight in what is wrong.
Love is a safe place of shelter, for it never stops believing the best for others.
Love never takes failure as defeat, for it never gives up.
Love never stops loving."
- 1 Corinthians 13:4-8
This is what the Bible says is love, and we are all called to love others God’s way. God’s love has changed the way I love others and transformed the way I now view my relationships.