Growing up was tough, my parents had a divorce and my family was constantly arguing with each other, especially my mother and brother. My relationship with my brother was very strained and would at times result in physical violence. Whenever my brother punched me I would at times retaliate out of my anger and frustration towards him. This led me to become someone who was angry and short tempered.
It was common for me to be in constant conflict with my family and having friends leave me. Having people walk out on me made me believe that I was worthless and I started to believe that I was the problem and the reason why people leave me.
Overtime, I slowly grew resentful towards God, my family and the people around me. I became increasingly hot tempered and found it hard to love, trust or even forgive people. Suicidal thoughts also began flooding my mind. I started to desperately chase after acceptance from my peers and grew self-conscious of how I appeared in front of them. I started to use money to try and buy friends. I also used vulgarities. All I did was just so I could fit in.
Living with a mask made it hard to open up to others, as I fear that I would lose people when I began to be real about my struggles.
Things continued to spiral downward and in Secondary 2, after an outburst I attempted to commit suicide by rushing out of the classroom to jump off the railing. After a series of breakdowns, my then speech and drama teacher reached out to me and spoke to me about my emotions. I continued to bottle up these emotions and refuse to share as I did not want to feel like a burden. To ease the pain I was feeling, I started self-harming and cut myself to find a source of release. Even though I started to pay more attention to my studies, it was only a facade to myself look good.
In July last year, my teacher brought me to my school’s annual night of praise and worship. On that night, I felt a love and peace I had never experienced before. This led me to want to know more about God and agreed to go to a church. My teacher brought me to Youth Impact through my junior in school, Ryan Tan, in November last year.
Being self-conscious and having issues trusting people meant that my first worship experience was not a good experience. I remember being surprised by how friendly everyone was, as at that point I had the idea that everyone who was this friendly was fake. Despite how I felt, my teacher continued to encourage me and insisted that I attended Youth Impact Camp. At the camp, I encountered God. During the night session, I suddenly felt a huge weight lifted off my chest. God’s presence was so real to me.
It was then that I made a decision to accept Christ for the first time in my life and I gradually settled into my Life Group. It helped a little that my Life Group had many boys, similar to the environment I grew up in.
It was really comforting that God had given me a community I could trust and open up to.
Experiencing God led to many changes in my life. I became less resentful, stopped feeling suicidal and feel confident to be around others. I stopped using vulgarities in my daily interactions with others. I also became more motivated to study, not to fulfill my own pride but to glorify God through excellence in everything I do. God was the one who gave me an opportunity to study, I shouldn’t take it for granted.
However in February this year, things started crashing when I received news that a good friend of mine had committed suicide. A whirlwind of emotions began to swarm me, it felt as if I had gone back to square one. I felt lost, guilty and started doubting my faith. It felt surreal to me as I struggled to accept the news, I felt like reality came crashing down. This led to a series of self-destructive thoughts as I blamed myself for not being able to help my friend and I started to self-harm again.
After sharing this with my Life Group leader, I realised that I could not forgive myself and even though I knew that God had forgiven me, I found it very hard to forgive myself. My discipler also spoke to me and highlighted that I still struggled with resentment and unforgiveness towards myself and others. Making the step to pray and forgive others and myself, I saw how God continued to heal my heart. At that point, I still questioned everything about God but never shared it with anyone.
One day, I found myself on the train alone with Jordan Heng and he sparked a conversation with me. Looking back at it, it really helped to put everything into perspective. Jordan Heng mentioned that coincidences didn’t exist as everything was part of God’s bigger plan. I saw how God was using the people around me to bring me back to him.
Having heard the announcement on our church’s temporary location being at the Centre of New life (CNL) reminded me of all the negative emotions I felt. CNL was extremely close to where my friend used to live and where his wake was held. I found myself struggling with self-harm and suicidal thoughts again.
But one night, I received a message at 2.30am from my Life Group member. He shared with me about how God had told him that I was stressing and reminded that God is always in control! I opened up and shared with him how I was feeling suicidal, depressed again and even considered skipping service that week, because of the new location. He told me that God placed us in CNL for a reason, maybe He wanted to see me heal and come to terms with Gabriel’s death. Speaking with him helped me muster the courage to come for Worship Experience.
That day, the message shared was exactly what I needed. Pastor Andrew Yeo had made an alter call for whoever felt depressed, alone or needed Christ in their life. I responded to the altar call and felt the love of God in my heart.
Through all this, I realised that God is in control and that no matter what, He always wants the best for me. Though I still might not know why I had to experience the death of a close friend, I’m certain that God has a plan for me. I am no longer hot tempered, resentful or self conscious. And my relationship with my family and classmates have improved significantly.
I can rest, knowing that my God is a loving and caring God, who loves and only desires the best for me.