I was born with albinism which means I’m born with the absence of pigmentation in my skin, hair and eyes. This affected my vision and the sensitivity of my skin towards sunlight. Growing up, I looked different compared to everyone else in school and would often get stared at in public wherever I go. It made me feel uncomfortable and I felt disgusted with myself. In primary school, I was bullied for the way I looked and as a result, I grew up constantly feeling insecure about myself. I would easily get anxious in public and wanted to stay at home most of the time to avoid contact with others. I hated how I looked and would often question why God had made me this way.
I also struggled to find a safe space at home as my parents would often fight and my father would verbally and physically abuse us out of anger. God became a distant figure in my life as I couldn’t understand why I had to struggle with these circumstances. To me, I felt that God only cared about what I could do for him and that I was useless in his eyes. I felt like a disappointment to God. I started searching for ways to fit in and fill in the emptiness by mixing with bad company. I would hang out till late with friends to drink and smoke even though I was underage. However, I still felt empty on the inside. Unknowingly, I had allowed the words of what other people said about me such as ‘you are useless’ or ‘you are ugly’ to define who I am. I thrived off the affirmation I received from others and strived to be good at everything as I wanted to prove to people that I could achieve. Over time, I started to believe in the lie that my worth was determined by my successes and that I wasn’t good enough.
In 2017, my classmate Janelle invited me to ILC. I was reluctant but went anyway. I expected it to be like the church I went to before, but I was taken aback by how friendly and genuine the people here were. I felt at peace and accepted for the first time in years. During worship, I remember hearing God’s voice saying ‘I have never left you’. That day, I desired to know this God again and I chose to stay in ILC.
As I grew deeper in my relationship with God, I began on a journey of discovering my identity in Christ. Through discipleship sessions, sermons and reading of the bible, I discovered that I am made in God’s image and that I am first a child of God before anything else. However, I never fully understood what it meant. I carried lies that I am useless even as I started serving. I placed my worth on how well I served and would struggle with condemnation for weeks whenever I made a mistake or whenever I felt that I did not meet a certain expectation. It came to a point where the stress would lead to anxiety and I knew that I needed help.
Breakthrough came at the start of this year when I met up with Edwin and he asked me to write down the lies that I had believed in about myself. It then hit me that I had been carrying all these lies for years, which was why I found it hard to grasp what my identity as a child of God meant. When I went home that day, I wrote a dear Jesus letter. As I did so, I felt God pressing onto my heart to write down the names of every single person who had hurt me. I then realized I had harbored a lot of unforgiveness towards the people who had hurt me. It was difficult at first but as I chose to take the first step to forgive every single person that night, I instantly felt a weight lifted off my shoulders. I began to make it a daily habit to forgive others and to put on the truth of what God says about me, over every lie. I started to recognise the power behind God’s word and I created a list of truths about my identity. I would read them every night and meditate on them until I believe in those truths. Over time, I saw how I began to operate out of knowing my identity as a child of God instead of trying to gain the approval of others.
In the past, I would condemn myself for any mistakes or for not meeting the expectations I set for myself. Now, whenever I face condemnation, I would instantly replace the lies with the truth from God’s word. I also used to be so affected by the comments people made about how I looked. But I noticed how I became quicker to forgive and love as I know God has the final say of who I am.
Through the sons and daughters series, God revealed to me that my relationship with my earthly father has affected the way I approached God. I had the mindset that I needed to do better and I was only deserving of God’s love when I did more things or when I had it all together. I had lived my life as an orphan, leading a life of independencey. As I made a choice to surrender these things to God, I continue to learn more about what it means to be a true child of God. My community has also created a safe space for me to share openly with them. They constantly encourage me and remind me that I’m loved and accepted by them!
I used to look at myself and see my disability and differences as a disadvantage but God looks at me differently. He uses me to reach out to the people around me. There were times where God opened doors for meaningful conversations to happen even with people I didn’t know and it would lead opportunities where I could share about Jesus to them.
A verse that I hold close in my heart throughout this journey is
Psalms 139:13-15 (ESV):
“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother's womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.”
I can now embrace who I am despite my differences and walk-in confidence because I know that I am a beloved child of the highest King and I am secure in His love!