I was born into a Christian family and I have been a Christian since I was 8. My parents divorced when I was 9 years old and the divorce left a huge impact on me. I was deeply hurt by what my father has done to the family. It made me feel unloved and different as compared to my friends. Since young, many of my relatives compared me to my brother. This made me feel inadequate as my brother did exceptionally well in his studies. I constantly felt condemned, and felt like I was everyone’s second choice. Even though I was already in church when all of this happened, I did not truly know God and His love for me.
As I grew older, I tried to fill this empty void in my heart by seeking love from others. I tried to impress people by getting good grades. I would skip church services and lifegroup so that I could have more time to study. When my grades improved, I started to place my worth on my grades. But no matter how good my grades were, I still felt empty on the inside. The happiness and satisfaction I felt was only temporary. At the end of secondary 3, I got to know this guy who was also a Christian, and we started out as platonic friends. We kept going out one on one to hang out. Little by little, I started to compromise on the boundaries that I set for myself. We ended up leeching off each other for attention, had frequent arguments and it was not healthy for both of us. I thought that a romantic relationship would satisfy me, but it just left me more broken than before. The relationship ended after we quarreled and decided to call it off.
As the relationship ended, I felt shameful and condemned. I led a double life; in church I was someone who seemed to love God and His people. Outside of church, I was completely different. I felt like a huge hypocrite and I hated myself for it. I knew I needed help. But I was proud and I told myself I will bring this secret to the grave. How can someone who has been in church for so long do such a thing? The turning point came three months later. One day during lifegroup, the Holy Spirit convicted me to share about this relationship that I was in. I ignored the thought as I feared that people would judge me for it. But the conviction grew stronger, and I couldn’t ignore it. I finally opened up to my small group about what had happened. To my surprise, they didn’t ostracize me, but showed me so much grace and acceptance. With the encouragement from my lifegroup, I started to see that change was possible. I didn’t want to feel guilty and angry anymore. God told me that if I wanted healing, I had to first forgive that guy for the hurt that he had caused me. For a whole month, I had to consciously choose to forgive him everyday. At first, I felt upset every time I thought about it, but as I began to forgive, the feelings slowly faded. God also showed me that I had to receive forgiveness for my own sins. I vividly remember one day when I was worshipping God alone at home, I broke down because I was in so much pain. I told God how ashamed I was with the things that I had done. God began to comfort me and I felt His love wash over me. It felt as if God carried my shame away and laid it at the cross instead. From then on, I began to see things from a different perspective. God opened my eyes to see that even though I had been in church for 10 years, I carried an orphan mentality with me. I realised that I didn’t trust God and because of that, I did everything on my own strength, without asking for help from God. I began to rediscover God and His love for me through spending time with God, hearing from Him, and reading the Bible. One verse that spoke to me was Psalms 139:13 to 14 which says “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb."
When I read that verse, it was as if God was personally telling me how precious I was to Him. Slowly, I learnt to receive God’s love for me. God also showed me His love through my community. He placed people around me to check up on me and gave me friends who were willing to journey with me through this entire process. I am so thankful for my lifegroup who always encourages and supports me. I now understand that church is not a place for us to present ourselves as perfect and hide all our flaws but is a place where broken people learn and grow in God’s love.
James 5:16 says,
“Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed”.
No sin is too big for God to forgive! if we don’t expose whatever that is in the dark, God cannot shine His light on it. Let us be people who are honest with one another about our weaknesses and struggles, because our God is our redeemer.