My journey with God started in 2007: A six-year-old child, eyes squeezed shut and chubby hands clasped together in prayer as I sat with my kindergarten friends around a table, reciting grace before lunch. I didn’t actually know what “saying grace” was at that time, just like how singing “Hosanna” during worship felt strangely special, and that God was a magical entity who loved me.
But my life as a child was nothing positive or sweet. At six years old, I was already learning to be independent – walking about a kilometre after alighting the school bus every afternoon to a home that was empty and silent.
My mother, though young at the time, was already a haggard woman, worn out from fetching my autistic younger brother to and fro from a school that was a far way away from home. She had no time for her firstborn – me.
Deep down, I was troubled. And despite knowing that I was blessed beyond imagination, I was needy. I wanted my mother’s company. I wanted her love.
My faith in God was something I did not quite understand, so when I graduated from my Christian kindergarten, the church experiences I had ceased, though the heartwarming memories of worship and Christmas celebrations stayed with me.
I was guided back onto my journey with Christ at Primary 4, when a friend from school invited me to church. We attended adult service and while sermons got a little complicated, I was glad to be in touch with religion again. I truly loved going to church and was overwhelmed by the love God had for me.
Yet at the same time, I was unable to come to terms that Jesus was my rock, my one truly good thing in this sinful world. I was still muddling through life – a childhood of solitude meant that I had to figure things out on my own, from social skills to prioritising my studies. As such, my faith, though present, was weakened by the many cares of life.
I ultimately stopped going to church two years later.
I continued professing to be a Christian in my secondary school days, but it was a superficial statement as I neither read the Bible nor went to church. I knew nothing about God’s word. Yet through the turbulence of my teenage years, I felt God’s love reach out to me and wash over my heart, calming it at times where life felt like tidal waves crashing over and over on me.
I wanted to be a “good”, churchgoing Christian along with my other Christian classmates, but I was afraid. The way they carried themselves seemed to be nothing short of godly and I too wanted to be kind, to love my neighbours as I loved myself (Mark 12:31) and to know what it meant to fear and obey God.
Though my church visits never failed to lift me spiritually, they were sporadic and inconsistent, not because my schedule prevented my commitment, but because my fears often stood in the way.
So when I was diagnosed with major depression and post-traumatic stress in 2016, I wholly blamed myself. I blamed myself for not living a life of worship, for not choosing God when my Heavenly Father gave up His only son for my salvation. I blamed myself for not finding joy in every day when He has provided me with a life so abundant (John 10:10).
Things only got worse as I decided that perhaps God’s plan for me was suicide. And I saw no problem with the logic – if I died, the community I was in could wake up to the severity of mental health, considering that the elite school I was in put immense pressure on students.
My death could be a lesson for others, which I thought was beneficial in essence. Maybe this really is what God has planned for me.
As I turn 17 this year, I’ve attempted suicide four times. But I believe the worst has passed.
During my season of struggle, one verse from the Bible got me thinking – Jeremiah 29:11.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)
I spent time reflecting on the word “prosper” – did prospering really mean ending my life? Ending my life seemed to mean that there would be no future opportunities to serve God or thrive in His grace, while prospering involves good things.
I still looked forward to a day when I’d be doing what God has planned for me; yes, there’s been several dips in my journey – but what does my future look like?
So every time I found myself thinking that perhaps God wants me dead, I focussed on the truth that He is somehow working in my life and I have to work with Him instead of dwelling on my suicidal thoughts and entertaining the devil’s lies.
I truly believe that doing my best to walk away from my suicidal self with the power of God in me will help me go far in life. Praying regularly has helped tremendously: I profess my gratitude for life and ask the Holy Spirit to guard my heart and mind.
“And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:7)
“You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you.” (Isaiah 26:3)
The season I’m walking out of may have been marked by weeks and weeks of suicidal thoughts and severe, persistent heartache, but I am learning to actively cast my anxieties upon my God, because I know He cares (1 Peter 5:7). I want to walk with Him and towards His likeness, and away from the sin that entangles me (Hebrews 12:1).
I go to church every weekend now; it leaves my mind fresh and my heart alive in the Spirit. I’ve joined a cell group with members who love God, and we are led by a cell leader who desires to open our eyes to God and His word.
I feel the presence of God so much more frequently than when my faith was still shallow. And I’m still meditating on the truth that I have been saved by grace, through faith, and that I’ve been blessed with so much good, not because I deserve any of it – but because I have a good Father.
My story, which I thought would have ended much earlier, is still running. And I’ll continue journeying with God, no matter what my broken self desires. Pray with me that I will fix my eyes on Him always, especially in the darkest days.
This is a submission from a participant of our Greater Love Giveaway. From now till the end of March 2018, we are giving away a pack of limited edition Thir.st “Greater Love” Stickers in exchange for every story. Stories must have a personal/local angle and be of 800-1000 words. Send us yours here.