I became a born again Christian when I was about 23. I had come home late from a night club and I clearly remember lying there in bed thinking : is this all there is to life? I was surrounded by people the whole night but I felt alone and empty inside. I gave my heart to the lord that evening and my life started to change.
I wish I could say that I joined a church, got involved and have never looked back since but my path has been far rockier than that. I started looking for a church and drifted around a bit. I back slid a bit and then came back again. I met my future wife and started going to her church consistently but I never felt like a true member of the church. I believed but I was disconnected.
Over the next years this pattern continued. I would drift away and then come back. When my wife and I got married we moved to Parklands and attended View Church occasionally. I was always sitting at the back. The last person in and the first person to leave. I convinced myself that attending church was enough and that I didn’t need anything other than to listen to the sermon once every week.
Over the years I struggled with chronic illness and anxiety. I purposefully shut myself off from people and relationships because I was scared to reveal the real me. I wanted to be seen as strong, confident and happy when inside I was weak, insecure and often unhappy. I turned my back on people to protect myself from the possibility of being rejected by them. If I rejected them first then I was in control and could convince myself that I was happy being isolated.
I think that God must have been extremely frustrated with me.
Eventually everything came to a head last year in June. My wife went overseas and I was alone. There was nothing to take up my time and I had the time to look more closely at myself and how I was living my life. I immediately spiralled into depression which got so bad that my wife came back from overseas to be with me.
I now had to face the fact that I was weak and not strong ; insecure and not confident ; unhappy and not happy.
This was the beginning of the best year of my life.
I immediately knew that I had to go back to church. More importantly I knew that I had to get involved and stop hiding. Within two months my wife and I were at View Church. I joined a life group and volunteered to join the front line team. A couple of months later I was a part of the setup team.
I looked at everything that I had done in the past and then went and did the exact opposite. I got involved with people and opened myself to rejection, condemnation and ridicule.
Instead , I got acceptance and friendship.
I won’t say that it has been easy. I still stuggle with chronic illnes, anxiety and depression. The difference is that I am no longer alone. I am now part of Gods people and I can see that none of us are perfect. I know other people who have and are also suffering but who still come to church and worship anyway. I see the support that is provided by the life group and am amazed at the tolerance and acceptance that I see. There is no judging or looking down on fellow Christians. Just acceptance , love and support.
I have been humbled by the loving behaviour of those around me and inspired to try to be better myself.
I wish that I had gotten involved when I first became a Christian and sometimes wonder how different my life would be if I had.
I have not become the perfect Christian, husband, brother, son, colleague etc. but being an active part of the Church makes it very difficult to back slide. I am finally living my life the way that God wants me to. Committed to God, involved in the church and trying my imperfect best to live for Christ.
To all those who are struggling, backsliding, suffering from illness and feeling imperfect and not worthy I feel your pain and have been where you are and will be there again. My life is not perfect and my problems have not dissapeared but turning to God is the only way that I can make sense of life and the only path that I have managed to find that can lead to true healing of all hurts.