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
It’s almost the end of 2012 and it has been quite some time since I’ve stopped penning down my thoughts here … many things have happened for sure, but what seems to be the most significant adventure of my life is that I’ve learned to let go – heartaches, anger, frustration, discontent … whatever … all these once had its bond on me, but now I am freed with the love of Christ in me. I have often wondered in the past – what have I done to deserve all the shit that happened in my life – betrayal, attacks from fits of jealousy, hatred (also from jealousy) and abandonment. I was asked to develop a testimony of my Christian walk with Christ that I could share with the people at the Phillipines in Nov this year during our mission trip. The first thought that came to my mind was .. what am I to share about? I have so many things I want to say … what are the most significant ones that would tough the lives of others … but I guess I would just stick to that of how God has been real to me and let God move the hearts of those who will be listening to my testimony, hence the title of my post today:
I was not born in a Christian family. My father looks at Christianity with immense disgust and he would blow up whenever someone speaks to him about Christ. To him, Christ is just like any ordinary human being in history who has no divine signficance to be called a God. He has his reasons for hating Christianity so much – owing it to the bishops/priests at his school who forced it down his throat to take up Religious Studies, instead of the subjects that he loves. Plus, he thinks that Christians are fakes who just want to convert non-Christians just so that they could expand their church memberships and the tithes collected from worshippers. On the other hand, he believes that every success that he has achieved in life, are a result of his painstaking efforts to achieve them, and from the blessings of his ancestors but not God.
I don’t know whether to say that my life was a miserable one, or was it a life that is full of lessons that I would learn to be a better person some day. I grew up with a sister who was very jealous of me and hated my existence. As I was growing up also, my relatives have preferences towards my siblings over me. I have even overheard my mum’s friend telling my mum that she doesn’t like me at all. I’ve got to know about Christianity after we moved to the east coast of the peninsular when I was 8 years old through some of my father’s friends who are Christians. Through them, I was introduced to the Sunday School (which back then, it was known as the Friday School because in the east coast, the weekends fall on Fridays and Saturday and the first day of the work week is on Sundays). I remembered enjoying the classes at Friday School and the company of the Friday School teachers . I felt very much loved by them (for once). A week before every Christmas we would organize carolling activities strolling from houses to houses (which is just within the same residential vicinity) singing Christmas carols and receiving chocolate candies in return. Then on Christmas day itself, we would have concerts and performances at the club house just a kilometer away from our houses (right next to our school). The seed of God has been sown in my heart and it remained there for the rest of my life. However, when I was at secondary school, I backslided from God and went on living a life that I didn’t know, would cause me such great despair. I wanted to be popular, hence I started mixing with people whom I would regard as popular and by associating with them, would make me popular. I guess my lack of attention from my family has made me yearned for this popularity at school. But little do I know, I was actually very much unwanted by the group – just like how the ugly duckling got sidelined by the swans.
I was belittled by them, and they used me to make themselves feel great about themselves. I was harassed, bullied and embarassed by all the disgusting jokes they made about me. It was so bad to the point that I could not bring myself to come out of the classroom to the canteen during recess periods for fear of bumping into them at all corners of the school. The bullying was so intense that I told my mum about it. But I was disappointed by the response that I got from her. Instead of comforting me or standing up for me, she said that all these happened because I just don’t know how to treat people right. I was thrown into the pits of despair. There I was bullied and there I did not have any forms of support from the people that I trust most – my family. I resorted to killing myself to end all these misery. Sounds dramatic? It was one of the drama episodes of my life .. believe it or not. And little do I know also that God was intervening in my life .. as I was about to slit my wrist, I remembered something I learned from Friday School – that God loves each and everyone of us and one of the ten commandments – “Thou shall not murder”. This also means that suicide is also a form of murder and all murderers will go to hell and that stopped me from proceeding with my suicide attempt instantly.
I changed my perspectives of life.. and the group of people that I mingle with. I started making friends outside my school – through penpal connections. I switched to another stream and made new friends who were more genuine in doing so. I disregarded my old life and led a new one with the new friends I’ve made. I got involved in many extra-curricular activities and strive to excel in my studies. At the end of my secondary school, I was selected as the Most Active (Female category) student in my school and I’ve achieved the best result for English – beating all those who thought they were better than me (including the popular group). And guess what – they tried to sabotage my achievements by complaining to the teachers that I did not deserve those awards. But again, God was on my side. I couldn’t believe my achievements, but one thing I remembered very clearly was that in all the struggles I had been through, I had been praying to God the Christian way and which had brought me much relief and peace in my mind throughout. However, the sad memories of my secondary school life lingered on.
Then I went on to pursue my degree in college where I made new bunch of friends and had great fun. And at college was where I began another chapter of my life episodes of miseries. My cousin joined me in the same programme and I roped her into my circle of friends so that she might not feel so lonely on her first day at college. However, my friendship and my relationship with my cousin came to an end when I transferred to another campus out of town. She forged a really good relationship with my friends and disregarded me at all their meetings and outings. My own friends also ditched me to be with her instead. She became their friends and I was ousted. I felt so betrayed. I could never bring myself to forgive her for what she did (or so I thought).
Despite the disappointment, I moved on with my life at the new campus. There, I made new friends as well .. some of whom I still kept in touch till today (though we are not as close as before). It was another chapter for me. When I was at the new campus, I stayed in a dormitory and I got close to a few people who also stayed in the same block. I dated someone for the first time in my life as well. However, things turned ugly due to a misunderstanding over the seating arrangement of the prom night at the hotel. I was the one who was misunderstood and I never got the chance to explain things to them because they have closed all doors for my explanation. I was so disappointed and sad that I could not focus on my studies because of this. Although I have let God out of my sight, but He never let me out of His sight. He opened up a new door for me to befriend my classmates and I eventually got very close to them and these are the friends whom I still kept in touch till today. They helped me through my studies and I finally graduated with a 2nd class upper honours degree … thanks to God and thanks to my classmates.
However, the funny thing was (now that I’ve come to realize it) I have been meeting people (strangers) who went all out to share the gospel with me. And come to think of it, God was trying to lead me back to His side through these people. But sadly, I shoved them all away. And you know the sad part was that, when I backslided from Christ, I even made fun of the gospel just so much so that I could be with the people who despised Christianity. It was the most disgusting thing I could ever have done come to think of it. But deep down in my heart, I felt the urge to go back to Him regardless. I felt the need to be with God at church on Sundays and not just attend church on Christmas Day with friends just to be in the Christmas-ey atmosphere. I’ve been at many jobs and met many people (even my husband) at those jobs. I swayed from one direction to another, walking aimlessly, not knowing what to do with the rest of my life. The turning point came when I joined a University. I’ve met many nice people, Christians, at all corners… one of them being my ex-manager. The urge to look for a church to go to and settle down was growing more intense. I met a colleague who became my very close sister in Christ till today. She offered to take me to her church of which I got baptised in and became their member. I’ve met another sister in Christ at this church itself and together, our sisterhood remain so strong that no man can ever break it apart. I am very grateful for God for this sisterhood/friendship.
On one particular day in December 21st 2007 (4 days before Christmas), I walked into my ex-manager’s office and told him that I want to accept Christ in my life. He was shocked and amazed at this revelation. It was around 6pm++. He began praying with me the sinner’s prayer. I repeated every single word that was prayed and after that prayer, I felt a huge sigh of relief and peace in me. My ex-manager told me that the angels in heaven were rejoicing. When I broke the news to my sisters, they were overjoyed. My heart skipped a beat – never before had I had anyone rejoicing for me (looking back at all that I’ve been through). I am finally “home” with the Lord Jesus once again. This sheep has wandered off too far in the wilderness – being attacked by wolves and left wounded with nowhere to go. The Shepherd has led me home. At last, I feel accepted and belonged.
But my Christian life took on more new chapters of my life stories, but this time, it is no longer a misery – it is a bliss, though what I am about to share may not sound like a bliss to most people. I believe you would have already read some of it in my earlier posts. All these happened so that I can lead a renewed life in Christ, trusting Him in all that I do.The first step to a renewed life and a test of faith was the abandoning of my desire to have a church wedding just so that I could trust that the Lord knows what He was doing. My husband is not born a Christian too. In fact, he was a strong Buddhist who despised Christianity whom he thinks are hypocrites. But because I accepted Christ after going steady with him for a year, I have decided that he would the one I want to marry – but in a church! The whole commotion started when I was not allowed to have a church wedding with a non-Christian. I was pissed at this church rule. It was absurd! How can they come up with such a rule. It is stated in the bible that when a Christian marries a no-Christian, the non-Christian will be sanctified by God in this marriage as well. Yes, I do understand that they were concerned with my Christian faith when I marry a non-Christian. But I know what I was doing! I would never abandon the Lord again after what I’ve been through. Then I was shown another verse in the bible by a pastor stating that “I should not yolk with a non-believer” which totally threw me off guard. I was angry and disappointed and I started doubting God. I had series of bad arguments with my husband-to-be (at that time) about him converting to a Christian so that I could just walk down the aisle and say “I do”. We almost broke up because of this. But despite all the disappointment and anger, I went on to marry him .. but without a church wedding. However, God was good. My husband did not object to attending the marriage counselling with me at church and neither did he object to having a pastor praying for us at our wedding dinner. And I managed to get a mock church wedding at the reception itself – with my father walking me down the aisle to the stage where my hb waited for me – just like a church wedding.
The 2nd step to testing my faith was during the attempt to complete my dissertation for my Master’s degree. I was studying part-time and working full-time at a University for my Master’s degree. I was thankful that I had access to a wealth of resources – books, journals and periodicals I can use refer to to write my dissertation while working at a University. However, my journey to completing and graduating with a Master’s degree was a rough one. My supervisor decided to head back to her home country, leaving me in the lurch with no supervisors. I was at the 4th year of study and I have reached the maximum period for the part time mode of study and I did not want to waste all that I have done thus far. I was so worried that I couldn’t sleep for nights. I prayed profusely to God to send me a supervisor soon so that I could graduate on time. My prayers were answered. I was given a supervisor who was much better than the one that I had earlier and the rest was history – I graduated with a Masters in English Language Teaching with a high merit and I was more than elated – I was utterly thankful to God!
The 3rd episode of the process to a renewed life was the betrayal by a dear friend and sister in Christ (not the ones that I mentioned earlier). The betrayal was more hurtful and impactful to my being because despite all that I have done to help her climb up from the rumbles of her personal issues, she had chosen to abandon me in this sisterhood – looking down upon me like I am not worthy of her friendship/sisterhood. I could not sum up the entire ordeal that went through with her, but to cut it short – it was very painful- to the point where I could never find it in myself to forgive her at all! I was also very bitter about the whole ordeal to the point where I blamed God, I blamed myself and I hurt myself in the midst. But in the midst of all the bitterness and suffering, I was amazed that I could still find it in my heart to pray for God to help me forgive her. I was thrown into the sea of deception tossing from one decision to another where on one hand, I wanted to forgive my friend and move on with my life. But on the other, my sinful nature told me that it would not do me justice to just forgive her and let her go. I prayed and prayed and prayed .. time after time, I wept and prayed for God to end my misery. It was too suffocating…I was depressed. Then one day at church, a pastor was preaching on the suffering that Christ went through – being betrayed, scoffed at, spit at, tortured, whipped and finally hung on the cross by the people he loves. Jesus himself was not spared from all these. How would it make me any different? But the final outcome of all these suffering was victory – Christ has conquered all … and when that message came on me, I prayed and meditated upon it, and I could feel the burden of hatred, unforgiveness and vengeance was released from my soul. That was the first step to forgiveness. But tossing and turning did not end until I went through the 4th episode of my life.
It was through the 4th episode of my Christian life that I rise victorious just like how Jesus has risen to conquer sin and death. After 3 years + with the university, I landed myself a job in the corporate sector with a multi-national company. I thought I had it all – good job with good pay, until I became the target of another jealousy plot to remove me from the job. I had an ex colleague, a Christian, who wanted my job even before I joined the company. At the beginning she seemed rather friendly, guiding me through all the work processes and even regarded me as her close friend whom she confided all her problems with. I thought I could trust her until one day, she decided to show her true colours. She started accusing me about not being faithful to her, sending false allegations about me trying to bribe my way up to the managerial positions. She was practically harassing me for the next one week that I was so afraid to even go to work to face her. I cried and cried a lot that week and could not fathom what the hell happened! I started recollecting what have I said to her to cause such commotion. In the end, I realize, it wasn’t me. It was her! She wanted me out of her way! I was standing in her way! The harassment did not stop but I decided to put an end to it. I stood up and retaliated. I could not bear with all those harassment anymore. It felt good. I wasn’t so fearful of her anymore. I didn’t care if she wanted me as a friend anymore! It felt good. After all that, I started avoiding and ignoring her. I did not have the guts to report this to my team leader until she asked if anything has ever happened betw me and this b*tch. It was then I could not hold back any longer. I had wanted to give this b*tch a second chance to explain things, but like before, I wasn’t given the opportunity to explain anything. Like before, I was unjustly sentenced to death without any trial. It was then the team leader told me of her history and I felt so much better after that. But I still feel the aftershock of the harassment. I’ve decided to end it all by resigning from this company (without a job). Coming to the decision of resignation was also a test for me. I have been working for so long with steady income and to suddenly lead a life without income spells disaster for me. But God was real to me at this point telling me that things will be ok – and it was also at this point that I learned (in a hard way) to trust Him.
The break did me good … I did a lot of thinking and praying and reading God’s word, which has led me closer to Him day by day. I was still depressed at what had happened to me – first with the betrayal by my sister in Christ .. then the rough moments with the b*tch at work. I asked God, WHY God, WHY ME?? Why do I have people abandoning me in my life?? It was just so unfair!! My lamentations went on and on and on until I became so depressed with my life. I wanted to take my own life again … just like how I almost did when I was in school. God heard me … I knew he did because he sent a sister to me who channeled me to a Christian counselor. Without thinking further, I agreed to seek counseling for my problems. The counseling was an eye-opener for me. I never knew that I had “baggaged” all the discontent, unforgiveness towards the people in my past, the unfair and unjust treatment I received from my friends at school, etc. It was time for me to release this baggage to move on. God wanted me to know this because He cannot make me a better person if I continue to hold on to the past miseries. As I related my problems to the counselor, I just wept and cried and the counselor prayed with me at every session for the last 6 sessions. It was during the last session that I could feel the revelations did me good .. thanks to God.
After just 2 months of break and counseling,I wanted to go out again to work partly because my finances were running dry. I was thrown into perspective again – when I said I wanted to trust God, am I living out what I’ve said? Obviously not. Again God was good … he opened up another door for me and this time I landed myself a job as a lecturer at a local university – something that I’ve wanted to do after obtaining my Masters degree. But lecturing stint did not last long. I was very stressed out with work and with the management at the university. I was loaded with heavy teaching hours plus consultation duties with the students. I couldn’t breathe and sleep every night due to the stress. My body was aching from all the moving and walking around the classroom to make sure that every student gets my attention. And the worst thing that could ever happened to me in my teaching career was that I was unethically forced to change the grades of students just so that the management can meet their KPIs. Furthermore, I felt cheated into this job when I was forced to teach a subject that I could not handle nor understand. Quality in education was out of sight and I couldn’t take it anymore! Instead of going along with their plans, I had decided to call it quits. This time, my faith in the Lord was stronger than before. I knew He would take care of me and he did.
To conclude, the best part after going through all these was I’ve risen victoriously in Christ. I no longer harbour any bad feelings/thoughts towards those who had wronged me in the past. When I took the step to let God lead my life, He has changed my perspectives completely. I understood what it means to have a Christian husband then to have a church wedding. I believe that God has changed my hb’s perspective towards Christ after seeing the transformation taken place in my life that he has also decided to take the step of faith to accept Christ in his life over Christmas 2 years ago. Also, I’ve forgiven the sister who had betrayed me. Though I can never forget what she has done, but I have chosen to forget the anger and hatred I used to harbour deeply towards her. I no longer harboured any hatred towards my cousin (though I do not wish to be associated closely with her). I’ve let go of the b*tch who had wanted me out of her way. In fact, I got to know that she is currently having a rough time with the job that she has taken over from me. I can’t deny I feel good about it, but on the other hand, I know that God is just – He’s not punishing her, but teaching her to become a better person which I hope she will be some day. I chose not to remember what happened to me at the University I was attached to as a lecturer, but chose to remember the people who were kind to me back there. Like I’ve said earlier, all these happened for a reason and the reason is good. I have no regrets about it. I’ve moved on with life and God has graciously opened up a new door of opportunity for me to lead a renewed life. Though the disciplining process has not stopped, and as fearful as I may be, I know in all circumstances, I need to be still and know that He is God!
When you read my testimony, read it while you listen to this beautiful song – “River in you” and “Refiner’s Fire”. These songs have a calming effect which depicts the calming effect of Jesus’s existence in my life. The word “river” to me depicts life and that I have a life in Jesus where He would refine me till the day I lead a renewed and holy life.
River in Your Life -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F-4wUfZD6oc
Refiner’s Fire -> http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wBRUiL7Ff60
Thank you everyone for reading my testimony. I hope it will touch your hearts to reach out to those who wants to hear about the gospel. For those who have not received Christ in your life, I hope that someday you will know that God is everything – He is the God who can move mountains and tame the storms. You are safely loved and protected in his loving arms. Thank you and God bless.