I came across a post on Facebook that reminded me of my own journey, and how much I shun away from talking about it.
About a year or two ago, when everything seems to be working out great for me, I was suddenly struck with depression. At that time, I was doing so fine on the outside, my career was going strong, I was serving in church, and I hang out with friends. Till this day I cannot pinpoint what exactly went wrong. Perhaps it was the combination of work stress, self-doubt, and everything in between.
I simply lost the motivation for everything in life, I do not feel like stepping out from my room in the morning, and cannot fall asleep at night. I stopped responding to all channels of communication- phone calls, emails, text messages. Everything. It was also at this point that I become addicted to things, both "bad things" and "good things".
This could be another story about how I am a strong person and I manage to work it through and I am perfect again now. But it is not, I am not that strong person those articles wrote about, I am just a simple person with many flaws.
Instead, this is a story of Grace and Faithfulness. The verse that pulled me through that 2 years was this:
If we are faithless, He will remain faithful, for He cannot disown himself (2 Timothy 2:13)
One Sunday morning, I was dragged to church by Valerene (whom house I was staying at that point of time, more on that later), I was so reluctant to talk to anyone there. But God met me there, I saw a vision of a safety net, and He told me that He will be my safety net, that no matter how far I fall, or how hard it is, He is always there to catch me. He is faithful even when I am faithless.
I went back to my hometown in Sabah shortly after that. Being the only Christian in the household, there was no longer anyone who asked me how was my walk with God or drag me to church on Sundays. But even at these time, His love covers me. I slowly began picking up calls and responds to messages. Again, I cannot pinpoint what went right this time, but I believe prayers both by myself and the community plays a part, apart from the relentless Jesus that refuses to let me go.
As mentioned, the community plays a large role in my journey as well. My gratitude especially for Valerene and Paul, who knocked on my door and took me in like their own when I was closing myself away.
This year, I came back to Kuala Lumpur with a new job, and a new hope to make things right this time. So I told everyone who asked that I am ok now, at least, that was my genuine feelings until God prove me otherwise. In the month leading up to church conference, I have this sense that God wants to do something with my life and bring me to a whole new ground after the conference. I saw a vision of Jesus covering me in cloth of white, a declaration that there is no shame in Christ.
I had no idea what was coming my way!
I was fired from my job just the week before the conference. Suddenly I was lost and with financial problem. Depression tries to creep in on me again the very first day. Thoughts like: "Ok don't tell anyone, just figure this out." or "No I cannot go back to Sabah again this time, or else I am a loser. What would people and relatives say?" But no, this time, depression will not win. Not because suddenly I am a strong person, but because I have a consistent relationship with Jesus. I realized it really is all these small moments that I spent with the Lord that counts. I was able to identify these patterns of thoughts and make the decision to respond differently.
Admitting to people that I was fired and in need of help is a very humbling experience. It is admitting internally that I can stop pretending to be who I wasn't, and externally that thing happens, but my God is bigger.
But God was not done with me. During the conference, God brought to light my addiction issue, the thing is, I have been trying so hard on my own to try to handle this issue. I come up with plans on how to handle them, and these plans seem to work only for a short period of time, and then I go back to my old patterns. The issue of addiction was what I buried myself with for the past 2 years when I had depression, and even after that.
It destroys my relationship with friends, family, and Jesus. Instead of spending time with them, I spent time wasting away. I had a big fight with my dad and was avoiding him for very long, and one of my best friends no longer talked to me. Even when people saw my issue and tried to address it, I refused to acknowledge it was causing problems and refused to talk about it to people or seek help. Everything was just in the dark and kept quiet.
During the conference, God simply told me that it's time to cut all these off, completely. And just like that, this burden was lifted, there was no 10-steps plan that God needed, just His presence was so overwhelming that I can only obey. Just the past few days, I was hanging out with a friend, and for the first time is able to share with someone this struggle that I had and how God brought me through it.
God spoke to me that He is reinstating me back into my ministry and calling. Like Simon Peter in John 21, I found myself living life the old way (get a job, work, try to be good, and die eventually) because I thought my calling can never be achieved now that I have wasted away so much time, and become unworthy to be used. He asked: Do you love me? That was all He needed.
It was not just a simple matter of Jesus wants me to be devoted, it was His grace so abound it caught me off guard. There was no talk about what I did wrong and questions of if I am "fit" for ministry again, and there was no talk about how much He has done for me. He only wanted me.
There is also a revelation that I was attacked so much in the area of relationship precisely because He will use this area to glorify His name. He will restore relationships that have been broken, and He will bring to life the fulfillment of the purpose He gave for my life- which is reaching the children who are lost and in pain.
This week, I attended many interviews, which is crazy because I only applied for jobs the week before the conference, and right during and after the conference I have been receiving emails and calls to interviews. Nothing seems promising so far but I want to give thanks that He has blessed me with these interviews.
Even in the midst of all the blessings, and the community that supports and prays for me. I find myself having to battle thoughts of depression frequently. At times it is frustrating because the company that called me is a scammy MLM company and I wasted money and time to travel there, or when the manager did not look that convinced that they will hire me. But what changes now is that I am able to identify and take captive of these thoughts, and surrender them to Christ.