The most significant moment, which was a big turning point in my life, was a few weeks previous to my 15th birthday when I decided to put my faith in God and become a Christian.
So let’s give this some context and background. I was 14 and had just finished year 10 at school. I was part of what I would deem a very normal family – 1 brother, 2 parents living in a house full of love, sport and political discussion over the dinner table. I was a typical teenager in that I wasn’t keen on school (apart from P.E class and school dinners), went through boyfriends as quick as anything, and loved making my opinion known to those around me!
In the summer before entering year 11, I decided to be less of an idiot and become more focused. I was then invited to a ‘Faith Camp’ by an old friend from primary school. I’d been before, and enjoyed the sport and friendships, and thought I’d be able to ignore the bit where they talk about Jesus. But, to my surprise that didn’t happen and I found myself intrigued by what I heard and wanting to remember it, so I rushed to find paper, and wrote everything down. It was at this point I realised that something was changing in me. A few days later, I realised that I believed what was being said about Jesus dying for my sin and I knew I wanted to follow the God of the Bible. So I prayed for forgiveness and tried to follow Him for the rest of my days. Before this experience, I believed in God but it wasn’t until this point that I understood the Christian faith properly. That night, I couldn’t stop smiling!
This “new me” was in most respects liberating and joyful, but in other respects, it was difficult. I found meaning, purpose and a never-ending love. Yet, I also found it hard to live out my faith sometimes, partially because of myself and partially because I felt pressure of people who expected me to be and act in certain ways. But through this I learnt that if you have an idea about something or who you want to be, you have to keep trying as well as giving yourself a break sometimes. We’re human. We make mistakes, and that’s really ok.
But that’s not all I learnt. As I went into Year 13 I was excited about life and truly content, but things quickly and drastically changed over the next few months. I became depressed. It is only in retrospect that I know that this is what it was. This occurred for many reasons, some of which I understand now, others not so much. At the time, it felt like my life was falling apart and that my head was going to explode and I wanted to get out. I expressed my emotions of pain, doubt and self-hatred that I was feeling, in various unhealthy ways, that I still struggle with now. After 8 months of seeing myself drift into a worse mental state and not knowing what to do about it, I was lucky enough to be offered counselling by my school. I got love and support from some friends and family, and I cried out to God a lot and I slowly got better. I’ve found that now I am easily susceptible to being of a low mood and struggle with anxiety. But that’s ok! I just have to work harder to keep reminding myself to be positive daily, rely on God and do things that keep me feeling positive.
My faith is something I believe to be true, and because of that it gives me grounding, purpose, meaning and joy; during the good and the bad. What I have learnt from my experiences and having faith through them is that God brings peace to the soul and that prayer and community really are great.
A wise person once said, “We are not human doings. We are human beings”. When things become overwhelming, remember to “just be” for a moment, instead of trying “to do” and fix things all the time.