As I recount some of the events that shaped my pre-Christian life, I cannot emphasise enough that I was not simply a victim of circumstance, but I take responsibility as a perpetrator of the situations and actions that furthered the spiral downwards in my life.
A childhood filled with the bible but absent of the gospel
I was born and raised in England and lived there for about 20 years. I grew up on Bible stories and even went to schools that taught us the story of God. I desired to be a Christian as a young child and often persuaded my father to take me to the local Methodist church so that I could hang out in Sunday School. In spite of this, I don’t think I ever actually understood the gospel in my early years and was about 10 when I decided that I wanted to live life the way I wanted to. Over the years my idea and understanding of who God would slowly be shaped by philosophies, ideas, culture and media.
The city I grew up in was at the time a non-culturally diverse one and perhaps a little xenophobic, and because of the circumstances I would often get singled out and discriminated against as being Chinese. As I result, I discovered my own survival tactics by developing a hard exterior that rejected my Asian heritage while trying to identify with the racial group that rejected me. Through a childhood that faced a degree of rejection, it shaped me to seek acceptance, affirmation and love through other people.
Distorted dreams of love and sexuality
Media, marketing, movies and pornography mutilated my understanding of what true love, acceptance and affirmation looked like. I saw sexual intimacy as a means of attaining and securing the love and affirmation I deeply needed. I perceived that the only means of ultimately filling that need was to secure it through a life-long partner. I longed to be held of worth to at least one guy, and played a game of hit and miss, hoping that I would blindly find him eventually if I met enough men.
Virginity was something to simply get over and rid of as soon as possible. I still remember the disenchanted feeling of walking out of the house with my soul being completely seperated from my body as if they were two separate things. It was from this emotionally sterile and vacant feeling that I began seeing my own body as an asset that I could use to try and get what I want, and no longer a part of who I am. The way in which I lost and threw away my virginity set up a pattern where I wanted to replay the moment with different men over and over again in scenarios where I was in control over what happened.
From there I often exchanged real love for sexual intimacy and began believing that sexual thrills and encounters were the only goals and peaks of life that gave it meaning. From this I began striving for more sexual freedom and proficiency, it would be what I wanted to use to ’empower’ me, and what I would use to try and gain control over my life and the life of others.
For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things.
Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. (Romans 1:21-25 ESV)
Masking my self-hate
Through various sexual or intimate encounters that left be feeling temporarily thrilled but nights of emptiness and depression, I went to great lengths to conceal that void externally with clothing and cosmetics. Still longing to be held as being precious, loved, cherished and adored, it was important to me that I would be still perceived as being externally beautiful. This pursuit led me to a large spending problem where I would spend the last £200 of my £1000 of my overdraft on clothing and cosmetics and cry over how I didn’t have enough money for rent and food for the next month. My brokenness manifested in depression and psychosomatic panic attacks.
The culminating point of these consequences led me to pursue extreme sexual relationships that were founded on themes of abuse, humiliation and dominance. I romanticised fantasies of rape and abuse and chased after men who would enable that. Being unable to emotionally function through my second year in university, I ended up deferring my education for a year and lied to my parents to live with a man I had barely met, in a different country to pursue a romanticised sexually degrading relationship.
Being in a severe debt from my spending habits, I became financially as well as emotionally dependent on this man. I sold myself out for vacations, money, stuff and for what I thought was love. My ideas of marriage and family were so broken that I didn’t even see that it was an issue that this man with two kids was cheating on his partner with me. I endured and submitted myself to sexual abuse for nearly six months.
Somehow, throughout the whole time, I convinced myself that I was still in control. The psychological separation of my body and soul meant that I was detached to the physical abuse that happened to my body. The vacations, the clothes, the money and stuff, were the things that consoled the emptiness and ugliness I was feeling. Of course, I wasn’t’ in control; I told myself I could leave and it was my choice to stay but really couldn’t.
As the money dried up in the relationship and I returned to England, the pattern in my life had not changed. After eventually cutting my ties from that relationship after six months, I was still living out the same patterns of pursuing men for love. Having deferred my degree for a year, I observed my friends looking for prospective employment as they began thinking about their future beyond their degrees. As I cross compared our lives and started anticipating my future, all I saw was hopelessness and darkness. I couldn’t imagine that I would ever be loved or employed if people found out what I had done.
What was your life like before Jesus? Or maybe you can identify with some of the things I went through. Have you shared it before, would love to hear your transformation story.