What Made Me Change?
I didn’t do anything, and I was seeking nothing. Nothing had changed in spite of the traumas I had been through in the previous year. Even in my desperation, I did not attempt to seek God.
Starting to think about the future and a career
Having now returned to England, and now being a year behind all my friends, I watched and observed as they were all entering their final exams and started looking for jobs and employment. I felt the pressure to start thinking of a career and future after university and spend the beginning of the summer to make up for my lost time and started applying for work to build my work experience and looking into some Internship Programs.
I put out a lot of feelers into looking for summer work to secure an income and decent work experience. As well, I had been working for a temping agency, which often landed me in work that was mind numbing. Looking for something more invigorating and being an avid Apple fan, I applied for a vacancy at the Apple store at the time, of which, I now only thankfully realise, I did not get.
I was returning home from an internship interview 45 mins away from the city I lived in which made me late for work. It was then that my temping agency called me to see whether I was going to commit to working there. At that moment I took a risk, and cancelled my temp job and put all my hope in getting into the Internship Program. Out of the twenty-five candidates that were selected for the program, I was one of the three to be interviewed and was the one who won the internship.
In the eight weeks of that program, I strived in my work, which eventually recognised and awarded me as the Most Entrepreneurial Shell Step Intern of the local region. The success gave me some hope.
The hope I found in that success made me more ambitious but also opened up how my “potential” was tarred by the things that I had done the previous year. I began comparing myself to a higher league of students and spiralled into an anxious depression. The traumas of my gap year marred the prospect of me having a solid resume, decent grades and a good reputation. I felt like I had already sabotaged my future and I had little hope and a lot of fear.
Seeing a different way of living
It was the end of the summer of 2007 when life took an unexpected turn. By this time, most of my friends had graduated, and I was left without housemates for the three months of the summer break. In this transitional time, I spent about three months squatting with my best friend’s boyfriend’s friends.
It was around this period that my Christian aunt in Malaysia decided to renew her marriage vows with her husband and paid for my air ticket that I might be able to witness and celebrate the time with them. Incidentally, because my aunt was recently recognised as being the most entrepreneurial woman in her country, I wanted to see if I could gleam off her wisdom and enquire whether gaining work experience in her company was an option after my degree.
I’ve often pitied my aunt’s daughter for what I perceived as being a “sheltered” life growing up in a Christian home; she was the same age as me, and she had never done the “fun” things that I had done: she had never been promiscuous or smoked drugs. However, when I was reunited with her in Malaysia I felt different; I frustrated and angered through the comparison of our lives. A painful thought crept into my mind, “If I had lived a life that followed the rules she had to live by, my life would probably be easier right now, and I wouldn’t have the problems and fears I’m dealing with now. I probably wouldn’t have faced years of paralysing depression and anxiety, abusive boyfriends and a big botch job of my education.”
From this thought, it made me question whether the chastity, rules and wisdom prescribed in the Bible were as outdated as I had believed or whether it actually had some timeless truths to it. It started to make me examine whether the other laws and moral standards in Scripture were also true too.
As these thoughts snowballed in my mind, I began to seriously re-evaluate my life under the thought that I had been wrong about what I thought about subjective morality. I thought about my future and my past; I recalled memories from Sunday School as a child and every Bible story I could remember; I became troubled about the prospect that I might have been wrong.
A turn of events and a piercing word
While I was still on vacation in Malaysia, my mother woke up one morning and kept collapsing after breakfast. None of the doctors could identify the problem, and so they advised us just to watch and wait. We took my mother to my aunt’s office where she continued moving in and out of consciousness.
As usual, my aunt, desiring that all would come to Christ, gave me a stack of Christian literature for me to read while I cared for my mother. Despite being irritated that my aunt was trying to “convert” me again, I read the literature anyway to kill time. Somehow I was able to read those magazines without the anger that it has stirred in my in the past. I read them with interest and curiosity and felt like I could absorb it without the usual discomfort; my heart was somehow softened.
Eventually, in the time I spent caring for my mother, it came to light that she mistook her sleeping tablets instead of her blood pressure pills and I felt it safe for me to leave her to sleep it off. I went into my aunt’s office to say goodbye and somehow broke down in tears exclaiming my ongoing frustrations with her and our cultural differences. In my aunt’s effort to help reconcile me and my mother’s strained relationship, she defended her crude actions explaining her intent to love me through them. It was at the point of the conversation where my aunt made a comment on God’s value of chastity and modesty and His love for me that I broke down into tears again.
I argued with my Aunt, “It’s too late for me!” I’ve already broken God’s rules in a big way. If there is a God, he knows the awful things that I have done, and no man, let alone God, could love a girl like me. Flashbacks of fear towered over me like a constant bombardment of waves; fears of my former abuser, fears of the images he has of me, fears that other people or future employers would find out about my past.
My aunt paused momentarily. It was then that she spoke to me some sobering truths. In the midst of all the flashbacks, she spoke something that seemed to still my mind, “God still loves you”.
Really? God still loves me even though He knows the horrible things I partook in and had done? Despite hearing of God’s love hundreds of times before, the words pierced me in a way I never experienced before. The Gospel took hold of my heart and somehow I believed that somehow God could and did still truly love me in spite of my past.
It was then that she prayed for me and with me.
I went back to her home, back to the room I was staying in, and by the dressing table I sat down and I began to speak to God for the first time in a very long time.