I know the exact moment I was marked by Christ.
It happened three years ago, when I was serving in disaster relief in Japan.
God spoke 1 Corinthians 9:22 over my life – I am to be “all things to all men”. That means being willing to sacrifice how I live or behave, that I might win souls to Christ. I also received prophecies which defined the path I wanted to walk in my life.
Passion, joy, breakthroughs and revelations followed me every single trip I went on. I knew my path was not meant to be easy, but with every battle and victory, I grew to know God better and better.
2018 was the year of my biggest victory.
I was finally able to serve in urban ministry in New York, reaching out to thousands of kids and being part of something bigger than who I was.
But that was also the year I fell from the peak: Suddenly I was beginning to experience constant anxiety and stress.
I had a mental and emotional breakdown. Whenever anxiety kicked in, I had panic attacks. I wouldn’t be able to think straight. Depression and oppression hung over me. They overtook me and clouded my senses – it was like living in a fog.
I didn’t have words for how I was feeling, but I did feel like my dream was dying. All this while, my life continued to spiral downwards.
I started to cut my own wrists as a coping mechanism for the stress and feelings I couldn’t put into words.
Forced back into a rat race I was not prepared for, into a place of comparison against my peers, I realised I could not feel the presence of God anymore.
In my life’s greatest valley, I wondered where was the God who was with me at the mountaintop.
In an attempt to escape from everything I was feeling – I overdosed on drugs.
I was unconscious in the hospital for 2 days before I was sent to the Institute of Mental Health for 4 days.
My time there was when I met God face to face. With not much activity to do, I held my Bible and started reading and meditating on verses.
That was when Psalm 18:2 came to life for me: “The LORD is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold”.
Being labelled as a mental patient with social adjustment issues, anxiety and depression, I didn’t think I would be able to speak to people over the next few months – especially since everything was new to me.
But God picked me up at my lowest and met me at the end of myself. He broke through my struggles in every way possible for me.
I started to truly worship God when He was the only thing I was left with; I started to seek Him more than I ever had before.
I learnt to ask Him for my daily bread each morning – for whatever I needed to get through the day. I had wanted to rush through this season, but I came to see that I had to learn how to rest, restore my faith and find healing in God.
Eventually, I walked out of the darkness with my head held high – today I’m thankful to be free of medication and therapy.
In fact, I’m ready to go back to the mission field in New York! It’s where my heart is, and I can’t wait to reach out to the youth and kids there in June.
I found strength to face my struggles in the name of Jesus and in the knowledge of who He says I am. My personal battles were won by the Word of God and His daily grace for me. It was finished at the cross.
I also made tough decisions to let certain people go in my life, and I invested in the lives of some others even if they were a thousand miles away.
I stepped into a new work environment and for the first time in my life, I actually enjoyed working with people knowing that the power that has restored me can heal them too.
Depression, anxiety and oppression are real – but God is stronger and He can get take us through these struggles.
As a Christian who loves God fervently, I often find myself asking if the great failures of my life could truly be put down to a lack of faith.
How did I end up in a mental hospital right after a great victory in life? I felt shame wash over me for the longest time because I simply couldn’t understand.
But change came when I asked God what He thought of me. And He reminded me of the victories, songs and prophecies He had spoken over my life. And that shame left.
There’s no shame in seeking treatment at a mental hospital. Spending time there has given me a heart of compassion for some of the emotional and mental hurts people go through.
Depression, anxiety and oppression are real – but God is stronger and He can get us through these struggles.
We should never be defined by the conditions we face, but by the One who died to set us free.