I was 8-years-old when my mother passed away, leaving no one to care for us.
So my younger brother and I were sent to Chen Su Lan Methodist Children’s Home. My elder sister who was born with severe cerebral palsy stayed in Red Cross Home for the Disabled where she still lives today.
It took awhile to adapt to living in the home but life was generally happy in the 4 years I spent there. I left the Home after I completed PSLE. So from living among my peers in the Home, I went to living alone in a 2-room HDB flat at 12-years-old. My father stayed elsewhere. It was a drastic change and I struggled to adapt, crying for the first few days and nights.
Extremely lonely, I was vulnerable and got influenced by the wrong sort of company. We got into trouble with the law but by God’s grace I was somehow kept out of trouble. I spent most nights after school at a friend’s place as it was better than being alone in my flat where I only had cold silence and four unfeeling walls waiting for me.
When I was Secondary 1, I would go back to the Home for their Before & After School Care (BASC) program. It was during this time that I got to know Uncle HJ and his wife who were volunteering at the Home by giving tuition. Uncle HJ was to be a major figure who God placed in my life in my teenage years.
After some time in Secondary 2 I stopped going to BASC and the tuition classes conducted at the Home. I gradually lost contact with my friends from the home and Uncle HJ. However Uncle HJ made efforts to keep in touch with me like visiting me at my house or asking me out for coffee or a game of basketball.
There were many occasions where I stood him up and did not turn up for the agreed appointments. But despite my no-shows, he continued to persist in keeping in contact with me. Uncle HJ was then the head of a Christian ministry called Youth Guidance under Singapore Youth For Christ which serves at-risk youths.
… despite my no-shows, he continued to persist in keeping in contact with me.
After working with me for some time, he invited me to his office for regular tuition. I was 17 by then. This was also when he asked me whether I wanted to pray the sinner’s prayer – and thank God I did. So I started regularly going for Bible studies and Christian fellowship held at the centre every Saturday.
Between 2003 and 2004 he brought me to Zion Bible Presbyterian Church (Bishan) where I began attending Youth Discipleship classes. After regularly attending Youth Discipleship and service on Sundays, I signed up for Youth Fellowship Camp 2004.
YF Camp was life changing for me as I got to know many youths and people from church. I then started going regularly to YF which strengthened the new friendships I made in camp. The last few teenage years spent in YF were really memorable.
But between 2005 and 2006 I had another major shakeup in my life – a failed relationship. Things got awkward but I didn’t leave church immediately. However, the breakup became the main trigger for the depression I was to live through in the years to come.
After I finished National Service, I gradually drifted away from my church community. I had become disillusioned with faith and life. And as I entered the working world, I encountered its even more cruel and unforgiving nature.
Because towards the end of 2009, I lost my job. My depression was spiralling. Grappling with insecurity and low-self esteem, I became filled with bitterness towards God asking Him why He placed me in such a broken family.
Why did other people get to have such a smooth life. Why did they get to come from well-to-do families? Why did they get to go to good schools? Why did they have their good qualifications and careers?
I really felt like no one understood me as I came from a drastically different background and that kept me from church. I believed no one understood me or made an effort to – so I isolated myself. I lived waiting to die, totally helpless and hopeless as my bitterness kept me away from God.
I believed no one understood me or made an effort to – so I isolated myself.
But between 2011 and 2012, God sent Pastor D to reach out to me, who would come to my place and ask me to come out and have coffee with him.
By this time I was so deeply entrenched in depression that I practically ignored him when he talked at me. I was like a zombie, unresponsive. Others from church also visited me every now and then, but I ignored them as well.
Over the years, I was going in circles and relapsing. My church attendance was very irregular, I would often appear for a short while before disappearing for long periods. Losing count of how many times I relapsed, I told Pastor D, “ I’m sick of trying and falling down repeatedly. Even if I were to try, I will fail again.”
I stayed depression free for almost an year in 2014. but relapsed in October. That was when I disappeared from church again.
“If you are going to continue playing the victim, you will always be on the losing end. It’s your life, your decision.”
Eventually, Pastor D said something incredibly sobering to me, “If you are going to continue playing the victim, you will always be on the losing end. It’s your life, your decision.”
I finally realised how inward and self-centred I had been. I was always thinking about myself and feeling sorry for myself. I am created in God’s image, but I spat for years in God’s face, telling Him: “Look, you created a useless being, a good-for-nothing loser.”
God has been revealing to me the gravity of my sin and pride (self-pity is one form). I thank Him for the new contriteness in my heart. HJ told me he was grieved to see the state I was once in, and that makes me think about how much more Jesus was grieved.
Today I am eternally and immensely grateful for God’s patience, persistence, grace and love all while I was trying all sorts of ways to flee and hide from Him.
*The author’s name has been changed for confidentiality.