I’ve always been bullied.

Growing up, I felt no one understood me. I always felt that my parents favoured other people. At least, to my young mind it looked that way – it seemed they always spoke nicely to other people but were often harsh towards me.

Looking back, it’s only fair that I thank them; after all, they were raising me the best way they knew how (Hebrews 12:10) with the aim of producing good fruit (Hebrews 12:11).

Relentlessly picked on by the neighbours’ children, I was given humiliating roles that nobody wanted to play during role-play sessions. I was set up to fail at drawing competitions, and laughed at for being the slowest runner on the block during catching.

Going to school was not exactly pleasant either. Having to explain to my parents where lost lunchboxes went was a nightmare, especially when they insisted that I misplaced them again, even if that really wasn’t always the case. (To be fair to them, I had a penchant for misplacing my belongings a fair bit).

Not just lunchboxes – umbrellas and water bottles were regularly misappropriated and secreted away, and oftentimes the only way I could get them back was by demanding them back (which often failed and resulted in more mocking and name-calling), or getting a teacher in to help (which meant I got my things back, but at the cost of more name-calling, while subsequent bullying just got worse).

I couldn’t even look in the mirror – I couldn’t stand to see the person I saw staring back at me.

Just as I thought the worst was over, with my mediocre PSLE results, I leapt out of the proverbial frying pan into the raging inferno: Secondary school. Not only did the bullies from primary school follow me to secondary school, they ganged up with the popular kids, so the bullying didn’t stop – it intensified.

From the name-calling and hiding of things I suffered in primary school, it progressed to public humiliation, them taking turns to lob paint at me, and so many other terrifying ordeals.

Through it all, I spent most nights crying myself to sleep, their sharp words ringing through my mind as I wept. Things got so bad that I couldn’t even look in the mirror – I couldn’t stand to see the person I saw staring back at me. All their words seemed so true, so apt, so painful.

Determined to fix myself, I turned to one area that I thought could fix my pain: Power.

At that time, I held a relatively low rank within my uniformed group. But fuelled by an insatiable desire for copious amounts of power, I leapt at all opportunities to get the most prestigious and powerful positions, which would enable me to wield a disproportionate amount of power over the other cadets in my unit and get them to do my bidding, regardless of their views.

Not only was I power-hungry inside my CCA, I was the same outside, too. Harnessing the rage boiling inside me from being bullied, I took it out on others, taunting them, hiding belongings and so on.

But none of it satisfied. None of it stopped the nightly crying. In desperation, I turned to yet another way out: Companionship. At that time, I thought that having a girlfriend would be the solution to all my problems. I figured that even if it didn’t stop the bullying, it would at least make it more bearable, having someone who cared for you and was willing to hear you out.

Soon, I was getting myself involved with a girl and we both depended heavily on each other emotionally to get through the day. But the relationship didn’t work out, and after everything, I realised that the hole was still there. It wasn’t patched up.

As French mathematician, physicist and philosopher Blaise Pascal surmised: We all have a God-shaped void which cannot be filled by anything other than what it was intended to be filled by.

At my wits’ end, I decided to turn back to God. I was brought up in a Christian household, and though I doubted His existence back then – mostly due to the emotional experiences that I been through – I still attended church. Though I mostly did so to seek companionship and please my parents, I was unconsciously absorbing and remembering all that was said during sermons and worship.

It was in the endless, rolling deserts of South Australia that all the pieces finally fell into place.

It was my CCA’s biennial overseas trip and we were headed Down Under to Adelaide. The first week was spent in the city, but on the second week there, they decided to let us experience life in the desert.

One night, as I looked up, I saw the Milky Way, with the various constellations dancing about. And then it hit me. I was blown away by the fact that, despite creating all the stars, putting them into place (Colossians 1:17) and knowing each and every one of their names (Psalms 147:4), He knows and cares for me too (Matthew 10:30).

I knelt down and wept at the realisation that I was not only known but loved by The Most High God.

When I returned to Singapore, I attended my youth ministry’s annual Worship Night. At the service, I could feel the presence of God washing over me like waves, washing me clean and reassuring me that I was His and that nothing could ever separate me from His Love.

I knelt down and wept at the realisation that I was not only known but loved by The Most High God.

I went back to school, and no, the bullying and name-calling did not stop. I still feel the fear today of the next taunt, the next shove coming around the next corner. But I know now that in all these trials, God was with me throughout, and that He was the only one I could rely on.

And that will never change.