by Zoe Tan
While growing up, I was bullied a lot. In every stage of my school life, I found myself feeling unwanted and unnecessary. It made me question how I acted, what I had, and my appearance. I realised I did not look like my female bullies and lacked a lot of what they had. This planted little seeds of lies inside me, that bore fruits of extremely harsh standards and criticism. I doubted my worth and hated all that I was. All I could think was, “Am I not enough? Why am I always the one who’s left out and belittled?”
Eventually this seed took root in me and grew into a big tree. In everything I did and said, I heard the never-ending lies, “Why did you say that? She hates you now. They think you’re weird. Why are you so loud? Can you relax? Stop being insecure.” Ironically, this made me even more insecure and I started to look for validation in earthly things like my looks and material things, and searched for love in the wrong places. I became a woman of the world and lost sight of God.
Yet, I was quite active in church but led a double life. I was praising God in church but then sinning and conforming to the world outside. But chasing after the world only left me emptier and emptier now in hindsight, I realised that I was never truly satisfied. After coming off all the highs, I still wasn’t full. Unknowingly, I was searching for more.
So I brought this baggage to the school. It was something I’d always wanted to surrender to God but never did. I would hold it up to Him, but when He would try to take it, I wouldn’t let go. I would still hold onto it because I’d been doing so for a long time, and didn’t know how to get out. Because of that, the third week of the school, I fell into this darkness again. When I thought time and time again that I had surrendered my self condemnation and negative self image, I would fall into the lies again.
I was suddenly so aware that my body did not look how I wanted it to, and got so upset that I relapsed into a dark spiral. It felt so easy, because I had been trapped for years and found it so difficult to choose God because that would mean having to face my wounds and I didn’t want to do that. It got so bad, that I even saw scenes of Jesus walking away from me because I wasn’t worthy.
But as I was prayed for during a worship session, I saw myself in a garden with Jesus, plucking a few pink flowers to give to him. He happily accepted them and then from behind his back, He pulled out a HUGE bouquet that was 28392938x bigger than what I gave him and I was so amazed. We then danced and laughed, and all was good. Right then I realised that all IS GOOD in the Lord and He really loves me so so so much. On another night I was reading an ancient homily about Jesus’s descent into the realm of the dead and was very moved by it, “See on my face the spittle I received in order to restore to you the life I once breathed into you”. My heart actually broke when it dawned on me the kind of pain and shame that Jesus had to endure for us sinners. We are so worthy for God to not only DIE for us but also to suffer, be tortured and be ridiculed by his own people. In that moment I truly felt God’s abundant and gracious love for me. Who else in this world can truly love me unconditionally even after all the things I’ve done against them?
Why care about anybody else’s validation when you have the Lord’s? I have already won first prize, why would I still want to go for second and third? It’s easy to say, “Jesus loves me, this I know”, but to actually truly believe it, is a whole new level that will bring me the highest form of joy and peace. I can always find comfort in knowing that I am God’s beloved! He will never walk away from me because He loves me too much to give up. With His strength, I will never give up on myself.
With each new day, I am noticing that I treat myself better and better. I now understand that I am human, and I make mistakes. But with the Almighty Lord’s grace, I will walk again. Day by day, I am learning to forgive myself for the mistakes I’ve made, and I make the conscious effort to choose God and surrender my worries to Him. With the lord to fight my battles for me, why should I still demand control? I may still struggle now, but I will claim daily, that I am God’s beloved child. A new seed has been planted in me, a seed of love and acceptance. It slowly grows bigger and overshadows the tree of lies, but it can only happen through God’s grace.
Jesus is looking to you with outstretched arms, He is always ready to welcome you home, the choice lies with you.