TW: depression, suicide
If there is one word that comes anywhere close to capturing what Christianity means to me, it would be the simple word “life”. I guess ‘life’ has lots of different implications, but in this case all of them would be true: Christianity gives me a purpose for life; it’s completely integral to the way I live; and honestly, God is the main reason why I’ve even got physical life still today.
Today, I ascribe so much of how I live to be a result of my faith. Not only do I try to make my decisions in light of my relationship with God but the peace and joy that I have I consider a result of the Holy Spirit within me. From day to day, I believe that I am continuously refreshed by God and by his presence within me, and the energy and joy that is brought by this excites and thrills me in my day-to-day life. I can’t really imagine what life would be like without this constant refreshment as this love which I have for God gives me a purpose to live, a purpose that satisfies my desires and brings peace to my heart!
I had grown up hearing about Christianity but had never engaged with its teachings personally, especially what it said about commitment: I always wanted to live my life independently, not in relationship with Jesus. But I believe I first met Jesus nearly ten years ago, when I was younger, about 11 or 12 years old. At that time, and it’s absolutely terrifying to think about now, I struggled with severe depression. For me then, in contrast to now, I saw no reason or purpose in living and eventually got to the stage where I no longer wanted to.
Over time, I was thinking extensively about the possibility of suicide as I saw no reason to continue living. As a 12-year-old at the start of the summer of 2009, I was at my lowest ebb. I’d been on a Christian youth camp the summer before and was scheduled to go on it again. I had quite enjoyed it and I remember thinking to myself thoughts along the lines of, “I’ll go on camp again this year. And then, when I get back home, that’ll be it”. Looking back now, it’s so scary that I was that close to the prospect of death.
I don’t remember much about that week “on camp”. What I do remember was a moment I had about two or three months later. It was as if I’d been woken up from a trance, that I’d suddenly returned to reality. I remember, at that moment, realising that it had been two or three months – exactly since camp – since I’d last even thought about depression. I’d gone past the date when I had planned to kill myself, without even thinking about it. I realised that at some point over that week at camp I’d been completely healed and set free from the chains that depression had held upon me. I knew it was a miracle. After all, there was no gradual healing, no gradual restoration to health: over the course of a week I went from being suicidal to forgetting that I’d ever been depressed. My physical life had been restored to me. It was an incredible miracle: since then, I’ve struggled with depression a few more times but never has any recovery that I have experienced been so sudden and so obviously from God as that one I experienced that time was. That was one time when God chose to miraculously heal me from my desperately dark state and for that I am incredibly grateful as without it I may not be alive here today.
Looking back, it was absolutely crazy of me but it was not for another two years after my miraculous healing that I actually committed my life to God and began my journey with him. Even after what I knew had been done in my life, I was afraid of committing myself to him and how that would change the way that I thought I wanted to live. I knew that I was living for myself rather than truly committing my life to God and I knew that I had to commit to living for God or I would be without him. It wasn’t possible to live the half-committed life that I had been trying to live, and, despite being afraid about the consequences, I knew the only thing I could do was to commit my life wholeheartedly to God.
However, now that I know God personally I can see that my fears were completely misguided. I can now say with absolute conviction that the life that I now have as a result of committing to Christ is absolutely wonderful and worth any small sacrifice that I have had to make. The peace and joy that I have as a result of this relationship with God is so fulfilling and so fantastic that I would recommend, and do recommend, it to anyone searching for fulfilment in their life. I think the best way to describe is that it is life – it’s the life that we as humans were made for and innately are seeking. From my experience, this life that God brings is the fullest, most perfect life that I’ve ever experienced or observed and it makes me just feel so, so free and joyous – truly alive. And that’s not even the best bit – this is only the beginning! I believe in life beyond the physical, life after death that is perfect, pure and thrilling – life as it was always supposed to be, the true life that we’re all yearning for.
So that’s why I can say that as wonderful as the miracle that the restoration of my physical life was, when I look back over the course that my life has taken me so far, I truly believe that it is merely a tiny fraction of all the things that God has done for me. After all, the physical life that I am able to enjoy today because of him is nothing compared to the inner peace, spiritual life and joy that he gives me every day – that’s the really amazing thing that God has worked within my life.
I do genuinely believe that I wouldn’t be on earth alive today if it weren’t for the miraculous working of God. But I also believe that enjoying the physical life that I’m experiencing now as a result is the least of what God’s done for me – he’s given me a new life, a life which is more alive and will be more alive than my experience without God would ever have been. And it’s this new life, this spiritual life, which I truly believe is for anyone who fully commits themselves to Jesus and joins in a relationship with him. I believe it’s what life was truly meant to be!