Starting my journey with Christ felt like I was living a double life. I was singing, praising the Lord with all my heart one day and come the next day, I was back to the reality of the world. I was a person split between two places – two homes, two sets of friends, and even two personalities. Although a part of me hoped that I can live in both worlds, it wouldn’t allow me to grow with Christ. I couldn’t compromise my faith so l could fit in the world. (Matthew 6:24) So I made up my mind. I’m following God.
The Past Revisited
My walk with Christ seemed too good to be true. The answers to the biggest questions I’ve had for years were laid out in front of me, just like that. Believe it or not, my life turned 180 degrees in a matter of months. Everything happened so quickly, no wonder why I was drawn to seek Him more. I entered the “new life” without really fully thinking about what’s going to happen next. I left behind the traditions, the beliefs, the old ways of thinking and the habits that had become a significant part of who I am. I’ve participated in church events, joined a ministry, made a circle of close friends, not to mention getting to grips with a new environment and culture; learning and adapting to the life of a Christian.
But as much as this church community is home, it is impossible for anyone to simply wipe the slate blank of everything which came before. It felt like day by day, I was losing sight of who I am. It was tough to give up the life I’ve grown used to, but as time goes by, I got okay with it. There is something about growing in Christ that takes away my hesitation. Later on, I had the courage to visit a memory that I always wished I could erase. I had the confidence to do so, because I was secured and assured of God’s promises, however, my faith was still shaken. I realized, half my identity belongs to the past, and by visiting, I revived that person, the person I was before I left. The old me kept her struggles to herself, stayed inside her bedroom all day and constantly dismissed everyone who initiates a conversation with her.
I wasn’t ready to take it all in. I thought I could handle the pain gracefully and feel victorious about it, but I was wrong. It made me feel lost, and I didn’t want to be found anymore. I was back at getting stuck, confused and unsure. Who am I? The answer was again unclear. Then I thought I heard a whisper in my ear saying, I am weak. I am helpless. I am still the same old girl.
I was back at ground zero, torn between stepping out in faith or returning to my comfort zone.
I was dazed and confused to return to the past, realizing how I still had mannerisms and old habits from the life I wanted to get out of. It was like learning that cancer I battled for a long time suddenly recurred. For the first few days, my eyes got teary as a familiar pang on my heart knocked me down, back into the pit where I came from.
Sinking back into my old self was almost too easy. Being able to slip from one life to another in an instant is a strange transition. It was by following Christ that I was given a chance to start a new life, but fragments of the old one still linger, tempting me to come back anytime when the new life gets difficult.
Anxiety and depression soon took over after taking a trip down memory lane. Discouraged, hopeless, and disinterested with everything, all I wanted was to be left alone. But despite shutting everyone off, people from the church always try to reach out, reminding me of God’s words almost every day. I realized that I was blessed to be in a community where I’m no longer out of sight, out of mind. It’s amazing how God uses the church to surround me with His presence even though I’ve strayed away from Him. Truly, God never misses out on anyone.
After bouncing back from this episode, I asked myself whether I am fully committed to a Christ-like life or not. While I was clinging to the past that I believe shaped me into who I am now, I was slowly drifting away from the call of God. I didn’t want to say goodbye to the old life because I didn’t want to disregard how I got through the suffering by myself. I thought I’ve lifted up to the Lord all the burdens in my heart, but because of this event, it was revealed to me that I was still relying on my own strength rather than leaning on Him.
Victory Over The Storm
Every time flashbacks come to mind, I feel disconnected from everything, and it feels like I haven’t made any progress, but my relationship with the Lord casts my fears away. His love is much bigger than anything that makes me afraid. I’m no longer caught between two worlds. I’m no longer running back to that life, where emptiness was normal and isolation was comfortable. It isn’t “home” anymore.
The past is a part of me, but that is not all who I am. Looking back still evokes some strange nostalgic feeling, but I’m not staying there anymore. I’m stepping out, in faith. I’m walking with Him.
The victory is won. And I want to remind the inner child in me that nothing can frighten me anymore. If I’d get a chance to talk to my younger self, here’s what I’d probably say…
“Hey, you’ll get through this. You’re probably crying right now, but you know what? You’ll feel okay. You’ll get lost for a little while, and some days you’ll remember the painful things you wish you could forget. Believe me, you’ll cry some more nights. I know it sucks that nobody understands what you’re dealing with, but soon you’ll meet the One who’ll comfort you, and heal you. It’ll hurt, yes, but by that time, you’ll no longer feel afraid.
You probably didn’t notice, but all this time Jesus was with you. And he will always be with you, walking at the same pace as you so you don’t have to keep up. He will be right by your side, holding your hand even at times when you’re losing grip.
And even at the most chaotic moments, he’ll give you rest.
Stay calm. He’s in control.”
If a past event in your life keeps haunting you, don’t fret over things you can’t handle. This is not your battle, it is the Lord’s. Only press forward with a steadfastness in Christ and take heart; greater things will come and you can hope again. It is in His word, “The LORD will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:14)