This is an anonymous guest post that will touch many of you, I’m sure. It’s an incredible testimony and a wonderful reminder to give God full control in every aspect of our lives.
I grew up an outsider – the kid on the fringe. To others, I was probably shrouded in an air of mystery. Having moved from school to school due to dad’s work, I grew shy and cautious of commitment. I didn’t have the opportunity to become settled in one surrounding, with one group of people. Spending the majority of my teenage years in a boisterous boys’ school where weakness is pounced on taught me to keep cracks well hidden. I learnt independence and this, coupled with a perfectionist trait, made me believe that there is no reason why I couldn’t be in full control of each aspect of my life.
I certainly felt emotionally secure. However, a specific part of my life began to chip away at this security. At home, mum and dad often did not seem to get on. I didn’t think much of it as a child as I assumed most people’s parents fell out from time to time. This was surely nothing I couldn’t take in my stride, I used to think. However, the problems continued to escalate. As the years went by, the division between my parents grew and it began to put a strain in the family. My younger sibling chose to distant themselves from the issue and seemed to want nothing to do with it. I didn’t have a friend close enough to speak to about it, I did not feel connected to any church or a particular priest I could open up to, and I was often made to feel that this topic was such a taboo that it should never leave the front door of the house anyway.
My original belief that I could handle anything myself was beginning to fade away, so I looked to God. “That’s what He’s there for, right?” I told myself. I love both of my parents and I knew they loved me too, wanting only the best for me. I spent years praying for God to intervene and fix their relationship. I asked Him to show me what is was that I had to do in order to play my part. I spent numerous years being the peacemaker in the house, refusing to take one side over another, and feeling too much of a sense of responsibility to detach myself from the issue completely. I refused to stop believing that with my perseverance and prayers, the problems would be resolved and one day we would finally live as a peaceful, happy family.
This day did not come. The cracks turned into gaping crevasses and after moving away to university, I found myself being the recipient of endless phone calls from each individual complaining about the other. It was taking a toll on my studies, my social life, and ultimately on my spirituality. I can recall long nights being in torment with God. I was filled with anger that after all the prayers and belief, He hadn’t come up with the goods. If anything, things were much worse than where we started.
I began to loosen my grip and reliance on Him, and slowly started to revert to my original strategy of handling it all myself. The stress of it led me to take comfort in other areas. I began to make wrong decisions at university and things began to slip. I was losing control – a concept that was previously so alien to me. I had blocked out everyone in my life, including God, refusing to listen to Him. I only had myself to contend with and for the first time, felt truly alone. This broke me. In all of my efforts to try and restore my family, I found myself with nobody.
In my fourth year at university, something within me revved me to get up and make a change. I was not content in staying in this slumber. I loathed self-pity and knew deep down that although I had turned my face away from God, He was still the only one that could change things. In my depths lurked a voice that kept telling me to look at Him and listen one more time to what He had to say.
I got myself back into church; one that I had frequented during my time at university, but never made an effort to get fully involved with. I chose to make a conscious effort to get to know the people there and engage with the community. There was instant gratification. I quickly found a friend I was confident to open up with, pretty much from our first meeting. I had never done anything like this before, but it felt so comfortable. It was amazing to unload to someone who was essentially a stranger. They helped me to start making steps towards the right track and made me feel welcomed in the group. I was wary of revealing my secrets to anyone else, still believing that I was an outsider with a shameful background. I could not have been more wrong. I quickly learnt that I was not the only Copt to have come from a far from perfect family, and was soon able to confide in someone that had been through something very similar.
Through further involvement in the church, I attended my first conference and heard a quote that truly resonated within me;
“The almost impossible thing is to hand over your whole self to Christ… but it is far easier than what we are all trying to do instead” C.S. Lewis
I realised that striving to maintain full control of each aspect of my life was foolish, and it was essential that I hand over the reins to my life to Him. I must put Him firmly in the driving seat.
For a long time I knew that the situation at home was my cross to bear, and that I must carry it. However, I had no clue how to carry it. For a great deal of time I wondered what it was that I practically needed to do. I would often find myself being put in situations with my parents, being forced to balance my time equally between them so as not to make one upset that I was picking a side. I often wanted to take a step back and distance myself from the whole situation, but I felt overwhelmed with guilt and the sense of selfishness. Was putting them before myself and my own happiness how I was meant to carry my cross? These questions were so simply answered by my friend who had gone through a similar situation, and who I had previously confided in:
I needed to make sure that whatever I do, it was according to the will of God. I must keep God in my heart and that is who I should aim to please. Only He will satisfy my longing for happiness.
I realised how much I had complicated my life when I tried to work out what I needed to do, alone, not considering His will in my decision making.
This realisation has brought me so much peace.
Through all of the struggles and the anger that I felt towards God, I have learnt that it was all for my benefit. I wanted to work out how to carry my cross with minimal struggle, but instead I have been shown how to live with peace in my heart. I have learnt the true meaning of love and grace.
I longed for a family, and He has blessed me with an entire Church.