Found, lost, found
By Alex Leong
As far back as I can remember, I was taught about God and the Bible at home and in Sunday school. As I grew up, I attended the youth group and then moved on to the young adults group. Through the testimony and sharing of strong believers, witnessing the work of God with my own eyes, and personal prayer, I came to terms that God is real and His word is true. To me, there was no defining moment for my becoming a Christian, as I accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior very early in life and progressively affirmed my faith as I grew in understanding of God.
Unfortunately, like many youth, when curiosity was at its peak, I tested boundaries and formed bad habits. Before I knew it, one bad habit turned into an addiction.
My young immature faith struggled to grow alongside this secret addiction. At some point I knew what I was doing was wrong. Countless attempts were made to rid myself of this habit. However, doing this all alone was extremely difficult. Failure time and time again threw me into a state of depression. It bred in me a negative thought pattern, always screaming “NOT GOOD ENOUGH! USELESS! FAILURE!” This idea became so prevalent that it crippled everything I did. These negative feelings and thoughts fluctuated up and down throughout the years. There was a point where the guilt was so immense I lost the passion for everything I used to love. I was constantly demotivated, had trouble sleeping and waking up, couldn’t eat properly, my chest would get tight and I couldn’t breathe, and worst of all, I couldn’t pray. My habit pushed me further away from God and deeper into guilt and depression. It hurt to be torn away from God. Sometimes I wished I never heard the gospel because then I wouldn’t have to struggle trying to do what’s right. As I was always afraid of being judged by others, I kept this problem secret. Deep inside I longed to tell someone, hoping to get help. I did it twice but it never really worked out.
Going to youth rallies, camps, conferences, etc. helped my faith to grow but it was always choked by this addiction. Many times I prayed fervently for God to free me. I longed to have a healthy relationship with Him and live fully according to His purpose.
After 18 years or so being bound to this addiction, God answered my prayers. In fact, it would seem that He had been answering them all along. All those failures have prepared me for my moment of freedom and formed me into what I am today. He also never let me give up fighting all these years. How did He change me? In my darkest moment, with a few simple words from a friend, He planted a seed of HOPE. As I lay on my bed that night, pondering upon that hope, I felt a warm kindling sensation in my chest, and the light of God pierced through the darkness within me. I experienced what the bible said, “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in your weakness”. My spirit was revived. The voice of the Holy Spirit drowned out the negative voices in my ears. After this I spent a lot of time researching (books, online resources, etc.) for ways to help me identify my actions and why I do them. This has enabled me to keep careful watch of my actions and thoughts as I go about my daily activity, preventing relapse. Praise God for lifting my burdens and setting me free!
I want to go through the rite of confirmation in the Methodist Church where I have been attending because I think this is the start of a new journey with God – a Christian walk without the hindrance of addiction. I believe that part of the reason I suffered so much was because of the mindset that I had to overcome the problem to earn God’s approval. But I have since learned that on the day I believed and received Christ, I was justified and there is nothing I could do or could have done to make him love me more. I doubt the journey forward would be smooth, but with every fall, I know I can further appreciate what Jesus has done for me on the cross, and that God has given me the self-awareness and right mindset to get back up on my feet.
Alex is 23 years old, comes from Miri, E. Malaysia and has just graduated from Curtin University, Perth