Hi there! I am a TCK currently pursuing my Masters here at LSE in Development Management (2016/17). You can usually find me in a cafe or museum, running along the river, or eating my way through this city (I have a strong predilection for dessert).
7 But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us. 8 We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; 9 persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 10 We always carry around in our body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be revealed in our body. 11 For we who are alive are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that his life may also be revealed in our mortal body.
12 So then, death is at work in us, but life is at work in you.
Growing up, I remember always feeling a deep-seated ambition to be “good enough” – whether that was in my relationships, in the work that I did, or even in the way that I looked. To reach this goal, I tried hard to impress people in my life by trying to find my happiness in the praise and adoration from others, and a sense of security when I did. This ambition served me well until my last two years of high school when I started to struggle to keep up with the standard I had set for myself. I found myself competing with others who were much more intelligent and capable than I was and, to compensate, I started to invest more of my time in relationships, friendships, and extracurricular activities.
However, in the span of three months, these areas of my life started to falter – a few of my relationships and friendships fell apart and the activities I had invested in left me feeling hollow and defeated. When the pain of these failures caught up to me, I started to experience a great sense of worthlessness, which transformed into a greater sense of self-hatred, and then into self-harm. I began to believe this pain was too great for me to stay on this earth and contemplated leaving it – yet the fear of not knowing what would happen to me after death kept me alive.
While I had been raised in a Christian household where I had heard of Jesus, read Bible stories, and grown to understand the concept of heaven, it all seemed like a pipe dream, which I didn’t necessarily trust or believe in. Yet one night when I felt particularly overwhelmed by these dark and heavy thoughts, I decided to pray for the first time in a long time – challenging Jesus that if He was indeed real and that this life was indeed worth living for, He would help get me through the year.
Though I still struggled over the following months, I managed to graduate and move to Chicago to start my undergrad; I thought a change of scenery would do me good. While I was grateful that I had made it that far, I gave no other thought to Jesus or what my faith meant to me until those old thought patterns of self-hatred and suicide began to re-emerge. After seeking professional help, I was diagnosed with major depression and anxiety - a diagnosis that I understood as a sign of my weakness and brokenness.
Yet again, I found myself compensating for these flaws by delving into as many friendships and activities as I could. Although I was uninterested in pursuing anything remotely faith-based, my brother had a friend who was involved in a Christian organisation in my university – Cru – and after she pursued me countlessly and constantly invited me to join her for one of their weekly meetings, I decided to attend. That night, I encountered an intentional community of people passionate for Jesus and a life in pursuit of Him in a way that stood out to me differently than before – and I began to see Christianity not just as a religion, but a faith and relationship that I was invited into where I was desired and infinitely valued constantly, by a God who was constant, regardless of who I was or what I did or could not do.
The following years of my undergrad, I decided to pursue my faith more deeply and began to establish a life built around Jesus. What I realised much later was that my ambition to be ‘good enough’ was really a veil for a much more deeply rooted desire to be known and loved completely amidst my imperfection– and that it was only through God and Jesus’ death on the cross that this was possible.
Although I still fought with my mental illness and skirted the line of death, I discovered deeper truths in the promises of God and the Bible and my identity in Him. My circumstances revealed God works with a detailed design and sovereignty bringing new life and growth from pain for a greater purpose: “therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal” (2 Corinthians 4: 16-18).
In the past four years, the Lord has worked through some old wounds in my life and changed them into a deeper understanding of what grace and mercy means. No longer do I need to perform and strive to be “good enough”: instead, He is continually transforming me from one level of glory to the next – for my good, His glory (2 Corinthians 3:18, Romans 11:36).
If you find yourself in the depths of despair, know that there is always an invitation for you to discover a deeper freedom and purpose with Him at the helm; I guarantee you it will be worth it once you accept.
If you have any thoughts/comments/questions on anything that was mentioned above, feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org! Would love to grab a cuppa and have a chat with you.