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The Time I Attempted Suicide

Pills and broken glass, tears and blood, fear and despair. It was one of the darkest nights of my life. I didn’t want to do it yet I couldn’t see how to face the next day. The pain of ending everything there and then seemed lesser compared to the pain of going on. I lay down in bed, waiting to bleed out and knock out, to sleep the last sleep. I was 19.

Two years before that night, shortly after I entered junior college, I lost interest in my studies. It was a very stressful time for me. My grades took a nosedive, which made me even more unmotivated. I slept a lot and my mood was low most of the time. There were times when I’d cut myself. I thought that experiencing physical pain was the only way to express and cope with my inner pain. I didn’t know why I was feeling that way.

A few months after my A-Level examinations, I received a letter from the Ministry of Defence informing me of the date of my enlistment into National Service (NS)*. That’s when my world came crashing down.

You see, I wasn’t an athletic or sporty kid growing up. So my parents often told me that if I didn’t build myself up physically, I wouldn’t be able to make it through the rigors of NS. I understand now that that was their well-intentioned way of motivating me to be more prepared, but all through my teenage years, I took their comments to mean that I was inadequate for, and so would not survive, military life.

Since secondary school, I also struggled intensely with not being able to fit in with the other boys in class and I realized I was attracted to guys. So the idea of being stuck in a hyper-masculine military environment with other guys terrified me and I was worried of what might happen if they knew I was gay. All of my worries added up into a deep fear of enlistment.

I began to desperately plead with God to engineer a miracle to get me out of this situation. I made bargains with Him. If only He’d take this away, I promised to do certain things in return. I spent nights lying in bed with fearful thoughts and frantic prayers, crying myself to sleep, and getting up again in the middle of the night to beg Him to make this go away.

But the days went by, and nothing happened. I met up with my closest junior college friends for the last time, I researched quick and painless ways to die, and I wrote my final letters to my family members. All through that time, fear was building up in my heart and intrusive dark thoughts kept running through my mind. On the one hand, I didn’t want to end my life, but on the other hand, I believed this was the only exit from the situation I dreaded so much. I struggled with troubling questions of whether God would forgive me if I committed suicide. Was it a pardonable sin or an act so heinous that I’d be condemned to hell?

Then came the day before my enlistment. There was still no miracle. I waited at night until all my family members were asleep, and carried out my plan. As I laid down in bed, I was banking all my hopes on the pills or the bleeding to get the job done. I wondered what I’d see on the other side of life. Would I see God?

When I opened my eyes, the first person I saw was my mum crying hard at the foot of the bed. I gradually realized that I was in the hospital. My first thought was, “Oh, shit.”

I didn’t succeed. I was still here. What was going to happen now?

The love of the Father

Well, what happened as I recovered was that I found out how much I was loved. Sure, I was aware before this that my parents loved me, but that was not something that I knew in any deep, experiential way. When I saw my mum crying her eyes out, I realized she cared for me much more than I’d believed. And I’d never seen my dad and grandma that anxious and heartbroken before.

A close secondary school friend came to visit. She told me that the medical team had to pump the pills out of my body. My tuition teacher visited, and I was surprised to see her burst into tears. She read Psalm 121 to me to assure me that God would always watch over me and help me. After I was discharged, all my relatives came over, showing their concern and sharing their counsel in their own ways. I never knew the people in my life cared this much about me.

I remember the day my family took me home from the hospital. We didn’t talk much on the way back. I went to my room and sat down on my bed. A moment later, my dad came in with a paper bag. It contained my journals, in which I’d written what I’d meant to be my last words to my family members. He handed me the bag and said, “Let’s take it that this never happened.”

I understood it as an act of grace, of mercy. Perhaps it was the tender and quiet way he said it. Or perhaps, it might be how he offered that statement to me as a gesture of kindness. He laid there before me the gift of a clean slate. That, perhaps, was the miracle.

What my dad did was a small yet significant reflection of what my heavenly Father did for me: God offered to forget my sins and give me a clean slate, if I would accept and believe in the gift of His Son, Jesus. The particulars of my story may or may not be similar to yours, but the love and grace of the Father for you and me is the same, regardless of our present struggles or past mistakes. God is eager to heal and restore; He’s in the business of resurrecting lives.

I saw a psychiatrist for two years after that. He helped me to recognize that I had been clinically depressed since my junior college days, and my depression had worsened as my enlistment date—what I’d deeply feared—drew near. Over time, with medication, counselling and a supportive Christian community, I got better.

My enlistment date was deferred until several months later. During my time in NS, I experienced how God was faithful in bringing me through those years. I learned to know Him more truly as the God from whom my help comes (Psalm 121:1–2), the One who constantly watches over me and carefully keeps me from harm (Psalm 121:3–8).

Today, you can still see scars, but much faded now, etched on my left forearm from that dark night. But because of the lavish love and merciful forgiveness of God, shown to me by the wounds of Jesus at the Cross, I can look at the scars of shame and see instead the marks of His grace (Isaiah 53:5).

 

* National Service (NS) is compulsory duty in the uniformed services for all Singaporean males upon finishing their tertiary education (but before any higher education). This usually includes two years of full-time service.

When Gender becomes “a thing”

Written By Krysti Wilkinson, USA

“Ha, ‘That’s not the gender I associate with’. Can you believe that’s even a thing these days? The world has gotten so ridiculous.”

A friend and I were discussing how you can’t be too quick to assume one’s gender these days. He was trying to be funny. And, in a way, I understood where he was coming from. The language we now use, the things we are encouraged to say to be politically correct or to avoid hurting a person’s feelings, do seem, at times, a little ridiculous.

But I paused and thought about it a bit more.

“You know, I’ve never felt like I was born into the wrong kind of body. And I’ve never felt like I belong to a different gender than society tends to classify me in. So I can’t speak for them, but I can imagine that must be a very scary experience. And, for the sake of bringing a little comfort to people who must spend a lot of time in fear, I don’t mind it ‘being a thing’.” I replied.

The Church seems to be spending a lot of effort trying to figure out how to react to society these days. And it makes sense—we want to be in the world, but not of it; we want to be a light in the darkness. We have to walk a careful line of embracing humanity while also pointing to a better way. It’s a confusing place to be.

I’ve heard all the science back the gender fluid debate and all the science against it. I’ve heard the “there is no gay gene” defense, and the “born this way” claims. I’m no expert on the situation, but I’d like to think of myself as, at the very least, well versed in the opinions. And while it can be a pretty complicated situation for the Church to find herself in in 2017, I’d like to think the response is quite simple: What would Jesus do?

When I look back on Jesus’ life on earth, I see Him seeking out the marginalized and the hurting. Not condemning them or correcting their way of life, but including them in His story and inviting them into something greater. He chooses compassion, time and time again, when it would be so easy to do otherwise.

It was the religious teachers who were too caught up in laws and regulations, whom Jesus ridiculed. It was the Pharisees who so convinced they had life figured out, whom He was quick to correct. The people who were looked down upon, judged, or completely forgotten about—those were the ones He drew near to. Those were the ones He cherished.

We can debate the potential effects of bathroom laws, but I wish we were more focused on the current reality that 84 percent of transgender youth feel unsafe at school. We can discuss gay marriage, but I wish we were talking about LGBT young adults having the highest rates of suicide attempts. When Christians want to debate numbers, I want to remind them of Jesus’ two greatest commands: Love the Lord our God, and love our neighbor as ourselves.

We’re to be known by our love. Do we remember that as we bicker over what pronoun to assign to a person? Are we choosing love, or denouncing people’s ways of life? Are we loving our neighbors, or are we trying to tell them how to live, what to do, and who to be? Are we only reacting to society or actively loving the members of it?

We’re called to love, above all. Love involves hard conversations and discipline and all of that. But it’s ultimately about drawing close to Jesus and wanting others to draw closer to Jesus as well. We can’t do that if we’re too busy focusing on what is indicated on their birth certificates or rolling our eyes at their use of pronouns or keeping ourselves as far away as possible from them.

I’m still learning so much about this conversation, as I think we all are. I’m trying to ask more questions than offer answers, and trying to forget everything I “know” in an attempt to learn a thing or two. We can tend to cling to the truth we’ve always assumed to be absolute and deny any other ideas as illogical when entering in to difficult conversations. I’m trying to put all the weapons down. Conversations are much easier when we both agree to show up with open hands.

So, when my friend scoffed at people associating to a different gender than they are born “being a thing”, I asked him how he felt about it. I didn’t claim to have better answers than him or to know more than he did and I tried to see where he was coming from. Loving others includes granting grace. And I’m always in need of a constant supply of grace.

While we’ve been so busy searching for cold facts, scientific evidence, and indisputable truth to back one claim over the other—I can’t help but think Jesus doesn’t care. The Jesus I know chose compassion, time and time again, over condemnation. I hope to do the same.

Grace Upon Grace

Title: Grace Upon Grace
Materials: Hand-lettering
Description: 
What exactly is Grace? What does Grace mean to you? How have you personally experienced God’s grace in your life?

Here are a selection of quotes about “Grace” which were done at a recent handlettering jam session in Singapore. May it encourage, provoke, and move us to give praise to the giver of Grace.

 

Grace-upon-grace-(9)

Grace to me is something God gives freely to an undeserving person like me. I believe that God’s grace is sufficient for someone who’s insufficient and weak like myself. There were times where I felt completely defeated in my own circumstances but because God is a God of grace, He gives strength to the weak. Only His grace can meet my needs and it is available all the time for me. – “Grace is the power to fulfill what we lack” (David Guzik)

Artwork by Esther (@doodleswithjoy)

 

 

Grace-upon-grace-(8)

My chains are gone, my debt is paid
From death to life, and grace to grace
– Grace to Grace, Hillsong Worship –

I love this song because it reminds me that I am nothing if not for the Cross. Without Jesus, I would be hurt, broken and barely just going through life. But because of Jesus, the author and finisher of faith, I can live with purpose.

Artwork by Wan Ting (@tingthepro)

 

 

Grace-upon-grace-(7)

I’m not the best at my studies, but God was there. I’ve given into temptation on many occasions, still, He was there. With His gentle whisper and reminder of His grace, I was able to make a change. I’ve made a big step in my life’s direction at the age of 21, but God never left. I know I’m living in grace each day. I’ve been through heartbreak and heartaches, but God allowed for it. so that I could feel His grace. Without God’s grace, there is really nothing I can do.

Artwork by Vania

 

 

Grace-upon-grace-(5)

Everytime I see my limitations and failures, I always feel disappointed with myself. I think I will never be good enough to do a significant work. This quote reminds me that God’s grace is enough to use a broken person like me in a meaningful way.

Artwork by Meliana Sari Dewi (@melianasaridewi)

 

Grace-upon-Grace-(11)

Living as a Christian in a fast-paced life can be exhausting at times. At times, we find ourselves being overwhelmed by tasks, deadlines or perhaps – expectations from people around us.  Sometimes, we forget that the Holy Spirit is the source of our power and find ourselves in a place where our well-intentioned diligence has become striving.

Yet, whenever we are put in a situation like this, we can be reminded that God has given us His unmerited favor- grace. We can be assured that His grace is enough for us, even when we feel so powerless, simply because His grace made us stronger in our weakest moments.

Artwork by Ika (@scriptography)

 

 

Grace-upon-grace-(2)

During the good and the bad, when I’m weak, hurting or struggling, His grace is always enough. And because of His grace, I have the reassuring peace and hope in knowing that He is always in control, in every situation of my life. Only by His unfailing grace can I get through every day. His grace is sufficient for me, for His power is made perfect in my weakness.

Artwork by Janelle (@thehopeletter)

 

Grace-upon-Grace-(1)

“Why am I not perfect? Why do I have this flaw?” When in lack, I’m always reminded of the fact that I’m like clay, being molded to perfection but not destroyed, because of God’s abundant grace.

His grace empowers me to carry on. It brings me to a place of recognizing my lack at the feet of the cross. Moreover, when I experience the abundance of His grace, I can never remain at the same place. I draw closer to Jesus, and I draw closer to perfection.

Artwork by Faith (@chffaith)

 

 

Grace-upon-Grace-(10)

I do what I do, because of what I’ve received. The experiences I’ve gone through, people I’ve met and divine revelations I’ve experienced, screamed for a voice. Sharing these lessons through brush lettering gave me that voice. This ability was, and still is, a gift of grace and there is no better way to respond to such grace than by sharing it with the community, so that it multiplies. I do what I do, because I have received by his grace.

Artwork by Alicia (@alyletters)

How A Preacher I Didn’t like Convicted me

“But if not for the grace of God, I am finished!” said the speaker at my church one Sunday.

I couldn’t agree more.

I knew the speaker (let’s name him Dan) on a personal level; he was someone who had a rather abrasive personality. Having had a few run-ins with him in the past, I didn’t always look up to him as a Christian example. When he uttered those words at the pulpit, memories of all my past unpleasant encounters with him resurfaced. I couldn’t help but think how right he was—about himself.

So I began to listen carefully to every word he preached—and found myself going “yup, that’s you!” at various points of his sermon. It seemed like a message he was preaching to himself, and I even wondered how much he would change after his message.

In my church, it is a practice to share with the person seated beside us our reflection on the message and to spend time praying for one another. When it came to sharing time that Sunday, a sister-in-Christ shared with me how Dan’s message resonated with her. She had recounted all the times in her life when God had saved her from the messes she made, and realised how, if it hadn’t been for the grace of God, she would indeed be finished.

Listening to her, I felt overwhelmed by guilt. Instead of focusing and reflecting on what the Bible had to teach me that Sunday morning, I had allowed my judgmental feelings towards Dan to get in the way. As I reflected on this incident, I felt the Lord leading me to remember three things:

1. We are all in need of God’s grace.

There were many times when I, too, had been ensnared by sin and God had been gracious to me. I’ve lost count of the number of times I had sought the Lord’s forgiveness for my sin, only to eventually plunge right back into a sin-filled life.

Despite the many times I lived as though I had given up on Him, God never gave up on me. Who was I, then, to assume that God could not have also worked in Dan’s life? At least he was honest about his struggles. We are all in need of God’s grace.

As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; (Romans 3:10)

 

2. We need to focus on removing the plank in our own eye.

I was so focused on Dan’s faults and shortcomings that I failed to allow God’s Word to examine my own life and to change my heart that morning. Focusing on how others ought to behave or change without first considering what I need to do with my own sin-filled life is, as the Scriptures describe, hypocrisy.

I have come to acknowledge that despite being saved, all of us are still very much work-in-progress.

You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:5)

 

3. We need to remember God’s grace and mercy for us.

Over the recent Easter weekend, I was reminded of the disastrous state my life would have been in if not for Jesus. Jesus’s death and resurrection was God’s ultimate display of both His grace and mercy for mankind.

Remembering that truth helps me to firstly recognize my deep need for a Savior. Being a recipient of God’s grace and mercy should then lead me to extend it to another—like Dan.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

 

Among the many things I may disagree with Dan over, I do agree with him that if not for the grace of God in my life, I would be finished.