Written By Michelle Lai
There is nothing sweeter than this
Written By Michelle Lai
There is nothing sweeter than this
Written by Michelle Lai, Singapore
My depression started in December 2006; there was no trigger. I just remember feeling sad on a school trip to Japan and tired all the time.
It continued on into 2007, the year of my O-level exams. I had brain fog and I could not concentrate; I often had to re-read sentences. This affected my studies and subsequently, even my relationships. There was a constant dull pain in my chest, and I felt like crying or vomiting all the time. I remember crying and vomiting on my Biology textbook the day before the exams as I tried in vain to prepare.
By that time, I was so depressed that I applied to a school which very few of my classmates were going to, as I just wanted to get away from everybody I knew. I did not expect to make it to junior college because of my situation. Miraculously, I did well in my exams and was accepted into a Christian junior college.
But when lessons at the new school started, I skipped classes. I did not know that I was depressed at the time. All I knew was that something was wrong and I really needed help. I did not know where to find help, so I sought escape instead. I would either lie to my parents that there was no school, or I would wander the neighborhood in my school uniform instead of attending school.
One day, my teacher called me on the phone and said that he wanted to talk to me about my attendance in school. He wanted to know if I was facing any problems. After talking to me, he gently suggested that I see the school counselor. The school counselor suspected that I had depression and referred me to a doctor. Eventually, I was diagnosed with Major Depression and I was given medication to take.
During one of my counselling sessions with the school counselor, she asked me if I knew God and what Jesus had done on the cross. I replied that I understood a little, as all the schools I had attended were Christian schools. I remember crying in primary school during a Good Friday service when I first heard about Jesus dying on the cross. Back then however, I told myself that I could not accept Christ as I did not want to upset my mother, who was of another religion. So when my school counselor told me that God—not just my family—loved me so deeply that He sent His Son to die on the cross for me so that I can have life in abundance, I simply nodded.
Sometime later, my mum asked my uncle to bring me to church; she felt that her god and religion were not helping me. But she had one condition: I was only to visit church, but not to become a Christian. So I went to church with my uncle and listened to sermons.
I also started reading an autobiographical book about a woman who escaped from a cult. Though the book did not mention Jesus, reading it made me feel very blessed to be in an environment where I could know God, the one who loves us so much that He sent His only Son to die for our sins. This led me to accept Christ in my heart and I prayed to receive Christ at the next counselling session. Although I was worried about my mother’s reaction, I decided to tell her. Sure enough, she was unhappy, but thankfully, she did not scold or hit me.
Today, my depression is under control with the help of medication and I consider myself healed as I am functional and well. I do my quiet time daily and I meditate on God’s words and promises whenever negative thoughts enter my mind. I also think of my journey battling depression and how God has constantly shown me mercy and grace though it all.
As I look back, I realize that I would never have become a Christian if I never had depression. While I’m not saying that depression is a good thing, I am reminded of Romans 8:28, “we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
My journey towards God is nothing short of miraculous. Without Him, I would never have gotten the results I got for my O-level exams; I would never have gone to the Christian Junior College; I would never have met my school counselor. Without God’s divine intervention, I would never have received timely treatment for my depression.
To add to the list of miracles from God, my mother now talks to me about Jesus and church, although she is not yet a believer. And not only does she allow me to be a Christian, she even encourages me in my walk.
Praise be to God!
Written By Michelle Lai, Singapore
In the second half of 2015, I was appointed cell group leader in my university’s Christian Fellowship (CF). It was my first time serving as cell group leader, so I took on the role excitedly.
Shortly into my new role, however, I developed a crush on one of my cell group members; he was also a leader serving in the CF as well as in church.
It started off innocently, with me seeking his advice on cell group matters and spending time with him to learn how to plan Bible studies. It was my first time doing many things and I really appreciated his help.
But as the days went by, thoughts of him would creep into my mind as I planned cell group meetings. I realized it was distracting me from serving other group members. That’s when I knew I had to ask myself some tough questions. Was I spending a disproportionate amount of time with him at the expense of other members? Had I become too engrossed in looking out for and listening to him during meetings? Was I giving him priority over other members, like shifting our outings to another day just because he couldn’t make it?
I have heard of cell group leaders dating their members, but I knew that in my case, it was not the right time for me to consider a relationship as I was also balancing other commitments like work and school.
As I became more aware of my struggle, I became increasingly moody. What do cell group leaders do when they have a crush on their members? I decided to confide in one of my friends about this struggle. Unfortunately, due to some misunderstanding, we fell out when I felt that she was questioning my motive for serving and for doing things the way I did as a leader. It made me furious and upset.
For days, I wrestled with these emotions—till it reached a point when I felt numb. It was as if a plug was pulled from my heart; I felt emptiness. And as my heart “stopped”, my mind took over. Without the heart, the mind is a cold thing. I could do the things I needed to do, but I found that I had dark thoughts. I formed negative thoughts about others. I became calculative. Even though I continued to attend CF sessions and do my quiet time, I felt far from God.
But the deliberate and conscious decision to keep reading God’s Word, worshiping Him, and immersing myself in His community had an effect on me. During a CF worship event one day, the worship leader sang the song, “Divine Exchange” by Lara Martin. As I listened to the lyrics, I felt convicted in my heart and mind to leave all my burdens at the foot of the cross. I let go of all the tiredness and numbness I had been feeling, and at that moment, I was able to enjoy the presence of God. A sense of relief and peace entered my heart and slowly, my emotions came back.
Over time, I got over my crush on my cell group member. He stopped being a distraction and I no longer had to struggle between how I felt and what I needed to do at every meeting. I also cleared the air with the friend whom I confided in, and forgave her for hurting my feelings.
Through this episode, I learned the importance of obeying and worshiping God even when He seems to be far away or when I don’t feel like it. Worship and love for God is not merely a feeling—it is a deliberate and conscious choice we need to make on a daily basis. I am glad I learned to lay all my thoughts and feelings at His feet instead of struggling to fix them on my own.
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