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My-Quest-for-Love-Nearly-Destroyed-Me

My Quest for Love Nearly Destroyed Me

Written By Aphesis, Singapore 

I come from a family of six. I have an elder sister, a younger sister, and a younger brother. My parents were hawkers. To give my siblings and I a comfortable life, they worked long hours and would not rest unless they fell sick.

As a result, my siblings and I rarely spent time together with our parents. My mother would squeeze some time out, at least once a week, to bring us out for a swim or a meal. But my father became a stranger to me.

It was at the age of 10 when I became aware that my parents’ relationship was strained. Family reunions were hardly a cause for celebration because of their constant bickering. Whenever that happened, I would not know what to do. Helpless, I would camp outside their room and desperately beg them to stop quarrelling.

As my mother spent more time with me, I sided her more as she fed me her side of the story. Caught in the crossfire of words and violence, I didn’t know how to make sense of it. My father would hurt my mother verbally and emotionally. This would result in heated arguments between the both of them, usually ending with my mother giving my father the cold shoulder. Without a father figure to guide me through my teenage years, I started looking for love and affirmation through relationships. At the age of 17, I had my first boyfriend. However, my young puppy love didn’t last and in my quest to seek “perfect” love, I moved from guy to guy. But with every guy I dated, the pain of break-up got deeper and deeper. It was also during that time that I started mixing with bad company and picked up smoking and partying.

Although I was baptized at the age of 14, I fell away from the faith for more than 10 years. Ironically, I was brought back to church by my most recent ex-boyfriend, a believer. He would take me to church every week, and I would obediently follow. I’d listen to the sermons, but never take them to heart.

Back then, I believed I was fine just the way I was and I didn’t have to change. In any case, the thought of being a religious Christian did not sound cool. The only reason I attended church was to spend time with my boyfriend—not God. As long as my boyfriend loved me, I was happy. If attending church was the best way to gain his affection, I figured, it was a reasonable sacrifice on my part.

But whenever I felt that he wasn’t showing me enough attention, I’d throw tantrums. I also manipulated him emotionally by guilt-tripping him over very minor issues, knowing full well that he would eventually soften. But over time, his patience wore thin. After being together for two years, he ended the relationship.

I was devastated. I felt like I had been abandoned. Worn down by all my negative thoughts and feelings, I slipped into depression.

Visiting the psychiatrist and taking medicine didn’t help. I blamed myself for the break-up. I blamed myself for allowing my insecurities to lead me to suspect and accuse him. I blamed myself for wrecking yet another relationship. Thinking I was shallow and useless, I believed the lies I weaved and drowned myself in self-pity.

One day, two peers from church asked me out for dinner. They knew about my love for reading and shared with me Joshua Harris’ book, I Kissed Dating Goodbye. As I flipped through the pages, I learned, for the first time, that lust and love were completely different things. Among other things, Harris wrote that love is about expressing self-control and is not manipulative. I realized that in all my past relationships, what I had experienced was lust, and not love.

I thought I knew what love was. In fact, I thought I was skilled in the game of love. I had read about love in 1 Corinthians 13 but, in reality, love was a foreign concept to me. All along, I had been pursuing the wrong idea of love. I broke my partners’ hearts, and in that process, I broke my own too.

Reading the book that night, I experienced a wave of emotions and instantly knew that it was God working in me. He opened my eyes to recognize real love. Overwhelmed with regret, I wept. I could feel Jesus’ presence and sense Him telling me, “My child, it’s okay, I’m here. Don’t be afraid, just come to Me.”

For the first time in my life, I felt true love. Jesus’ heart had been broken for me. I felt so unworthy—that a holy God could be right beside me, an unholy being. I went down on my knees, thanking Him. I was still crying, but it was tears of joy, because I finally understood a very simple fact: I needed Jesus and His love. In fact, that’s all I need and will ever need—a relationship with Him.

With God’s love in my heart, I turned over a new leaf. By God’s strength, I quit smoking. I threw away my revealing clothes, stopped partying, and started serving in church.

I became a better daughter to my parents and a better sister to my siblings. My younger sister—whom I used to bully the most—was the first person to witness the change in me. She started attending church with me, and got baptized after a few months. Today, both of us serve in the worship team together.

Looking back, I’m grateful for the many lessons I’ve learned. We can experience real joy and real peace only when our lives and hearts revolve around Christ. Nothing other than the love of Christ can fill the cavity in our hearts; Jesus is irreplaceable. Of course, there have been times when I still felt lousy about myself. However, in these times, I have learned to praise and thank Him. By God’s grace, the relationship between my parents has improved tremendously and they are very loving now. My dad has also become a very caring father and would even say grace before our meals together as a family.

Although my past relationships brought me a lot of pain, I’m thankful that God allowed me to go through the same issues that many young teenagers and adults face today. With my personal experience, I can help others who are still lost and searching for the answer.

Being single for the past four years has given me more time to spend with my friends and to care for other brothers and sisters who might be in need. I have more time to go the extra mile for them.

Over the past years, one of the verses that encouraged me tremendously was Proverbs 4:23. I pray that God will continue to guard my heart, so that I will never go astray again.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23).

My-Heart-breaking-Relationship-with-A-Non-Christian

My Heart-breaking Relationship with A Non-Christian

Written By Duo-Jia, China, originally in Simplified Chinese

On the last day of 2016, I stopped replying to his emails. Our relationship was over.

It all started in August 2015, when my family members introduced me to Alex*. At the time, I was already above the age of 25, so my non-Christian parents were anxious to see me married—but not to a Christian. Although I was initially wary about dating Alex because he wasn’t a Christian, I decided to meet him because of my family’s relentless persuasion.

At our first meet-up, I told Alex that I was a Christian and was looking for a Christian partner.

After hearing what I said, Alex—who knew nothing about Christianity—felt it would be a waste of time to meet me. But his family urged him to give it a go. So, under pressure from both sides, we began to meet up occasionally. That’s when an idea grew in my mind that I would tell him about my faith and hopefully convert him someday.

As I got to know Alex a little better, I began to realize that he was a very caring, attentive person. Once, when I had acute gastritis, he took me to a doctor and then kept reminding me to take my medicine afterwards. Another time, he told me—after attending a Christmas gathering I had invited him to—that he felt sorry for the past occasions when he would either turn me down or express disinterest whenever he attended my church.

Moved by his care and consideration, I opened up to him and we began dating. I knew that 2 Corinthians 6:14 clearly tells us not to be unequally yoked with an unbeliever—but I would only truly understand it later, after many arguments and tears.

In our first two months together, Alex and I got along really well. But whenever I brought up the topic of being “unequally yoked” and the need for him to convert, he would look extremely hurt and ask me not to talk about it again. There were moments when I wondered if we could just get married even if he didn’t become a Christian, but the Holy Spirit kept reminding me that believers should not be yoked with unbelievers. I told myself that if we were ever to get married, Alex had to become a Christian first. So I prayed for him every day and even fasted over him periodically.

 

 Growing differences

In April 2016, Alex’s aunt came over to talk to my family about marriage. At the same time, a few sisters-in-Christ expressed their concern about Alex’s lack of interest in Christianity despite coming to church often. Anxious at this turn of events, I talked to Alex and urged him to become a Christian. The next day, we met a church elder for a four-hour long conversation. However, Alex wouldn’t budge, and we ended up arguing after the meeting. At that point, I felt that the situation was hopeless and believed that our relationship was over.

Although Alex did not want to break up, he wasn’t willing to convert to Christianity either. It was his family who urged him to make up so that we would stay together. He agreed, but said that if he was still unconvinced after learning more about Christianity, he would try to convince me to leave the faith as well.

At the same time, I held out hope that Alex would change his mind. Surely if he kept coming to church to hear about God, I thought, God would work in his heart. But after another two months, Alex still did not change. As time wore on, my patience grew thin, and we began to argue more often.

 

The first separation

As we spent more and more time together, we clashed more often over what we would do on Sundays and going to church, and argued more frequently. Finally, Alex refused to attend church with me anymore. After trying but failing to reach an agreement with him, I suggested breaking up. Alex agreed.

I remember crying almost daily from the heart-breaking pain of losing a relationship as well as the sting of his accusations. After we broke up, a brother-in-Christ suggested that I had been wrong in dating Alex from the very beginning. But I did not take this seriously.

Sometime later, after I had just returned from a business trip, Alex asked me if we could get back together again. Initially, I refused. But on seeing his tears, I agreed.

Unfortunately, we began going through the same cycle. Again, I tried to convince him to become a Christian, only to find him becoming more distant. And again, he eventually stopped attending church. This time, however, he even demanded that I stop believing in God as well. This was the breaking point.

It was then that I finally understood what the psalmist meant when he wrote Psalm 127:1, “Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the guards stand watch in vain.” I realized that unless Alex was prepared to let the Builder work on him, neither I nor my prayers would soften his heart. Finally, I chose to submit to God and let go of the relationship that I had treasured so much.

Just as I did when we broke up the first time, I cried a lot. I felt great regret whenever I thought about the many things I had loved about Alex, but also sadness whenever I remembered how he had resisted the faith. It was only when a brother-in-Christ recommended that I watch a video on marriage counselling, did I realize that I had fallen into the trap of human thinking.

God had intended marriage to show us a glimpse of the goodness of heaven. Husband and wife were meant to become one in flesh, heart, soul, and purpose. However, because Alex didn’t know God, our purpose in life and values regarding marriage were so different. The wisdom of 2 Corinthians 6:14 spoke out to me again: “For what do righteousness and wickedness have in common? Or what fellowship can light have with darkness?”

If I were to reflect honestly on what happened in 2016, I would have to admit that I had compromised on my time with God. Because of my relationship with Alex, I grew increasingly distant from God and lost my inner peace during that period. Since breaking up with him, however, the Spirit has been graciously granting me a renewed sense of peace and affirmation. God has helped me to learn that He works even in the worst situations. Through this relationship, I have learned to seek God’s will and to submit to His Word.

God also showed me that I should not have used the excuse of evangelism to get into a relationship with a non-believer. I learned that I hadn’t really trusted Him regarding marriage, and had fixated on the fact that I could see no other suitable partners. But couldn’t God—the God of the entire universe—bring me one person? Is anything too hard for God? I had to learn this difficult lesson of trust. Psalm 37:7 served as a good reminder for me to “be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him.”

Subsequently, I made a promise to God to seek His will instead of finding my own ways to satisfy my emotional or physical needs. I prayed for His help to keep me holy and to wait for His perfect timing.

You may be facing an experience similar to mine, or just a prolonged period of singlehood with no suitable partner in sight. But I hope to encourage you: Turn your eyes to God and entrust Him with your hopes and needs.

 

*not his real name

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The Day My Heart Stopped

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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Why won’t God give me a boyfriend?

Written By Debra Wong, Malaysia

I have a confession to make: I turn 25 this year, and I have never been in a relationship. It’s not just because I haven’t met the right person; it’s also because no one has ever pursued me before.

While most girls were befriending guys in high school and college, I was socially awkward. To me then, guys were different; they were “aliens” whom I was too afraid to talk to.

Thankfully, I came around in my earlier 20s, and have since opened up and gotten to know several quality friends. However, it still stings that I’m late to the relationship party that all my peers seem to be a part of.

Every time a friend or family member starts dating, I cry on the inside and quickly become overcome with bitterness, self-hate, and ultimately, anger towards God because I’m not in  a relationship like everyone else.

What’s a bitter single girl to do?

Why, God?

One particular day, while I was upset over yet another friend becoming “Facebook official”, I sat down and talked to God. Clenching my fists, I muttered through gritted teeth: Why, God? Why can’t I achieve a relationship like everyone else my age? It’s bad enough that I don’t have many friends. Now you’re going to let me look like a loser that no guy ever wanted to date?

It was during that bitter rant that God opened my eyes to three truths that I realized I needed to deal with.

 

1. I wanted a relationship for the wrong reasons.

To me, life comprised a series of boxes that I needed to check off in order to feel like I had lived it well. Do well in school? Check. Get a good job? Check.

Get a relationship? Not checked.

By checking off boxes, I wanted to prove to everyone around me that I had “arrived”, that I was finally an adult. See, I can snag myself a boyfriend just like you! He thinks the world of me! Just look at my arm candy!

However, this is not God’s design for marriage, and by extension, the relationships that lead to it. In the Bible, husbands and wives are called to sacrificial love and respect, to put the needs of the other above their own (Ephesians 5:21-33).

While a dating relationship is not yet a marriage relationship, I was certainly not looking to encourage and build up another person. Instead of seeing a boyfriend as God would see him―a child of the King, made in His image (Genesis 1:27), I simply wanted a boyfriend to validate my own worth. All in all, I was being selfish.

I am now learning to rest in the fact that God sees me. When time and again I long for someone to notice me, I remind myself that God does not just see me for who I am right now―He sees my future potential and will finish the good work He began in me (Philippians 1:6). If marriage is in God’s plan for me, at the right time He will open the eyes of the right guy to “see” me too.

 

2. God’s plans for me are good―whether or not they involve a spouse.

Doubting God’s goodness was the root of the very first sin recorded in the Bible. When Satan asked Eve, “Did God really say . . . ?” a seed of doubt was planted, and Eve believed that God was withholding something good from her. He wasn’t―but she fell for it anyway.

I needed to be careful that I wasn’t swinging from the statement, “God is good” to the question, “Is God good?” One change, big difference. Although my limited experience had caused me to doubt, it does not change the fact that God is sovereign and that His plans for my life are infinitely better than my own (Romans 8:28).

It can be hard to believe that God’s plans for my love life are good when no prospects lie on the horizon and when other girls seemingly have it easier. But when I doubt what the future holds, I meditate instead on how intimately God knows me, loves me, and holds me in His arms.

 

3. It is not good for me to be alone.

When God gave Adam the task of naming all the animals, He realized that none of them were suitable partners for Adam. So God took a rib out of Adam, fashioned a woman from it, and brought her to his side as a human partner (Genesis 2:22).

Though I have yet to find a suitable life partner, God has given me an extended family―His people. By serving and interacting with fellow believers, I get to give and experience relationship.

When I wallow in self-pity, God’s family invites me into their lives, to worship Him, and live out the Gospel together. When I invest my time in the lives of other people, I don’t spend as much time dwelling on my singleness.

Investing in other relationships helps me even when the lights go out and I’m alone in my room. That’s when the timely words of fellow brothers and sisters come to mind and build me up in the midst of my disappointments. Truly, no man is an island!

 

Do I still mope about my singleness? Sure, the temptation to doubt is strong. However, trusting God is a choice that I can make daily, and I rest in the knowledge that God has great plans for my life, with or without a boyfriend.