I Just Wanted A Restart

Editor’s Note: This article includes details about the author’s suicidal attempts. 

Written By Shu Huan, Malaysia, Originally In Simplified Chinese

It was not the first time I tried to end my own life.

It was as if I had sunk into a sea of emptiness. In despair, all I could do was curl up in a ball, hold my breath, and hope that life—and my pain—would end quickly. But my willpower could not overcome my body’s survival instincts. I held my breath until the most unbearable moment, but then my tightened muscles loosened, and breath returned.

On that cold and lonely night, I cried until my voice was gone. But nobody would ever know. Nobody would ever care.

From a young age, throwing tantrums, yelling loudly, and bullying my brother were staples of my life. I had “second-child syndrome,” and always felt that I was the child with the fewest achievements, so I was the least respected by my parents. My grades were not as good as my younger brother’s, and my extracurricular activities were not as impressive as my older sister’s.

Because of my low self-esteem, I would resort to extreme words and actions to express my displeasure at the smallest things. This wore my parents out. Even if they angrily beat or scolded me, I would do the same things again the next day.

As I entered the rebellious stage of adolescence, I was always ill-tempered at home, often blaming my strict father of few words and my often angry mother. Even though I had many friends around me, I felt like there was a bottomless dark hole in my heart.

The emptiness I felt could not be filled by any amount of laughter or jokes. Everyday I went to school, and after school went to tutoring and extracurricular activities. . . Life looked busy, but it was all so meaningless. All this prompted me to wonder about the meaning of life, and eventually I started thinking about ending my life.

Various plans circled in my mind. I once motioned a razor over my wrist, but could not bring myself to cut down on it. I also tried suffocating myself under the blankets, but ultimately gave up. The furthest I went was when I grabbed some rope and was going to hang myself from a tree right in front my mother, much to her frustration.

Naively, I thought that after death I would be reincarnated, and could start anew with a whole new family and environment.

 

The Truth That Transformed My Life

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

At some point—I forget when—I started receiving a gospel publication for young people every month. Flipping through the fresh designs and rich content of the booklets, I was introduced to Christianity. As I read more about it, I realized that what awaits us after death is judgment, not reincarnation. Everyone will be responsible for their own actions carried out during their life on earth, and must give an account of it before the God who gave us our lives.

Once I started thinking about all the mistakes I made—all the ways I hurt people who loved me— I knew that if I really took my own life, I would face great punishment. I trembled in my heart.

Thankfully, God had mercy on my weakness, and had stopped me each time I tried to carry out my plans of suicide. Not only that,  the knowledge that He even sent His only son Jesus to the world, who willing sacrificed Himself on the cross to wash away my sins so I may be reconciled with God drew my attention. I was amazed at God’s promise that anyone who believes in and follows Jesus can build a relationship with God and enjoy Him throughout our lives. This was such incredibly wonderful news!

And so, I became interested in getting to know this God better. However, I was worried about my parents’ disapproval, so I didn’t go to church even though I wanted to.

But one day, my older sister committed her life to Christ under the guidance of a friend, and I had the opportunity to follow my sister to church. On that day, I accepted Jesus as Savior and Lord of my life.

I have now been a Christian for many years. The precious truths in the Bible have led me out of a life of self-blame and self-pity. God’s words have refreshed my soul (Psalm 23:1-3), and reshaped my worldview. I realized that my existence was not a mistake, but my life was purposefully knit together by a God who loves me.

Because of the life I now have in Christ, He watches over every step and decision I make. Whenever I start comparing myself with others again, or falling into depression and loneliness, the words of the Bible are like a soft voice by my ear, calming my distressed heart.

 

We Only Have One Chance At Life

In my father’s family, there is a history of systemic lupus erythematosus (also known as lupus). Sadly, my cousin, was also diagnosed with lupus at the age of 19. Her health declined quickly, and she needed to be on dialysis.

Even though she had to quit school because of her health, she still achieved top grades in the Malaysian Certificate of Education exam (an exam Malaysian students take at the end of high school). But her health worsened quicker than anticipated.

While her peers were preparing for college, she was sent to the hospital for major surgery after major surgery. She was so sick she could not eat, and became thinner by the day. In the end, she could not overcome the disease, and breathed her last while in the hospital. So her short and difficult life came to a close.

As we said goodbye to my cousin, my family and friends all felt that it was such a pity that she had such a short life. Her departure once again reminded us of the preciousness of life and how life, once it’s lost, cannot be regained.

Thinking back on how lightly I treated my own life, I feel incredibly ashamed. Even though we can’t control the circumstances and difficulties we face, but we can decide how we choose to respond to them. When I look back at my past, I cannot imagine where I might be today if God had not led me to Himself. Perhaps I would be like a withered leaf, wandering in the vast ocean of life, searching in vain for the meaning of my existence.

My suicidal attempts helped me realize that “the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy” but Jesus came that we may have life, “and have it to the full” (John 10:10). Even when we find it difficult to accept ourselves, God’s Word assures us that He values us and desires to offer us the hope of new life.

If your life feels empty and meaningless, and you’ve been entertaining thoughts of suicide, will you choose to take up His offer today?

When Pursuing My Spiritual Gift Became My Idol

Written By Agnes Lee, Singapore

I used to wonder what my spiritual gift was. I thought it was ushering because someone suggested I help out as an usher.

Then one day, our pastor showed us a movie titled War Room. The main character was a faithful and God-loving woman who wrote down her prayers in a prayer closet and prayed about them daily. I was impressed by her faithfulness and started to question my own prayer life. As I was moved to pray more often, I started journaling my thoughts and prayers so that I could remember them and see how God has worked in my life. From there, it was not long before I started writing articles.

Having my articles published felt like an affirmation that I was on the right track with God. I have also received praise and encouragement from friends and others who read my articles. I felt good, special, and loved by God. I thanked God for giving me the gift of writing.

But God knew what was going on in secret in my heart, and He graciously showed me one day. I was reading a Christian article online, and it had over 1,000 “likes”. My articles were always way below this figure. I started envying the writer of this article. I wished I had her gift. I wished that my articles could garner as many “likes” as hers. I wished my articles could be more popular.

I felt discontented and unhappy. That was when the Lord led me to Romans 12:15, “Rejoice with those who rejoice.” Can I truly rejoice with this writer in her success? Can I rejoice in the fact that God had chosen to use her to spread His Word—in what seemed to be a more effective way than how He used me? Can I truly rejoice even if my writings go unnoticed or unrecognized? Where is the source of my joy?

The Bible warns again and again not to go chasing after idols. While I did not worship an actual idol, I had prided myself on the success of my writings—and it had become my idol. It was a terrible mistake to place my joy in such lesser things of the temporal world, instead of taking joy in the eternal and unshakeable glory of God.

God showed me how weak my flesh was and how my heart was prone to wander from what truly matters. Worldly measures of success had caused my pride to soar, and I was easily envious of the success of others. I had forgotten that I could do nothing apart from God (John 15:5). God is the true source of joy (Psalm 16:11), and He warns us away from idols so that we can enjoy the fullness of joy that only He can provide.

Loving my spiritual gift more than the Giver would not bring me any good. The purpose of my spiritual gift is to glorify God and to help others—myself included—discover the true joy of knowing Him. God has entrusted this gift to me. If I do not steward it well, I would render myself ineffective for God’s call for me.

I repented and asked God to give me a desire to please and pursue Him above all, and that I would never lose sight of Him. I prayed that my source of joy would flow only from Him as I fix my eyes on Him.

I now ask myself the following questions as I continue writing and using the gift God has given me:

  • Would I still find joy in the Lord even if one day I am no longer an effective writer?
  • Would I still worship Him even if He takes my gift away?
  • Is my identity rooted in Christ or my success?
  • Can I rejoice with those who are more successful?

Constantly asking myself these questions reminds me to strive for holiness, and guards my heart from temptation and ungodly desires as I try to steward my gift well. My fleshly desire is to glorify myself. But I have learned the importance of submitting my thoughts to the Lord and asking God to search my heart (Psalm 139:23-24).

I ask that the meditations of my heart would be pleasing to His sight (Psalm 19:14). I remind myself to give thanks and glory to Him: not only is my gift from Him, but He is the giver of true joy. After all, how can personal gains or glory compare to the rewards He has prepared for us in heaven, on that day when we finally get to see Him face to face?

I Don’t Have A Life-Changing Testimony, And That’s OK

Written By Jean, Malaysia, Originally In Simplified Chinese

I was born into a Christian family. Since I was young, I have been attending weekly Sunday School classes, Sunday services and even family cell groups.

Growing up in church, I often heard stories of people’s extraordinary encounters with God. Some were healed from their sicknesses. Some heard God’s voice when they were invited to church one day. Some were filled with the Holy Spirit and after accepting Christ, their lives were completely transformed.

Such testimonies amazed me. I came to believe that if I, too, had such a powerful testimony, I could definitely bring more people to Christ.

Even though I fully believed that Jesus died for my sins and resurrected after three days,  I was once told that the mark of someone who is saved is a life-changing testimony. After some time, I started to believe that only believers with such compelling testimonies were true Christians. And this bothered me greatly because I didn’t have a dramatic testimony. Was I truly saved?

While wrestling with this question, I continued serving actively in church, reading the Bible, and praying daily. During this period, God faithfully ministered to me through sermons, His Word, and the people around me. In spite of these, I still struggled with my salvation.

In pursuit of a “perfect” testimony, I decided to deliberately attempt to stray from God. I stopped reading the Bible and praying. I also tried to serve less in church. I thought that having such experiences would give me a great story to share about how I had “turned away” from God and then turned back to Him again.

However, my heart was not at peace even as I went through with my plan. I was afraid to pray even though I wanted to. Then one day, I decided that it was time to “repent”, and I began to read the Bible and pray again.

Deep within, I felt quite pleased that I finally had a seemingly “perfect” testimony. However, whenever I thought about sharing this “testimony”, my heart would not be at peace—because I knew that I had fabricated it. Whenever I shared my “testimony”, I would always feel guilty.

I finally realized how foolish I had been when I was 16 years old and read an article that a friend had shared on Facebook, which was written for those who had grown up in Christian families.

It started with a story of a girl who was frustrated at not having a seemingly “perfect” testimony. She asked her mother if maybe she had not been “wayward enough,” and so God had not given her such a testimony? This grabbed my attention. Wasn’t this girl just like me?

I reflected on the article, and it reminded me that God gives all of us different stories. Even though I don’t have a dramatic testimony, I still have stories of my personal encounters with God in my daily life. For example, God has always been faithful in answering my prayers, whether I am praying over exams or friendships. Sharing these little stories with my family in Christ has often been encouraging for them.

And while I do not have any exciting stories to share with non-believers, I can still find many opportunities to share about God and how He’s worked in my life. Friends in school might ask me why I am not worried about exams, for example, and then I would have an opportunity to share about how God is with me in everything. I don’t have to envy the testimonies of others because God will use different stories to draw different people to Him.

Most importantly, the greatest story—the story of how Jesus came down to earth to redeem all men and draw us to God—has already been written, and all of us get to participate in that story.

I slowly came to the realization that I did not need a dramatic testimony to be saved. I was already saved when I acknowledged Christ as my God and believed in Him with my heart (Romans 10:9).

I felt ashamed of my ignorance. However, I was thankful for this experience as it reminded me that our Christian life is not just dependent on dramatic testimonies. What matters most is that I work on building my relationship with God, by spending time with Him daily, sharing my thoughts and feelings with Him, and asking for His guidance in life.

We don’t have to worry about having the “perfect” testimony, or envy others for their testimonies. Such envy is futile! The important thing is that we fight the good fight, run our race, and stand firm in our beliefs (2 Timothy 4:7).

Finding Hope After A Bad Break-Up

Written By Lidia, Jakarta, originally in Bahasa Indonesia

I first started dating him in March, 2010. We met during some classes we shared in college. He grew up in a Christian family, so I thought that since we shared the same faith, we would surely be able to navigate the storms of life together.

Later that year, I found out that I had tumors in both my breasts. I was only 20 at that time, and the news really shook me. I told my boyfriend the news without sugar-coating it. He told me that he understood and would be supportive.

However, he called me a few days before I underwent surgery. He said his mom immediately asked him to break up with me after finding out that I had tumors. His mom worried that if I eventually married him, I might get cancer and squander her son’s money.

I cried when I heard that. I also became angry. How could his mother even think of that?

I didn’t argue with him about it. I kept it all sealed shut inside myself. I didn’t even tell my parents. My thoughts were a mess as I faced surgery.

God was gracious, and in spite of my confused emotional state, the surgery went well. When I regained consciousness afterwards, however, I cried bitterly. His mom’s words still hurt. He did come to the hospital to see me, but he called on the following day, saying that he couldn’t come anymore. His mother had forbidden him from seeing me.

 

Staying in an Uncertain Relationship

Although forbidden by his mother, my boyfriend and I still hung out a lot. I knew the relationship wasn’t a healthy one anymore. But at the time, I didn’t have a good idea of what a healthy relationship looked like. For three years, we kept our relationship a secret.

I knew that the future of our relationship was uncertain, but I was stuck in a dilemma. On the one hand, I was bitter and hurt by his mom’s words; but on the other, I didn’t want to lose him. I thought that if I broke up with him, there would be no one who would accept me with my breasts removed. I also didn’t want to tell anyone else about my condition—my friends already teased me for eating healthy. I was afraid that other people would say the same things my boyfriend’s mom did.

My boyfriend was indecisive as well. He didn’t agree with everything his mother said, and wanted to keep on dating me. But he didn’t want to disrespect his parents either.

In the end, I told my parents about our dilemma. They listened with empathy, but shared their view that my boyfriend’s mom wanted what was best for her son, and was not being entirely unreasonable. My parents then advised me to just break up with him.

My relationship with God also suffered as a result. I felt detached from Him and could not feel at peace. Although I still prayed, I didn’t feel His presence in my life. There was something inside me that urged me to make a decision about this relationship. But I was insistent that this uncertain relationship with my boyfriend must be preserved, no matter how many fights we had.

 

How God Healed My Broken Heart

One day, my boyfriend told me that he was seeing someone else. He and the other person were out of town at the time—only the two of them. And so our relationship ended.

I drowned myself in sorrow and tears. I felt worthless and felt like I was about to lose my mind. I reached out to my Christian friends, and for the first time, told them everything. That night, I cried before the Lord, and I truly requested His help.

As I brought everything before God, I was reminded of Psalm 34:18, “The LORD is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” I felt like God was speaking to me through that verse, asking me, “My daughter, don’t you trust Me? I am the Lord Almighty, and I have authority over all things.”

To be honest, this was not the first time I sensed God speaking to me in that way. But before that, I was afraid of obeying Him and losing my boyfriend. Now I completely surrendered myself to God. I realized that in this world, anyone could leave us. There is only One we can trust in and rely on—the Lord Jesus.

The following week, however, I was still struggling to move on with my life. I felt broken, not only because of the break up, but also because I felt that I was worthless, that other men would be afraid of a woman like me. The words of my ex’s mom still haunted me. Sadness would still overwhelm me when I was alone at work, and I would cry in the middle of the day.

But God continued strengthening me. When I prayed to Him, I would feel peace. Perhaps He gave me strength to forgive all the hurtful words that I obsessed over. My feelings were less and less affected by the hurts I experienced. Day by day, God helped me let go of my sadness, forgive the people who had hurt me, and trust Him wholeheartedly.

Because of the peace and joy God granted me, I no longer worried over what other people might think about me. Instead, I choose to focus on what God might want me to do, and I am learning to ignore all destructive comments.

I have tasted how good God has been to me. This isn’t because everything in my life has gone smoothly, but because God has always been there for me. Through this experience, God has helped me grow as a person. He has taught me not to focus on gaining human love, but on loving Him. He has helped me forgive people around me by realizing that God has forgiven my sins. He has taught me to pray when things don’t go smoothly. Not only did God help me when I was struggling with my ex, but He also continues to help me in my daily life and the work that I do.

I have also learned that no matter how far I stray from God, He never leaves me nor forsakes me (Hebrews 13:5). He always accepts me whenever I come to Him and ask for forgiveness for the sins I have committed.

Only God can supply true joy—not just the temporary pleasure that comes today and leaves tomorrow. Whatever our struggles are, whatever hurts or rejection we have experienced in the past, we can come to Jesus and pray to Him. We can trust Him with our future. Even if things don’t turn out how we want them to, we can continue to place our hope in Him. When we dwell in Him, our lives lack nothing.