The point of this blog is to share my path with you and my belief is that, if I share my story with you, where I’ve come from, where I’ve been, what I’ve done, etc, is that you’ll gain some more insight into my life and who I am. I will keep try to be as open as possible but please bear in mind that other people are involved in this story and that some details might be a bit more intense for sensitive readers. I want you to know that this isn’t so that you can pity me, I’m not doing this to be like “I’ve been through worse” or whatever. I want this story to show you hope. I want this to show you that whatever you are going through, whatever pain and suffering you come from: it does get better. With that in mind, here’s the story of my life and my journey to discovering Christ…
The Early Years:
My parents were very young and very unmarried when I was born. Neither of them had stable jobs and there was some strong substance abuse by my mother. My mother was an unstable character, who could switch from trying her best to being a loving and caring mom to a violent and reckless individual. I would love to give the benefit of the doubt to my mother for trying but, as you’ll see later in this post, I struggle to see how I can because the stories that I was told of her growing up seem scarily accurate. I would be spending weekends with my dads parents who would wash me, feed me and do everything that my parents had failed in doing for me. My grandmother has often told me how when I arrived there, I would have a weeks worth of washing needing to be done, I would be hungry and scared and when it came time for me to be taken back to my mother, I would kick and scream and cry like I was being murdered: out of fear.
I was just over a year old when my mother started to play with the idea of me staying with my dads parents for 3 months so that she could get her act together in order to be the mother for me that she needed to be. However, over the course of six months, she flipped and flopped on the idea and, on one occasion when my dad brought up the idea of taking me to my grandparents, even threatened my life at knife-point to keep me to herself. Eventually she gave me to my father to give to his parents to live with for three months. Those three months have now stretched to approximately two decades. You might be asking yourself why but I can almost guarantee that you can guess the reason why: drugs. My mother had her own severe childhood issues and my belief is that drugs came into the picture for her when she was struggling when she could never hold down a job, was in and out of rehab (throughout the course of my life, not just those six months) and was even in prison for a stint. Sadly, because of what those drugs have done to her mind, she often claims that my grandmother stole me from her and that she has done everything to get me back. But my grandmother still has letters from her where my mom would be begging for money, asking for more chances, threatening my grandparents with legal and physical action and all other kinds of nasty things. There are also nice things in the mix, some letters where she has thanked my gran for looking after me, but there is more nasty than nice. But I digress.
When I went to live with my grandparents, I was suddenly in a comforting, loving home which was quite a new experience for me. My grandparents had to teach me how to walk and talk, and they were confronted with reliving the experience of raising a child (they had 3 children, one of which was my father). Going by Erik Erikson’s theory of human development in psychology, I had already learned to not trust the world, my belief was that the world was not a safe space (a belief reinforced by my experience of high school). I don’t remember much from that time, other than suddenly growing up inside of a loving home environment and being around a warm, welcoming family.
My dad was and still is in the picture. It wasn’t long after I was born that he fell in love with another woman who he eventually had my eldest stepsister with. Shortly after that, they were married and gave me a stepbrother and two more stepsisters. I can remember feeling scared when I would visit my father and stepmom, and step-siblings, and in retrospect, that fear probably came from the part of me that believed that everything outside of my grandparents family was unsafe. He tried to make it work, became a restaurant manager and part-owner and tried really hard actually to be there for his eldest son.
When I was growing up with my grandparents, I was raised in a Christian home and did all the things that little Christian kids do: go to Sunday School and learn all the stories like Noah, Moses, Jonah and, without fail, Jesus’ birth at Christmas time. But I think even then I struggled to believe that God was real. It was something that passed the time until I could go home. I loved reading as a child, devouring the Harry Potter books and even learning how to read quicker because of them. This changed slightly when I was introduced to video games at a young age by one of my older cousins. I had more-or-less a fairly normal childhood, watched shows like Dragon-Ball Z and Pokemon, read books, played games, loved swimming. I’d go visit my dad and stepmom every other weekend when I could. I loved playing cricket (for those who don’t know what it is, it’s a sport involving two batsmen and 11 fielders and my country is currently ranked second in the world for the sport so yay!) so I’d play cricket with my brother in the back-garden, although I seem to recall more arguments than actual sport [internal chuckle]. My childhood was starting to shape out fairly normally. I did however grow up terrified of the dark and I would often spend many a night hiding under my blanket, even with the bathroom light across the passage on. I’d occasionally talk to my mom over sms or on the phone but over the course of my childhood, I can count the number of times that I actually remember seeing her on two hands. Not to be totally unfair to her, one time her boyfriend at the time paid for my transport to go and see her in the city in which she was living at the time. But the times I saw her were very few and VERY far between. We moved house when I was about nine-years old, quite some distance too so I had to change schools and make new friends. And the story took a different turn there.
The New Land:
I was now in an all-boy school after going to a co-ed school for my early formative years. I guess I was labelled as a bit of an oddball, which I was and still am, and made friends with the other social outcasts. Shortly after moving, I was diagnosed with ADD and also had to start wearing glasses (this was over a period of a year, maybe a year and a half). It was at this new school where I experienced bullying for the first time. From the time I arrived at the school, almost every day, until my final year. It was in this ‘new land’ that I gave up on cricket and took up field hockey, which I fell in love with almost immediately. Hockey for me is the only thing I miss about high school. High school was not a fun time for me, and I’m sure many other people can relate to that experience. During my time at high school, I admitted to my grandparents that I was an atheist, I fell in love with Batman (specifically at the time the Dark Knight trilogy by Christopher Nolan) and that helped me conquer my fear of the dark. But I was growing in my resentment of people and the world around me. Eventually my atheism turned more into anti-theism which was not helped when I got my first girlfriend.
We started dating when I was in my mid-to-late teens and it was a sweet relationship at first, filled with love and joy and kindness. Over time the relationship became hurtful and manipulative, and we were very unhappy people. We both were very anti-religion of any kind and were happy to point out any mistakes any religious person made, but specifically Christians and Muslims. At this point, I would point out that in hindsight I realised that my girlfriend at the time was so similar to my mother in personality and character. I was starting to be consumed by my own hatred, anger and resentment towards other people and this was playing out in that relationship. Eventually I graduated from high school with no idea of what to study afterwards, and I ended up applying for a variety of things from computer science to teaching to physiotherapy at a range of universities. I didn’t get in to any of them. My girlfriend convinced me that I should take a gap year to figure out what I wanted but my grandmother wanted me to study something.
At this point, I’d gotten into online gaming and had met someone from the Netherlands who would eventually become one of my closest friends. That friendship was also dark and hateful, but not between us, it bred that hate outwards for others, mostly anti-religion and some borderline racism. There was a lot of people in my life that were feeding into my own hatred and anger and I had pretty much given up on any notion of God.
The College Years:
After I had been rejected by every university I applied to, I had started to lose hope in my life. Studying was something I really aspired to but it seemed to me like that door had closed on me (as I deserved, I was very lazy and did not work hard at high school). Then, out of the blue, one of my older cousins told me about a place she was studying at where application and registration was still open. There was one major drawback for me at the time: it was a Christian institution. I figured I could bite my tongue and be polite long enough to get me through my studies so I applied and, much to my surprise, got in. There were only two Bachelor degrees available to me at that point: BTh (Bachelor of Theology) and BA Psychology. My choice was clear and I went psychology. Soon after I started studying, I also got a waitering job at my dads restaurant which, while gave me good pocket money, also introduced me to another problem: drugs. What started as something fun and recreational became more serious and problematic as time went on. I was moving quickly on the path to destruction. Meanwhile, I was surrounded by Christians at my daily life and I was starting to become more curious about this guy Jesus that they were talking about: sure I had heard of Him being born, and Him dying on a cross but I never really knew who He was or why He was important. At college, I was quiet and withdrawn. I barely spoke to anyone and when I did, it was often short and without much enthusiasm.
The Most Important Moment of My Life:
I remember it clearly. The 31st of June, my girlfriend broke up with my after I got violent. I had no idea what to do. I was sort of happy now that I had a bachelors freedom again. But I was also sort of lost because my weekends were suddenly free again. It was the second week of July when one of my friends, who had begged me to go to church with her for months, finally got a yes. The way I saw it, I had nothing better to do and I wanted to see what made this church different (for interests sake, it was Hillsong Church, Cape town) to so many others that I had criticised. I remember walking into the lobby with my friend who knew everyone there and being ushered into the actual church auditorium. I thought my friend would lead us to some seats somewhere on the side, but I was very mistaken. We were in the mosh pit. At the front. The last place I wanted to be, especially in a church. And I was also confused by the presence of a mosh pit in a church but that’s a story for another day. I had no intention of opening myself up to receiving Christ. Christians had tried and failed to explain to me that God loves me, would forgive me of my sins and wanted me to know Him. It sounded like complete rot to me. The concept of forgiveness and all-powerful God having that forgiveness and grace for me seemed completely alien. As far as I was concerned, I wasn’t a bad person and didn’t need “saving”. And yet, it was during that service on the 13th of July, 2014, that my eyes were opened. I can’t remember what the service was about anymore, but I can clearly remember suddenly realising I had been missing the point of Christianity, realising how much humanity needed Jesus, how much grace He has for us and how much I personally needed Him. I can’t describe the moment now, but thinking of it all I can see is Jesus’ glory opening my eyes to Him. It was an amazing moment, when my whole life was changed. My hardened heart was now opened and filled with the Holy Spirit.
“I will give them an undivided heart and put a new spirit in them; I will remove from them their heart of stone and give them a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 11:9
Thank you for reading this. Again, this is not for pity or sympathy. This is not to make it seem like I’ve been through worse things than anyone else, I’m sure that many other people have it worse off. Again, I hope that somewhere in this, you see that there is hope, that you might understand His grace and mercy towards you and how much the eternal and awesome God loves you. I have had to leave certain details and events out as I explained at the beginning but yeah.
That’s my story of how I came to the cross of Christ. When suddenly things began to make sense. My life began to make sense. If you are a fellow Christian brother or sister, I want to say this to you: never give up on those around you. Keep praying for them, keep loving them and keep trying. If you aren’t a Christian, know that I am praying for you. Because I love you and want you to know that there is something better than all of this on earth, there is hope, there is life, there is love. It’s in God. Have an amazing day people, may God bless you and keep you.