By August, a Courage member
Ever since I can remember, I was always a loner. Thinking back, I believe it was because every time I tried to make friends, I ended up being bullied. So eventually, I didn’t feel like going out to play because instead of having fun, I ended up being despised, rejected and lied to.
It didn’t help that I was a sickly child. In primary school, I was hospitalised for pneumonia. No one visited me at the hospital. And when I got back to school, it seemed like life went on without anyone missing me. And when I was in secondary school, I had a back injury that required me to walk bent forward with my lower back sticking out. I can still remember the stares and the jokes from everyone around me.
These bad experiences as a child led me to think about jumping and ending it all whenever I saw corridor railings and windowsills. My only friend was darkness. My only companion was hopelessness. And they joined me even as an adult. My back pain came back. My challenges at school became challenges of finding work. My sadness became depression. But something was pushing me to go on, to persevere, to hope.
I hoped to get a stable job. I hoped to get better. I hope that I would live a normal life, without the fear of being judged, seen as a failure or just different.
Despite the many disappointments in my life, I still strived to be a good person. I continued to go to Mass. I served in many ministries in church. I attended as many retreats as I could, as well as any seminars that I found. I reflected daily, meditated, fasted and prayed. But my good old friend darkness didn’t want to leave me. My constant companion hopelessness still stuck by my side. They were pushing me to end it all once again, just like when I was a child.
But then, I joined the Courage Advent retreat. Despite the many retreats I have attended, this was different. Instead of praying to God to help me break free from my desolation and sadness, I challenged God to give me answers. Why am I here? What do you want from me? What good can I do for others?
It was then that I realised how life is not about myself, but about the relationships I have with God, my family, the community I am in and the friends that I have. Yes, I realised that I have friends. Friends who laugh at my jokes and join me in my advocacies. Friends who give me hope and who I have also given hope to. Friends who smile when I share my life stories and friends who I hold and hug when they are sad or are happy.
I never got to shake off the idea in my head that I was broken, useless, stupid. And that made me lose confidence in myself, and wanting approval from everyone around me.
But today, I focus on how God made me and how He loves me. And that is how I was able to stay strong despite falling again and again and again. He is how I still had hope even when I felt I had no more desire to go on. God is the reason I never gave up even as I struggled and cried and failed.
As Christmas draws near, I reflect on how Christ became man to live and to give hope to all peoples. And this truth reminds me that as I live, I can give hope – to myself and to everyone around me. I no longer have hopelessness and sadness as my friends. My constant companion is now Christ, who lives in me.
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August is a Courage member who loves music, anime and tries to get closer, and closer to God
The opinions and experiences expressed in each entry in the Reflections page belong solely to the original authors and do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of Courage Singapore. Some entries have been edited for length and clarity.