Before I believed in God I experienced a lot of trauma in my life. My dad has bipolar disease and before it was diagnosed, I watched him yell at my mom, hit her and also harming himself with a knife. One of my earliest traumatic memories was being awakened at night time at my dad’s calling and discovering him in the living room with my jump rope around his neck standing on a stool and attached to a hook from the ceiling. My mom was the only one working at the time and she worked overnight shifts at a 24 hr coffee shop. I also have 2 younger brothers who were still asleep when I had woken up. My dad was attempting to commit suicide but had decided not to go forward with it and asked me to get him a knife from the kitchen so he can cut the rope. It was dark, I was young and afraid that he would use the knife on himself so I went into the kitchen pulled the drawer open then shut and said I could not find a knife and I left him to untie himself. In the morning I found that skipping rope and I remember hiding it somewhere because I was sad and afraid that he would try to hang himself again. This event took place when I was around 5-6 years of age.
I believed in God when I was 7 when I had joined the church’s Sunday school. I was so relieved learning about a God who loves me, died for my sins, who is living and will answer my prayers.
Even after believing in God growing up was very difficult. My dad seemed to be getting worse and it caused a lot of pain in my family. Especially to my mom. He no longer hit her but he was very verbally abusive. He was always on and off his medications, or what was prescribed to him was no longer effective. I was both angry and sad facing this.
In my pre-teen years, my middle brother started hanging out with the wrong crowd and was getting into trouble with the police. This would then become a pattern well into his adulthood where he was in and out of jail, and our family home experienced police raids 3 times. Which leads us to getting evicted from our home in the middle of winter. It was a scary time for me and many uncertainties. During this time, through many prayers and diligent home search, my family found a home that was ready to move into within 2 months. This was truly a miracle and a blessing.
Then my youngest brother was diagnosed with schizophrenia when he was 18, his condition and quality of life are worst than that of my dad’s. I felt helpless and hard on myself that I didn’t see it coming. Maybe if I had cared for him more he would have not fallen into depression. There was a bit of guilt, but I also knew I can’t undo what happened. I can only trust that God promises to take care of me and those who I love.
For a very long time, I hated my dad. I blamed him for every bad thing that happened in our family. I had a very short temper with him. Anything he would say or do would upset me. I was disrespectful to him and believed it was okay doing so. I’d wish for him to be dead.
I was exhausted physically and mentally having to face all these challenges. I was in my final year of college in a demanding program and I had broken down and cried many times. I would ask God why this had to happen to me and my family? I was angry with God and told Him I wanted to give up following Him if this was going to be my life.
What helped me a lot to overcome these feelings of wanting to give up was knowing that God understands. Jesus also faced many hardships, and He was facing all things with me. He was with me when everything happened, and will carry me through. I was able to share my burdens with my church brothers and sisters and we prayed a lot. If it wasn’t for God’s love and the love and care from the church, I would not be able to handle it all. They would come with me to hospital visits, come with me to visit my brother in jail, take me out when I needed to walk away for a breather and never judged me or my family. Through the love from God’s family, I know how loving and true God is.
Experiencing all these has increased my faith a lot in God. I have learned to forgive my dad because it is the right and loving thing to do, and a burden was lifted. I feel so set free. I no longer have negative thoughts towards him nor do the past memories affect me. When I started being kind, smiling, and caring to my dad our relationship really changed. He may still have his up and down moments, but instead of condemning him, I encourage him to think more positively and share with him about God. I’ve become more patient and hopeful.
I now understand that God uses the problems to make me stronger and to be more like Him, who is loving and compassionate. When people see my changes despite having so many difficulties, they will know that God is very real, and His love is true.