"I know what it is to feel as there is no hope..." - Shanell H.

 

Have you ever felt alone in the midst of a crowd, and felt darkness in a place filled with light? Have you ever been full of despair with eyes swollen from crying, feeling only hatred? Well I’ve been in such a place. I know what it feels like to be alone. I know what it feels like to have the sun shining on my face yet feel as cold and dark as a winter storm in December. I know what it is to feel as though there is no hope left and have many suicidal thoughts but refrain from executing them only because of God’s grace! I know what it is to cry myself to sleep, to be bitter and full of hatred. I’ve been in all these places. Yes me, this young, bubbly girl who always seems happy and full of energy. It wasn’t always like this.

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I grew up in a toxic environment where my mom and dad argued constantly   and this caused my mother to lash out at my siblings and I because of her anger and frustration. Up to this day, I don’t know what it is like to sit and share moments of humour with both of my parents.  On the outside we seemed like a perfect family, but at home we were far from it. When I was only eight years old, my dad abandoned our home. It was a sad time for the family but I felt selfishly happy, for a short while. I was happy that the arguing subsided and did not consider the negative effects that my father’s departure would have on my mom. What bothered me the most was the fact that we all attended church.  I was puzzled as to how a Christian man could leave his wife and four children to struggle financially.  To an extent I could understand that my father was a mere man who was capable of making mistakes, but I wondered, “how could God allow this to happen?”….

After  my father left, I realized that something  was missing from my life. It was as though there was a void in my heart and I needed something to fill it. While growing up, I heard  about girls who had  many boyfriends and  with  whom they engaged in sexual acts, and I always   promised myself  that I would never be like that. However, there was always a part of me that felt lonely even though I knew that God loved me, and I still needed a physical person to hold me and provide a sense of comfort and security so that I would feel loved. This caused me to do things that I knew were wrong  since I sought the approval of others.

I always felt compelled to say yes, since I was afraid of hurting others. Saying no was difficult, so no matter who it was and what they asked me to do, I would give in. I was so ashamed of myself I did not even want to call myself a Christian.  What made it worse was that every Sunday I would be in church on the altar, singing with the worship team. If it wasn’t for God’s mercy I would have probably been in hell right now because of my disobedience to Him. Throughout my Christian life, I had six boyfriends and none were Christians. When I was supposed to be the one shinning my light in the darkness, it was extremely dim.  I am a virgin but I never felt like one because of all that I had done.  I felt as though my purity had been taken away and I was addicted to pornography and masturbation.  But I thank God for the grace and the mercy He showed me during this time!

 Things changed when I entered Form six. I was not at all prepared for what would happen there. On the orientation day, there were many clubs which we were encouraged to join. To my surprise there was a club called Inter Varsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF), and immediately I got excited because I felt that becoming a member of this club would cause my life to change significantly. And indeed it did. Various interesting topics were explored at all the sessions but there was one session that I will never forget. It took place on the day I repented of my sins and gave my heart to Jesus, allowing Him to be Lord and Saviour of my life.

 

 This was something I had done before but this time, I meant it from the bottom of my heart. On that day, the vice president of IVCF spoke to us and he was led by God’s Holy Spirit. What he said was exactly what I needed to hear and I began to cry. I knew then and there that I was ready to accept Christ, because I was lost and needed a Saviour.  I realized how much He did for me and how much he loved me in spite of how sinful I was. The Vice president said a prayer that affirmed belief in Jesus Christ and asked Him for His forgiveness, and I repeated it while crying.  From that moment, I was saved .  I will never regret making that decision since I’ve found everything that I was ever searching for in Christ.  Since then, there have been many times  when I felt guilty and my conscience bothered me because of all that I had done in the past but I am comforted by the word of God which says in 2 Corithians 5:17; “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

I am grateful to my mother who helped me to grow spiritually. She always encouraged me in the Lord. When I was younger, daily she woke us up early every morning before we went to school to pray with us. And at nights, we also prayed together.  Saturdays were dedicated to devotions –spending time studying God’s word.  I must admit that I hated Saturdays because devotions were long and although I wanted to know more about Christ through His word it always seemed like such a tiring and boring activity. Nevertheless, today I am grateful for those Saturday devotion times which we still have occasionally.

I must mention though that my relationship with my mother is not where I would like it to be but it has come a long way. My mom is very strict and over protective. She believes that God gave her a mandate to train and raise her children rightly to the best of her ability and she intends to carry it out no matter what. However, I do not always understand the manner in which my mother chooses to execute this mandate and I continue to wait on the Lord to help me to comprehend it better. I do not think that my mom understands nor appreciates my ministry in IVCF and so carrying out my roles in this body has been a great challenge. Serving on the executive committee as secretary at the IVCF group at my Sixth Form school, Polytechnic, and as Prayer Coordinator in the IVCF group at UWI has not been easy. However, recently my mother accepted the fact that I believe that this is what God wants me to do. My mom now listens to me and considers my opinions and I believe that this is a result of a lot of prayer and fasting. This did not happen overnight and I am grateful to God for what he has done in my life as well as my mother’s.

 

All in all, it has been tough and I am grateful for every experience thus far because it has made me into the beautiful young lady that I am today. I look forward to all that God has in store for me. I would like to leave you with my favorite scripture verse, Romans 8:28, which says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”