“What is out there beyond this realm?”
“What is the point of life?”
“Who am I?”
“Am I destined for hell?”
These questions and more tormented my soul…
STARVED OF LOVE
I had many questions about life, but no one to answer them. I was dissatisfied with life and I wanted to fill up that void in my heart. I got dissatisfied with the teaching I got from my church and I went wider in the selection of books I read: mysteries, horror, occultism, romances, pornography, mystic, etc. I was in search of something more than the life I knew. But rather than being satisfied, each time I finished reading a book, it seemed a part of me went away with the book; the emptiness widened and became deeper.
I was frustrated, depressed and confused; I never knew what I wanted in life. I found another comfort – music. I thought that I had finally discovered what I wanted to be in life and so, I decided to take up music as a career.
Although I was already in the choir in my church, only God knew how much I hated that choir. But to my parents, it seemed I loved it.
Where It All Began…
As a child, I was familiar with death.It was an ongoing battle, as I stuggled to live. I never imagined I would live this long, because death and I fought a long battle right from the time I was born, as I was told. I grew up in a Christian home, which means that my parents were religious people; though I can’t say that they were into this ‘God thing.’ They always believed that there was a spirit behind the things that happen in life.
I never really spent my childhood days with my parents because of the circumstances surrounding my birth. According to my mum, to save my life, I was taken to Port Harcourt by my Aunt.
Life in Port Harcourt gave me multiple personalities; my aunt, in her efforts to pull me out of my shell, since I was a loner, took it to the extreme. She denied me of love and affection; so much that when love came from outside in the form of friends who were not my age mates, (some of them were gangsters, drugs and alcohol addicts. I never took drugs or drinks), I accepted it. I was friends with them because they made me feel like I was special, and I felt accepted.
And so my woes continued…
Living in My Own World
Gentle on the outside, full of hatred on the inside.
I developed an intense hatred for my aunt because I felt she only loved me for my excellent academic records, when I actually wanted her to love the real me. Since I could not fight her physically, I did so with my emotions. When I figured out that I could not fit into her version of ‘me’, I did things that would get her raging with anger and she would in return pour it out on me by beating me. Sometimes, when I told her things, she would doubt what I said, and as a result of that, I became secretive. I built a wall around myself, nobody knew the real me, they only saw what I wanted them to see. Even when I was sexually abused by our neighbor, I kept quiet about it, because I knew that my aunt wouldn’t have believed me and I never wanted that feeling of rejection from people.
I also learnt how to read from a tender age, thanks to my aunt’s training. I began reading every book I could lay my hands on; I did that just to keep my mind busy. Reading triggered my imagination and this was one of my comfort zones, because while reading, nothing else mattered and my thinking was shaped by the books I read. Through my imagination, I created a world of my own where I was powerful, and could do all the things I could not do in the real world, it boosted my low self- esteem. Although it started as an innocent imagination, it later developed into an addiction. I was addicted to that imaginary world of mine that life on earth was no longer real to me.
During my childhood, I hated mirrors or anything that seems makes me feel inferior and I was also afraid of being afraid. I was a love-starved and confused child. I thought that I was never good enough for society’s standards. But, things were about to change, or so I thought.
“BACK HOME, BUT NOT HEALED”
My internal wounds stuck out like a sore thumb.
When I returned to Akwa Ibom State in 2009, I told my parents that I never wanted to go back to Port Harcourt. When they asked why, I refused to tell them. The reason was that I wanted to escape that dark presence that tormented me. I wanted peace, love, joy, and happiness, and I was still struggling with that feeling of rejection. When they agreed, I was overjoyed, but not for long.
Learning to live with my parents was a battle. I saw them as enemies who were trying to forcefully break down my walls, and after trying without success, they gave up. I wanted to be loved, not ordered around. I despised my siblings because of the way they related with my parents. I was the odd one out, and because of that, I did things that made my sisters unhappy. I would fight with my elder brother over irrelevant things (such as a pencil!). I could cause trouble or start a fight, then put the blame on someone else.
I was able to do this due to my multiple personalities. I was stubborn in a quiet way. To most people, I was humble, but I knew how proud I was on the inside. I needed to get away, but how?
Sent Away Again
Freedom at long last? …Or more imprisonment?
For peace to reign at home, my parents sent me to an all-girls boarding secondary school in Uyo, after my primary education.
I agreed to go, but felt that they decided to send me away because I was causing them lots of trouble. I thought that I was an adopted child, because in the movies I watched and the books I read, some adopted children were usually unloved and rebellious. Just like my aunt, my parents were only interested in my academic and physical life, and never went beyond that.
Life in boarding school gave me the freedom I always wanted. I was free from my parent’s pressure of trying to make me a good ‘church girl.‘ I wanted more than that from life. I wanted adventures, I wanted to be wild; I wanted more freedom, but something kept restraining me. When my classmates talked about their boyfriends, I didn’t have anything to say, because I never had one. This was because every time I imagined myself in their shoes, the scene always ended in disasters. I could not involve myself freely in examination malpractice, because each time I tried, I would have a dreadful feeling, so I was always scared of doing it. I had classmates who knew God and had a relationship with Him.I admired but avoided them; although I also longed to have a relationship with God, I was too busy building up my imaginative world because it was all I could do. Also, I saw Christians as hypocrites who preached one thing and did the opposite.
I hated it when anyone, especially my church pastor, preached repentance, because I was searching for God but was presented with an impossible process. I gave up on trying to know God. Though there was an empty space longing for Him, I had no one to show me how to get to Him. Rather, they pointed out my sins and stopped there. I hated Christianity for that, and my ache increased.
I suffered from depression.
I felt it whenever my parents shouted at me, criticized my actions or called me names. I always wished I was born in England during the Dark Age and also a warrior. I loved watching movies about sword fighting and super powers. I wanted to be a vampire, zombie, or a kungfu fighter. I loved the feeling of death, mystery and the smell of blood, and this was a result of the kind of movies I watched.
My imagination became wild, I could create monsters and beings of any kind. I always wanted to be alone because each time I was with people, I always did things that got them angry. I used to blank out and could close my heart, soul, and mind to the emotions of people around me. I never liked knowing people, there was something in me that just hated it.
There were times I felt like committing suicide but something usually stopped me from doing it.I never gave upon the search for something more than whatlife could offer.
In my JSS3, my dad lost his job and I had to change school.
The new school had no music teacher and I was angry because one of my comforts was gone. I lost interest in my education, I had no aim or goal in life. This was one of my darkest moments in life, I failed most of my subjects that year and my dad was angry with me. It was at this time that I started masturbating; to me it was never bad because I felt all the things my mind told me to do were right.
In my SS1, my parents wanted me to do science, so that I could study Pharmacy at the university. But I wanted things to be done my way because I was fed up with doing things their way. So I did arts; although I had no particular career that existed in arts in mind. I did it just to show my parents that I was fed up with their decisions for me. I became more withdrawn. I only had one friend because, for me, life was all about me. Although I wanted friends, I valued my private space so much that even the one friend I had couldn’t draw near enough. My classmates never knew the real me.
My whole life was a lie.
I could do things and have the blame put on someone else. I told lies, and I was unforgiving. Life was about me, my world and my desires; impossible desires
Satisfaction eluded me; my life was a mess.
During my SS3, when registering for WAEC, I made up my mind to study Fine Arts in the University. How I came to love fine art was because I had a teacher that encouraged and pushed me on.I discovered that I was good at it, even when my whole family tried to discourage me; I never gave up. I wrote my WAEC examination and failed Maths since I didn’t take part in the exam malpractice they did. My dad had to register the exam for me again, but as God could have it, I had admission into Uniuyo with my first WAEC result, although I still wrote the second WAEC exam during my first year.
In my first year in the University, I was no longer staying with my parents. I stopped attending church services because I saw that people usually go to church to display their clothes instead of going to see God and I never wanted to be a part of that. I hated anything tied to ‘church’.
My life was a mess; I wanted to be free from many things. Just like the earth, my imaginative world was unstable. I was having nightmares. I had nothing to hold on to. I was just like a balloon and anything could blow me up. I had to pretend that all was well and almost had a mental breakdown. I could not stay a day without masturbating, watching a movie or reading a book. That was all I lived for and I could stay hungry just to buy a novel to read.
It was also during my year one, that I met Edidiong M. who was in the same class as me. I don’t know how she became my friend. But I think it was because she had things I wanted – peace, joy, etc. – and also because she never bothered me with talk about Christianity. Since I was addicted to reading, she gave me a novel titled Angels of Humility. After reading the book, I believed that finding God can be possible, but I was confused about how to find Him for myself.
I was at a cross road, it was either God or the deep end; something had to happen soon and fast!
A Hungry Heart Finds God
“Can this be God?”
“Can it be so simple?”
During my year one second semester, I visited Edidiong in her room in the hostel. She was discussing with someone; although I can’t recall what they were saying, it was there I decided to follow her to her church. When I told her, she tried to discourage me by telling me that they are so informal, some members sit on the floor during the meeting, and that everyone dresses casually. I told her that it didn’t matter. She also said that they close late and l told her that nobody is going to look for me.
In the month of August, the first time I came to God’s Lighthouse, I was given a prophetic word. I desperately wanted to believe it but my second name was ‘doubt’. The Pastor, Pastor Ita also prayed for me and I heard him saying “eyes to see.” Since I was having eye pain I thought that I will be healed of it but it didn’t happen. After that Sunday, I told myself that I wouldn’t go back but somehow, deep within me, I knew that I was going to go back again. I was not able to go back again due to the long strike that lasted for months. I was praying for the strike to be over not just for school to resume but so that I could go back to “God’s Lighthouse”.
During that strike, a lot of things happened. I started having weird dreams that I didn’t understand and I was actually scared because my dreams always come to pass no matter what happens.
Finally, the strike was over and I came back to Uyo. I could not remember the direction to ‘The Warehouse’ where the church meetings held, but I could remember the junction where I’d gotten off. From there, that was how I was able to locate ‘The Warehouse’ and started attending church meetings. There were people there to encourage me. And I realized there that I could actually get to know God and have a personal relationship with Him…
“Love is here, love is now, love is pouring in from His head, from His brows…”
COUNTING MY BLESSINGS
Coming to God’s Lighthouse has been a blessing to me. I have learnt a lot and received deliverance In these different areas:
– My understanding of repentance:
I never wanted to repent because I had seen people in my old church who had been born-again living in sin, so I never wanted to join them. But now I understand that repentance is in your actions, not just in saying the words; it is a process.
– Ability to read my Bible with understanding:
Now, I enjoy reading my Bible and actually understand what I am reading. Before, I thought that the Bible was only for pastors.
– Deliverance from masturbation:
I have the Holy Spirit now, and with His help, I have been able to stop masturbating!
– Deliverance from fear:
Fear hindered me from doing many things. For instance, I never wanted to get baptized because I feared what might happen, but with the help of my shepherd, (and also what was taught in the Believer’s Bible School), I was able to overcome that fear and get baptized.
– Peace and Love:
I want to thank God for the peace I have found; for filling up my emptiness and showing me a new dimension to the word ‘love,’ that I can be loved by people – for love’s sake.
I am learning to forgive; before now, my motto was, “Forgiven, not forgotten.”
I have a whole new view of the world. My depression is gone, and I found out that it was demonic. I have an aim, a goal, something to live and hope for– the Resurrection of the Dead. I said before that I was always afraid, but God is helping me to overcome that fear. I’m learning to overcome sin and God teaches me through His Word that I am strong and can face the enemy if only I abide in Him.
I realized that God can speak to me personally, not only through the pastors or anointed men of God. I am learning to submit to authority and to be humble, (though it’s hard for a formerly stubborn and rebellious child like me!). I am sure that with the help of the Holy Spirit, I will be able to achieve that.
Yes, there are times I stumble and feel like giving up, but having people around me with the same goal and mindset encouraged me. I can’t really say that I am totally perfect, but I have changed, and I am still changing. I can proudly say to people that I am born again and that God really loves me.
I’m grateful to God for my life!
– Sis M.M.