I became a Christian and invited Christ into my life when I was 26 after many turbulent years beforehand. I was raised in a strict but loving Christian home and ran away in rebellion when I was 16 years old. From there I paved a very mixed up and restless life for myself. I got into toxic, unhealthy and compromised relationships that held little to no value and produced no positive changes in my character or life. Most of these relationships I came to realise later on were emotionally abusive – and that went both ways. Although they were never violent relationships they still had damaging affects. Because of these relationships with men I became an increasingly bitter, aggressive “man hater” who would be frequently abrupt, abusive and even violent at times towards their sex. This attitude even spilled over into how I addressed acquaintances and friends in my life, and even seasonally how I treated family members.
Along the way I discovered I was a very good emotional manipulator, was effortlessly conniving towards people and clever in insulting or arguing with others. I took pleasure in playing with people’s heads and even hearts as it suited me. I was an emotional predator and a bully – usually towards men. I started working out at the gym so I would hold a certain appearance and presence about me, this was my motivator for training at the time. I would speak coarsely and disrespectfully and had little regard for anyone else’s feelings around me. In a social setting it was always about me and how I could take advantage, be amused, pass time or play games with others. There wasn’t much about my environment socially that I didn’t control. I took ownership of this image and persona I had going on at that time and did not regret or have empathy of my actions towards anyone. I would even get physically violent towards men and would go out hoping to pick fights with someone who would so much as look at me the wrong way. On several occasions I got thrown out of venues for fighting, both physically and verbally and often for great pleasure from these experiences.
Aside from being a social cigarette smoker, I never experimented with drugs and never drank alcohol (perhaps several times I did, but nothing major) or wrote myself off – I loved myself and my body too much to damage it or self destruct in that way. I saw substance abuse or overuse as a weakness and a lack of self respect and pride so never lowered myself and dabbled. My theory: I kept myself clean and sharp incase I had to fight someone when I went out (this was my crazy theory!) Aside from that I didn’t want to contaminate this body I was so proud of. Pride took over my life and entire character and attitude. There was always a stench of ego that emminated from me wherever I would go, and I even LIKED that about myself. That was the worst part – I loved my pride.
After living like this from 19 to 25(ish) God had grace on me reached out towards me…and starting to convict me of my lifestyle, my rebellion, my attitudes and heart towards people. I have had parents who have prayed for years for my salvation so I believe this played a huge role also. I gradually came to the realisation that I could not continue to be in the same place year after year with that toxicity in my life, the restlessness, the lack of clarity and direction. I knew I was endlessly trying to fill a void within myself. I often desired and at times would search out distractions and dramas to try and pass time and satisfy this void. Even when I didn’t realise it I was doing this and I would still come away after weeks and months of my whirlwind life feeling no better off than I was before. I would be so inconsistent…I would experience a pendulum effect of highs and lows in my moods and how I perceived my life. Deep down I wanted this to cease and wanted peace and some sort of normality. I knew the answer to achieving this was through Christ but spent so long trying to out run Him or come up with excuses as to why I couldn’t become a Christian “just yet”.
I was slightly anxious about giving my heart to Christ because I wasn’t sure what would happen once I turned my back on my old lifestyle, and was deceived into thinking I’d become some sort of boring clone with no excitement and outlet in life. How wrong I was! It was accepting Christ into my life that brought me freedom and release from my sinful and toxic past. I know that Christ died for my sins on the cross so that through repentance of my sinful lifestyle and past I could have a fulfilling and fruitful life in Him.
First I had to acknowledge and take ownership of my sin and my lifestyle. I had to ask forgiveness and mean it. Then I had to repent and turn from it. This is an action you must consciously do. Turn from what you were to the person God has ordained you to be. He had a purpose for me I realised. He has a purpose for us all if we would only let Him guide us into it. It took a while for me to yield my will and my life to Christ as I was stubborn and rebellious. He had to work on me for a while (still is!) as I continued to lay down my troubled heart and mind to Him daily. Once I started doing this I started to become a transformed and permanently changed person inside. It’s all about faith and trust in Him, a personal God. It’s about a relationship, not religion. You may not be able to see Him but you can feel Him and see the effects He has on your life once you invite him in.