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begin with love

Updated: Feb 16



“Because of what I did to gain my own version of happiness, I felt ‘tainted’ and ashamed before God. But like Peter who thrice denied Christ, I found hope that I could be restored.“


Even at a young age, the rough waves of life had already started to rock the boat for a young Michelle*.


Her grandmother was diagnosed with cancer, and her family business faced troubles, which drove her Mom to depression. This strained the relationship between her and Michelle, with one particular quarrel leaving the latter resentful.


Not long after, Michelle fared poorly in her O-level English paper despite having high hopes for the exam. Thanks to an English tutor who brought her to the faith, she prayed to receive Christ at age 17.


But far from it being a smooth sailing journey thereafter, a series of relationship storms would follow.


He Never Said There Would Be No Storms


When Michelle began a two-year relationship with a Muslim boyfriend, it drove a wedge between her and her Dad. Usually her pillar of support, he was strongly against it and the issue became a source of friction between them.


Feeling like she was walking on eggshells whenever she was home, she started to isolate herself from her family by spending hours outside, and locking herself in her room whenever she got back.


Despite the Spirit’s promptings to leave the relationship, she had so idolised it that she couldn’t let go. And it drew her away from her heavenly Father.


“I decided I would choose my boyfriend over God and my family. I told Him I hated my parents for disapproving it. I felt unloved and judged by my own family and friends.”


So when her boyfriend left her, she was devastated and brought to a breaking point.


Yet, even when it seemed there was no way out of the valley for her, God was working behind the scenes to gently mend her broken relationships, starting with Himself.


Despite feeling skeptical that God would show up, Michelle accepted a friend’s invitation to attend church again, and prayed that He would reveal Himself to her.


Answering her prayers, He brought her counselors who helped answer specific intellectual questions she had about the faith.


A deaconess she met in Youth Ministry also wept and journeyed with her weekly through her emotional struggles without any judgment. Over time, Michelle began to heal, knowing that she was already reconciled to her heavenly Father through Christ (2 Cor 5:18) despite her actions.


“Because of what I did to gain my own version of happiness, I felt ‘tainted’ and ashamed before God. But like Peter who thrice denied Christ, I found hope that I could be restored,” she affirms.


What she had longed for from her family and relationship, He offered. And the shame she felt from her sinful choices, He washed away by reaffirming her identity as His child. Gradually, she felt a sense of normalcy return, and even started to cook for her church mates. 




Tears of Sadness to Tears of Joy


God would then orchestrate a series of opportunities for Michelle to restore her broken relationships in her family.


She shares, “Jesus loved us first while we were still sinners, even before we could give or receive love. I saw how Jesus got hurt but was still willing to love others, and also chose to receive me despite all that I did.  I began to see that my mom had pains she never knew how to manage as she did not have Him in her life. Forgiving her first, like Jesus did, was the first thing I could do.”


Prompted by the Spirit, Michelle spontaneously decided to hug her mother during a car journey. This touched her mother greatly, and her act of faith broke down the walls that had been built over the years.


And when her family unexpectedly threw her a 21st birthday party a couple of months later, her dad even publicly declared his delight for Michelle in front of everyone, despite all that had happened. She responded by acknowledging him in front of everyone too.


“I was in tears, and just hugged him and told him I loved him too. Like the prodigal son in Luke 15, I felt accepted by my heavenly Father, my earthly Father and my household. I even had a big party for me!”, she exclaims.


This experience was even more precious to her, as it occurred not long after she had decided to be honest with her staunchly-Buddhist Dad that she was a Christian, even though she knew he would be unhappy. 


Michelle was also convicted by the Spirit that she could no longer harbour the bitterness she had towards one of her sisters.


“One day, I just poured out the pain I had suppressed for years, and just crying it out brought healing to my soul. With the issues brought into the light, we both apologised to each other and the relationship was restored,” she adds.


Indeed, weeping stays for a night but rejoicing comes in the morning! 


Life Abundant Abandoned


These days, Michelle enjoys a much stronger relationship with her family and friends.

“I no longer find it tough to express my love to my family members. My desire is to one day pray and worship God together with them, as they are not yet believers.”


For her, what the enemy had meant for evil, God has used for good (Genesis 50:20). Indeed, let’s continue to believe that He is faithful and able to restore our relationships – even the years we think the locusts have eaten (Joel 2:25)!

 




* Names have been changed for confidentiality

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