"The biggest problem I faced in my dark moods - meaning."
I remember listening to Ray D’Arcy one morning discuss what the first line of his auto biography might be and thinking it seemed there were two very different stories I could tell of my life so far: it was as if one was made in full colour, and the other in black and white, or grey.
To some, my childhood must have seemed quite an idyllic picture. I grew up on a beautiful farm, with loving parents and a houseful of sisters to play with. I never remember being bored as a child; I had a great imagination and life offered many opportunities for real, and imagined adventures. I did well in school, and grew to love the challenge of education, the ideas, the friendships, the travel, and the many great experiences that school and later studying architecture in university gave me. This was the ‘full colour’ picture of my life. However, there was also a darker version of my story that was equally real running along side this happier one. Suddenly my life would go from being in colour into black and white, as if a cloud came across my vision and everything got darker.
At times the reasons for this would be quite clear. The idyllic farm that I grew up on also caused a lot of hardship in our family. Doing well in school did not make me a very popular person among certain crowds. And over the years it seemed that everyone I put my trust in – family, friends, boyfriends, sooner or later rejected me or broke that trust and I ended up being really hurt. It seemed that nothing about how I looked, or what I achieved, gained me the approval or attention from those from whom I wanted it most.
But sometimes there appeared to be no reason for the dark moods. I remember one Christmas sitting in our kitchen, with family all around me decorating our Christmas tree, but being so swallowed up by loneliness and depression that I could not even participate. At times like these life seemed purposeless, painful and futile. Grey.
I grew up taking it for granted that God existed. But as I encountered worldviews outside that of my own family’s, I realised that some people were very sure that God did not exist. Science had, it seemed, convincing explanations for how life on earth evolved and psychology seemed able to explain much of our behaviour. It appeared life could be explained without any need for the idea of God. At university, almost all my peers and lecturers took it for granted that there was no God, or at least not the personal, loving God described by the Christian faith.
But while science had theories to explain what I saw in front of me, it did not have the answers for what I felt inside of me. While it could tell me how the things I saw in front of me worked, it got me no closer to explaining how or why they might have come into existence in the first place. Those arguments about the beginnings of life did not add one ounce of reassurance about the biggest problem I faced in my dark moods – meaning.
Why was I here at all? Did I mean anything to anyone?
It got to the point where I had to know one way or the other. I remember the night when God answered my question more distinctly than I remember almost any other time in my life. I was sitting in a meeting that my parents had brought me to. Outwardly I was silent, I was motionless and emotionless as we sat and listened to the speaker. Except that I was not listening. Inside I was screaming at God, desperate to know if He was really there. I must have sat there for an hour, while a battle raged within me. And then, when it seemed I had exhausted everything, there was a silence, and in the silence the words ‘I am the way, the truth and the life’ were spoken. I knew the person speaking was God. And I knew it was Jesus. At that moment I was given understanding that Jesus was the way – the path my life would follow, and the way to knowing God. I knew He was the truth about all the questions I had about life, even if I didn’t know the answers yet. And I knew He was LIFE. Living was His idea, and He wanted good and exciting things for my life. Most of all, I began to understand that He was the reason for my life, and He, creator of the world was interested in knowing me.
There was great joy and relief in that knowledge, and I became determined to become the kind of person I thought God would want me to be, but another moment of desperation occurred when I had to face the fact that there were certain things in my life I loved more than God, and I was powerless to deal with this sin without Him. On my knees crying out to God at a Youth Camp, God met me again, and this time showed me very gently that He not only had the power to forgive my sins, but also to help me stop sinning.
I could not change me, but if I would allow Him, and do the thing that I feared most – surrender control of my life to Him - His Holy Spirit would begin to change me in miraculous ways.
That began a journey for me that gave me a thirst to want to go deeper with God. I decided when I finally surrendered my ‘self’ to God, that I wanted it all, or not at all, wherever that takes me, or however difficult or unconventional that path might be. Perhaps the most wonderful thing I have realised is that God is beginning to paint colour throughout all of my life, because even though I still experience pain, and difficult times, the sense of hope and purpose I have in Him cannot be clouded out. Bad times cannot take away the knowledge of His truth, the security of His love, or the wonder of his creation.
As C.S. Lewis once said, ‘I believe in Christianity as I believe the sun has risen, not only because I see it, but because by it I see everything else.’