(This just might be a series but lets see how it goes…)
If there was a common theme that spreads through my life, it would be on the theme of struggling with God. Why a theme compounded on struggle?
I guess struggle best depict my life’s journey in a way. One form of struggle that I faced, one that started the strand of struggle, was the point in which my family struggled through with my dad’s bankruptcy and how that experience pervaded through our life. At that point I was seventeen and in the Malaysian educational context, I was in Form 5 and was facing a major exam. The news of my dad’s bankruptcy literally struck me. As my mum explained the bad new to me, I was numb after trying to make sense of the whole thing. There were a myriad of questions beckoning answers but I did not have the capacity to seek what lies ahead of a life shattered. The future seemed bleak.
Did it affect my studies? Not really because I wasn’t a good student for that matter. I was not dumb but I was lazy. I did not do revisions or study. So the outcome of my major exam was due to a lazy syndrome. I hated school. School was not the place I wanted to be in. Studying was the last thing on my mind. Books were a major bore to me. Well looking back at this, I wouldn’t have imagined I would be back in school and reading books again. Such a turn of events.
Life after the bankruptcy was hard. We had to move from the comforts of our 10 years living in a well to do house and familiar surrounding to a puny shop house, with two rooms, a small living room and kitchen. Life during those days were torrid.
During that time I dropped out of a private college because it was not something that I wanted to do. Business studies had no lasting impression on my mind. I was more attracted to the possibility of making it big as a rock band. We actually won a band competition playing two songs which my band practiced relentlessly. Every practice session was revolved around getting those songs to perfection. We played Korn’s A.D.I.D.A.S. and Blind. The angst of my teenage experience made me at one with the anger driven sound that Korn produced in their songs. Their songs were my staple diet during those days. I would come back from work and literally play the songs from their albums as my lullaby sending me to sleep. When I woke up, their record became my energy to start the day.
God was in the background of my life but he did not have any room to exist in my personal life. God was a detached figure, though respected, he was someone who was a distant player in the way life was lived. I had god conversations from time to time with my close friends. This was maybe because we were church attendants and part of the youth fellowship group. We were even baptized together. The whole gang that is. So some god talk was evident.
Life continued to get on the frustrating tract after failed attempts for my band to record a demo which plummeted me to depression. Financial constrains were mounting. My life was going no where and it looked to be a dark cloud looming in the background. Nothing seemed to be going in a purposeful direction. Life was a bleak experience to live in. It was like being trapped in a tunnel or a pit with no hope for help along the way.
That’s when the God and stuff about Jesus came in.
My conversion took place after a still small voice assured me of breaking the barriers that have kept me captive. A smoking addiction, a morbid taste for metal and a strong inclination on sexual fantasy made me unreceptive to God’s advances. But this voice said that these barriers can be overcome. There was a way of changing the situation. I believed the voice, which was comical to say the least. How could a person like me, who had no interest in the spiritual be open to the possibility of gaining some access to being a tad spiritual? This must have been something miraculous. The voice was able to convince a moderate skeptic. So that was the beginning of my spiritual journey. The journey to knowing Jesus and the life after that.
Believe me, it is not the story that has a triumphant display of suddenly being spiritual. Life after the conversion has opened some more questions. But the fact remains. Even after a life of struggle without God, life is still a struggle with God in the picture. I’m dismayed with testimonies that have a life struggling without God and then after conversion, life seems to change dramatically. In a way that is true but life is more complicated I would reckon. Life with God is still a struggle. Why? Isn’t it supposed to change with God in the picture? It should all the more. Not because God evaporates the struggling situations or hardships.
One reason is because since life without God was the previous life we knew, Life with God creates a new starting point of discovering. That discovery is what I would call as a constant deconstruction of how life is supposed to be lived now in the new experience. Because of that, struggle is more acute because living is a life lived against the tide. Our old life wars with the new. The task of renewing the mind is not something we are embedded with upon conversion. It is supposed to be sustained in the whole of life. So life now is a pull, a warring of the old and the new, of living like one in response with a revelation of living with God over against one that were were endowed with.