Before Christ, I was still me yet I didn’t embrace life. I had just gone through a lot of big changes, all of my own doing; I felt defeated and worthless. Just like I was at the start of my “fresh start” at 17 when I moved from Larkhall to Bathgate to live with my Dad. In the years before I wasn’t attending school because of my mental illness: Depression. At some point in those younger years, I started dealing with feelings of hopelessness, thoughts of death and hatred towards myself. In my eyes, I wasn’t good enough for anything. Nothing seemed to matter anymore, why live? So I can learn, work, marry then die? I wanted to escape and there were a few attempts.
I cried a lot and it was healthy to cry but every tear I wiped away I thought: “I’m pathetic, why am I crying, I’m supposed to be a man.” In my eyes, I was disposable. I often thought about the past and how I had messed small things up. I had, and still have a really hard time being gentle with myself; I thought that being horrible to myself would motivate me, of course, it didn’t. I ignored my potential and focused on safety, so I quit school. I had chosen subjects I wasn’t all that interested in, I only picked them because my friends were there, for how could I handle being alone and lacking familiar company? I could have, but I didn’t believe in myself.
I was bullied in school like many others, my experience wasn’t that bad, people had worse but it was valid. I felt lesser than others, and that wasn’t only because of the words or actions of others, it’s due to the words I said to myself too. A lot of the time when I said no, people didn’t care, it was “just a joke”. From their point of view, they had the right to mock me, to make me feel lesser and the excuse was “it’s just a joke”. So it was a joke when you kicked the back of my legs? Threw all my stationery from my bag in the bin? Spat in my face? Said you would kill me?
When it came to all of this, I blamed myself. I was too weak, too sensitive and I deserved it.
So School was horrible and I was tired of it. I didn’t care anymore, my number one objective was to distance myself from those who hurt me and those who may have. At this point, every other day was an argument with my Mother and Gran. I told them how I felt but to them, it was simply: excuses. I see their point of view now, I’d be angry if my son gave up on everything too.
I was honestly excited about death, how I would do it; when I would do it. Googling “celebrities that died from suicide” Sylvia Plath, she was one of the first people I looked into. Thinking about her doing it made me doubt back then and now, years later I’m still alive and realise that I and Sylvia didn’t want to die solely because our lives were the worst in the world. No, it was our perspectives, it was what we felt, how we thought, how we saw our failures and our achievements. Downplay the good, accentuate the bad. Due to our focus on the negative, on the past, we dove into exactly what we wanted to escape from: Pain of all kinds. Emotional, Mental, Physical. I can’t speak for Sylvia here but I think I focused on the bad so that I could avoid it. If I knew where it was, then I could move out of the way. And that is what drove the desire to enter isolation.
I went to a psychologist at CAMS a few times, his stance was that school, the thing I ran away from, was what I needed. So I stopped seeing him. The thought I was most afraid of was “Everyone looks so alive, but I don’t feel alive. How could I ever connect with people who were in the light when I was in the dark?”
I spent the next few years in my room, barely ever going outside, only for hospital appointments. My mother did everything for me. Food, video games, support, money. I regret those years when I’m talking about the time I wasted, but maybe I had to go through it to learn from it. I still look back at that time with disgust for myself. You probably know the adjectives.
One of these days, I got a call from my Dad: “Move here, al help ye oot”
When I heard that I recoiled, my future was nonexistent to me. As I began to consider it, there was a lot of fear mixed in with hope. Nobody would know me there. Fresh. Start. Alright, I’ll do it.
At my Dad’s I got better gradually, went to a doctor, got a keyworker and a counsellor, started going outside regularly. It was weird and hard but I eventually went to college. My future was finally apparent to me: this was not the end.
I eventually moved back after a few things happened and I was sorta alright with it for a few weeks but honestly, I was breaking again from the moment I stepped back into that room, the one I’m in right now. I was back in Larkhall, where all the hurt happened. I isolated myself again and when I met Jesus, I was back into the light. The healing began.
How? It’s kinda simple and I’m afraid It won’t be anything spectacular, my progress more so shows the most of it. So, one day I messaged a girl who I had known back at high school. I feel like she was one of the ones that saw how I really felt. She’s that intuitive and caring type ya know? We spoke on and off and one day she invited me to her church C7. I viewed their Instagram profile and asked her if I could go even if I wasn’t a Christian (At this point I was still into Taoism) She went “Oh aye, of course, my friend picks me up on Sundays and can get you as well?” I was pretty stunned… just an invite like that? Alright. So I went but it turned out that she had issues and was in the hospital for a while. She asked me if I’d still go with her friend and I hesitated. Being picked up by a stranger? Honestly my worst nightmare, back then at least.
Her friend was named Marissa, we met, I was quiet; she was talkative. That day my journey with Christ began. I had enjoyed singing hymns like “Away in a Manger” and “He’s got the whole world in His hands” at primary school assemblies. So I knew him but not really, just in a sorta adorable childlike way ya know? In Nativity plays, I always wanted to be Joseph but was consistently refused for the part. So I was always the wee shepherd, holding my sheep. I came to love playing that part because I was a spectator of the plays and didn’t memorise very much, so I was happy.
It took us a while to get to the church because it was all the way in Glasgow but of course Marissa made up for that with her ever-constant talk. That makes it sound like I didn’t enjoy it but I did! She asked me lots of things that I, timidly answered with mumbles. She wouldn’t give up either, normally people just give up on conversation but she just kept talking! It came as a surprise to me because I was very isolated and afraid of socialising with others. I honestly didn’t want to talk, I was afraid I’d say something weird ya know? The thing was though, I wasn’t a weirdo to her and I wasn’t a loser. That’s how I saw myself but she saw me through a different lens.
Back then I had a lot of harsh thoughts and self hate circling around my head. I struggled to see the positives in myself and I didn’t believe life was worth living. It was just a game I’d lost and I was eager to die already. I thought I had no reason for being here. I truly underestimate myself continuously, it’s daft. You’d think I’d get the point already. I’m getting quite teary-eyed typing this because, well… I used to be so sad and consistently suicidal; yet now I’m not. I’m not one of those guys that changed dramatically, but I changed a decent amount, maybe I’m being modest but I still have so much to work on, and I don’t want to stop.
I went to C7 a few times, met some folk; Sam, Louise… others: I can’t remember the names! At this point I hadn’t chosen to follow Christ yet, I still walked around with my Taoist necklace, I still had all sorts of spiritual stuff non-related to Christ. Eventually, Marissa felt like going to her Father’s church instead, she asked if I would go and I said: “yes, of course”
So we went together and I met her Dad, big Wi-. Wee Willie Watt, her sister Sharon and her husband Mark. I sat and spoke with Mark quite a few times and I remember asking him questions and getting many answers. It was bright, they were kind, I belonged. Willie asked if anyone new wanted to follow Christ on that day. I put my hand upon the count of 3. I was given a mug and a Bible (the bible I still use). After the service I spoke with Mark again, I remember talking about being a conduit/vessel for Christ. The whole “we are all part of the body of Christ” thing. It was cool. I was accepted and I was now connected to the Saviour of the World. “What? But I’m Lewis… I don’t deserve that! I’m not good enough to be friends with someone so important. I’m just Lewis.” My whole body shrieked in response to the proclamation and thus: I had a hard time accepting Christ’s sacrifice, that it was for me as well, not just for everyone else.
Willie’s sermons saved me and still save me and Marissa brought me to them. Mark and Sharon, Tom, Helen, Ellen, Jack, Ellen, Nancy, Pauline, Margaret, Mark, Sophia, Dan, Hannah, Robin, Steven and many many others were all my brothers and sisters now. Family, Grace, Forgiveness, Love, Patience and Peace. I was accepted and it was honestly quite weird, I hadn’t felt accepted in quite the while. I’m still not used to it entirely.
Now… I still struggle, everyone does. If the Church taught me something, it was that it was okay for me to be faulty. There was freedom in that truth. I can see that I have a future, a point. I know that I don’t have to escape now. I will die eventually, but Jesus is with me in this world. I’m not alone.
Y’know, there’s hope and then there’s hope in Jesus, hope that even in this sin-stained world; there are great people and things to accomplish. I sometimes slip back into thinking all these things are lies but we all fail, we all go away and come back. Everything takes time and it is a process.
The hope I have in Jesus is greater than simply hope on its own. There are good things here, not all good yet that doesn’t matter to me. Of course, everything is not good!
The peace I now have is like holding a loved one’s hand: you feel comfort, security, confidence and thankfulness that you can actually feel something. Jesus was hated, I have been hated, we have all faced hate, but we can win with the brightness of the power of Jesus Christ. The Journey is not over for me, not for a long time. I’m 22 and sometimes I feel old when I look to the past, in a rush to catch up with everyone else but patience is a virtue.
Remember, your worth is not determined by the opinions of others, your worth is immense. The shining light that says those words is our Lord God.
Thank you for reading.