My first serious relationship was very toxic. It was toxic from very early on. So for about five months of that relationship I was trying to separate. Eventually it ended, but it had such a strong effect on me moving forward. It basically damaged the way that I saw women, and the way that I saw myself. At that point in my life, I had no grounding or idea of how to deal with those emotions because they were such big, strong emotions. So I just bottled them up.
One particular night things were really bad. I was hanging out with some of my old high school friends, and I'd just had an argument with this girl and it ended really badly. I was crying, I was an absolute mess. And my friend, while he might've had good intentions, offered me some drugs. At this stage, I was just so desperate to numb the pain. So I tried the pot and enjoyed it. This started me on a journey exploring those various different temptations.
The next few years, my early twenties, they were kind of good years. We had a lot of fun, but it only really enabled and continued my self-destructive tendencies. At that point all those emotions and everything that I'd bottled up for years exploded in me, like a volcano. So I eventually reached out to my mum. They never knew how depressed I was, how bad my anxiety was, or how often I thought about taking my own life. I finally confessed it all to my mum. She was understandably devastated, as a mother, to know that I wished I wasn't alive anymore. And after I said it, I looked at her and saw her crying. And I thought, "Man, I'm so poisonous to the people that love me. I make them sad." So that reinforced the negative thinking in my head.
She got me to various doctors, to a psychiatrist, talking therapists, you name it. We tried it all. The doctors got me on various anti-psychotics and antidepressants. We kept upping the dosage because it wouldn't have the desired effect. I turned into a pharmaceutical zombie. I wouldn't feel anything at all but at the same time, I was also taking illegal drugs. It was a self-destructive concoction and I was losing my mind. It felt like the only way to silence the voices that would scream, horrible, negative things all the time was suicide. I was committed to ending my life at this point. I didn't see any hope or any way out so I Googled these specific drugs to find out what the lethal dosage was. And then I doubled it.
At that moment, as I was contemplating taking my own life, I was reminded of my childhood. Of God, and of my family, and how much this would actually affect them more than than it would affect me. I didn't pray it out loud, because I didn't know what to say, but in my heart the words were really clear: "God, if You are real, if You can change my life I'll give it to You because I don't want it anymore." I decided I couldn't go through with it because I knew in my heart that if I was to kill myself right there, I'd go straight to hell and I would totally deserve it. From then on, I decided that I'd heard about this God that can change people's lives and if there was any truth to it, then He had to be real.
One particular day I went and hung out with a friend of mine. I went with him and we got some drugs. I was having a conversation with him for about an hour and a half. That's all I can remember. Because the whole time, my mind was screaming with voices, worse than it had ever been before. They were yelling and screaming, toxic poisonous stuff like, "No one likes you. You should just kill yourself right now. You're pathetic. You're a loser!" It was so distracting and so violent and loud that I couldn't actually focus on anything outside of my body. I ended up cutting him off, moving forward onto the edge of my seat, looking him directly in the eyes and saying, "Why don't you have another hit and see how that treats you?" And then, I sort of came back to myself. It was in that moment that I realized that the voice I'd spoken with and the words that came out, they weren't my own.
Immediately I kicked into a panic attack, because I didn't know what the heck was going on. I freaked out. I didn't say anything, I just got up and bolted to the kitchen to scull back some water and then sprinted out of the house. But as I was driving and freaking out about what had just happened, God spoke. I heard it in my heart. And it pierced through everything: all the noise, all the violence, all the negative thinking, all the panicking. It cut straight through it all. He promised me that He would give me His strength to set me free. So I was freaking out because I didn't know what that meant. And I was also freaking out because God just spoke to me. I went straight home to bed because I didn't know how to handle any of it.
I woke up the next morning with the same thought that I always woke up with in my head: Let's get high. But on this particular morning, the second thought that popped in my head was different: God promised He'd give me the strength to set me free. At that stage, I still had no idea what that meant or no idea what that even looked like. So I just went about my usual routine: I grabbed my drugs and sat outside the house with my laptop. As I was getting high, I would have a whole bunch of YouTube tabs open. I closed one tab that I had just watched and, immediately, the next tab is a worship song. The very second that the song started playing I was instantly sober. It was like this high that I'd just built up was gone in a second. And then God spoke to me again. He said, "Get up, take your drugs and flush them down the toilet."
So I took this bag of drugs, which had had so much power over me for so long, and I opened it up and poured all the contents down in the toilet. I slammed the lid on it and I pushed the flush button. The moment that I flushed it, in obedience to what He had just asked me to do, it's like His presence hit me. I don't know how else to describe it, but it was like suddenly this weight lifted off of me in His presence. I felt Him, so strong. I fell to my knees in that moment and surrendered to Him. He said to me, "I was there when you were born. I was there when you walked away from the church. I was there when you entered into a lifestyle of sin. I was there when you first started taking drugs. I was right there in the room when you were about to take your own life." It was Him who'd reminded me of Himself.
I finally had an understanding of what real love is. Real genuine love. Something that my whole heart and being had been crying out for my whole life. And He cast out these demons, addiction, depression, anxiety - gone instantly. The desire to take drugs. He healed me totally of that stuff. Removed it from my life. After that moment, I wanted nothing to do with it. He totally answered that prayer. Because that's all it takes: One encounter with the love of God and you will never be the same. It's impossible to encounter God and come away the same. You will always be changed because that's who He is. He's a life-changer, he's a person-changer. He brings you new life, not the same life. He doesn't make you a better person. He makes you a new person.