I remember growing up, being the first of four children to my parents who lived at that time in a small rented space in Mausica, Arima. I recall just being painfully frustrated, easily angered, to the point that some may diagnose me as having a 'chronic bad attitude'. In my solemn alone moments, I always questioned 'Why I was here'.
Being at the tender age of 11, I recall nights, unknowing to most, where I either cried myself to sleep, drowning in the tears of my questions (which usually feels like torment when the questioner tries to supply the answer). Whilst it may have been heavily influenced by some of the hardships faced by my family and I, looking back, I believe it was a byproduct of the absence of several things. I lacked true peace and had put an undue self imposed pressure on myself as the 'first born male’. Again, I also struggled with a genuine deep longing to know and understand 'Why?'.
Now, dont' get me wrong. Growing up in those early years was not all gloom and doom. Being the relatively big family as we are, I was able to find and enjoy moments of jovial laughter and memory making adventures with my siblings, parents and extended family. Certain traditions such as Christmas, thanksgivings, and Vacation Bible School were also deeply ingrained in us.
In fact, my parents, amidst all the struggle we experienced in those early years, were pivotal in introducing me to the 'knowledge of God' through regular church attendance, as well as at-home bible study. Nevertheless, what I heard outside seemed to deviate so far from what I saw inside my home at times that it often left me in my early teenage years - ever grasping and ever reaching - having a shallow knowledge of God, not truly knowing Him. But, I subconsciously developed coping mechanisms to deal with things I did not fully understand or felt I could not control.
The profession of my dad, a soldier, also probably fueled feelings of pressure subconsciously. Fortunately for me, the majority of my coping strategies were fairly productive activities. During the ages of 11 to 16 or so I remember pouring myself into my schoolwork, physical health and music. Still, everything on the surface remained but a camouflage for the stony ground beneath. I was living to impress others and as a result eventually not being too impressed with the life I was living. It often felt like I was constantly being required "to do", without ever truly being taught how "to be".
However, around the age of 16 something began to give. It was around this time I began to do more personal Bible reading. It may have started simply out of curiosity, but it quickly became a small fluttering hunger for more besides what I had managed to hear in a Sunday service when I was not distracted. The Lord started to minister to my heart and I genuinely started to respond. I also made a personal decision to make a genuine confession of faith in Jesus Christ, followed by water baptism. Strangely enough, the same playing of musical instruments I had adopted as a coping mechanism became a truly loved hobby and at that time the vehicle through which I began to experience a peace for the first time. This peace surpassed my limited natural understanding. In the expression of worship through song, the Lord had begun to change my heart and as a result, what was once a mechanism for coping was transformed into a simple but genuine means of connecting to God.
Around the age of 17 years I had made a serious decision to leave my onced cherished boys band of secondary school friends (not totally abandoning the relationships but more so, the predominantly liberal culture) and I began to hear God's call to me even clearer. I began to receive answers to a few of those early and seemingly insurmountable questions.
As the parable of the prodigal son communicates in Luke 15, it is only when we repent, receive Jesus Christ, and pursue Him, that a true and solid revelation of our identity fills every hole in our heart. Our spirit is renewed and in so doing, we are empowered afresh to live from a source that needs no resourcing. In the process, many of our perspectives change, not necessarily because life changes, but because the 'eyes of our understanding' (Matthew 6:22) are opened. The life we now live starts to look different from the previous one. This was my story.
True peace replaced my pacing. Trusting in God's provision to sustain my life replaced the pressure I had placed on myself to sustain mine. God's purpose for all of His creation - to reflect Him - illuminated the void of 'Why' in my mind and heart. I started to understand my identity in Christ, and it had begun to inform me of what I ought to be doing. It was at this juncture of my journey in my relationship with Christ that I met the ministry of Cru.
Looking back I can confidently say, the relationships I formed at Cru played the most pivotal role in my experience as an undergrad student at UWI. What started off as simple friendly interactions and occasional meetups became deep and spiritually founded friendships, the best I had at that time and in that environment.
Previous to meeting Cru in my walk with Christ, I had never fully engaged with the transformative power of service. Prior to encountering Cru I had never appreciated, in its fullness, the Great Commission as stated in Matthew 28:19, which, for my goal and vision-oriented frame of thinking, added yet another layer of connectivity to my understanding of purpose. Before serving with Cru, I had never fully connected love to service, and by extension, the strength and practical truth godly community plays in the process of sustaining a godly mission; not just having godly conversations, but a godly community. I thank God for each and every person I was able to get to know and up to this day, still have the joy of knowing. Cru is truly a community of believers raised up by God for a time such as this and if ever provided the opportunity, I would encourage anyone to get involved. The small habits, principles and disciplines that could and would be learnt through your time spent with them are really beneficial. Above all, the opportunity for the love of Christ to continue to be perfected in you is invaluable.
If you are reading this and for some reason you hate God, and you feel alone, know that He is constantly loving you. He will turn the situation around. Therefore, choose God as He chooses you.
It could be said that I grew up in the church, however, my heart was not entirely in it.
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