I was raised in a family of five; Dad was brought up in the Syrian Catholic Church in Cairo and Melbourne and made us do the Catholic sacraments for what seemed to be tradition’s sake – he didn’t take us to Church or raise us to be educated about the Bible. When asked about our family’s religious identity we would either respond “Christian” or “non-religious”.
Doctors and teachers had mentioned that I was a particularly intellectually gifted child so my parents were gung-ho on raising me for academic success, but as much as I liked to think I was smarter than everyone else, I really didn’t like all the responsibility associated with such a status.
I usually comforted myself with the somewhat nihilistic philosophy that there’s no point for effort in life, we all die in the end so if I can’t be bothered doing something, then stuff it.
Instead of doing my school work, I got into fights, spent afternoons at the skate park and played with girls – I racked up six high-school suspensions and failed year ten twice. After a particularly rebellious scheme of mine which I dare not utter, my high school principal told me how hopeless my opportunities in life would be if there were an expulsion on my record so he told me to leave school or else he’ll expel me.
In my mid-to-late teens our household seemed to be a minefield – my brother and I couldn’t hold down a job, Dad was always home late from work, Mum was stressed and the entire family were at each others’ necks. My older brother and I had a big fight, so unfortunately we still aren’t talking which really sucks.
I got fired from each job I attained shortly after being recruited; I spent a few years just playing heavy metal, chasing gigs and chasing girls – not much has changed there; I was never a drinker until after I started taking drugs at 19 to try break the routine of my life. The next thing I knew my parents split up. Mum couldn’t support me and I didn’t want to live with Dad either because he felt like a stranger so I was temporarily homeless. I made new friends in the heavy metal scene and slept on their couches.
When I started living in a share house I began taking harder drugs, dealing drugs and dabbling in witchcraft. I was such a selfish wreck. I left the lounge room covered in empties and I couldn’t do my laundry so I got kicked out and slept where ever the party led me. After this continued for a while, I cracked – God used these weaknesses of mine to show me that he was the only one worth counting on.
My helplessness in God’s presence fostered my decision to commit my life to Him, seek His word, His people, follow His plan and allow Him to make a hard change to my life.
This change led me to recognise something beyond how I was a useless, direction-less leech on the family and society that didn’t work out for me – but how I and the whole world had irreverently disobeyed and offended God who is perfect, holy and just. I’m kind of relieved that I was right in my original conviction that the world and its people really are stupid and wicked but now that conviction has meaning and purpose.
Although I’m still learning how to effectively fulfil my roles in society and family, I not only have a higher hope in glorifying God in these matters but also a hope that lies in His eternal grace.
All in all, I am thankful that God is who He is – that He eternally exists as the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit – and that the Son, Jesus Christ, suffered death by crucifixion on our behalf
and defeated death, granting us peace with the Father and eternal life for those who believe and confess that He is Lord and Saviour.