I am an Economic History graduate (Class of '17) who loves to study and learn. I'm interested in just about everything. So when I have free time I'm almost always reading. And I love classical music and impressionist paintings.
“I will not turn away from doing good to them… I will rejoice in doing them good”
I think it is fair to say that I have always been “a good kid.” I have always been generous towards my parents, even from a young age: with my meager $1 per week allowance, I used to save up to buy them gifts. I loved reading, and often my dad would have to come into my room at 2 am to force me to turn the light off and go to sleep. I have never skipped a day of school deliberately. The only video game console I have ever owned (and still own) is the PlayStation II. I have never smoked weed or tried drugs (coffee and alcohol exempted). I have only smoked one cigarette in my life. I have never thrown up drunk. I have only been to one nightclub in my life, and was only there for about 10 minutes.
I have performed well academically from as far back as I can remember. I graduated from high school 5th out of a class of 364 students. I was president of my class’s student council for all four years of high school. I was accepted into the London School of Economics, which is where I now study. I have been to over 30 countries. I have three passports. I am fluent in two languages and can work my way around with another two.
I must say I was never very athletically talented, though I would argue (much to my friends’ dismay) that I remain an above-average football (soccer) player, and I am sure I could give most people a run for their money in a badminton match or a cycling race.
By the standards of the world, I have been very successful. However, there are at least two things about me that most people will, I think, be shocked to learn:
1. In 6th grade I was first shown pornography by a friend. I was 11 years old. Everything I saw was completely new to me. As far as I can remember, I don’t think I had ever seen explicit sexual images before, nor do I think I had ever desired to have sex before that point. I say this so that you understand my shock when I first saw an incredibly graphic pornographic video online. But far from repulsing me, it captivated me. I was hooked. At that point, though, I did not have my own laptop or a smart phone, so my access to it was limited to when I would hang out with this friend. But, soon enough, I did get a laptop and smart phone and so I had access to whatever I wanted, at any time. For about five years I watched porn, on average, once a day. I didn’t feel any desire to stop or feel that it was wrong, though of course I was secretive about it and was always thinking of ingenious ways (so I thought) of keeping my family from finding out. I did not know this at the time, but I had quickly become very addicted.
2. Through all my years in high school I was an incredibly anxious person, especially concerning my health: I was a hypochondriac. During one period in particular, when I was afflicted by very painful headaches for several months, I was convinced I had a brain tumor. I even went to the doctor and had an MRI done to make sure I did not. At another point, I had very strange chest pains, and lived every day, for several months, convinced I was going to have a heart attack and die. I had an EKG done, I had an ultrasound done, and I had blood tests done. Everything came back negative. The only explanation that every doctor gave me was that I was very stressed and anxious. I needed to relax, needed to spend time outdoors. Of course, I ignored them.
Does my life still seem glamorous to you? I can tell you that as I struggled with these things, my manifold achievements highlighted above proved to be no comfort to me. Can a high grade on a final exam remove all anxiety? Can vacations around the world break an addiction?
Today, I am no longer a hypochondriac and no longer a slave to pornography. I can say that I feel joy, peace, and purpose in all that I do. Obviously, this does not mean that I am always happy. There are still periods when I feel as if I am reverting to my high school self together with all that afflicted me then. But there has been a marked change in me, and I think most of those who have known me over the past few years would be able to attest to this change. What was it?
Well, in short, I met Jesus. Jesus is a real historical figure who walked this Earth for 33 years. He was born into a poor family and became a carpenter until the age of 30. But Jesus was so much more than this. To begin with, he was sinless. This means that, throughout his entire life, he never once stole, swore, lusted after a woman, dishonored his parents, or coveted something that wasn’t his. It means that he perfectly obeyed the greatest commandment, which is to love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. It means that he got angry but did not hate, that he wept but never despaired, that he was tender but never weak, tough but never arrogant. He was perfectly loving in everything that he thought, said, and did. And because he claimed to be God and baffled the religious leaders with his wisdom, he was tried in a bogus trial, beaten, mocked, scorned, and crucified. But it was by dying on a cross that he restored humanity to God, and opened the floodgates of mercy and forgiveness to all who believe in him. What this means is that all who believe in Jesus, turn from their sin, and trust in him for their salvation are indeed forgiven, saved, and brought into relationship with God. What a great savior! How wonderful that God himself would die for me, and for you!
Over the last two years I have grown to know more about Jesus and to love him more. Recently I made one of the most important discoveries of my life, which is taken from the Bible verse from Jeremiah quoted at the top of this testimony: “I will not turn away from doing good to them… I will rejoice in doing them good.” There is so much to learn from this, but the most important takeaway is this: Not only does God do good to his people, but he rejoices in doing so! As a result of understanding this, I have increasingly come to see the Bible as my guidebook to joy. When I read a commandment not to do something that I think I want to do, I no longer grudgingly obey, thinking, “God is taking away my fun.” Instead, I think, “God wants to me experience fullness of joy, and it is not by doing this that I will achieve that joy!” Indeed, it is only in God that true joy is found. He is infinitely beautiful, wonderful, awe-inspiring, and good. Just think about that: God is good, and He wants you to you to find wonderful joy in Him! God is calling to you now: He is saying to you, “Be at peace, my beloved! Overflow with joy as the fountain flows over with water! Set no limits to how happy you can be. Be not satisfied with things that bring pleasure today but sorrow tomorrow. Find true satisfaction that will last forever. Find all of this in me.”
When I understood this, my life as a Christian became a fight for joy, a fight to be fought daily, rejecting every luring thing that promises joy but does not satisfy. Jesus alone truly satisfies.
I close with this beautiful poem by George Herbert. Please, read it slowly and meditate on it. And afterward, do not hesitate to contact me to discuss anything that reading this has made you ask or think.
Love (III) by George Herbert
Love bade me welcome: yet my soul drew back,
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
If I lacked anything.
“A guest," I answered, “worthy to be here”:
Love said, “You shall be he.”
“I, the unkind, ungrateful? Ah, my dear,
I cannot look on thee.”
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
“Who made the eyes but I?”
“Truth, Lord; but I have marred them; let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.”
“And know you not," says Love, “who bore the blame?”
“My dear, then I will serve.”
“You must sit down," says Love, “and taste my meat.”
So I did sit and eat.
Questions? Email me at: firstname.lastname@example.org; Or: 07456671971