I was brought up in a Christian family where everything seemed perfect. I loved music and had a great time jamming with a group of friends playing at various Christian youth events in the North East. I was always someone who came across like I had it all together and might even have been perceived as a bit of a “super Christian”!
Things started to unravel a bit when stuff started to go wrong at school and I had to do another year at 6th form. I felt I was being left behind by some of my friends and became depressed. Doubts and uncertainties about my faith started to creep in and although from the outside I would have been perceived as a strong Christian, inside things weren’t so good.
Instead of dealing with my issues I just buried them deep down inside.
This seemed to work for a while but when I was 21, newly married and halfway through training to be a music teacher, things started to fall apart.
In short, I had a total breakdown and my world turned upside down. I stopped being me. I couldn’t leave the house. I was paranoid for myself and my wife, Helen. It was a really dark time.
Where was God in all of this chaos? It became clear to me through this dark season that my Christian faith had become superficial, a little add-on or accessory in my life. It was far from something that was central in my life. I felt like a fake. And the guilt and shame and fear of being exposed that went along with this did nothing to help.
One evening all the guilt, fear and self-condemnation came to the surface. Some good friends came around and stayed with me until three in the morning chatting and praying. They told me that Jesus had come to earth to set captives free and that my chains had been broken. I didn’t need to live with my stress and anxiety any longer.
Within a very short space of time, I was set free from all of the guilt and shame and was healed of my stress and anxiety! With the support of my amazing wife, family and church I was able to finish my PGCE and became a qualified teacher, but more importantly a sane human being again!
Don’t get me wrong, life hasn’t all been perfect since then! I know I still have a long way to go. But through it all God has been good. I am now a Dad to 2 (soon to be 3) amazing kids and I am in a great place in terms of family, marriage, work and faith. I am learning so much about the amazing identity I can have in God. He loves us, He is there for us, He never leaves us, He is an amazing Father. When I remember to find my sense of identity in Him, I am so much stronger.
I am currently realising that true hope in life can only be found in God. Not in careers, not in money, not in friends or family as wonderful as all these things can be. True hope is found in the promises of God and the amazing identity we can have as Christians. I just want to press into God. I know hard times will come and go but I he will always be with me and I will always be firmly rooted in his amazing love.