I was born into and grew up in a very religious family. I always admired my parents as very devoted Christians and of course, they would always bring me to church and do things outside of church such as praying and reading the bible. Because I grew up with these routines, as a kid I thought I was very confident in my standing as a Christian, like I was some sort of “super Christian” that understood everything about God. It was like that for a while and I never questioned my faith nor my family, but I never expected that this belief would soon rub off on me in a bad way, and eventually make me lose that confident connection I had with God.
As I claimed to be the “super Christian” when I was young, I thought for sure that in order to be the perfect Christian I had to go to heaven once I passed. I thought that if I did not, I would be an absolute failure and disgrace to my parents, and also to my religion and church community. My belief at the time was that going to heaven was like a system; if you do something bad you lower your chances of going to heaven, if you do something good, you increase your chances of going to heaven. This belief caused me to unconsciously pressure myself into being “perfect” as I grew older and older. Everyday, I always felt a heavy weight on my shoulders because I was constantly telling myself to be a good person, a “perfect christian” so that I would never go to hell.
Eventually this mindset caused me to become very insecure about myself. “Am I a good person?” “Am I doing what God wants me to do?” “Do people like me?” “Am I doing enough for my faith?” These thoughts began to tire me out. Even though I thought like this, I naturally still made very bad decisions but afterwards I would bash myself over and over for these “sins” that I’ve committed. It got to the point where I was praying every day, not because I liked talking to God or connecting with him, but out of fear that I wouldn’t go to heaven, that I would not be the “perfect Christian”. Once I realised that my belief of this “system” was the reason why I was so miserable, I began to internally despise God.
I thought that it was unfair of God to put pressure on Christians to be good, otherwise you will spend an eternity of suffering within the depths of hell. I slowly started to lose my efforts in trying to connect with God along with my family and my community. I never knew that I was only making myself more miserable with these misconceptions that I never bothered to clear up. Because I thought I was the “super Christian,” I thought my opinions on God and Christinaity were always correct, and I was ashamed of being that “super Christian”.
Eventually, I was brought to the news that Pastor Calab was hosting GPS. GPS has been offered to me before in the past, and so many people tried to encourage me to attend, but I was scared that by going to GPS that I would learn of things that I did not want to hear. I did not want my image of Christianity to be further damaged. However, a small voice at the back of my head really hoped that I could rekindle the relationship I had with God and this is where I really thank my shepherd, Seoyeon. She encouraged me so much even when I was going through a very tough time in my life and faith. With her help and encouragement, that was enough to make that small voice bigger and so, I signed up for GPS for the first time in my life.
So I missed my first GPS because I got sick but then I signed up again and finally attended. After sitting in a chair alone in a room with pastor Caleb and staring awkwardly at each other for 3 hours straight, I left the room feeling incredibly refreshed and relieved. One verse that really changed my perspective was Ephesians 2:8–9, “For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift—not from works,” That verse had lifted off the extreme heaviness on my shoulders the moment I read it. That was when I realised that I completely misunderstood God. All this time, I pressured myself to be the “perfect Christian” because I thought that if I was not, God would not accept me. It turns out that I did not need to work so hard after all, because God already had a place for me in heaven. It was a gift, not something I needed to push myself for. All I had to do was open my heart to him and accept Jesus as my saviour. I left that room feeling thankful and for once in my life, very relaxed and satisfied. So all those years of overthinking, only to come to the perfect conclusion.
GPS has really encouraged me to further develop and rebuild my relationship with God, my family, and my church community. I still struggle with trying to clear up my blurred view of Christianity and God, but I have gained so much help and encouragement from the people around me and my family, and I am only now beginning to see what God has given me. The stress I felt from my faith is starting to be relieved and I am now more willing than ever to understand God more rather than just going off my judgement and calling myself that “super Christian”. Thank you again to my Shepherd Seoyeon who has always been there for me on this journey, Pastor Caleb for hosting the GPS, and my family and church community that have also been with me up until now.