Sash Vale, 32 shares his faith journey with Christian.co.uk …
I became a Christian in 2005 at a time when I was deeply unhappy and wrestling with suicidal thoughts. I had all but given up on finding any meaning to my life. It seemed that whatever I turned my hand to would end up in disappointment and failure.
I had dropped out of college after one year and was keenly aware that I was a failure in the eyes of the world and I felt guilty that I had let my parents down by ‘not amounting to anything’. I had tried hard to be happy but the reality was my ‘dream job’, working with bikes, was fraught with difficulty and grossly unrewarding. I was also dependant on marijuana as a way of escaping my unhappiness.
Having arrived at the conclusion that there was no way of turning back the clock and starting afresh I decided that it would be best for me to end my own suffering, and stop letting the people I cared about down, by taking my own life. It was not a decision that I could take lightly but in the scheme of things it seemed best for everyone.
Aged 22 to 25 I was persistently wishing I was dead and, given that all of my attempts to change had led nowhere, I saw no other option but to take action.
I left the job which I’d stuck at for seven years, sold my motorbike and other major possessions, decorated my bedroom and packed away all of my belongings. My plan was to leave home under the pretence that I would travel and see the world. In truth, I had no intention of returning.
Although I desperately wanted to end things I couldn’t bear the thought of my friends, family, and especially my younger sister feeling the kind of depression that I was experiencing. I just couldn’t go through with it without one last effort to make things right!
My hope rested in a new job. I applied for one and got it. My whole life now depended on my ability to succeed as a Postman. Before long I knew this was not going to go well. Getting up at 4:15am and lugging 20kilos round for 5 hours a day was not conducive to depression and substance abuse. My feet bled, I finished late every day, I was exhausted, I made constant mistakes and I ended up on my knees crying in the street on more than one occasion.
During these first few weeks at Royal Mail I was also getting counselling. The counsellor asked me if I believed in God. I was pretty sure I didn’t but found that I couldn’t give a straight forward answer to a pretty simple question. I needed to know if God was there.
My first point of call was the old King James Bible on my parent’s book shelf. I found that I could easily devour hours and hours of reading a text which seemed to me to make perfect sense of life itself, and which had a ring of authenticity which I had failed to discover elsewhere in my desperate search for meaning.
I knew in my heart from what I read that Jesus was offering me a way to know the One who made me, and that He would show me how to fulfil my true purpose as a son of the Living God. I read all of the New Testament up to Romans chapter 5 and discovered that Christ had died for sinners like me, and that through Him I could have peace – with God! The reality struck me to the core and broke me. I fell to my knees and believed there and then, alone in my bedroom.
My heart was changed from that day onward. I no longer felt the need to cover pain by using drugs (I tried it a couple of times to see what would happen and felt worse than I did without it). I genuinely felt peaceful and content. My circumstances hadn’t changed but it felt as though everything was different. I was alive – and loving it!
I met someone who was a Christian at the time when all this was going on. We both worked at Royal Mail and, during what seemed like a very ordinary conversation he mentioned that he was part of a church. I didn’t have the courage to tell him about my insatiable appetite for reading the Bible but I couldn’t stop thinking that God was leading me to go to that church. That Sunday I turned up there, on my own, and much to the surprise of my new friend!
What I discovered was a group of people who were radically different to anyone I had ever met before. They were interested in me, and cared about me in a way I can never forget.
A Difficult Challenge
I hesitated in agreeing to ‘follow God’ thinking that I simply could not bear to ever let Him down. I felt God speak to me in a quiet moment of reflecting on these fears, and He told me to fast – a concept I had read about but had no experience of doing. He had said to me that through fasting for one day He would show me how it was that I could always remain faithful to Him.
This was going to be hard. I constantly ate food to feel comfort, plus I knew this fast needed to include giving up cigarettes for the day – to which I was highly addicted at that time. I needed several just to get me through till lunchtime. The only thing I could do was trust Him and give it a try.
Every time I would normally reach for something that could offer me comfort during my normal day I asked for His help. The result was being overwhelmed by a sense of His presence there with me. I would experience a peace which brought comfort to me in a way I had never known before. It was a valuable lesson, which I cannot think about to this day without being moved to tears. I decided I should commit my life to Him.
Becoming a Christian, and learning to trust in Him, has profoundly changed every area of my life. My view of who we are as people has led me to care deeply, and to hold others in high regard.
I now have a deep sense of identity, worth, and purpose. God has changed my whole attitude and motivation. He has given me a zeal for life.
The way I spend my time, energy, and money have all changed because he’s opened my eyes to what truly matters. Knowing that He will always supply His Power in my weakness will always spur me on to believe Him for greater things.
February 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Sam Hailes