I am the eldest of the five.   At a young age, my emotional connection with my family became distant as a result from the constant beating from my parents and disputes with my siblings.  Anger was a constant emotion for me.

Instead of wanting to spend time with the family, I preferred the company of friends.  I looked for acceptance outside the home – from friends.   Eventually, anger took the form of outward and uncontrollable disrespect.  I would raise my voice and curse at my mother in front of my friends; I would physically hurt my siblings.  I would justify my words and actions by saying they hurt me first.

I also looked for love elsewhere, jumping from one relationship to another, thinking that it would be the missing key to make me feel complete.  But that emptiness in my heart wouldn’t be filled.  I did not take any of the girls seriously.  I would tire easily and move on to the next.  None of my those relationships lasted long enough to even call it one.

My behavior at home was the complete opposite from my behavior at school, where I had the freedom to do whatever I wanted, resulting in failing grades.  I remember cutting classes for a month!  And instead of joining school activities and trips, I would use the money to play computer games.  My mother would always be called upon by the school to discuss my behavior problems, and she would always have to plead my case, asking them to give me another chance.  I would see her crying, but blaming my friends for what I’ve become.  Eventually, I was forced to drop out from school due to the countless violations.  I lost my family’s trust, and eventually everyone around me, including the friends I valued most.  I felt so alone.

Alcohol and drugs became my focus.  I also found a new set of friends to hang out with.  Not only did I use drugs, I sold them too.  Money did not seem enough so I even got involved in a robbery in our area.  I felt great yet I felt alone.  I felt accepted yet there was deep sadness in my heart.

One night, after attending a rock concert, I met a girl who invited me to a youth gathering.  My immediate response was to scoff and curse at her, saying “That’s a church, right?  Where people would raise their hands like crazy?”  That just wasn’t my thing.  Later on, however, another new acquaintance invited me to the same gathering and this time found myself agreeing, but not expecting to like it.

But I did like it, primarily because of the free instrument tutorial.   My plan was to learn then leave the church and start our own band.  I even joined a small group but nothing changed inside, especially when I learned that my small group leader was going through disciplinary actions.  I lost interest.  By then, I had moved on to a new school and joined a fraternity, where I succumbed to physical brutality just to be accepted into the brotherhood.  We would get into fights and I was even given a knife to carry at all times.

Looking back, God definitely had better plans for me.  Because it was shortly after that when I ran into a friend I met at church.  He told me that our group leader was looking for me.  I suddenly felt that I truly belong somewhere.  I decided to go back and attend our small group that week and opened up about everything I’d been through.  Later that night, I prayed and asked the Lord, “Of all people and of all the things I’ve done, would you still accept me?”

I joined camp after that, and it was then that I received Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior.  I will never forget the verse that spoke to me:

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”
Matthew 11:28

I was so tired and I really wanted to change. That night was the first time I prayed straight from my heart. “Lord, I know you can hear me, here’s my life, I now give it to You.” I hugged my group while crying and thanked them for their unwavering patience.

When I got home, I asked my mother and siblings for their forgiveness.  My mother just hugged me and I felt all the heaviness lifted from my shoulders.  I knew that God orchestrated all these things to happen.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
2 Corinthians 5:17

In addition to the small group I attend, I now lead my own.  I also volunteer in the production ministry and as a values teacher in a public school.    I am now one of the heads of the campus ministry in church.  My siblings and mother have joined me in church as well, and are now part of their own small groups.

I had always been searching for a happy ending, but all my efforts proved futile.  God sought me and gave me a new life.  I may still face problems and challenges, but there is undeniable joy in my life.  With the Lord, happiness has no ending.