I thought I would blog about a handful of experiences that seem significant to me over the 34 years of my life.
The first one I remember is a bit depressing. I remember very distinctly one day realizing that life had gotten very confusing lately. I was around 12 years old. I felt lonely, dark, empty and lost. I noticed an inner ache that would not go away. I found myself searching for acceptance from my friends as I had always done but now there was something more at stake. Something within me was clearly broken.
Over the next couple years I found myself searching in everything I could think of to ease the 'ache' I felt. I pursued all the things that promised fun. They were fun in the moment I experimented with them; in fact, they seemed to work; the 'ache' would go away for a while. But then it would come back, usually stronger than ever. The things I was trying were only masking the 'ache'; they were taking the edge off the pain but not dealing with the symptom.
Somewhere along this time I become fascinated with the book of Ecclesiastes. It describes a man who looks for meaning in everything he can think of. He is a man who has access to every pleasure and adventure a person possibly could in his day. He comes to the conclusion that everything is meaningless. That nothing in this life satisfies. That it is all "chasing after the wind", pointless effort. Money, romance, adventure, work (like a great big project)...all leave him empty.
Here I was, 13 years old and empty. Believing that life was meaningless. Numbing out my inner pain with the "fun stuff" of life. At this time many of my friends were also struggling to find happiness. I had many deep conversations with them and I discovered another shocking thing. My friends all wanted something...more money, more popularity, a certain girl to like them or a perfect romance, a better family (parents not divorced or a brother that didn't beat them up, etc.). They seemed to believe that if they gained this thing they were searching for then they would be happy. Their pursuit of "more" became their life ambition.
My problem? I had it all. I was popular, had girlfriends, had money, had a great family and had discovered that all that this world has to offer doesn't satisfy. My conclusion? If nothing could fill the 'ache' in my soul and I would have to spend the rest of my life going from one "high" to the next to numb out the pain, then life was not worth living. I became very suicidal. Badly wanting to end my life and relieve myself of a life of misery. I became consumed with either dying or numbing out the pain. I would stay up as late as I could, being as busy as I could because at night in my bed, before I went to sleep, the 'ache' seemed the worst.
This is my memory of Junior High. Not very pleasant but filled with laughter, games, craziness. On the outside, anyone would have pegged me as one of the happiest kids around.
Then somehow, a Teen Missions flyer ended up in my hands. I don't know if my parents (who are Christians) found it and got it to me, if I got it at my church or if it came in the mail.