The air was difficult to breathe. I closed my eyes and forced myself to take a deep breath, long and controlled. With eyes tightly shut, I could not escape the loud, drumming sound of a heart beating too fast.
It was no use. I had to escape.
The stillness of my locked-up room was suffocating. All the other rooms of the house were full of life. My brother and sister had friends over, and their carefree laughter rang throughout the house. Hearing them only made me feel more alone than ever. Too bad running away from problems was not as easy as running away from my home.
But I had to get out.
With no real plan, I slipped out of her house and into the night. The beach was a five-minute walk from my house. I often went there for endless walks where my thoughts could roam free. The thoughts were never too serious—they were more like daydreams. But this night was different. A heavy cloud of sadness lay over my thoughts, and I just could not escape it.
This sadness crept up on me so slowly that it caught me by surprise. A silent depression brought on by loneliness. Lonely because I felt out of place among those I thought to be friends. To be accepted meant to go to the same parties, laugh at the same jokes and live the same lifestyle. A profane lifestyle laced with drinking and drugs.
“Is there anyone ‘normal’ in my high-school that does not conform to this lifestyle,” I thought out loud.
As I walked, the drumming sound of my heart slowed down and I stopped to look at the ocean. The windless night allowed for still waters. In the stillness of my heart, I felt a gap of loneliness. At that moment, a thought brushed my mind so softly that it felt like a whisper—gentle, soft and loving.
“You are not alone.”
A tear fell down my cheek. No person told me to do what I did next. I just wanted so desperately to fill that painful gap in my heart. Looking to the sky, I spoke the unexpected.
“God, this world, the nature around me, screams of your existence. I believe Jesus that you are real and that you felt more alone and out of place than I ever could have. I am so sorry for conforming to everyone around me…but what else is there? Please God…I want to abandon everything that breaks Your heart as long as You can fill this gap in mine.”
I paused, realizing that in a matter of a few seconds I made a pretty serious vow. Yet there was this peace that washed over me: a peace as still as the ocean’s waters. It took 17 years for me to realize that there was something missing in my life, and a matter of seconds to pray that the gap in my heart would be filled with God’s love.
In the Bible, it says “blessed are you who are poor, for yours is the kingdom of God” (Luke 6:20 NASB). For me, it became a painful reality that I was poor in spirit. The things surrounding my life did not only amount to nothing, but they were depressing me to the point of running away.
What else is there?
When you run or turn away from something, where to you run to? Jesus makes it clear that there is sacrifice involved in entering the kingdom of God.
Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven.” Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mathew 19: 21-24).
For me, this ‘sacrifice’ was not a big deal after all. My vow to God was to let go of a lifestyle that was slowly bringing me down. In return, He filled that gap with an overflowing love that could not be filled by any other person or any other thing. Little did I know, God was preparing me to meet friends who understood the true riches of His kingdom and that faithfully following Him meant walking on new paths that lead to my heart’s desires.
How could I know?
“…but seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well” (Mathew 6:33).
It was past midnight when I quietly returned to house and bedroom. A warm sense of peace fell in that room to replace the thick blanket of sadness that dwelt there earlier. As my eyes grew heavy with tiredness, I finally fell asleep with the peace knowing I was not alone.