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FARAMARZI

MY FIRST PRAYER WAS, ‘GOD IF YOU ARE REAL, TAKE THESE DRUGS FROM ME.’ AND HE DID.

As a single mom, my mother was left to care for 4 children; one of which had Autism. Growing up, I had often felt alone and neglected, feeling a deep sense of loneliness. I never had the encouragement or affirmation I needed and craved. I lacked self-confidence and social skills. I would refrain from engaging in the public world and would often find comfort at home under the covers.

I developed Social Anxiety disorder intertwined with Depression. I had thoughts of committing suicide and that gave me comfort. I felt relieved when I thought about how all this emotional pain could go away forever. I thought about how my relatives were in Iran and I knew nothing about them. My brothers were older than me and I could barely remember them being around. I thought that if I could just be thin then I would be confident, so at age nine I developed an eating disorder. 

My anxiety got worse and I avoided every social situation I could. I would have panic attacks when I was just in the vicinity of people. In high school I started to drink, and that became everything to me. I ended up losing my first job at 16 when I went to work drunk. I would depend on alcohol so much to ease my anxiety that I secretly drank throughout the day. Then alcohol turned into drugs. 

I went up the ladder in drugs, searching for a more intense high each time. At this point I felt that I had nothing to live for so I invested all my time and money on partying. I felt free, when in fact, I was a slave to these drugs, needing them to be “normal”. I would do drugs at school and I thought nothing of it. My moral compass was gone. I was basically living to die and I thought that if I did die, at least I would die with a smile on my face.

I hated my mom and treated her with great disrespect. I hated myself, my life, everything. To cope, I avoided thinking of these things and reverted to self-medication. I saw a few doctors and they told me that I had to quit what I was doing because the combination of what I had been taking was lethal.

But I didn’t care. There was nothing else going for me and I began hating myself even more. One night I decided to end my life. A voice inside me said, “if I die, no one would care”, that my own family didn’t love me. 

I took a bottle of prescription meds and collapsed on the floor. I was rushed to the hospital where the doctor looked right in my eyes and told me “You are lucky you’re alive. You would have had a really painful death.” At that moment it all clicked; I could have died. What was I doing? How I could be so stupid? Yet despite it all, I still couldn’t quit. I didn’t have the power within myself and I didn’t see a reason to.  

It wasn’t until college when I met a friend who talked to me about Jesus. I felt the love that I never felt from my family. I gave my life to the Lord and things began to change. My first prayer was, “God if you are real, take these drugs from me.” And He did. 

Now I am living in the light by the power of Christ. I will never forget that night in the hospital and I am so grateful for my life now. I should be dead, but by the grace of God I’m alive! Now I’m free. 

Glory to the one that saves, Jesus Christ.

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God the Sculptor

Ever since I could remember, I have always been an unpopular child. I had a lot of bullies in elementary school and many of my "friends" simply saw me as a fly, unwanted and buzzing around them. In Grade 8, instead of going to my catchment school like 99% of the other people in my graduating class, I decided to start fresh. I was desperate to abandon my past and to start anew. I was excited to meet people who I could consider as friends! I had heard many good things about the people at the high school I was entering. I heard that they were accepting and kind, and that I would be happy there.

In my first couple of months in Grade 8, I tried being what I thought was "cool". That never really worked out, and I realized that dropping the whole cool kid act would make things better with my friends. I stopped trying so hard, and what do you know? God put some friends into my life. There were still some bullies at my new school, but I had found myself a group of good friends and with them I was ready to take on any hurdle. Grade 8 was a blast and a new page in my chapter began. 

In Grade 9, my friend group split up. I was still able to maintain good friendships with some of them, but there were others who became like entirely different people to me. One of the people I stopped spending as much time with hurt me in particular. This person would always act very friendly with me and we would chat comfortably on MSN or Facebook, but when there were others around us, I would feel like a ghost. I would be physically there, but this person would always focus their attention on anyone but me. Whenever I tried to join in on the conversations, I would be kicked out of them right away.

I still had my other friends, right? That would be a half truth, because the people this person would act differently around were the same people who I considered my friends. This caused anger and resentment to grow inside of me. I thought God had finally given me some friends who would always want me; instead, I felt that I was a second choice. Nobody ever wanted to pick me first in anything, not even my own friends. The thing is, I was desperate for human interaction and decided that hanging around these people would be better than being a complete loner. 

The situation with my friends led to dangerous thoughts. I began feeling inadequate around my friends and to make matters worse, my mother would constantly compare me to people around me.

“Why can't you play piano as well as this person?” 
“You haven't brought a painting home from classes in a long time, you need to work faster in class.” 
“Why do your friends get better grades than you? I thought you were smart!” 

This led to a rough time at school and at home. I was confused and frustrated. I was angry at God. I would bring myself to the point of tears, asking why I was born inferior to others. I led myself to believe that I had nothing good about me and that I was replaceable in every aspect in my life. I even felt like my mom would have been happier if I had never been born. I started thinking of suicide. I would constantly ask myself if my death would have any impact on others and the answer I believed in again and again was that nobody would care in the slightest if I died today. Although I was angry at God, I still prayed to him, trying to find an answer.

For two years, from the start of Grade 9 to the end of Grade 10, I did not get any concrete answers and my prayer became sporadic while my cries of hurt were as frequent as ever. I was able to sort things out at home. My mom tried her best to console me, but as much as I love her, she's not very good at consoling. She's very strong and was not able to grasp my struggles, but we ended up working things out. At school, I still put up a perfect facade; nobody knew what I was going through. At home, I would often cry for hours on end to my mother. 

In Grade 11, God had finally grown annoyed of my constant crying and decided to do something about it. He sowed the seeds for major change in my life. I had tons of classes with my old friends but I was also put into classes where I was forced to interact with new people. There was one person in particular who I shared a majority of my classes with; we started talking. Let's call him Bob. We went from acquaintances in the hallways to inseparable friends in the classroom.

After a couple of months, Bob's birthday was coming up and I was invited. A birthday party! I had not been to one for years, my old friends were not the type to have one. I went, and had a great night with Bob and his friends. I didn't feel awkward around them and I found myself genuinely having a good time. Bob had become a pillar of support for me through the power of God. All the hurt, all the anger, all the frustration that had accumulated in my body was unloaded onto him. I began feeling something unfamiliar inside of me. It was different from the happiness I had felt before, happiness which would come and go. This was permanent happiness.

God didn't stop there with Bob and his friends. God had decided to pay me back for all the years of hurting in tenfold. He brought numerous people into my life, and he still has been doing so. Ever since Bob's birthday party, all the thoughts of inadequacy, loneliness and suicide disappeared from my mind. Now, when I ask myself if my death would impact people, my answer will be a resounding yes. Through Bob, God had saved me.

Looking back at this, I now realize that my friends who had hurt me were going through their own struggles. I don't hold them accountable for the hurt they inflicted on me; I still keep in contact with them. I have also realized that God is a masterful sculptor. I was a slab of marble in his hands. He chiseled and hammered away at me. The slab of marble looked hideous for a long time, but in one brilliant stroke, he refined me into a masterpiece.

I went through two years of suffering, but I would do it all over again. My struggles have made me the person I am now and without them, who knows what I would be like today.

I am Rambo, and this is my Atesto.

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