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Becoming a Child Again
When home was not a home because of an absent and angry father, Audrey Guo turned to drugs and drinking. Then it all changed when she became a child again.
My dad was an absent father. Since young, he was never home. Even when we needed him, he was never there. The only time we sat down as a family for dinner was once a year, during Chinese New Year. "Where's daddy?" was a frequent question I had when I was much younger.
But as I grew up, that question stopped. It turned into quarrels and fights each time we had a chance to see each other. He would get all angry and even beat me up when I did not obey him 100%. Each time I would feel maligned, misunderstood and rejected.
Throughout my growing up years, I never had a fatherly figure to look up to. I hated my dad and told myself that I never want to acknowledge a father like him.
Drinks and drugs
At the age of 12, I began to find things that I can do to make myself happy and to gain approval from others. I started smoking and drinking. Though under-aged, some friends smuggled me into a club, so clubbing became a regular activity. I would hang out in Orchard Road with my friends and we would sometimes get into fights. To experience thrills, I would often steal. Drugs soon followed. I would go home very late every day, and some days I would not even go home at all.
Eventually, at age 16, I was caught for theft and sentenced to Gracehaven residential home for nine months. We had weekly bible study in the air-conditioned hall which I attended for the air-conditioning. God was reaching out to me. But hardened as I was, things did not change. When I was released, I continued to live day by day, drinking, smoking, and doing drugs. Life had no purpose. Needless to say, my relationship with my dad kept worsening. This carried on into my twenties.
A death and a new life
In 2010, things began to change. I lost my younger sister to a tragic accident. Anguish filled my heart and laments filled my mind. "God, why did You take Zhen away when she is the good girl and I'm the bad one? Take me instead!" Devastated, I thought of taking my own life in exchange for my sister's.
Then God stepped in and made Himself known to me. Knowing my grief, my mother's friend reached out to me. As she prayed for me over the phone, I felt God's love and peace that I had never felt before. I thought to God, "this encounter is so real. I’ll give You a chance.” And so my mother's friend's daughter brought me to Trinity.
It wasn't the first time I have been to church. My sister and I attended church when we were kids. Then church was more of a routine and God felt distant and aloof, someone I had to strive to reach. But this time it was different. God was real and I had a relationship with Him, without me having to strive.
I joined a Connect Group and even Alphatrack. God placed me among people who accepted and loved me for who I was. I was never judged, like how I had believed I was. That helped me see how God Himself accepts me. I began to relax and stop striving for approval. I became a child again - God's beloved child.
One of my best memories of how God assured me of His love was a vision He gave me. I was in this place that was so pure and white. It was bright yet not piercing in the eyes. I was lying on feathers (perhaps on a pair of wings) and it felt so soft, comfortable and full of love. I felt so enveloped by God that it was like God telling me, “I love you My child, you can rest in Me.” God would continually assure me of His love and how proud He is of me through different individuals' prayers or prophetic sharing.
I stopped drinking and drugs. But smoking was difficult to quit from, till one day I cried out. "God, you have to help me!" The next day, the smell of cigarettes suddenly became so grotesque, I never touched that stuff again.
The hardest lesson
But there was still the issue of forgiveness towards my dad.
Firstly, I thought that forgiving someone is a sign of weakness, and I definitely did not want to reveal any of my weaknesses to my dad.
Secondly, I felt that my dad did not deserve to be forgiven or to be taken care of by us, because he did not take care of us.
But God reminded me that Jesus demonstrated His love for me and died for me even when I am still a sinner (Romans 5:8). I too, am not deserving of God's forgiveness but am a recipient of His love and grace. And God isn't weak!
Forgiving my dad was really the hardest thing that I had to do. I struggled a lot. But as I surrendered to God, His love and healing through Trinity's DEW Ministry empowered me to do what I thought was impossible. I told my dad face-to-face that I forgave him. He broke down and cried.
Reconciled and redeemed
Today, my dad is home most of the time because he is on kidney dialysis and is visually handicapped. We have reconciled our relationship and have asked each other for forgiveness.
God has changed my heart towards my dad. I no longer hate him, but there are times I still find him annoying (especially when one minute after serving him dinner in his room, he'll ask for water)!
My mom jokes that the way he is calling for us every one or two minutes, we can walk to Jurong and back already (we live in Toa Payoh). My dad is not a perfect dad, but he is precious to God, and so, to me.
As a loving Father who delights to see sorrow and shame in His children's lives transformed into joy and glory, God has redeemed my journey for His purposes.
I have been invited to share my testimony in Gracehaven and to a youth group. I am excited to start serving in Thai Ministry's worship team as I absolutely love the Thai language and culture. Maybe a result of too much Thai disco in the past?! ;)
Reflect & Respond
How is your relationship with your father? What can you forgive him for?
Is there someone you need to forgive? Forgiveness is not a verdict of who is right or wrong. It simply releases that judgement to God. What is stopping you from giving yourself this gift of forgiveness? Will you ask God to help you choose to forgive?
Are there any lies you believed about God because you projected what you experienced of people on earth onto God e.g. God is distant because authority figures in your life are distant?
What praises does God sing of you? How has He encouraged and assured you of His love?