I grew up in a town called Walsall in the Midlands, UK. I was raised in a Christian household and would spend my Sunday’s going to church with my family. However, I never really understood Jesus and why going to church was important, and honestly, I never enjoyed it. From a young age I knew I had a good life – I had good friends, I did things I enjoyed, and I never felt like we struggled to get by as a family. Often my biggest frustration was being dragged to church every week.
However, when I was 13, my dad was diagnosed with bipolar disorder, and things began to change for me. My dad’s moods were unpredictable and often temperamental. I found myself regularly being blamed when he was at his lowest and eventually these negative thought processes began to take root in my own thinking. I started to believe I wasn’t good enough and that if I wasn’t even good enough for my own dad, how could I ever have been good enough for my heavenly dad.
My relationship with my father continued to deteriorate until I decided I was going to have nothing to do with him or with God. I stopped going to church and sought satisfaction, affirmation, fulfilment and love from the world, everything I’d been wanting but never felt I’d received. I became friends with people who were bad influences on my life and began to isolate myself from all previously positive relationships. Things quickly went downhill for me, and I soon realised that this new approach to life wasn’t working. I knew the problem – I still didn’t feel loved. My solution was therefore to get a girlfriend. I got into a relationship believing that I wasn’t good enough for anyone and that the only way I could show my worth was to do anything and everything for my girlfriend. Very quickly my partner picked up on this and the relationship became emotionally controlling and abusive. Over that year I was trapped, believing this was all I was worth, and that I was getting what I deserved.
However, during this time one thing had changed, I’d started going back to church. On the outside whilst in front of my leaders I gave the impression that everything was fine, that I had it all together and I refused to let others into what was really going on. However, during the summer of 2019, I started to meet up with Sam, a normal guy from my church who just loved Jesus and who I found easy to talk with. It soon became a regular pattern and for the first time in years I began to open up about how I was feeling and what was really going on in my life. Sam would just listen and then speak the truth of Jesus over me, telling me that I am loved, forgiven and valued. This wasn’t new, I remember hearing all this stuff before, however this time the penny dropped, and it finally made sense. Soon after that I accepted Jesus into my own life, and it was the greatest choice I ever made.
The last few years have been a crazy journey. Now, no matter what happens, I have a constant hope, someone that I know loves me no matter what. My relationship with my dad has been completely restored and I now have the most amazing, supportive, friends around me, who constantly remind me of my true value and worth. Life with Jesus isn’t always easy but accepting him was the best decision of my life!
Written by Jacob Costello.
Jacob joined The Message Trust for the 2020-21 Academy year. Since finishing Academy, Jacob works at The Message where he focuses on youth mission and evangelism.