I was born into an immigrant Asian family story— a narrative rich in stereotypes based on social class, how we should look, what to study, who to marry and by what age. There’s this expectation that we need to be submissive/passive/quietly agreeable all the time… and not speak or stand up for ourselves. The social pressure to conform was and still is enormous.

And because of that, being honest and vocal about who we are and the struggles we face become a real challenge.

Given these challenges, many of us suffer from depression, and anxiety, amongst other things. Unfortunately, it is often ignored and brushed off as a “feeling”— a form of ‘intense sadness’— an emotion caused by circumstances.

God can really break those chains and free us.

A lot of circumstances led to my depression and suicidal thoughts last year. It was a struggle to find help from the people I thought would understand. But the ‘hush-hush’ culture, gender norms and negative response from my community and circle intensified the hurt. I was openly ridiculed, degraded, and my reputation was tarnished.

I remember sitting at my desk during my lunch hour at work, finally feeling ready to share with someone close to me about my struggles. I messaged this person and poured my heart out for the first time in my life. Admitting my hurts, sufferings and inner struggles of wanting to end the pain by ending my life.

“You’re so selfish! Do you think you’re the only one suffering? The world does not revolve around you! I have my own struggles too, but I would never think of ending my life. You’re so self-centred to think that everything is about you.”

I felt so hopeless at that moment. My own kin, openly discrediting my struggles. If I were at home when this exchange happened, I probably wouldn’t be alive right now and writing to you. Everything that was ‘core’ to my existence was broken down in a flash. I was reduced to filth by my own community. My desire to keep a good image and adhere to those unspoken rules soon turned into guilt, insecurities, self-doubts and depression— almost destroying me completely.

But God knew. He knew the right people to place in our lives at the exact moments when we would need them. God saved me multiple times during my darkest moments. It took a lot of prayers, medicine, Christian therapists, my family, as well as a few select and trusted friends and loved ones to overcome the pain. See Hear Love and Crossroads were some of the tools that God used, to tell me that I can be Asian, young, Christian and a woman, and still be redeemed.

That I can be saved.

That God still loves me and is there for me.

While I may not have been born with grace and mercy, GOD freely gives it to those who ask. Regardless of skin colour, age or struggles we are facing. God is full of grace and mercy.

My hope and prayer for YOU

My hope is for you to remember where your worth comes from and that your life is significant. Most of us won’t end up doing things that the world considers “great.” But that’s okay. Your value isn’t based on purity, social standing, child-bearing, education, marital status or career.

During this season, one thing God has shown me more clearly than ever is His sovereignty.

Like many, I went from thinking I had a whole life planned out one minute, following others’ suggestions/expectations on how I should lead my life, to having all of those plans crumble the next. This left me to realize that others shouldn’t, can’t, and mustn’t define our worth. As long as I’m walking in God’s perfect will, living in obedience, walking to be more like Christ and loving His people, I will be fine.

It’s worth more than what the world wants you to believe.

Live with the confidence that we have a God who is loving and sovereign. Let Him mould you outside of that social construct with all of its pressures so that you can be released from those struggles. Replacing worries, guilt, self-doubt with the truth of God.

Trust in His ways and plans.

Remember that where you are is exactly where you were meant to be in the story God has written specifically for you. He knows where you need to grow. And He knows exactly how to achieve it.

In every circumstance, God’s purpose will prevail.

Even in your brokenness and darkest moments, God is there for you.

He can turn ashes into beauty.

He is glorified! All you have to do is hope, pray, and rest in Christ.

Your story isn’t over.

Camille Aguila is a Marketing Manager at Crossroads Christian Communications, Inc. and a professional photographer of Precious Images.