He grew up craving attention. A feeling many can relate to; love, care and respect from family, friends and peers is something innate. Being a middle child didn’t help, nor the demons that taunted him with temptations as he found his way in the world. Surrounded by many, he still felt alone and hungry for someone to tell him they love him, they care for and respect him.
It’s all he ever really wanted.
And so began a journey of to gain that attention and fill the void of being alone. A series of making and breaking friendships, emotional struggles with family and a love life that left in a broken heart – and a relentless discovery to establish who he is.
Friends came and went, some for the better and some for the worst; each teaching their own lesson and shaped him. He wasn’t naive, he knew how to use friends to an advantage to help him in his life journey and when to step back when friends became an anchor towards something bad. He loved spending time with his friends, they enjoyed his company and this is where he felt most comfortable. But brotherhood only filled the ‘masculine’ vacuum left by an absent father and negligent family. He needed more.
Home became a prison, a place simply to rest, feed and find solitude in small four walls of the bedroom. A broken home choking his soul of love and nurture, yet God was always present – but so were his demons. A war raged in him, a war he fought mostly alone. And one day he found God truly, he felt the love from the Most Loving and didn’t want anything else. The struggle now was to sustain that feeling, but life happened.
He was human after all, and with young age came an increased desire. This is where he thought he found a solution to release his emotional frustrations and feed his hunger for love. He had good intentions, he wanted to stay on the path to God. He put his faith in God, he found love with another and prayed for a marriage to bless him.
Then came the heartbreak. God had other plans; and with those plans the boy’s dreams, esteem and faith shattered into fragments that pierced every part of his spiritual and emotional being. In his innocence he thought his life would never move on, an invaluable lesson he learnt from this part: Life does move on. Emotions do recover.
You will feel better.
God has a greater plan for you.
But with a broken faith that never truly recovered, he limped forward in his journey and stumbled into his demons. He dared to dance with his demons on the line between right and wrong, but lost his balance and stooped into darkness.
Temptations grew. Giving up became easier.
Giving up became fun.
Social media became a place he sought sanctuary. A way for him to express himself to the world and feel some level of ‘human’ connection. A seemingly endless nebulous of avatars, usernames and bios – friends and followers. The boy was good at it too. He knew how to entertain his following and grew in popularity, he felt cherished and respected.
But he wanted more, and more.
Hours upon hours were spent in this obscure world that existed in the four walls of his bedroom. Friendships were made but very few lasted. The boy got attention from the girls, something new to him. And in defiance of his morals and weakness to his demons began a series of flirtationsips. He lied and told himself it’s online so ‘it’s not that deep’ and it’s better than doing the actual sin.
He became addicted to the attention.
He satisfied his urges in whatever way he could, he openly challenged God and went against his own better instincts in pursuit to get that undying need. Satan laughed as the stranded boy became engulfed in flames of his own desires.
The boy’s ego grew stronger as his social media following gave his pretentiousness validation. It had consumed him, he started seeing the world through hashtags and posts that would keep him relevant and in the limelight.
And yet he still wanted more.
He relished in controversy and went out of his way to post anything to capture the attention of his followers. The boy used every trick in the book and all the masks available for him to wear. But every dog has its day and nothing lasts forever.
The boy became a young man and a veteran at deceiving himself and those around him. No one else could see the flames by this stage, neither close family nor close friends. And month after month, he burnt away. He lost his way, and began hating looking in the mirror.
No fire is eternal and the moisture of God’s mercy knows no bounds. Exhausted, damaged and fatigued he clung on to the last pieces of himself and fought back. Armed with a cache of life lessons, he stepped into a battle arena.
Committed to repairing the damage done and to strive towards a higher self, the young man now more isolated than ever, fought a war with his demons. The war raged for months, he would win some battles and lose many more. But after each counter attack he grew stronger and his demons began to surrender. Some more stubborn than others.
The young man fought his way back into the light, and looked back at his past with regret and shame. A shame that never really goes away; such is the beast of social media which leaves a trail of our journey behind for everyone to see. He knew that to be free he would eventually need put down that beast he once fed, and detach himself from the ego which lived in its belly.
He slew the beast, because he had now realised that those likes, retweets and messages weren’t ever truly going to quench his thirst for love, care and respect. He grew up and realised the war inside is never ending, and that was part of life and his journey. He now understood, despite still being tempted to give in, that his path was to keep resisting the whispers of Satan.
The young man submitted to God as best he could, detached himself and sought solitude. Studied himself. Examined every part of his life and did his best to revise it to stay on the right path. Hours of self reflection and evaluation became weeks and months of it, submission to God and His love grew stronger day by day.
God rewarded the fight back and submission to His will and blessed the young man with everything he had prayed for. He was thankful, but the young man’s baggage of past sins and addictions desperately sought to cling on to him – and they still do. He stumbles from time to time but knows in his heart he is trying to get better at it. It’s not easy, but it’s a worthy investment of energy.
Thanking God when life is working in your favour is arguably more difficult that to pray for help when things are bad.
And that’s all the young man can do; keep on trying. Whilst he writes this story, he laments his past and wishes he had never done those things. Because each day he wakes up it’s a tougher struggle than it would have been if he never willingly strolled away from God’s light.
“And this world with its delusions, my own soul with its offences and my delay (in doing good) have deceived me.” – Dua Kumayl