In The Beginning .......
It all started in 1983 at a Christian Summer daycare school called Fremont Christian. I became a Christian there when I was 10 years old by receiving Christ during a Chapel session. I liked the Christian teachings because they made me feel good and gave me strength. I liked knowing that I would always be saved and that I had eternal life to look forward to. I didn't know it at that time, but it gave me a sense of power that I never had. Having Jesus in my heart was like having a supernatural power that I could call on at any time, kind of like how Clark Kent could turn into Superman when the situation called for it. I needed that at the time because in 4th and 5th grade I was teased and disliked by most of my classmates, which completely destroyed my self-esteem and trust in people, and scarred me for life. So it helped me compensate for low self-esteem and gave me hope and purpose.
However, I never thought about the full implications of being a Christian, so I wasn't that serious about it until 4 years later in 1987 when my interest in Christianity soared to great heights. After having a non-religious spiritual experience which I automatically interpreted as Christian, I re-dedicated my life to Christ and decided to become a devout passionate active Christian from then on. Everything suddenly seemed to click. My prayers were getting answered. God gave me a lot of Christian friends who came into my life through strange coincidences, which helped me out a lot during my first year of high school. Everything was great. I had a lot of joy and passion for Christ and had a lot of fun with my Christian friends. I was actively involved with my youth group at Church, and I learned a lot about Christianity through books and Christian radio as well. In Sunday School, I was like the only one who had all the answers to each question posed. With the power and truth of Christ, I felt safe from the uncaring secular world which lived in darkness and selfish materialism. Nothing could go wrong I thought, because no matter what happens, I'm still saved and had an eternal life to look forward to and be happy about. I thought I had nothing to lose or fear. But I was dead wrong, because the following year, I would lose my own mind.
By the end of my first year in high school, Summer started, and a big tide was about to turn that I could never imagine. In the summer of 1988, two bad things happened which later turned out to be signs of even worse to come.
Summer and Taiwan
1) In June that Summer we went to Taiwan to visit a lot of relatives for a few weeks. (During the flight, I read the book of Job in the Old Testament, which was ironic because unknown to me at the time I was about to go through a depressing stage like he did.) I had a lot of fun in Taiwan and my relatives were very loving and supportive people. These people liked me for who I was, not for what I had to offer them like most of my friends in California did. I brought with me some Christian gospel tracts that I ordered in Chinese so that I could share my faith with them. I didn't usually hand out tracts, but I felt I had to in this case because I hardly ever saw those relatives so this was a rare opportunity to witness to them and hopefully convert some of them so that they wouldn't go to hell as my faith taught that they would. You see, I knew that they would hardly ever hear the Gospel in their lifetime because the Gospel wasn't heard much in Taiwan, so that meant that if I didn't convert them then in all likelihood they would go to hell and suffer in pain forever and ever. So I saw myself as the only hope for them from an eternity of pain. That felt like a huge burden to me, but those were the facts according to my Christian views. I mean it's huge when you think about it, all my relatives were non-Christian and on their way to hell, and I was probably their only chance to escape that! That's a lot of pressure for a 15 year old kid!!!!!!! Can you imagine that?
Anyway, all the relatives that I gave tracts to just giggled and thought my attempt was silly but cute. My mom even said "Winston, stop it. You're making a fool out of yourself. They already have their own beliefs." But I didn't care if it seemed silly because believed that I was trying to spread the truth. I was working for a higher purpose. Anyway, none of my relatives showed even the keenest interest in my Gospel tracts. And so that's how it was the whole time. On the return flight back home to California from Taiwan, my failure to convert them started to sink in as well as the eternal implications. I sat on the plane wondering if maybe I didn't do enough to try to convert them. I thought maybe if I had been more dramatic or vocal about it or showed off some self-sacrificing Christian acts of love to them like in the Evangelistic stories I read about, then it would have gotten their attention. But it was too late, I lost my chance. I let God down. Maybe God was angry at me right now because I didn't do enough to witness to them, and because of that they would probably end up in hell for an eternity. I pictured them tormented by fire and brimstone all around them and cursing my name for not having witnessed to them better. I pictured what that would be like for them for all eternity. A million years could pass in hell and they would still be in total torment and pain. A billion years could pass and they'd still be in hell. A trillion years could pass and it would still be the same, because an eternity was forever and a billion trillion zillion years wouldn't make the slightest difference! This was unimaginable! This was a very scary thought and I wasn't sure how to make sense of it so I tried not to think of it. I had never realized the implications of the horror of an eternal hell until then. Furthermore, since my loving nurturing parents were very adamant about never converting to Christianity, I pictured the same fate for them too. I just couldn't believe it, my relatives were the only people I've ever known besides my parents who liked and loved me for me, and they would probably have to go to hell for an eternity because of me! I didn't want to believe it, but it had to be true according to the Bible, which was the direct word of God. Part of me was thinking that it didn't seem fair for it to have to be that way, but I didn't dare entertain that blasphemous thought for too long! Who was I to question God?
It was all too hard to bear. I wasn't sure how to handle this burden or even what to do about it. How would you have handled it as a 15 year old? (Note: This paragraph was difficult for me to write because it brought back memories that I had suppressed for a decade. I was on the verge of tears while writing this. That was a very confusing and painful period for me to try to bring back while writing this, and the memories I re-experienced were vivid. By now you've probably guessed that I am the kind of person who feels things more intensely than most people, which is true.) Anyway, I came back to the States reluctantly, because I sort of felt like a failure. This all made me somewhat depressed.
2) The second thing happened in the latter half of the summer. I went on a Christian summer camp near San Diego with my church youth group. I was hoping the camp would help me to feel less depressed about what happened in Taiwan. Then I met this beautiful girl who looked like the ideal girl I've always wanted. She was like something out of a dream and she was nice to me too. I tried to fight it, but I was bit by the love bug. Unfortunately though, she was too young for me and we couldn't really see each other even after the camp was over for a lot of reasons which I don't want to share, so I just tried to enjoy it while it lasted. When I came back from that camp, I felt depressed and lost because of the emptiness I felt knowing I could never have her and missing the way she made me felt. It was like the 5th or 6th time I struck out in love.
So you see, both those events during the summer of 1988 made me feel depressed and hurt and confused. I didn't know how to handle it all. I was the over-sensitive type of person too so things affected me more deeply and intensely than most people. Anyway, I was not emotionally ready to start school because of those two big issues, but I had to anyway. So start it I did. And believe me, when I went back to school it was a different world. Most of my friends, both Christian and non-Christian either left or had changed so much that we couldn't really be friends anymore. My new friends weren't that great and they didn't even really care about me. They were more like acquaintances. I didn't like any of my classes either because they were overwhelming and too demanding. I wasn't interested in studying because of those two events during the summer that I was still emotionally attached hung up on. And on top of all that, I felt lonely and isolated too because all my friends were either gone or had changed. I couldn't believe how one summer changed everything! :( For the whole year things stayed this way and nothing changed no matter how hard I tried to change them or how many times I prayed. I wanted get back the joy I had last year but nothing I did helped. I soon realized that I also seemed to have lost my fire and passion for the Lord. I tried to get that back too because maybe if I did, my life would turn around again and be fulfilling. But no matter how hard I tried to jump start my passion and fire for the Lord, it just wouldn't. It was like trying to start a car with a dead battery. It felt like God had left me or something. When I prayed, I didn't even feel that he was listening anymore. I was wondering if maybe all this was my punishment for not being able to convert all my relatives in Taiwan, resulting in them losing their souls.
(Things get even much worse than you can imagine! Read on if you dare.)
During that year on Halloween, a very bad and scary thing happened that was a sign of what was further to come. That afternoon after I came home from school, I found that I couldn't get around the house or do normal things
without performing rituals to cancel out bad thoughts over and over again. It was weird and I didn't want to do it, but if I didn't I would feel a lot of anxiety and panic like something was very wrong. I kept having to enter and re-enter through the front door. This was really weird and I had never done that before. Then just to move into the living room took and put my backpack down took a lot of effort as well. They both took about 15-20 minutes for me to do! What was going on here I thought!?!?!?!?!? I couldn't believe this was happening. It was so bizarre. Later when I went to wash my hands, I ended up spending about 3 or 4 hours in the bathroom because every time I tried to do it in a perfect way, my body would itch or something else would go wrong and I had to redo the rituals over again. After a few hours I wanted to get out of there badly. I felt like a prisoner in my own bathroom. What could be stupider than that? The trick-or-treaters came by later since it was Halloween and while they came I was stuck there in the bathroom trying to get out!!!!!! Afterwards I was so exhausted and drained. I hoped that these weird rituals wouldn't happen anymore after that day. Must just be something weird going on that day, I thought. Tomorrow I should be back to normal again. But boy I was very very wrong. It went on each day the same way. I had to fight hard to not do them, but I had to do them or else I'd feel a lot of anxiety like something was wrong. It cost me a few hours each day. Sometimes less, sometimes more. My grades plummeted too as you might expect. I got a lot of D's and F's on my report card. I didn't tell anyone beside my parents because I thought no one would understand and I felt
ashamed of this too. On some nights when the rituals were costing me too much time, I would yell at myself saying "Come on you @#$%, let me go! Stop it! Stop it!"
After a few months of enduring this inner hell, my parents took me to a psychiatrist. I didn't know how to describe what was happening. My communication skills were bad and I was too shy too and I was ashamed to admit this weird disorder. From what he had to go on, the psychiatrist diagnosed me with Schizophrenia and gave me Prozac. "Schizophrenia?!" I thought. Now I'm really done for! It's usually a life long affliction I heard. How could I ever be a good witness for Christ now? Would a crazy deluded schizophrenic who was unable to control his own thoughts be a good representative for Christ? Of course not! I would give him a bad name if I told people I was a Christian now! My witnessing life was over I guess. My dreams of becoming a Missionary and Evangelist and converting many people to Christ were shattered. Eventually, word spread in my family of my strange mental illness and all those relatives I tried to witness to before found out. This was embarassing to me because I thought they must be thinking "Well look what being a devout Christian brought him. If that's the price you pay, we sure don't want any part in his faith." Now I had no chance of ever converting them.
(Continued On Page 2)
Copyright © 2000 Winston Wu