The True Cost of Love // 愛的真正代價

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Sunset Pier

How much of yourself are you willing to give in exchange for attention from the opposite sex? Our dear sister Ada* found out that it was too much of the wrong thing – even costing a life. But she also discovered that God’s patient love and grace comes priceless and sets her free.

你自己願意付出多少代價去換取異性的關注呢?我們親愛的姐妹Ada*發現她的答案是“太多”,甚至會付上一條生命。但是她也發現神那耐心的愛和恩典是來無價的

Some say we all have our own vices or addictions; an inner weakness hidden from others or a hurt we try to numb by indulging in pleasure. Like a heroin addict constantly craving for the next euphoric high, I was addicted to the high of being pursued and desired by men. Growing up as the only child in a conservative Christian Chinese family in Hong Kong, love only existed in the pages of romance novels or on silver screens. The critical words from my parents and relatives were so deeply ingrained in my heart that I grew up to be a young woman who did not know her true beauty or worth. Desperate to experience love and intimacy, I was terribly afraid I would remain alone forever if I didn’t take matters into my own hands.

After my first relationship ended during the winter of 2009, I simply couldn’t bear the thought of being alone and was so desperate to jump into the next relationship that I embarked on a journey into the wilderness searching for any man who would want me. I signed up for online dating sites and was amazed at the amount of attention I was getting from guys. For the first time in my life, I felt like I was worthy to be wanted, even though it didn’t take long for me to realize most men were pursuing me with ulterior motives. Still, my desire to be wanted was so strong that I would rather wake up next to a man I barely knew than go to sleep alone in my bed. My mission to find love quickly became a self-destructive cycle of endless disappointments and heartbreaks. I became terribly ashamed of my promiscuous self but didn’t have the courage to be alone. I was stuck.

After I graduated from college in 2011 and moved back to Hong Kong, I started dating an ex-colleague. And just two short months later, my worst nightmare came true: I was pregnant. Without the slightest hesitation, I decided to have an abortion without informing my parents or anyone in my family. It seemed to be the one and only logical solution at the time. I visited a government clinic for the procedure, which turned out to be the most horrific 15 minutes of my life. With only minimal local anesthesia administered, I screamed helplessly on the operating chair as I endured the worst pain I have ever experienced. Still, after the ordeal was over, I was proud of my decision and continued to live life as if it never happened.

That fall, I attended the Alpha Course and gave my life to Jesus. However, God’s teachings on purity didn’t make sense to me and I refused to obey Him. I continued to indulge in a sexual relationship with my ex-boyfriend until we ended our relationship in early 2013. During that time, I was finally lovingly convicted by God when I heard a brother’s testimony in Alpha, where I was serving as a helper. He spoke about how his ex-girlfriend became pregnant and the immense guilt that caused him to surrender to God and His forgiveness. Tears rolled down my cheeks as I listened. I felt God telling me that I, too, needed to ask for His forgiveness – not because He wanted to punish me, but because He wanted me to receive healing.

The following week at Alpha, another brother spoke about how his romantic relationship was transformed when he decided to pursue sexual purity. I felt God chose this brother to speak that week just for me. I was both convinced and convicted that God’s ways are truly wiser than mine and His commands were given to us out of love. I repented for my past and made a commitment to pursue God-honoring purity.

Besides confessing to God, I also knew I had to confess to a Godly sister for prayer and support. Though I had attended church and fellowship regularly for almost two years, I hadn’t told anyone at church about my abortion and sexual sins as I was afraid of being judged. Speaking up honestly was initially incredibly difficult, but I was pleasantly surprised by my brothers’ and sisters’ love, support, and understanding. I saw how Satan lied to stop me from telling others because he knew I would be set free from the bondage of my sin when I confessed. I now feel empowered to share my story for God’s glory.

Through this incredible inner transformation, I experienced the depth of God’s love, grace, and mercy in ways I cannot describe. In Luke 7, an immoral woman wept unashamedly at Jesus’ feet and poured out expensive perfume for him. Like this woman, God’s boundless forgiveness completely overwhelmed me when I realized how much I have been forgiven. Rather than condemning me for killing a child, God instead reached out to me to heal me and hold me in His loving embrace. He held no judgment against me. Rather, it was His scandalous grace that brought me to my knees.

I used to see God as a strict and cold father who only accepts the highest achievements and best behavior from his children, and the Bible seemed like nothing more than a code of conduct no human can possibly follow. Yet, God’s relentless pursuit of my heart demonstrated that His desire is to simply be known by me. God doesn’t love me because I am good, but He makes me good because He loves me. And as I allow myself to be romanced by my Heavenly Father, who had been patiently enduring my repeated rejections, He tenderly wipes away the dirt on my wounded face with His fingertips, looks intently into my glistening eyes and whispers, “You’re mine.”

有些人說我們都有自己的惡習或癖好、向他人隱藏起來的內在弱點,或者是一種讓我們麻木傷害的快感,就像一隱君子一樣,一直沉淪在快感之中。而我,曾沉迷於被男性追求…

對成長在香港,一個保守中國基督教背景家庭的獨生孩子來講,愛只存在於愛情小說的字裡行間或銀幕上。父母和親戚嚴厲批評的說話,深深地埋在我的心裏,以致我成爲一個從不自覺美麗和有價值的年輕女人。由於我極其渴望要去經歷愛情和親密關係,害怕如果不去爭取,將會永遠孤單一人。

在我第一段感情於2009年的冬天結束後,我完全不能忍受獨自一人的想法,極其渴望要跳進下一段感情去,從而踏上一段被男性需要的尋找旅程。我在交友網站登記了賬戶,關注我的男性人數,竟令我為之震驚!在我的人生裏,第一次感覺到被需要。雖然在沒多長的時間後,我已意識到大多數追求我的男性都別有用心。但是,我被需要的慾望很強烈,寧願在一個不認識的男人身旁醒來,也不要一個人睡。我那尋找「愛」的渴望,迅速變成一個無止境的失望和傷心的自殘循環。我為變得淫亂的自己感到無比的慚愧,但是我沒有勇氣獨處,陷入一個困局之中…

我在2011年畢業後搬回香港,便開始和一個舊同事約會。在短短的兩個月後,我最糟糕的噩夢成真了—懷孕。沒有一絲毫的猶豫,在沒有告知父母和任何家人的情况下,我决定去墮胎。當時,這好像是唯一一個合理的解決方式。我去了一個政府的診所動手術,這變成我人生中最恐怖的15分鐘。醫生只為我作局部麻醉,我在手術椅上無助地大叫,忍受著畢生經歷過最厲害的痛楚。雖然如此,當這一切磨難結束後,我仍為我作的決定自豪,像什麼事也沒有發生過一樣繼續地生活。

那年秋天,我上了啓發課程,把我的生命交給了耶穌。但是,神在聖潔上的教導對我來說沒有任何意義, 我拒絕去服從祂,反而繼續沉醉跟前男友發生性關係。直到2013年,我在啟發課程裡事奉時,聽到一位弟兄的見證,才醒覺到自己在神的眼中充滿罪。他分享他的女朋友怎樣懷孕、怎樣有著巨大的內疚感、怎樣順服神和求神原諒。我聽這見證時,眼淚順著我的臉頰流下,我感覺到神在告訴我,我需要去請求祂的原諒 – 不是因為祂要懲罰我,而是因為祂要我去領受醫治…

接著的那個星期,另外一位弟兄在啟發課程中,分享他決定追求肉身的純潔時,他的浪漫關係如何因而轉化,我覺得是神讓我聽到那位弟兄的分享。我相信神的方式比我的更有智慧,祂給我們的指令是出於愛。我爲我的過去懺悔,並承諾追求榮耀神的純潔。

除了向神懺悔, 我知道我需要向一位虔誠的姐妹懺悔,以尋求禱告和支持。雖然 我已經定期地參加教會聚會差不多兩年,但因為我害怕被人批評,所以從來沒有將我墮胎的罪行告訴教會裡的任何人。一開始要誠實及毫無保留地說出自己的過去,確實十分困難,但弟兄姐妹的愛、支持和理解令我喜出望外。我看到撒旦是怎樣用謊言阻止我去告訴其他人,因爲他知道當我認罪的時候,我便會從罪的捆綁中釋放。我現在感覺到,我已被授予權力爲神的榮耀去分享我的故事。

經過這個令人難以置信的內在轉變,我無法用言語來形容神那份深深的愛、恩典和憐憫。在路加福音7章, 一個不道德的女人伏在耶穌的脚前哭泣,爲祂倒出昂貴的香水。我就像這個女人一樣,當我意識到我已經被原諒的時候, 神無限的寬恕完全使我深受感動。神没有譴責我殺死一個孩子,反而向我伸出手來醫治我,把我抱在祂愛的擁抱中。祂對我沒有批判。相反,是祂的恩典,使我俯伏到祂面前。

我以前把神看成是一位嚴厲冷漠的父親,只會接納有成就和有好行為的孩子,聖經就好像是一本沒有人能遵循的行為守則。但是,神​表明祂的願望只是單單地要我去認識祂。神不是因為我好所以愛我, 而是因為愛我所以使我變好。當我被天父去愛時,祂一直耐心地容忍我一再的拒絕,祂溫柔地用指尖擦去我受傷臉上的污垢,專心地看著我閃閃發光的眼睛,並輕輕地告訴我:「你是屬於我的。」

*Name has been changed. 非真實名字。

Image credit: flickr.com/67262490@N04

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