This article is part of the #flamfaces series.
Here, Aaron Summers shares a snippet of his story.
Throughout my school years, life was tough. I was teased and called many names; ugly, freak, you get the picture. I was a bully myself at times too.
At the root of it was a constant struggle with self image. I didn’t feel I was good enough for anything or anyone. I felt that no one wanted to hang out with me, and that I was always on the outer. I remember tearing up my leavers dinner photos because I felt so ugly and down on myself.
Depression got a hold of me and I was in a very dark place, in and out of church at Summerhill Baptist and Door of Hope. My mum encouraged me to keep coming along to church. It was a hard time for her, seeing me go through this, but she kept spurring me on.
I was going home most days from school turning the lights off and going to bed. I’d just basically given up. I just wanted to sleep and I had no motivation for anything else.
The change came in college when I was invited to a church camp where I gave my life to Jesus. They asked if anyone wanted to go up the front and I said I wanted my life changed. I was in tears and we prayed, but things didn’t improve overnight.
The name-calling and bullying was still constant and vicious at school and it was hard not to be affected by it. The names they called me are too nasty to mention, and these kids were relentless. I knew God was there, it was just that self-doubt was a barrier to freedom in my faith.
I would describe my faith as a yo-yo; up and down, up and down.
I was putting relationships with girls before God too. After a break-up with one girl, I dipped so low that I contemplated taking my own life. I felt so guilt-ridden that I didn’t feel I could talk to God about it. I had forgotten that Jesus had forgiven me already.
I started going to a counsellor who, praise God, was a Christian. He told me to read the armour of God verse every morning.
Looking back, God really wanted to help me through this. He placed just the right people around me. Those verses gave me tools to protect myself. I was praying those words each morning, saying “I can fight this off!” Those names people were calling me, I was speaking against them. The enemy had no right to make me feel that way. It made me feel stronger each day.
One morning at church, one of my best mates said you should do the Search for Life course, so I signed up and through that God reminded me I had so much to live for and that he had big plans for my life in leadership within the church. I had already been forgiven.
Since then God has led me to my calling in life: working with children and singing and leading kids and youth over the years. I still fight inner battles from day to day and have my struggles but I know God loves me and accepts me the way I am and I will be forever grateful for that.
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Therefore put on the full armour of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.”
Read more FLAM Faces stories:
Anna’s story: “God saved me from a very dark place.”
Oliver’s story: Through war, a new country & unplanned fatherhood.
Noel’s story: “I collapsed and died in the hospital ward.”
Eloise’s story: Confessions of a control freak.
Matt’s story: Indescribable peace in the midst of cancer battle.
Melissa’s story: “I was pregnant with our 3rd child when my husband died.”
Sue’s story: Beyond the brink of anorexia and back.
Karen’s story: “For 13 years after our girls died, I tried hard to have very little to do with God.”
Sarah’s story: “Trusting Jesus with my self worth is a daily decision.”
Emily’s story: Who are you Jesus? (said the Catholic girl)