I was lying face down on my bed. It was about 4am, one night in my first year at the University of Oxford, and I was feeling absolutely exhausted, but my heart was still pumping with the caffeine from red bull & pro plus.
I had just done another all-nighter to complete an essay for the next day. I had needed to do this was because my life was so full of activity. I went to university and immediately got involved in helping to run the student newspaper and in lots of other clubs and societies. I even ran my own business whilst studying.
I did all these things because I was trying to build the perfect CV – to achieve as much as possible. I was constantly comparing myself with my classmates and trying to make sure I was doing better than them. I was trying to prove myself to the world. I had been bullied as a teenager and I was working hard so I could turn around to the bullies and say “I’m better than you” or be so successful that they couldn’t hurt me.
Fast forward to second year and my business was going well. In fact, I had achieved much of what I had set-out to do. I was on course to be very successful and wealthy. But I still felt unsatisfied; in fact, I felt as insecure as ever.
Although I had been interested in the idea of God in my teenage years, I had ‘kept a distance’ because I wanted to have control of my life and fulfil all the ambitions which were so important to me. However, when I saw that these wouldn’t truly satisfy me, it was then that I turned to God.
At the end of first term in second year, after some thought, discussion, and a little prayer, I became a Christian.
After that, my life really started to change. I started to understand the message of God’s unconditional love – that I was loved by him, regardless of what I’d done or achieved. I didn’t need to prove myself to Him. This meant I didn’t need to prove myself to other people either!
This had a significant practical effect. I felt I could let go of a number of my extracurricular activities and gave up my business. I started to live a more balanced life. I changed so much that my housemates were asked “Who are you & what have you done with the guy we used to live with?”
I also started to relate to people very differently. God started to give me love for people around me in a way that I didn’t have before. Previously, I had ‘used’ people to get ahead and be as successful as I could. Now, God helped me to see the value people had and I started to develop more meaningful relationships with those around me.
Most of all, as I started to develop a friendship with God, I came to experience a deep peace and a joy that I had never had before. God is real – and he’s changed my life.