Christ Lives Here
CHRIST LIVES HERE
By Charlie Williams
In Spring of 2018 I had all the things that are supposed to make you happy. I won the housing lottery in New York and was paying a fraction of the market cost for rent on a luxury apartment in one of the hottest new neighborhoods, Long Island City. I had started a temp job at a top Investment Bank in Times Square, and was making more money than I thought I was skilled for. I had just wrapped up my small modeling career where I was able to travel to amazing cities and meet the most interesting people at high-end venues, and exclusive celebrity parties. I lived a life that most people aspired to live, yet I was miserable and felt like something was missing. I fell into depressive thoughts, and couldn’t figure out why.
I grew up in a non-denominational Korean Christian Church in Queens, NY. My mother, a native from South Korea took my sister and I to church since we were very young. My earliest childhood memories always involved church. My closest friends, greatest trips, fondest childhood memories derived from my Korean church. The children and youth services were held in English. Every summer from Junior high and throughout high school, my church youth group would attend mission trips to an underdeveloped country. We would help build new churches, donate clothing and introduce people to the gospel. My life was full, I had a personal relationship with Christ and a clear understanding of the gospel.
After high school, my modeling lifestyle led me to stop attending church, but even then, I couldn’t give up my testimony of Christ. In fact, I found myself talking about the gospel everywhere I went. I’d be in the middle of exclusive parties, unable to stop myself from talking about Jesus with my peers. We were all searching to fill a void that couldn’t be filled—temporarily satisfied with designer clothes, celebrity filled events, drugs and lust. For years I existed in limbo—having a testimony of Christ, but living as if I didn’t actually believe he was the one true way to happiness. I was drinking excessively almost every night. I was indulging in a lifestyle that I knew was different from what God wanted me to be living, and things needed to change.
In the winter of 2017 I started battling depressive thoughts for the first time. I would come home to my beautiful luxury sky rise studio apartment, throw myself on the couch and cry for hours. I felt lonely, empty and hopeless. It felt like Heavenly Father had forgotten about me. It felt like all my friends were having children, getting married or had amazing jobs, and I was getting left behind. I had wasted time, made too many mistakes and that Heavenly Father was disgusted with me.
My thoughts got progressively worse as the weeks came and gone. At work I would run to the bathroom sobbing uncontrollably. It became difficult to get out of bed, go to work and pretend. I felt a heavy weight on my shoulders. It would get heavier as time went on. I would call my parents every couple of days crying telling them I felt helpless. One particular phone call I heard my mother speaking to my father not knowing I had answered the phone call yet, my mother told my father that she was worried that she should check on me, she thought I was going to take my life. The enemy used that conversation to make me believe that I was a burden to my parents, and that I really should take my life.
After struggling through heartache for years, I eventually turned to a therapist for support, along with what I knew was true my whole life—scripture. I told myself I would give the gospel one last try, and began to try a little exercise when feelings of despair would sink in. Every time a lie would come into my mind, I would write it down, and then cross it out and write a piece of truth or scripture next to it.
Lie: “Heavenly Father has forgotten about me.”
Truth: “You are loved and cherished by Heavenly Father. He loves you so much that he even knows the exact amount of hair on your head”
Lie: “You will never get married and have children, it’s too late.”
Truth: “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall ye not know it? I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19).
I was fighting back, I would carry scripture on flashcards and read them on my commute to work. I posted scripture all over my apartment, on my bedroom walls, on my bathroom mirror. And although it was slow and difficult, I made progress. I felt like Christ when he was fasting for 40 days in the desert, I would visually see myself talking back to Satan. Telling him I was done with his lies.
During this time I met a new friend who was very involved in his faith and church. He had a podcast where people would come on and share a bit of their testimony and other aspects of their lives. I was intrigued by one guest’s testimony of Christ. Her authenticity and personal relationship with Him drew me in. It dawned on me that my relationship with Christ was not intimate anymore. I was pretending, the last time I remember truly being close to him was when I was young in Youth Group. I missed the sweet tender moments I used to have with Him. I had an epiphany, Heavenly Father never left me, I was the one who changed. I stopped pursuing him, he was there all along at an arm’s reach. He was always there patiently waiting for me.
I decided I truly wanted to pursue an intimate relationship with Christ. I made small changes. I made sure to get out of bed, get on my knees and start to pray, every morning and every evening. I shut out and got rid of all the things that made me feel like they were distracting me from Heavenly Father and the Holy Spirit. I stopped drinking alcohol, I changed my diet. I would listen to uplifting, sermons, talks and music throughout the day. I talked to Heavenly Father about EVERYTHING. I felt like He was my friend again. He felt close.
I rededicated my life to Christ, Heavenly Father and the gospel, and I began to feel happiness once again. I now know what I have been missing—true joy comes from a personal relationship with Christ. I can truly say the riches of the world are just temporary and fleeting. Happiness doesn’t come from fame, traveling the world, knowing celebrities, or living in beautiful apartments. I am still healing and growing, but I know for a fact that what happens inside of a church building brings more joy than what is found outside of it. Christ lives here.