I first met my wife, Melissa, when I had to repeat a module in university.
We dated and it wasn’t long before we started living together. Because I used Melissa as a crutch for my personal problems, our relationship was quite toxic.
Eight months later, Melissa became pregnant with our daughter, Kyla. Our family members persuaded us to get married, but the truth is that we were completely unprepared for it.
We were both 22 years old at that time and were in no state of mind, maturity or life standing to get involved in a serious relationship, let alone a marriage. Nonetheless, we went ahead with it and got married on 24 November 2012.
Both of us came into our marriage with quite a bit of baggage.
Personally, I brought in idealistic expectations such as how a husband or wife should be, or where my social and economic standing should be.
These ideals would eventually break me and our marriage down because reality never seemed to meet my expectations.
At the same time, I was also navigating through my mental health. I decided to see a psychiatrist two years into our marriage, who then diagnosed me with bipolar disorder 2 (BP2).
Bipolar disorder is a mental condition that sees extreme mood fluctuations, between manic and depressive states. BP2, as opposed to BP1, is when you can maintain rationality even through high or low states.
After deciding to get medicated, I lost all my athletic abilities, but it was worth it because I had a stable frame of mind and a more stable emotional state.
I was able to do so many more things and my career sky-rocketed afterwards.
Our marriage then was like two people living two independent lives.
As my economic standing grew, so did my ego and my flamboyant lifestyle.
Melissa, who was working as an editor in a rather unforgiving work environment, decided to resign since my income was enough to sustain us both.
But she fell into a deep depression afterwards, as she struggled to switch from an extremely fast-paced job to being a stay-home mum.
On top of that, I was also being a neglectful husband, preoccupied with my own lifestyle. Our marriage then was like two people living two independent lives.
One day, Melissa reached an extremely depressive state and overdosed on wine. When I found her at home, I called for an ambulance.
That same night, I made the choice that this was the indication I had been waiting for. I was “able” to excuse myself from this marriage, which was what I did.
To me, my marriage died that night and I ended up in another relationship for 6 months.
But in those 6 months, Melissa changed. She had found God.
She prayed, she read the Bible. Melissa had also helped nurse my sister, who was in the hospital, to health and it sort of served as rehab for Melissa too.
Because she grew closer to God, Melissa transformed into a completely different person. She became the most loving, insightful and wisest person I ever knew.
Even in those 6 months, I would come back every two or so weeks to seek counsel from Melissa.
Because of the narcissistic lifestyle I lived, I would even selfishly spew the problems I had with the other girl I was seeing.
God had brought me home to my family, through my wife.
Nevertheless, that was the first time in my life that someone (Melissa) advised me without an agenda.
Though she wanted the marriage to work, she advised me in a way that embraced me and first and foremost considered my heart. She emanated God’s light and love.
Over a period of half a year, I came to see that there was something really divine happening in my relationship with Melissa. I had found God through her.
So even though the other relationship I was in met all the ideals I was looking for, I decided to take a leap of faith and chose to return to my marriage with Melissa.
God had brought me home to my family, through my wife.
That year in 2016, I won battles in my career, marriage and mental health. But I also discovered this new love for Melissa that I never really had before.
It was purer compared to the love I felt before, which was something that was crafted by Hollywood – an idealised version of love I imagined in my head.
Even though 2016 was a major year of victory for me, coming into 2017, I was still in a lifestyle of zero accountability to my wife and family.
It led me to crash my car at 2am on a Tuesday night. Though uninjured, I was in serious trouble with the law.
For the first time, no one could bail me out of this, so I sought God for help. I realised that while I may have found God through Melissa, I never truly sought Him for myself until that night.
I came before God in deep repentance, telling Him that I was sorry and asking Him to please forgive me. Right after that, it felt as if He embraced me and called me His son right there and then.
And thank God – I later received great favour from my case officer who was unbelievably compassionate. Since it was my first offence and seeing my deep remorse, she was very lenient with me.
At some point we just have to be really honest with ourselves and accept that we could very well just be wrong.
Through mercy, I had seen the goodness of God who took me back like the prodigal son.
I decided to surrender everything to Him. That meant putting at His feet certain lifestyles I was very comfortable with, and wrestling with Him over my corrupted worldview and opinions.
I surrendered the way my mind worked. It had to change, as it had been shaped and corrupted by the things I had picked up through the years. Only then did I experience true freedom.
I had spent so many years making decisions to be “free”, without ever truly being free. I was always stuck in my own expectations of how my life and marriage should look like.
What did I learn? At some point we just have to be really honest with ourselves and accept that we could very well just be wrong.
So when I found God and surrendered everything to Him, including my wife and children, I found a deep and profound peace.
My marriage was like a building burning up in flames. Everything was charred beyond recognition and people were throwing water on it, trying to save us.
But now it’s a brand new building – it’s a 5-star hotel. That’s what God can do.
Though our marriage may have died on that broken night, it had to in order for us to receive the marriage as God intended it to be.
I learnt that God honours and will fight for our marriage covenants! Because though it was completely hopeless, God redeemed it.
Today, life with Christ is much different.
Our two daughters, Bella and Kyla have grown up to be my great joys. Our home has become warm, and we’ve become surrounded by a fantastic community and supportive family.
We have found true joy in simplicity and being present, enjoying and saturating ourselves in each moment together.
After discovering God for myself, I now know that in any circumstance that I may face, I can still smile and look up at our Lord Jesus Christ and know that everything is going to be alright.
Samuel and Melissa Lim are pastors at Church of Joy, serving in the creative, outreach and young adults ministry. In the circuit breaker, Samuel worked with migrant workers to get meals to them. You can read more about that initiative here.