I am very blessed to be able to grow up in a Christian home, learning about God’s Word and being able to go to church every Sunday with both of my parents. When the pandemic hit, it was hard on me, as I had a tough time verbalizing my feelings about what was going on around me. I was holding in a lot of pain, which resulted in me not always being the kindest to those around me. I would spend time online trying to get away from all the things happening in the world. I came across a video with a song that I enjoyed. It was from an anime (Japanese animated) video that seemed innocent, but I did not realize how much of an impact it would have on my life. Later. when my sister found the movie online we decided to watch it together, as we were curious as to what it was about. This anime movie didn’t seem dark or sinful, so it seemed harmless to us. From that point on, I continued to watch anime movies, but they became increasingly darker. They often had sexual content and swearing, and I slowly became desensitized to those things. This habit kept on getting worse until it eventually got to the point where I could not go a day without watching hours of anime. It numbed the pain of everything else going on in the world around me.
When my parents became concerned with these shows I was watching, they banned me from watching a certain series. My sister and I kept on watching, however, when our father was out of the house. I struggle with guilt over the fact that had I introduced my sister to this realm. This harmful habit went on for almost three years, from the age of 13 until the summer before my 16th birthday. I was constantly so distracted that I began to fall behind on my school work and almost failed two years of school. At that time, I also took up gaming, which took up even more of my time and put me further behind. Shortly before Christmas 2021, I started hearing a voice in my head that told me to stop watching anime. However, it was difficult as I would imagine myself living in the place of the characters, which gave me an emotional high. Even when my parents switched off the devices, I would continue to relive those scenes, which became very distracting for me. Eventually, I knew I had to gain focus in my life and listen to my conscience that warned me to stop watching. Since then, I have not watched another movie or episode.
In April 2022, I learned that a baptism was being planned at our church in June. I had asked my pastor the year before if I could be baptized, but because of the pandemic it had not been possible. I felt like now was a good time to be baptized but realized that I had a lot to learn yet as I struggled to stay victorious, and I felt unsure within. Even though I had given up anime, I was filling that void by playing a game along similar lines. When my parents found out and confiscated my phone with the gaming app on it, I figured out a way around the parental controls, which allowed me to play at any time for as long as I wished. I was not finishing my school work, and I only had a short amount of time to complete it before the end of the school year. I was feeling very discouraged, as I thought I was going to fail 10th grade and would have to redo it. At that time, I sensed a voice saying that I had to give up gaming because it was taking over my life, including my relationship with Jesus. Late one night, after struggling in my soul, God showed me what He wanted from me. I realized that I had been unfaithful to Him and unkind to those around me. I confessed my sins and asked Him to forgive me, and He was gracious to me and did so. Then I had peace to make the decision to be baptized. The next morning when I woke up, I went straight to my phone and deleted the game.
The week before the baptism, Pastor Ryan brought a sermon explaining that even after we are baptized, we will still experience temptation. He also explained how baptism doesn’t wash away our sins but instead symbolizes what Jesus has already done in us when He washed our sins away. After I had entirely deleted the gaming app off my phone, I was able to focus on my school work and completed most of my courses over the summer. When the baptism day came, I went with confidence, but when I told my testimony I started crying because I realized just how merciful God had been to me even though I had disobeyed. I thank God for rescuing me and want to serve Him faithfully.
I would also like to share another experience that happened after that. In the middle of June, our family went on vacation for a week. Since I still had to catch up on my school work, I took it along to complete. However, with all the activities, I didn’t get much of it done. On the drive back, which took several hours, I tried to work on my math, but because of the motion sickness I felt, I couldn’t do it. I sensed God’s Spirit telling me to go ahead and work on my math, but I resisted at first, feeling sure I would get sick. He reaffirmed that I would be okay, so I tried. After about 45 minutes of doing math, I truly felt fine. When I remembered that I had put sea bands on my wrists to help prevent motion sickness, I felt like God was saying, “Take off the sea bands…trust Me.” I remember saying in my head, “If I take these off, I will definitely get sick.” But the reply was, “You’re not going to get sick.” So as long as I was doing my math I felt fine, but if I got distracted and stopped, I began to feel sick. For the 2 ½ hour drive, I didn’t get sick and was able to complete quite a bit of math. I thank God for helping me and keeping me healthy!
These experiences have made me realize that the smallest of things can drag you down into a deep hole. Even if something seems innocent, it can be easy to fall into sin because of our human nature. This made me realize that no matter how hard I try to be a “good” person, I will always lose the battle if I don’t ask Christ to fight for me. I’m thankful that He wants me to have victory and that He has already won it!
Annalise Engelbrecht, Chilliwack (CA)