Dear brothers, sisters and friends,

Before I know it, I have been working at First Light Care for three years. The nature of the work has allowed me to connect with many different life stories. Some of them are unforgettable, so encouraging and caused me to reflect on strengths, suffering and meaning of life.

Indeed, there are many lessons my clients have taught me. So, I plucked up my courage to ask one of my clients for her consent to write and share her life story with you.

We always have a choice

Jodie [not her real name] taught me this lesson with her lived experiences. She was born to a single mother who considered her a burden. She cannot recall any pleasant memories of her childhood. She only remembered being passed around among relatives because no one wanted her. She also can easily recall a scene in which she begged her mother to bring her home. Her mother would always say yes, but it never happened. Later, she learned everyone lied. She did not want to trust anyone.

With such an environment as a backdrop, she hid her vulnerability and became an angry and rebellious child and adolescent. She ended up selling drugs on the street and got caught. She was sent to a juvenile detention centre for 4 years.

Who would have thought this was a turning point in her life? During her time inside, she attended church service every Sunday. She completed her HSC with flying colours. She became a role model and received a certificate of recognition and many supporting letters. Shortly after she was released, she received an offer of her first choice at the University of New South Wales to study a double degree in law and psychology.

When everyone thought it was the beginning of a great life, she withdrew from her course after the first semester, finding it too hard to blend in with other students. She described that everyone else came from a selective high school or a prestigious private school. “I can’t tell them I came out from jail.” She sighed.

Although she decided not to continue her university studies, she did not give up her life. She worked hard, actively planned for her future and saved as much money as possible for her first home deposit.

In my heart, I deeply admire her. Undeniably, her past experiences and her current mental health issues created hiccups but never stopped her from moving forward. Once I asked what kept her going. Without a thought, she said, “I want to be better”. That’s it! No matter what life throws at you, we always have a choice to be better.

I hope that this story that touched and encouraged me can also give you a little inspiration in your life journey. I sincerely thank you for supporting us to lend a listening ear and give a helping hand to people like Jodie so they can keep going when the going gets tough in life.

May the grace of the Lord be with us all!

Cherrie Liu

Registered Psychologist