My name is Tommy Calderwood, and I was introduced to Jesus and the realities of His Kingdom through experiencing a Freedom Fighters event in 2018.
My background is addiction, poor mental health, childhood trauma and low self-esteem. I know most people would agree that all my issues were intertwined and they would be correct. My life was a complete shambles, I had got to a point where I didn’t know who I was, I didn’t know where my values had gone and to be quite frank I hated myself. Now I had addressed the most destructive stuff (my addictions) in my life through attending 12 step recovery meetings and I would say that I had brought myself back to my baseline, how I was supposed to live (in my opinion). But despite this there was still an emptiness inside me which I just figured would stay with me forever, I just always felt there had to be something more to life but didn’t know what.
The things I enjoyed in life at that time were becoming less important and my search for that peace had been purely outward. I had convinced myself that I would fill that hole in the soul with people, meetings and doing stuff (not always good stuff). I could continue putting on this front for around the 3 month mark but I would always end up having a blowout and ruining the progress I had made and instantly regret it.
I decided after completing step 4 which is a process where I had to examine myself that I would start going to church to try and find that higher power everyone was talking about. I attended church for around a year and yes it was good but I still felt that emptiness, I still cried out for that presence in my life. I had never fully accepted God into my life as I was so plagued by self-hatred and low confidence. I never truly believed that God had time for me, or that God had a plan for me, or that he was even interested in me one little bit. I saw all the good stereotypical Christians and thought I could never be anywhere close to that with my background so I might as well just accept being on the side-lines, this was a common theme in my life from a young age and it felt comfortable being there as it took away that fear of being rejected. So basically my first year at church felt like I was a bird who wanted to fly but just stayed in my little nest in my comfortable environment watching the world go by.
I had been told about an event happening at my church which was happening one night, I had zero intentions of attending it as I presumed it would be the usual boring preach and some guy reading out of a book. I know that is pretty bad thinking that but it’s how I felt at the time. However, on my way home that night something in me made me go, like I was literally on the way home and I turned my car around and the next thing I knew I was sitting in the hall waiting for it to start.
This was something I hadn’t seen before, Rachel Gale and Derek Moir (leaders of the Freedom Fighters) spoke openly and honestly about their life with God in it. It wasn’t just out of a book it was someone standing up there spilling their guts which just completely lured me in. I loved it and I remember saying to them afterwards “I want what you’ve got,” I gave my life to God that night and really meant it.
Ever so slightly I started to make changes in my life, I got a new group of friends who were Christians and I finally felt like I belonged. I did have thoughts of running away as I felt vulnerable but I stuck around long enough to realise that this is how I want to live my life. Fast forward two years and I feel like I’m in a position where I can be that person who shares openly to Christians, about real life issues facing Christian men and women. I want to give my all back to Freedom Fighters because without Derek and the team my life would have been ruined, I would still be wandering aimlessly around trying to find a solution to life. Now I have God well and truly planted in my life, it’s just about trimming the leaves from time to time.
I’m starting to write a blog for this website and am excited about the thought of sharing hope with you all as I embark on this new adventure. I hope and pray that this can be a helpful tool for fellow Christians and offer you a bit of humour along the way.