When Christy as me to be a guest writer on her blog, I was simultaneously excited and terrified. Excited by the opportunity to share my testimony with others but terrified at the thought of putting my testimony into words…and conveying all I wanted to say in a few short paragraphs nonetheless. My testimony is one to which many women my age can relate; but I had no idea how to put it into words. I spent weeks brainstorming about this post but hadn’t written a single word. My story was still just random thoughts floating in my head, waiting for a spark of inspiration that allowed me to piece them all together.
Then, I heard Britt Nicole’s new song “All this Time.” Christy, myself, and another of our friends had a blast on a recent road trip to West Virginia to see Britt Nicole and Brandon Heath in concert! So, I was pumped to hear Britt’s latest single! As I listened to the following verse for the first time, tears rolled down my cheeks:
Ever since that day
it’s been clear to me
that no matter what comes
You will never leave
I know You’re for me
And You’re restoring
Every heartache and failure
every broken dream
You’re the God who sees
The God who rescued me
This is my story
This is my story
I feel no truer words have ever been spoken. And so…this is my story.
Until 8 months ago, I never openly admitted that I suffered from a debilitating depression. I was 27 years old, I had a great job, I was physically healthy, my family was close-by, well, and loving beyond words, I had great friends who cared about me, I was well-educated, and I had dreams of one day being married and having a family. What on earth did I have to be depressed about? But there it was…this constant, empty feeling that kept scratching at my soul telling me that something wasn’t quite right, something was missing.
I often felt like I was born without a particular gene, or that something went wrong when I was developing and that I was just hard-wired to be an unhappy person. Despite the many blessings in my life, I was never happy. Ever. Sadly, I couldn’t recall a time in my life when I felt like things were going my way, according to my plan. Most days, I was miserable. If something didn’t go my way, I felt cheated and like life had let me down yet again. I snapped at people and changed moods at the drop of a hat. I’m surprised I even had friends because I was not fun to be around! My cynicism was my defense mechanism, and I had a pessimistic view toward literally everything.
But most people in my life never knew about any of this. I plastered a smile on my face and played the part of happy, successful, energetic, 20-something that everyone expected me to play. However, inside I was slowly dying. At one point, my depression was so bad that I started skipping work, I began abusing alcohol, often drinking alone, and I often found myself curled up in the fetal position, crying. Sure, medication and therapy helped a little bit. But neither of those things really filled the void inside me.
Because of the stigma surrounding a mental illness, I never wanted to admit that I was suffering from depression. I convinced myself that I just hadn’t found the right things in life that would make me happy. To me, being happy equated to being in a loving relationship with a man. So I spent years trying to find that “perfect guy.” I was tortured by failed relationship after failed relationship. Each time, I feel deeper and deeper into that black hole when a man didn’t live up to my expectations.
It was after the last break-up that I reached out to Christy. I was upset, lonely, and desperately looking for answers about why my relationship ended. Christy and the guy who had just broken up with me were friends and I thought, in a very 7th grade kind of way, that she might be able to provide some answers. Instead, she advised me to look to God, seek Him out, give my heart to Him, let Him heal me and restore me, and let Him take me where He will.
For someone who wasn’t religious, this was certainly not that answer I was looking for. I expected sympathy but instead was encouraged to stop feeling sorry for myself. Christy shared Jeremiah 29:11 with me: “For I know the plans I have for you, says the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”
God was not a part of my life back then, but for some reason this verse stayed with me during the following weeks after talking with Christy. I knew something had to change. I knew I could no longer keep living life the way that I was. If I continued down that abyss, it would surely swallow me up eventually. I had dreams of a happy marriage, children, and a good life. Those things would surely never become a reality if I continued to live in a depressed state. I had to live differently. I had to change.
Christy advised me to seek God, but I admittedly had no idea how to do that. Where did one start? I assumed it started by finding the right church, so at a friend’s suggestion, I started going to North Way Christian Community, in Oakland. I really didn’t know what to expect but I was a little culture-shocked by the worshipping, praising, and clapping. Despite feeling a little uncomfortable, I was impressed by the amount of people my age, the unity among the worshippers, the smiles on everyone’s faces, and how welcome I felt by complete strangers. I went back the next week…and the week after that…and the week after that.
Little by little, God’s grace softened my hardened heart. The words of the songs resonated with me all week, and I began to see God in everything…the sunshine, little things that made me happy, spending time with people I loved. I started talking to God more, praying, expressing thanks for things. I finally recognized that I had been living completely wrong. I had wanted everything exactly when I wanted it and on my terms; it didn’t work like that. God had plans for me, better plans than I could ever have for myself, and He knew the exact perfect moment to unveil them. Only God would heal my spirit, only He could fill the void, only He could give me everything I had always been looking for. I was never going to find it elsewhere; that’s why I had always been disappointed. But after realizing God’s immense love for me, I knew I didn’t need anything else. I was complete and fulfilled simply by accepting His grace and by knowing that I was given the most perfect gift of absolute, unconditional love by Him.
Even though I was completely broken and so imperfect, the Lord embraced me and rescued me, which is why Britt Nicole’s lyrics touched my heart. I once felt like I had no one on my side and that I was a failure because I had so many unfilled dreams. But I feel differently know. I know I have the Lord on my side and he will never leave me or forsake me. He will never disappoint me. He will never lead me astray. Once I stopped trying to control life and instead I threw my hands up to the Lord and said, “Take me. Do what you wish with me. Lead me where You want me. You know best,” I experienced true freedom. I am a child of God! I can do absolutely anything! The Lord has promised great things to me, and I look forward to each day as I see His will unfold more and more.
After accepting Christ into my life, it was like a switch was flipped. My view on absolutely everything has changed. I literally had a change of heart; I’m no longer cynical or pessimistic. A few months ago, I was baptized. I was to make a vow and publically declare that my old life was over, my old ways of thinking were dead. Christy even came to support me! I see each day as a blessing and another chance to give God glory for his infinite wonder. I am happy, fulfilled, positive, hopeful, and oh-so-ever-grateful. To Christy, and to “the God who rescued me.”