“When I didn’t have the strength to hide my pain any longer, I cried out to the Lord for help. This was the first time I had ever opened my heart and asked the Lord not only to be my Savior, but also to allow Him to take full control of my life.”
“I thought my issues with anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) were punishments from the Lord. I thought I was suffering because God was mad at me. I certainly did not know that the Lord had the gifts of peace and hope waiting for me, even in the midst of my struggles. It took many years for me to see that I was not alone.
“I grew up in Cary, Illinois, a small town northwest of Chicago. I went to church a lot as a kid, but I didn’t see the gospel lived out around me. My struggle with anxiety began when I was young. I was afraid of germs, excessively washing my hands after I touched anything. I needed things like my toys or food placed in a specific order, and I was unable to break out of my routine without immense anxiety. If anything felt ‘wrong’ I flew into a panic. By mid-elementary age, a counselor gave me the OCD diagnosis.
“My parents divorced when I was in middle school, and my two older siblings and I moved to Frisco with my mom. Adjusting to an unfamiliar place, my life felt chaotic, and my OCD spiraled out of control. I had panic attacks daily and struggled with suicidal thoughts. I tried to disguise my pain by exerting control over my environment. It was a dark and hard time, and I questioned why the Lord would not heal me or change me overnight, as I prayed He would.
“When I didn’t have the strength to hide my pain any longer, I cried out to the Lord for help. This was the first time I had ever opened my heart and asked the Lord not only to be my Savior, but also to allow Him to take full control of my life. I didn’t understand everything about OCD, but I knew that the Bible said God was good and could protect me. So, I decided to live in the truth of what the Bible said and allow the Lord to work.
“The other thing I loved about the Lord was that I did not need to be perfect or clean myself up in order to come to Jesus. While I was a sinner, Christ came to die for me on a cross, and in Him I was a new creation! I started to explore the gospel deeply and grew in my understanding of confession and repentance. As I continued to bring my sins and struggles into the light, I finally felt free!
“After a couple of years in junior college, I went to University of North Carolina. My walk with the Lord deepened as I learned more about the truth of God’s Word. After I graduated from college, I wanted to take that knowledge deeper, so I applied for the Watermark Residency, a year-long, hands-on discipleship opportunity for people considering vocational ministry. To my surprise, I was accepted, and I spent last year in the Watermark Residency, learning about the Bible in-depth.
“To spend a year learning how the Old and New Testaments all flow together to tell the story of God’s rescue and redemption of His people was transformational for me. I learned to study Scripture in the context in which it was written, and I discovered more about cultivating an abiding relationship with the Lord every day. God gave me a group of friends who loved and supported me as I grew. They showed me what it was like to succeed, not in the earthly sense, but in knowing and loving the Lord more deeply and sharing His love with others.
“I have always had a passion for caring for people who have experienced the same struggles that I have gone through. My goal after the Residency was to work in recovery for students and young adults. So, it was exciting to learn that Watermark was launching RE:GENERATION for Students, recovery for kids 6th – 12th grade. I’m serving as a leader in that ministry this year and am so grateful that I have the opportunity to tell students that they are loved and pursued not just by people in our ministry, but even more so by the Lord.
“If a ministry like RE:GENERATION for Students had been around when I was younger, perhaps I would have found a place to articulate how much pain and loneliness I was experiencing. As RE:GENERATION for Students launches this fall, I’m excited to help provide a place where students can be authentic and allow Jesus to address their struggles and hard questions.
“When I was suffering, it was easy to allow the thoughts in my head to take me to some really dark places. Now that I have biblical community around me, I have a place where I can talk about these things, be pointed to Scripture, and be held accountable to devote myself to Jesus daily. Isolation is the playground of the Enemy, and I’m thankful that the Lord used His Word, biblical recovery, and friendship with other believers to help me find freedom. He has given me a peace I will never understand, in spite of my difficult circumstances. He wanted the fullness of Christ for me all along!”