“Because of Christ, I am secure in who I am today and who I will be forever in Heaven with the Lord. I don’t have to be overwhelmed with depression, anxiety, and worry. God is there to help me with the bad and good. It’s all about His grace.” – Peter Bybel
“I never saw their faces, and I did not go to the police. But what happened to me as a teenager changed the course of my life,” said Peter Bybel. I carried the weight of trauma, pain, and depression for years, not knowing where else to turn but into total despair and self-destruction. It was a hopeless place to be.
“My struggle with depression and anxiety began in the insecurity of my preteen years. All the guys around me were interested in girls and vice versa. I didn’t know how to navigate all that. I had friends at school, but nobody really invited me to do anything on the weekends. I was the nice guy everyone wanted to have around when it was time to study, but I felt left out otherwise.
“I thought having a girlfriend would solve my emotional problems, and of course, it did not. The relationship became physical, which added shame to my struggle with depression. I felt like I was living a double life, carrying on this inappropriate relationship while playing the good kid at school. That only made things worse.
“I opened up to my family about the depression and suicidal thoughts, but I didn’t tell them anything else. They helped me as best as they could, but I looked at this as a taboo struggle. I attempted to take my life a couple of times, but kept that hidden as my depression spiraled downward.
“The fallout from living a double life continued, and I didn’t think that things could get any worse. I was deeply depressed when I went down to the Riverwalk in San Antonio one night in the later part of my high school years. That evening I was attacked and sexually assaulted by three men. The attack left me physically and mentally devastated. It was like the floor had dropped out from beneath my feet, and I was plunged into the depth of despair.
“From that point on, it was a daily battle for survival. I saw scores of doctors, counselors, and therapists to help with the deep depression and anxiety. I tried everything you can think of to cope with the searing pain – from antipsychotic drugs, to partying, to relationships with women. That part of my life is just a blur.
“By God’s grace, I connected with a girl named Devin, and she was kind to me. Every time I thanked her, she would say, ‘Don’t thank me. Any good you see in me is because Jesus changed my heart.’ I’d been in and out of church, but nobody had ever talked about Jesus being involved in their daily life. The idea that Christ was interested in helping me with the big and small things seemed foreign to me.
“I continued in this destructive cycle, and my world grew darker and darker. One night, I experienced hallucinations that were completely overwhelming. Devin was there to care for me, as well as a male Christian friend of hers. When they arrived, I was collapsed on the floor, my body wracked with convulsions. They prayed and read Scripture over me as I lay there. I wouldn’t wish on anyone the kind of pain and suffering I endured that night. But beyond the darkness I had wrestled with for years, Christ was waiting for me. I trusted in Him as my Lord and Savior shortly thereafter.
“When I became a believer and fully embraced the gospel, God’s grace was the answer I’d been looking for. Despair and pain were replaced with purpose, peace, and love. Was I still dealing with side effects from the assault? Yes. But for the first time, God was informing my decisions as I walked toward healing.
“Devin and I got married a couple of years later, and we moved to Dallas to be close to her family and plug in at Watermark. I got involved in Mend, a sexual abuse recovery ministry for men at Watermark, which was so helpful. The Lord used the Mend ministry to show me the value of extending forgiveness to those who assaulted me, even though I didn’t know who they were. That experience gave me a new perspective on Genesis 50:20, because what those men intended for evil, the Lord truly used for good to accomplish His purposes. Now, I’m able to share my testimony openly, so that others may be encouraged by God’s healing power.
“Jesus is so real to me now, and I find great freedom in walking with Him. Because of Christ, I am secure in who I am today and who I will be forever in Heaven with the Lord. I don’t have to be overwhelmed with depression, anxiety, and worry. God is there to help me with the bad and good. It’s all about His grace.”