“For a long time, I blamed myself for the crippling depression I couldn’t seem to shake. I thought maybe it was punishment for sin, or maybe I didn’t have enough faith to be healed. Over time, I began to blame God, too.
“I grew up believing that my sin had separated me from God and that it was Jesus’ death on the cross--not anything I did--that made it possible for me to be reconciled to Him. But along the way, I also developed a transactional understanding of God. Deep down, I believed that if I obeyed Him, He would answer my prayers and make me happy.
“When I began struggling with depression as a young teen, I thought it was a test that would eventually pass as long as I stayed faithful. I prayed and read my Bible and still felt empty, heavy, hopeless, and alone. I called it ‘the darkness.’
“I began cutting myself to try to cope with my anxiety and sadness, spiraling into shame and isolation. I had definitely failed the test. I wasn’t worth God’s time. At age fourteen, I tried to kill myself for the first time.
“Everyone at church seemed to have things together, and though I continued attending and put on a good face, in my heart, I withdrew. I looked to everything but God for the salvation I no longer trusted Him to provide. When my boyfriend, Alan, proposed a few months after I turned eighteen, I thought I had found my answer. My unfair expectations stressed our marriage, and I plunged even deeper into my destructive thoughts and habits. Each of my suicide attempts came closer to succeeding. For better or worse, we couldn’t go on like that.
“Still trying to keep up the front and do the right things, we had begun attending Watermark. We met kind people who insisted we attend re:generation, Watermark’s biblical recovery ministry. It was revolutionary to see other Christians talk openly about their struggles. If the person on stage wasn’t too far gone for God, maybe I wasn’t, either.
“I was surprised when the recovery process revealed my deep bitterness toward God. In pretending to be a good Christian, I had even fooled myself. I said God was good and loving, but I felt like He had abandoned and betrayed me. I was forced to make a choice: I could stop pretending that I believed God was good and trustworthy and just kill myself, making sure that it worked this time. Or I could trust Him wholeheartedly, on His terms, and let go of my expectations of how that would look. I took a chance. I chose obedience.
“God nurtured my tiny seed of faith. I started by reading a few chapters of the Bible each day and asking lots of questions. Having grown up in church, I didn’t expect to learn anything new. Yet God began transforming my heart and growing my love for Him by revealing more of Himself. He’s a God of light who has overcome the darkness. I had been missing the point the whole time. God is not a means to an end; He is the end, the ultimate satisfaction of all my longing. It’s not just that God doesn’t owe me anything--it’s that He’s already given me everything.
“Little by little, He showed me how to fix my gaze on Him, trust that He is enough, and be honest about my pain while remembering that it’s temporary. It didn’t happen in one dramatic event; it happened one day at a time and one moment at a time, with lots of missteps that were always met with grace.
“Though I still live with depression, God has blessed me richly with an incredible marriage, four amazing kids, and friends and family who show me His love every day and stick with me when it’s hard. Knowing that God wants more for me than ease and comfort has led me on adventures I wouldn’t have undertaken on my own, like foster parenting and adoption. I had the privilege of helping to adapt the re:generation curriculum for students so that teens who are hurting like I was can be introduced to the principles of biblical recovery early on. Hearing the stories of life change that come from that ministry feels like watching God redeem my past in real-time.
“Sometimes, I still respond to depression sinfully, looking for comfort in things that won’t ever satisfy me. But God’s grace has allowed me to experience many years of freedom from self-harm and to choose trust over despair. His joy is mine, no matter how I feel. This world is not my home. He isn’t done with me yet.”