As I just came out of our prayer centered worship night, my heart cried out. These feelings will soon fade by the time this article actually posts, but I feel like I need to reflect on it. I cried for the first time, not about my lacking of faith, school, boys, or friendships, but the darkest parts of me that I try so hard to hide. Those demons that I have fought long to, fight off, but sometimes they come creeping back. I reflect on the past week and the news of suicide that destroyed my small town. This is something that occurs daily, but when you can actually put a personal relationship to the name it changes things. I think of all the times the Lord pulled me from some dark places and how easily not so long ago those headlines could've been about me. I came from a really good home and to the outside view the smiles would hide everything. Just like everyone claims such a joyous person I had no idea, but they do not know all the darkness that clouds their head. I can't begin to say when someone is struggling that I know what they are going through because every road of depression is different, but I can assure that we are not alone.
Looking back now, I think about some of my lowest points. One of my firsts would be in middle school. I was still at that age where I was trying so hard to be accepted and popular. I was miserable since I was conforming to what I thought people wanted me to be which came off as so fake and only hurt myself more. I remember I had become friends with a girl in gym class that I probably shouldn't have been, but it was so cool to feel "popular" around her. In the 7th grade, she would talk about all the boys she wanted to have sex with and I remember trying not to let my jaw drop every time she talked about it. To me even holding a guy's hand would've been too much for me at that age. Well, turned out she used me. I don't know the full story to this day, but somehow she was claiming I was pregnant. Her mom for some reason believed it and while subbing at my mom's school was talking about a Hope in the 7th grade that was pregnant. My mom connected the dots real quick, but her being the helicopter parent, she knew that wasn't true. Boys didn't even recognize me, let alone was I allowed to go anywhere without my mom doing personal investigating. This was my first taste of the bitterness of this world. I was so naive when my mom told me about it, I thought she was accusing me of making up the rumor about the girl not that it was about me. If things couldn't get worse, her mom tried to go to get people in my band class to spread it and I watched her attempt it. I remember every time I saw her mom subbing, I'd have anxiety attacks and felt so broken that a grown adult would think such awful things about me.
After that struggle, it only caused me to try harder to find real friends because I feel like at that age, you go through friends faster than you do milk. I had a few that I was so blessed who stuck around to be real, but at the time in 8th grade everyone I had surrounded myself with found me annoying and talked crap about me behind my back. Yet again, worthless the demon in my head would tell me like you're such a loser, no one wants to be friends with you. Everyone is just nice to you because they had to be and I believed it. One of the closest people I had in my life at that time was my great grandma. I felt like she was the only one who really cared. Then when she passed away that Thanksgiving, I struggled with more depression. I did a great job at acting to everyone I was okay and only telling them bits of my heart, but inside I struggled with understanding my purpose.
I know Middle School is rough for everyone and the little joy in me encouraged me to keep pushing on. Then Freshman year I invited a darkness in my life that made the demons spiral out of control. Letting someone tell me I was worthless, to go kill myself, and that I dressed like a slut. How could you "love someone", but think saying those things were okay. I remember so many times that year I thought this world would be better off without me and held a knife to my arm I don't know how many times. Luckily, my parents saw the warning signs and fought for me. This time in my life caused one of the biggest divides in my relationship with everyone it was only because they cared, but I saw it as their way of not caring. This darkness lingered for a long time because even when I tried to cut this person out of my life they did not leave for over a year and I did not know how to have the courage to say it wasn't okay.
These are just three of the times I look back on and I could've easily said enough is enough. I could've easily forgotten that time in my life is only a season and I would eventually overcome it. I would get out of those walls of bullies, I would leave a town that was sucking me dry at times, I would realize things of the World were lacking, and I would eventually learn to appreciate the beauty of my hometown. Those voices in my head would soon be hushed by being surrounded by people who fight for me daily. These times in my life are not something I'm proud of, but I look back on it and thank God for saving me. That even when I did not see my purpose the Lord knew my potential. Life is not easy and I know I was better off than some others', but that does not mean my story wasn't a struggle at times.Luckily the Lord knew that I was going to have an everlasting impact on this World. I just keep repeating in my head....12,16 and etc. year old me would've missed out on so much.
I cried last Tuesday night surrounded by a body of believers who I know would do anything for me. That the friendships I was lacking in times I have overwhelming been blessed with more than I could've ever imagined. I spend every day loving on my friends and not having surface level friendships with people. Saying you care isn't good enough, but how you act on it that's what matters. Don't just ask people how they are doing, but dig deeper than that because people deserve it. Just because someone is good one day doesn't mean the next they are not falling apart linked to school, family, or relationships. I don't know where I would be today without the people God brought into my life who ask me the why instead of just the how. Even when we struggle the Lord's word reminds to keep going Psalm 119:81-88 :
"My soul longs for your salvation;I hope in your word. My eyes long for your promise;I ask, “When will you comfort me?”For I have become like a wineskin in the smoke,yet I have not forgotten your statutes.How long must your servant endure?When will you judge those who persecute me?The insolent have dug pitfalls for me;they do not live according to your law.All your commandments are sure;they persecute me with falsehood; help me!They have almost made an end of me on earth,but I have not forsaken your precepts. In your steadfast love give me life,that I may keep the testimonies of your mouth."
In your steadfast love the Lord gives me life and that's all I can rely on. Thank you Lord for not giving up on this World, thank you for not giving up on my hometown, thank you Lord for not giving up on my friends, and most importantly thank you for not giving up on me.