“Go Home to Your Friends and Tell Them How Much the Lord Has Done for You, and How He Has Had Mercy on You.”
I've decided to be transparent about my personal growth. Particularly in my faith, but also several other areas of my life. And hopefully this will help you in some way, shape or form.
Rewind with me to 2012.. 5 years ago. I had gone through several things at this point, some bigger than others.. some I made bigger than they should have been. But nonetheless, if you would have asked me about these things 5 years ago, I would have only been able to identify as a victim. I was ignorant to the fact that my choices, decisions, and responses had a huge impact on all of these things.
For starters, the condition of my heart: I was angry, I was bitter, and I was holding on to every single offense that had come my way.
Then there was my mind, which was my own worst enemy. I was insecure, depressed, and I lived inside of my anxiety. I would stay awake at night, imagining every worst possible scenario that could take place the next day. I was tormenting myself. My mind would race at a million thoughts per second. I convinced myself that every single person in my life hated me. I over analyzed everything, whether it was a short conversation, an eye roll, a sideways glance.. THE SMALLEST THINGS.
Lastly and most importantly, my faith. This one is probably the hardest to admit.. Actually just a few months ago, I argued to my brother that I was never angry at God, and I was insulted that people kept saying things like "I'm so happy for you! I've been praying for you. And I just love to see the woman of God you've become." (As if I weren't a woman of God, or a Christian until recently..)
But the truth is, my actions were in direct opposition to God's will and God's word. I hated authority, all types of authority. I started to rebel.. I started cussing under my breath, and before I knew it, at the top of my lungs. I lashed out at those who were closest to me, in a sad attempt to express how badly I was hurting. I called myself a Christian, all while running as far away as possible from God's loving arms.
The problem was my pride. "I was smart, I was strong, and I could beat this on my own." But despite my strongest battles, I was defeated every day. It was all I could do to keep it together in public, but the moment my head hit the pillow, I crumbled into a thousand pieces, tears streamed down my face, and I shook in fear of what the next day would hold. My fears crept their way into my dreams, I would wake up to the beat of my own heart-pounding as if it were about to explode. Panic attacks, 102 degrees, sweating in fear. I was so afraid that I couldn't catch my breath. I would hyperventilate between sobbing. The things that were going on inside were starting to manifest on the outside.
Sometimes I would pray about these things. But never did I surrender them. I wanted to overcome this on my own. I knew that I could. I battled this for 2 years- 730 DAYS! I tried to fight it on my own. Each day becoming weaker than the last. Eventually I hit my ultimate low, and was sent to a psychiatric hospital for severe depression. I was ready for my life to end. I never had thoughts of taking my own life, but I dreamed of what it would be like to no longer exist. If I could just stop waking up. If somehow it could all just go black.
It took being hospitalized to realize my life wasn't that bad. On a scale of 1 to 10, my pain was now looking like a 1. The people I met, stories I heard were heartbreaking to say the least. The hurt in their eyes, the voids in their lives. It was overwhelming.
It was then that I turned to my faith, not for myself, but to try to offer hope to them. Scripture began to flood my mind as I searched for the words to say. I was reminded of the truth. And it was the truth, that would set me free.---But not instantly.. I was still in battle.
And though I was trying to do good, I was trying to do it on my own. I would not surrender. I wanted to be the one to help these people... But let me ask you, how can something that is broken fix anything? I was stuck in this endless cycle of wanting to do everything on my own. I wouldn't confess that I needed God to take this pain away, that it was a burden much too heavy for me to carry on my own.
I wish that I could tell you that one day I just fully surrendered and gave it all to God. That would be an awesome testimony! But that wasn't the way it happened for me. I was a work in progress.
Once I was released from the hospital and went back to school, things only seemed to get worse. Somehow my stay at the 'psych ward' had swept the entire school. Humiliation was at an all time high. I managed to make it through the rest of the school year. But the following year I was sent to live with my grandma, in Northern, KY and go to school there. A few months passed, and she realized that raising a teenager was more than she could handle at her age. So I moved back home and started back at my old school. Nothing had changed.. and so this time, I decided to send myself back to the 'psych ward' because I honestly thought nothing could be worse than living in that town, and going to that school. I snuck out of my house in the middle of the night, went to the gas station across the street. Pulled on the door for the security camera to come on. And when it did, I sat and waited. When the cop showed up, I told him I was going to kill myself. (which was a lie) And off I went.. to the same hospital.
The first time I was there, I played the system. I went to therapy and did everything I was supposed to do, and was shortly after released. This time I didn't want to go home, so I acted out. I refused to participate. I was incredibly rude and disrespectful. To the point that they called and asked my parents to pick me up just because they didn't want to deal with me. I refused to go home, and asked to be placed in a girls home. When that became an option, my brother sat down and talked to me and assured me that was not somewhere I wanted to be. So I came home.. to the same situation. And it was torture. I moved out of my parents house. I didn't want to be under their authority, or any authority. I bounced around living with different friends. Then I moved to Florida and lived with some family members. And I didn't want to be under their authority either. I felt like no one understood me or even cared about me. I ended up walking the streets in Florida one night, sleeping at a Krispy Kreme, and catching a bus the next day to stay with a different family member. Eventually they grew tired of putting up with me too, so after about 2 months they put me on a bus back to KY. I continued living with friends, and went back to my old school. A few weeks went by, and I was just done. I went to the office and said I was dropping out. The secretary was determined that she would never allow it. After quite the debate, we agreed I would graduate on home-bound. And so I did, all while living with different friends. And honestly it's probably a miracle I even graduated.
School was over. But things didn't just get better there. This whole time what I was really doing was running from my problems. And I wasn't ready to stop. I didn't talk to my parents for months. And when I did it was only because the friend I was staying with was moving, and I had nowhere else to go. So I moved back in with my parents and at this time they were living in Louisville. I went back into a depression, and was consumed by guilt for all the things I had said and put them through. I barely came out of the house or even my room for the next 6 months.
I became so socially awkward I didn't know how to talk to people, and could barely even text. I became silent. And depression consumed me once again. It got to the point where I told myself if I didn't do something about this, I wouldn't make it. So I made myself go out and interact with people. And it was extremely hard to do. I was terrified. I started dating this guy behind my parents back, moved in with him, and got pregnant.
My life was spinning in chaos. I realized I was about to bring a baby into this huge mess that I had created. I had to fix it. So I started going to church. And this is where I started to slowly surrender. I wanted to get my life right with God. I began attending church regularly. I started to tithe. I chose to forgive all the people who had hurt me. And began apologizing to those I had wronged. I gave birth to a beautiful baby boy. A few months later I moved back in with my parents (who now lived in Morganfield.) And I worked on our relationship. I met an amazing man, and we got married. And we now have two beautiful girls together.
I met a man that loved Jesus, with everything that is in him. And he began to treat me like the woman that God has always said that I was. My confidence went from non-existent to something I never knew was possible. I use to wear a pound of makeup a day, because I believed I was hideous. And now I can go out in public without a drop of makeup on, and live confidently. And that is something that only God could do.
I believe that I had to move away in order to allow myself to heal. And now I am back, not in the same exact town that I grew up in, but very, very close. And we visit it several times a week. I know that I am not the person that I was when I left. But that is only because of the redeeming grace of Jesus Christ.
This week I was reminded of the story in Mark 5:1-20. I believe that I was called to do the same thing. To go back to the place that I came from and show others what God has done for me. So here I am.. putting it all out there. And if you wanna talk about it, or maybe something you're going through, I would be so happy to do so.