Photo by Nicole Tarpoff
Last night at the Bible study I lead, our group of girls sat in a circle and went around calling out wonderful qualities and spiritual gifts we saw in each other. It was a night of laughter and encouragement, and our hearts were full by the end of it. For me, the 20-year-old women told me they were encouraged by my positive and giggly personality and my peaceful presence. My eyes brimmed with tears at their kind words and also at the path I realized God has rescued me from.
Sometimes Christians will talk about what they think their life would’ve looked like had they not given their life to Christ. For me, I am certain I would be dead from suicide. I grew up in a stable Christian family and had a wonderful childhood, but at the time, I did not see it this way. I believed that no one in my family loved me. I felt invisible and unwanted. I was always too much and not enough. The first time I cut myself was in fifth grade and the first time I made myself throw up was in ninth grade. I thought seriously about suicide at different points in fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grade, and again during my sophomore year of college.
I became a Christian in seventh grade, but unfortunately, my struggles continued. I knew Christians were supposed to “struggle” with sin just like everyone else, but I never saw any Christians who really were. Everyone was doing what they were supposed to, and I was dying inside. I didn’t know what was wrong with me, but I didn’t want anyone else to find out, so I kept my fears to myself.
The Lord grew His love in me throughout high school and college and I slowly began giving my whole heart to Him in new ways. But when I lost my grandmother my sophomore year of college, suddenly all the hurt and loneliness I’d struggled with came back. I wanted to die. I was hurt that no one around me was noticing my struggle and, at the same time, I was desperately trying to hide the severity of my depression. I knew Christians weren’t supposed to want to end their life, so I hid my shame.
Breakthrough began when I started telling people—people who loved Jesus more than they loved me. First my roommate, then my mother, then slowly the people around me. God loves to use His people to love us better, and that’s exactly what He did once I stopped hiding.
Sometimes I still feel indifferent to everything, unmotivated, and down, but I don’t need to hide this from anyone, least of all my Father. I am freer than I have ever been. Once God convinced me to let go of my desire that no one would ever know this part of me, I began to see the fruit of not hiding sin and hardships.
The girls in my Bible study know pain, discouragement, grief, and hopelessness, and God uses me to provide the community and empathy that I longed for during those dark times. We are all better together. God has used us to encourage each other and usher in His peace and love.
A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.