#109 God Could and God Did

 Photo by Butch Vernon

I grew up in a home with good parents who loved the Lord. We went regularly to the Primitive Baptist Church, but I never connected. When I was 16, my 14-year-old brother died in a car crash. I felt so guilty and felt that God should have taken me because I had been so disobedient to my parents. Not long after that, I became a coal miner. In 1983, I met my wife. She had a three-year-old daughter whose father was killed when she was two. I loved her as my own daughter and she accepted me as her father. 

I hurt my back in the mines and could no longer go underground. I went into the trucking business. Right before our youngest daughter was born, I was driving the truck and was T-boned by another big truck at an intersection. It was a terrible accident. I was hurt and the other driver was killed. One of the police officers that came to the scene said that I had run a stop sign and I was guilty of manslaughter. But I had stopped at the stop sign and thankfully there was a witness that had seen me stop and said so. 

I was in the trucking business for 20 years, but in 2000 it became clear that we would lose everything because of bankruptcy. We pooled what little resources we had and moved to another city for a fresh start. Because of our credit, we couldn’t rent or buy a home. We were on the verge of being homeless when we found a home that was owner-financed which we could purchase. The owner was such a kind person. This was such a blessing for our family. But the move was hard on my wife and youngest daughter, who was still living at home. My daughter hated her high school, to the point of working extremely hard to graduate a year early. 

She got married her freshman year of college. Then she was rear-ended in a car accident and had back surgery. There were complications and she was in a wheelchair for six months and then had more surgery and more serious complications. Then her husband left her for another woman. She became very depressed and tried to take her own life two times. One night, when my daughter was living by herself, I couldn’t get in touch with her. I felt the Lord urging me to go check on her. Her car was there but she wouldn’t answer her door. I looked in through the window and saw her… I broke down the door and took her to the hospital where they were able to help her.  

Meanwhile, my wife started drinking. She drank every night. I kept thinking that all of this was more than we could bear. But God was at work in our family, and things began to change. My daughter began seeing a therapist. She started going to church and got baptized. My wife and I started going to church with her. My wife checked herself into a recovery program. You could see God working in her life. She continued to go to church and gave her life to Christ. She finished the recovery program and hasn’t had a drink since then. Our oldest daughter and her husband started going to church and were both baptized as well. Our neighbor went to the same church and she would stop by and talk to me when I was outside. She was very encouraging to me about my faith. On September 16, 2012, the sermon spoke to me in a powerful way. That day I gave my life to Christ and was baptized. 

One by one, the members of our family surrendered their lives to Christ. This was the beginning of our new lives and a journey of healing. God healed our daughter’s depression. She went back to college, became a nurse, got married to a Christian man, and now has two children. God healed my wife and gave her the strength to stop drinking. And God delivered me from terrible guilt. For years, I had felt so guilty—guilty about the truck wreck years ago and guilty that I had struggled to provide financially and that led to our moving and the beginning of such hard times for our daughter and my wife. I wanted so badly to “fix” everything, but as hard as I tried, I just couldn’t make things better for anyone in my family. But God could and God did. Years ago, I prayed that God would keep our family together and help us. God answered my prayer. He has been so good to our family. Again and again, I have seen God working in our lives. I am so thankful. 

Praise the Lord; praise God our savior!

For each day he carries us in his arms.

Our God is a God who saves!

Psalm 68:19-20

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.

#90 Lifted Out of Darkness


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

In January of 2016, I was diagnosed with bipolar depression after being admitted to the Behavioral Health Unit at a local hospital for an almost-suicide attempt. After being diagnosed and put on medication, my moods started to level out and I began to feel “okay” again. 

Fast-forward to mid-June of last year: My moods suddenly shifted again, darkness surrounded my mind and heart, and I was having a lot of suicidal thoughts and had even planned my death and had begun to write a few letters that I was going to mail before I killed myself. I didn’t tell anyone that I was struggling again (though I’m sure my mood change might have been obvious to some friends) because I had been doing so well and was ashamed that I had fallen again. 

One day before I had planned to commit suicide, I was texting a friend. Almost out of nowhere, she responds to a text that I sent and says, “Look, I JUST got back from a funeral and I really don’t want to have to go to yours.” I hadn’t even hinted to her (at least I don’t think I did) that I was planning on taking my life the next day; and needless to say, I didn’t. 

Several weeks later, I asked her why she said what she did and her response was that God had told her to say it right then. She doesn’t know it, nor does anyone else for that matter, but her obedience to God in that moment saved my life. God used her words to break through deepest darkness that I had ever found myself trapped in and set me free. It’s clear as day that God placed her in my life for that moment so that He could bring glory to Himself through her obedience to Him and faithfulness to me as a friend. If He hadn’t shown Himself in that moment, I wouldn’t be alive to tell you how high, deep, wide, and strong His love is for us. 

Life has not been easy since then and, admittedly, I’ve still occasionally had suicidal thoughts. Instead of allowing the darkness to consume me, I think back to that moment and remember that there are people here on earth that love me deeply and that I have a Father that loves me immeasurably more than that. Thanks to a friend who showed friendship and obedience to that same Father, that moment, those words, that feeling of the deepest love has made all the difference in my life. 

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.

#81 My Weakness and Shame Brought Into His Strength and Victory


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Since high school, I’ve always known what the Lord was calling me into—ministry, worship, and music. I always knew that His promises for me were big ones. But along the way, I got distracted by pride, greed, jealousy, boys—you name it. I got so distracted that eventually my worth and identity were found in worthless things. 

When I was a freshman in college, my boyfriend, who I thought I would be with forever (go ahead and raise the red flag here) suddenly broke up with me because “God told him to.” Instantly, the lies were accepted in my heart that God wanted me to suffer. That I wasn’t actually worth anything to Him. The Jesus that I used to sing about didn’t actually love me and that He died for me out of obligation. That nobody would ever love me and that I was alone. My own desire to be separated from God and the pain I thought He was causing, led me into self-deprecating thoughts and actions. I began hurting myself and concocting ways that I could possibly end my life, and I began to hear voices in my heart that encouraged me to do so. 

A professor at the college I attended, by what I believe to be divine inspiration, started noticing me. I was making sure that I was covering up my pain both physically and emotionally, but still, she saw me. She gave me words of encouragement about how she has dealt with depression. To not give up on God. That there was hope. It was like water to my arid heart. Through her words, some particular wounds began to heal and I was at least able to pray again and allow Him to replace some lies with His truth. But still there were other lies that were deeply rooted in my heart about His affection toward me. 

Fast forward eight years, and I thought that particular part of my life had been healed. I was pretty much satisfied with the way things were going. I had gotten married to a wonderful man, been actively involved in my church in Lexington, and was going through an intense interview process to be on staff at that church. The morning of my second interview, I looked at myself in the mirror and the Holy Spirit said to me, “They’re going to ask you about your past and you’re going to tell them about your freshman year.” Instantly, tears were streaming down my face with the desire to keep that part hidden. I didn’t want to admit how much I had been deceived into thinking the thoughts that I did. I had never shared this part of my life with anybody and now I would share it with people that I was trying really hard to impress. 

I wanted to appear to be the perfect candidate, but through faith, I obeyed. I cried through the whole thing and it was still painful and felt shameful. So later that night I went out for a drive and I just cried out to God and said, “I still feel so ashamed!” and His voice pierced my heart with a choice. He said, “You don’t have to be ashamed.” He showed me that what I thought were my weaknesses and losses could be brought into His strength and victory if I would let Him—that my worship could be more powerful coming from a once broken place than a place that’s never known His power and healing. 

And from that place I’ve seen Him do wonderful things. I’ve seen Him cultivate vegetation where it was once dry, dead, and cracked. I’ve seen Him produce fruit! Now when I sing and worship, it comes from that place. Not just by what I’ve heard about my Father, but what I’ve experienced of His love! It’s by His power and His presence that my heart has been made new, and it can sing again! What I used to hate about my past has now become very precious to me, but only because God has done something through it! I’m just so thankful.

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.

#80 Trying To Take God’s Job From Him


Photo by Erin E. Photography

It’s about two in the morning. I’m sound asleep, and my phone rings. Tired and confused, I look at my phone and see that my older brother is calling me. I pick up the phone and he frantically says, “I need you to go check on Dad; I don’t think he’s okay.” So I spring out of bed and run downstairs to find that the door to my dad’s workshop is locked with hard rock music blasting from the inside. I bang on the door, preparing to knock it down, when he opens it and is intoxicated to the point he can’t stand by himself or hold a conversation. I immediately rush my dad to the hospital, where I sit with him for six hours as he cries and begs the doctors to let him die. They were able to save him and kept him for an extra two days to ensure he wouldn’t try it again.

In the wake of this disaster, I was left depressed, confused, filled with anxiety, and unable to sleep—for every time I closed my eyes, all I could hear was my father crying. I tried drowning my problems with food, with counseling, and even with staying so busy I had no time to think. Not even blasting music through my headphones at night helped me to escape. The worst part of all of it is that I couldn’t drive past my parents’ neighborhood, let alone hug my own mother, without having a panic attack. I also blamed myself for all the madness my little brother had to witness, because I was no longer there to shelter him from it.

After months of depression, I started to forget who I was and what my purpose in life was, and I found myself sitting in my car late at night, questioning whether or not anyone would notice if I was gone, and thinking to myself about how easy it would be to simply leave the car on, fall asleep, and never wake up. Instead of deciding to go through with it, I called one of my friends, Keith, who offered to let me stay on his couch for a few days to help me get past it. He helped me to get over my depression and taught me how to rely on God more than I ever thought I could. He taught me how to give my depression over to Him.

But no matter how hard I tried, the anxiety that came from seeing or talking to my parents just wouldn’t go away. I was so torn. I tried giving my parents more and more tries by spending time with them, hopefully convincing them that their drinking was a problem, but they would only get offended and continue drinking. The worst part of it was that I still felt anxious being around them, so I felt guilty for not wanting to help or see them. My other option was to just avoid them entirely and pray for them, but this seemed to only do harm because they would constantly call me to tell me they were angry at me for avoiding them.

For months I went back and forth between these two options, only to discover that neither would work. I eventually had a conversation with my mentor who told me that a lot of my anxiety was coming from the fact that I was not fully trusting in the power of the Gospel to move in my parents’ lives and that I was taking their salvation in my own hands, not realizing that all I can do is preach the Gospel to them when they are willing to listen, knowing that salvation rests in God’s hands. He also told me that I was being the parent, when God is calling me to be the child. I prayed to God, asking for forgiveness for trying to take His job from Him, and I asked Him to take it back. I prayed that God would work a miracle in my family and that He would bring us together again.

I got a call from my dad not too long afterwards, telling me that he and my mother were waking up early every morning to read the Bible together, and that he threw all of the alcohol out of his house to get over his addiction. Finally, I no longer get anxious at the sight or thought of my parents, and I no longer daydream about what it would be like to no longer be alive. God has healed my family and He has healed me.

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.

#78 Just Four Words, “I Love You, Child.”


Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

In 2011, between high school graduation and moving onto campus at a private university in Louisville, I handed my life over to Jesus during one summer week with my church in Florida. And that made all the difference. I’d known a lot about God from a lifetime of Sunday school, but doubted He could be trusted; I had a thing for expecting everyone to harm me if I let them get close enough. So, choosing Christ would be “all things new”—or it would be nothing new. 

That fall, a few months into my newly-surrendered life, my life fell apart. Not that it was perfect before—but disordered eating and self-loathing were old habits and a well-hidden way of daily life. They were my miserable lot, I assumed, for being myself—however long I lasted. As tradition, my 18th birthday in September brought a visit from my grandpa. He understood me. He just did. He was proud of me, and if I close my eyes I can still see his crinkly, smiling blue eyes, and hear him humming “You are my Sunshine.”

But two weeks later, an afternoon brought a missed call and voicemail. I still hate voicemails. A family friend had accidentally called me instead of my dad. The only words I heard were, “David, I’m real sorry to hear about your dad”… Something, something, “sudden.” … Something, something, “if you need anything, let us know.” My world went dark. I remember making frantic calls to my mom and dad, and making a grief-stricken spectacle of myself on campus main. 

Grandpa. A violent stroke and tiny chance. An early morning drive to North Carolina—but no, he was gone already. Like Grandma four years before. Like Poppy two years before. Something broke in me. I lost it. In the weeks that followed, my barely-managed depression took control. Any efforts to keep college friends ceased; my vision blurred; everything happened to me from a mile away, like people tapping on exhibit glass. I was achingly lonely. I was terribly afraid. Nothing could break into my dark cloud; I couldn’t break out. And the enemy ramped up the old accusations, “No one even sees you and life would be better off without you.” I already believed that; the sharp, new grief made me desperate. Yet, just months before I’d stood on the ocean shore and told God I’d give Him my whole life, if He’d have me. The Bible said He would, so I’d begun reading every day and now kept on, fighting to catch a glimpse of Him—in case life with Him could save me. It’s not hyperbole when I tell you I whispered Isaiah 41:10 under my breath wherever I went those days, over and over: “So do not be afraid, for I Am with you. Do not be dismayed, for I Am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My mighty right hand.”

But fear filled me; dismay wracked my body with sobs when I was alone. I fled to my room whenever class let out, barely interacted with roomie and friends, rarely ate but did so alone, beat my body into submission at the gym with music drowning out the people. Alone. Alone. Alone. Better that way. Safer that way. “Help me, God.” Out of control. But I’ll remember this forever, and my life has turned into a shout of “My Abba is trustworthy,” because of this: Yahweh keeps His promises. He is with us and He holds us. 

I was stumbling to a late-semester exam on medical Latin and Greek roots, no thought in my mind but dully flipping my notecards, when I stepped foot onto the crosswalk between buildings, almost to class. Suddenly—no, a car didn’t hit me—a voice tore through the heaviness drowning me. Four words. While the world just mumbled and roared in the distance, the voice split the static like a trumpet blast, calm and matter-of-fact, softly like a wedding vow. Out of the blue; out of the blackness. I can’t say it was audible. No one else was in sight. But I heard it. I stopped. My cards dropped. And tears filled my eyes. I actually saw the sun shining. My fog cleared the tiniest bit. Rescue. Belonging. Hope. Just four words. “I love you, child.” That wasn’t my study material talking. It wasn’t self-talk (goodness knows I used a cruder vocabulary for myself). No, the Father’s voice broke in like the voice of a friend: I knew it, though that was the first time I’d heard it. “I love you, child.” Each one of those words meant a world within itself to me: All that He is. Loving. Me. His child. He saw me; He sees me. He loved me; He loves me. 

That day on the crosswalk, He began a process of healing wounds and growing courage in me that still carries me through daily life. His love changed me utterly, and changes me still. Simply, I found someone I could trust. Profoundly, His faithfulness meant that my old fear-driven patterns of playing small, starving myself, and putting up walls were not for me anymore (even if the process of laying those down is a marathon and sometimes feels impossible). In the following months and years, He kept calling me to leap out in faith and catching me when I jumped with arms outstretched. I transferred to Asbury University at His nudging, stepped into worship ministry in front of crowds, moved to the Dominican Republic for a summer, worked with middle-school kids, learned to be a leader on campus, and made friends who called out the courage in me and fought for me in prayer. The Father did that. I handed Him my life almost six years ago, and I have to laugh in awe and thanksgiving at the difference Jesus makes in a broken soul (and the way He continues to heal me of daily fear, and calls me “whole”). I stand here a new creation—all things are new.

I cried again writing this, feeling the pang of loss again. Pain is real (and we know that even Jesus wept). But these promises are just as real: The Lord is strong enough to hold you up and hold you together. You will not drown in grief or fear or rejection forever. When you receive His grace, the only thing that will last for eternity is His limitless love. And You are loved. Your hope for healing and freedom is well founded in Christ. Joy comes. In this life. I promise. I pray over these words as I scribble them down, that the Spirit weighs them down with mercy so you believe them now if you don’t already: The God who left heaven for earth to love us in person, who died to give us life, who conquered the grave once and for all, and who still scatters all darkness to shine resurrection light on tear-stained faces… He has loved you forever, and will love you forever, and He can be trusted. He does not rip the rug out from under you. He sees you and calls you by a better name than the painful ones seared onto your heart, by others or yourself. He hears you and He is at work bringing about what is good—that you would know Him and live fully in His love. He is right here, closer than breath, ready to speak if you ask Him (and sometimes if you don’t). 

This isn’t fluff. These aren’t platitudes to tide you over. This is reality. You can lean your whole weight on Christ; He will not give way beneath you. You can show Him everything about you; He will not walk away, but run to you. You can kneel at His feet, and hand over everything you have and all you think you are into His hands; He will not dash you to pieces. He will redeem your life from the pit. He will crown you with gladness, remove your despair. He will sing over you. He is who He says He is and does what He says He’ll do. He is good. The Word promises that. And He lives it out. Life is unpredictable and broken sometimes. Jesus is not. His love for you is sure and it is wholehearted. Take my word for it, sure—please do—but take His word for it. He is good. Draw close to Him. He draws close to you. Trust Him. “Lord, I believe; help my unbelief.”

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.

#68 Breaking Chains Of Generational Dysfunction

Photo by Ashely Brown, Shining Light Photography 

When you’re little, you’re usually oblivious to all the things that have happened around you or within your family. You don’t understand why some family members don’t come around on holidays anymore or why family fallouts happen.

Growing up, I felt like I was the mediator for my entire family. I saw the brokenness that was passed down from generation to generation, along with the drug use, anxiety, psychological disorders, OCD, verbal abuse, depression, and mental illnesses that flooded my family tree. Suicide completion and attempts made its way into my family on multiple occasions. I loved my family so much and enjoyed holidays spent together. I hated to see so much selfish conflict separate a powerhouse genealogy such as mine, when I had faith in each of their potential.

After many years of watching hate and true dysfunction divide my family into bitterness, I decided I no longer wanted this awful family curse to have an effect on my life or have the possibility of being passed down to my kids. When you make a bold decision to follow Christ and be the chain-breaker, the devil keeps up and does everything in his might to distract you, knock you off track, and feed you with lies.

From seventh grade to the end of my junior year in high school, I struggled with spiritual warfare. The thing is, I didn’t know it was spiritual warfare. It was hard to fight a battle blinded by Satan’s schemes. It was hard to find joy in my trials and confidently take up my cross daily when I didn’t realize I was being attacked by the devil; I thought that all the lies flooding my mind were genetic and I was just a depressed member of the family like everyone else. I fought loneliness, self-worth, and had an identity crisis. It was true that you could be surrounded by people and still feel lonely.

I was bullied in seventh grade, so I felt like a burden to everyone around me. I soon gained interests in things that would only leave me empty and confused. I spent many months hiding things from people because I thought they would think I was a hypocrite and not a true follower of Christ. My life was a sinful cycle of doing certain things to find happiness and then seeking help in the wrong people (who didn’t have my best interests at heart), and then being paranoid that they would let my secrets out and expose my actions. It was exhausting keeping up this persona and realizing that what I thought was “freedom” was actually self-imprisonment that held me in chains and created a life of despair.

My depression got so bad my junior year that I would cry for no reason. I thought, “What is wrong with me? Why am I so crazy? Why can’t all this just stop?” My “hunky dory” personality became altered and I was very short-tempered and unintentional; I hated who I had become. My life changed radically when I hit rock bottom at a NeedToBreathe concert. I was with my friends and my sister, and everyone was having a good time, including myself—and then I had an anxiety attack. I cried in the middle of the concert for reasons I couldn’t explain. I felt dazed and was wondering why an awesome night was being ruined by my craziness. I wanted to go home; I did not want to be there. I wanted the unexplained pain to stop. Redemption abounded when my sister pulled over the car on the way home and prayed over me. She told the devil to flee from me and to stop attacking me so I could live for Christ. She yelled at Satan for all the years of personality and heart deterioration he did in my life.

It wasn’t but maybe a week later and I felt completely fine! I could breathe again. I felt like all my past worries and anxieties and living a counterfeit lifestyle were washed away. I felt restored after just that one prayer. The devil lost his battle with me when he was finally exposed. Even though that time was spent in oceans of manipulation, along with chasing vacant desires, I wouldn’t trade those hardships for anything.

The Lord has promised good to me and He will never steer me the wrong direction. He allowed me to share my testimony with a girl who was battling depression in my small group at church. I prayed over her like my sister did and exposed the devil of his awful attacks. My five-year battle reminds me of Psalm 23 when God left the herd of sheep to go find that single lost one. He didn’t acknowledge my brokenness and leave me there, but picked me up, called me His daughter, and restored my faith. He led me beside still waters and refreshed my soul because He knew I was worthy of redemption. Not only that, but He knew my story would be able to be used for His glory and to have my pain used as a megaphone to announce His faithfulness.

I am not ashamed of what I went through because that’s not who I am. I see my struggles as a place where I was lost, and where God came and found me. It’s not a story of what I’ve done, but about where I was and what HE did for me. It’s been about two years since I struggled with depression and internal mental conflict. I still have problems from time to time—like all humans—but I certainly am not in the darkest of places where I was before. I am now working on two applications to become an R.A. for the resident halls and to become a counselor for a camp in North Carolina so I can love on people and share my testimony with those searching for help. I want to share with them the One who rescued me from the situations I got myself in. His name is Jesus, and He alone can restore and fulfill a rebellious heart that was totally shattered. I truly believe that day by day I am breaking the chains of generational family depression and dysfunction and will use the power of the Holy Spirit to mend my family’s brokenness.

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.

#63 God Is Closer Than Our Breath

 Photo by Ashely Brown, Shining Light Photography

In 2007 I was a college student living in Indiana. For some time I had struggled with seasonal affective disorder. I was in a relationship that didn’t work out and I spiraled into depression. It was a very dark time. I was exhausted, sleeping all the time, failing classes and late to important commitments. I even had suicidal thoughts. I feared that this oppressive darkness might never leave me.

During this time I was invited to a church service where a team from Bethel Church in Redding, CA was visiting my church, leading a healing meeting. I prayed, “God, if it’s Your time to heal me, please do it.” One of the leaders at the church said, “If you need healing, stand up.” I stood up and a woman came to me and prayed over me. She powerfully declared God’s love over me and I felt the love of God shattering through the darkness. It is difficult to describe but it was as if a huge weight had been lifted from me.

The next day I was driving home for Thanksgiving and listening to a message from one of the Bethel leaders. It was a sermon about being a child in God’s kingdom. I felt God’s presence so strongly, as if He had stepped into my car. I started weeping as I felt a tingle on my head and heard God say, “I’m healing you; I’m healing the chemical imbalance in your brain.” I had never experienced God in that way.

That same day I had an appointment with my doctor about changing my depression medication. He changed my medication and I got the new prescription filled. But I truly felt I had been healed of my depression. About a month later, I stopped taking the depression medication and the Lord took me on a journey of inner healing. I began to pursue God more than ever before. I learned that I am not powerless or a victim. I know that Jesus is right there with me when hard times come. Depression is not a part of who I am at all anymore. God has completely delivered me from it.

God is more good and loving than we know, and so willing and ready to show His love. He is not a distant God. He is closer than our breath; He is right next to us.

You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever. Psalm 30:11–12

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.

#59 Resting In His Love, Trusting In His Plans

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

Undesirable, unlovable, worthless, ugly, sinful, never good enough…

What do all these things have in common? They are all LIES that have been whispered in my ear for years by the Devil—lies which I wholeheartedly believed. I’ve grown up knowing in my head that these are all lies and that my Father in heaven adores everything about me—but believing this truth was a totally different story.

I grew up singing along with Veggie Tales, chanting John 3:16, and saying my prayers before bed. I knew that Moses parted the Red Sea, Noah built an ark, Esther saved the Jews, and Joseph had a really awesome coat. Most of my life these were just stories holding no truth or evidence to how powerful, loving, and simply amazing the Lord is.

As I grew up, I was able to put on a mask and be a “Super Christian” by day, and a girl with an empty and broken heart by night. It was almost like I possessed a superpower, knowing exactly what to say in small groups, going to the right church events, posting the most inspirational Bible verses, and knowing all the words to worship songs on Sunday. Nobody knew that behind closed doors there wasn’t a girl with a heart full of joy and laughter, but a girl who was drowning and desperately needed rescuing.

My junior year of high school I started battling with depression and feeling weaker than ever. I would go to school with a smile on my face each day, and come home feeling defeated. Crippling insecurities followed me everywhere I went, a feeling of worthlessness consumed me, and my heart was absolutely empty. I was diagnosed with a mood disorder and prescribed medication, which I thought would surely “fix” me. The medication helped lessen the constant sadness, but the emptiness in my heart remained.

I realized that I needed more. I needed my Father. I came to a breaking point where I knew that no amount of medication could “fix” me and that only my Father could heal, restore, and rescue me from the life I was living. I finally took off my mask and exposed my weaknesses and struggles. It was amazing how freeing it felt to be a woman who was finally living for the Lord. I started to listen in small groups—not just focus on saying the right things, not just memorize words to worship songs but understand them, and not post inspirational Bible verses on Facebook but onto my heart. I needed to learn who I was in the Lord, and fight the lies the enemy had fed me for so long.

The Lord’s presence, guidance, and love became so evident in my life as I continually pursued a relationship with Him. I am now a senior at the University of Kentucky, and looking back at both the trials and victories I’ve faced, I see how God has always been by my side. I’ve gone through really low valleys and high mountains, but I know that I was never alone, and that the Lord has always been fighting for me. He knows my every thought and intention, and sees all my failures and sins, but loves me unconditionally. His love has healed me, given me comfort, strength, and peace.

I had let my problems and fears hold me back from glorifying Him and being the light that I was created to be for so long. I am now able to rest in His love, trust in His plans, and glorify Him in all that I do. My prayer is that through every season of your life that you passionately pursue the Lord and stand strong in your faith. You are saved, adored, and loved beyond measure.

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.

#52 You Have Never Been Alone

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

When I was 15 I fell into a relationship. Being so young, I never expected that what was about to happen over a span of three months would completely change who I thought I was. As the relationship fell into unhealthy patterns and abusive ways, I unknowingly went into a quiet and dangerous submission. I was pushed and pressured, and eventually my body was completely exploited. At the end of three months, he decided he was done.

I never spoke about what happened, and I let the shame and guilt of what we had done lay silent. I quickly accepted the lies that I could never be pure again, which caused a very deep chasm of depression and loneliness. I was overflowing with hate for myself, and as high school went on, I figured I had already done the “biggest” sin, so why does it matter what I do now? I turned to drinking, hating my family, and receiving “love.” I don’t think words will ever suffice for the drowning feeling of shame I felt.

My junior year of high school I went to a Young Life camp, and there God started to tell me the simple, clear fact that I have never been alone. I was never alone in his basement; I was never alone in the brutal fights that went on in my house; I was never alone when I was too drunk to see or when I felt like I was dying of hunger pains from not eating. His words, “You have never been alone” have carried me through the years and I am constantly reminded that I will, forever, never be alone.

In the spring of my freshman year of college, I had been on depression medicine for a year and decided to switch because of insomnia. The weaning process was one of the worst experiences of my life, but because of it I was debating if I had enough energy to go on a campus ministry spring break trip. I thought going home and watching TV for a week would cure my anxious mind and unsteady thoughts, but for some reason, I decided to take the 16-hour bus ride. I was immersed in love from people who told me truths about myself, and after a friend prayed over my depression and my brain, I played with the thought of not going back on medicine. Ever since sitting on the hard floor crying with her, I have been free and at peace for seven months.

I finally know what peace is. God has done incredible and amazing things through a girl who was too afraid to speak because of shame and guilt. But now I am free and am waiting for what my God will do through a girl who is no longer silent—who knows what true peace and love is. I have awakened, and I have a voice because of Him.

Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Matthew 6:26-27

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.

#19. Showing Me His Heart

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

 My freshman year of college I was depressed and hopeless. It wasn’t like me. I used to chase after what I thought was Jesus and I used to be happy. But my life had changed and I was defined by drinking, smoking, and filling my life with lies and “friends” who were actually just people that were just as depressed and hopeless as me. I would do whatever it took to feel like I was having fun. I replaced joy with temporary pleasure.

Halfway through the year I decided that I wasn’t going to continue living this way, so I decided to sign up for a summer camp. I wanted to go on staff and be a counselor. I mean, I liked kids and I would probably meet some cool people, so why the heck not? Not to mention, I would be getting paid.

The rest of the school year went on and I had Jesus on the back burner. It’s difficult to stop living life in a pattern that you’ve created for yourself. Finally, summer arrived and I was going to camp. To make an extremely detailed story short, Jesus wrecked me. Through leadership, community, and unconditional love, Jesus showed me what life should look like through Him. Leading kids at camp challenged me and put me in situations where I had nothing to rely on except for Jesus and His wisdom. The community at this camp was so uplifting. The friends I made, especially toward the end of the summer, helped to set a foundation for myself going into the school year. I remember praying at the end of camp, asking God to provide me the same kind of community when I got back to school. All I could think about was how horrible the year before was. I had no idea what Jesus was going to do. I came back from camp, got involved in one of the most amazing college ministries in the United States, and never looked back. Jesus has outdone what I asked Him to do, and has provided me with something so precious. I have an endless amount of friends and people constantly pouring into me. I even have the opportunity to pour into others and lead like I did at camp. Jesus can do so much once you make the decision to seek Him and give up everything else for His heart.

I’m learning and growing more and more every day. Each phase of life I go through is showing me more and more about His heart. I can’t wait to see where my faith will be and where the faith of everyone around me will be in the next six months. I know Jesus is doing radical things in this community.

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.