I could give you my whole life story, my long testimony about how I came to Jesus and how He snatched me from the pits of Hell and surrounded me with love and comfort. But that would most likely bore you to death with the facts of how I was before, so I'll just share the highlights. I'm going to get real with you, because you deserve it. Ready for it? Here it is: I still doubt God's love for me.
That's it. Luckily, I have enough faith to hold me by a thread from completely falling away from Him. I go through stages where God seems so genuine, so loving, like He's sitting right next to me with his protecting arm around me and whispering His promises for my life. But at times, He is just a character in a book that people keep shoving down my throat. Satan really knows my weak spots, and he does NOT give up without a hard fight.
As a Christian, I know that God is holding me, telling me everything is going to be all right, telling me that every horrible thing I've been through is part of His awesome plan for my life. As a teenager, I think I know better. As a kid, I feel like "If God really loved me then... blah blah blah." But as a human, I'm just confused. And those last three, are where Satan chooses to ambush. Those, are his pathways to leading you away from your Father.
I struggled with depression after my life started it's turning point from "happy family, what could go wrong?" to "broken family with a moody teenager, when does life end?" I became suicidal, I wanted to die. I remember telling God one time, "If You love me then let me come home!" I was tired of life, life was tired of me. That was years ago, and I'm still in the healing and recovery process. There are a few crucial points that I've realized and learned over those years:
When it seems like God's saying, "No," He's actually saying, "I can do better." When I prayed to God to take my life, He said, "I can do better," and He brought my counselor to me. He made me enjoy life again. My best friend prayed that the guy she liked was the one. God said, "I can do better," and now she's dating a wonderful Christian guy who treats her like a Princess. As stubborn humans, we always think we know everything. We think we know what's best for us, what will really make us happy, and what's fair. Newsflash: WE DON'T. Truth is, if God gave us everything we asked for this world would be total disaster (well... even more than it is now.) Think about it this way: When you were little you wanted to see what was on top of the stove. But you were too short so you couldn't unless you could reach up and grab whatever was up there. But your parents told you not to. Why? Because they knew something you didn't. They knew that if they let you reach up for what you wanted, you'd only get burnt in the end. God knows what we don't. He Sees what we can’t. He knows that if He gives us everything we ask for, we'll only be hurt by some of it. Read Ephesians 3:20-21.
Everything that happens fits into God's amazing plan. A bible verse that really got me through the worst stage of depression was Jeremiah 29:11 which says, " 'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord. 'Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.' " God takes every "bad" thing in your life and uses it for good. Proof? Wanting my life to end (bad) --> experienced enough to help others who feel the same way (good). I've had friends who were so worn down, like me, that they could barely force themselves out of bed every morning to take on the day. But God used my experience and made me an excellent listener and now they come to me whenever they need to vent or need some verses from the bible to pull them through. Everything is used later.
"This too shall pass." No matter what you're going through, it doesn't last forever. Did a family member die recently? Your mourning will turn to content and even happiness as you slowly come to realize that they are in Heaven. Did your boyfriend break up with you? Those feelings will move on as life does, and you'll meet whoever God has in store for you. Does life just generally suck and you don't know why? It gets better. That's just something you have to trust God with. That's something that pulled me through too, the faith that life gets better. Read Ecclesiastes 3:1-8 which expresses that there is a time for everything.
"What doesn't kill you makes you stronger." Even though my life was horrible a few years ago, I wouldn't give my experiences back for anything. They made me who I am. They're the reason why it's so easy for my friends to talk to me when they're hurting: I understand them. They showed me and proved to me God's existence. And best of all, they allowed me to feel His presence. Philippians 4:13 says, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.”
So what's the bottom line? Through everything that you may experience, I can promise you that if you look to God, pray for strength, and trust that you will make it through with His help, you will. And not only will you just make it through, but you'll come out with some valuable lessons, stronger relationships, and you will be one step closer to truly understanding God's love for you.
Did you know that, every morning, Lea listens to 'Life is a Highway' by Rascal Flatts?!
Photograph property of Lilies Among Thorns Magazine. Photograph taken by Alyssa Dannettel.