Years ago, I was struggling with anxiety and depression. I was empty. I was broken. I was a mess. Things got so bad that I almost couldn’t get through a day at work without having a panic attack. After figuring out that I was suffering from a combination of post-traumatic stress and postpartum depression. I went through several years of counseling with a wonderful Christian counselor and later ended up making some serious changes. Looking back on it, I can see the Lord’s footsteps very clearly. I know now that He was carrying me until I was able to walk again. Here’s what happened:
I had been in a downward spiral when I met my now ex-husband. Years of depression, frustration and anger over things I couldn’t control had taken a toll on me. In my early twenties, I was raped by a close friend who turned out to be a pretty terrible person. At that point in time, I was feeling so defeated that it seemed like all I could do was make things worse with self-destructive behaviors and an unwillingness to trust God to make things right.
In spite of my lack of obedience and my failure to turn back to Him, God blessed me with a marriage and a child that I love very dearly. He gave me many opportunities for success, but I was too caught up in counting curses to ever look at the blessings He was sending my way. Of course, I was quick to assign fault to Him. “Why did you let this happen, God?” or “How could you put me through this?” were thoughts that went through my mind more than once or twice back then. But, as He always is, He was patient with me.
When I finally made the decision to go back to church, it unfortunately coincided with my decision to leave my husband and to embark on a new life; one centered on God. We had been so focused on ourselves and what we could get or what we could do that we hadn’t attributed any of it to God and it showed in the fruit of our lives together. I had miscarried once before my daughter was born, but after that, I went through four more miscarriages before I finally started to see what was going on. God wasn’t punishing me, as I had previously been so quick to believe. He was protecting me and He was protecting my daughter.
I hadn’t realized that my fixation on trying to be perfect for my husband and trying to do things to make up for what I perceived to be insurmountable shortcomings had kept me from focusing on the One who loved me in spite of all the things I saw as my fatal flaws. And that realization didn’t happen immediately after I divorced my husband either, so please don’t take what I’m saying as justification to divorce without first understanding the root of your marital struggles. I’ve learned the hard way that not knowing who you are in Christ also keeps you from knowing who you are for everyone in your life. And if we can’t love the One who created us, we can’t love anyone. We can only throw words around and go through the motions of an Oscar-worthy portrayal of what love is supposed to look like through the eyes of our flesh.
The picture above is of a card that I used to carry with me when I started having the daily panic attacks. I wasn’t even in church then and I had no real idea of who God was, I only knew what I’d heard from other people who obviously hadn’t understood who He was either. When I would start to panic, I would focus on this card and read the words over and over until I could get my breathing under control. Until the palpitations subsided and I could open my eyes again. I feared for my life and there were so many days when I wasn’t sure if I would be able to make it to the next morning. Praise God for the healing work He did in me. He has made me new. And like the prophet, Jeremiah said, “…his word is in my heart like a fire…” (Jer.20:9 NIV).
I can’t imagine not telling you the wonders that God has done for me since that very dark time in my life. A period that spanned the better part of twenty years; a time that took me through trials that I would never have expected to face. I cannot explain what God did in the days that followed my divorce. It has been four years now and I’ve gone from barely trusting that He loved me to barely believing that I ever thought He didn’t. He is an awesome God. An amazing Father. A wonderful and triumphant Creator. He is the all-knowing, all-seeing, ever-present hope of man. He is my Strong Tower, my Savior, my Redeemer and the Higher Ground I will seek all the days of my life. If you haven’t gotten to know Him, please hear me when I say it is never too late. He’s always listening for the call of one of His children. And He has a strong desire to rescue those who have lost their way. Don’t ever think that He doesn’t have a purpose or plan for you. No matter what has happened in your life, it all works together for your good and His glory.
But if I say, “I will not mention his word or speak anymore in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot.
~Jeremiah 20:9 NIV~
If you have had a similar experience, or any experience that has helped you to grow in your own relationship with God, I encourage you to share it here. We grow stronger through the words of our testimony. Please, feel free to post your testimony in the comments. I’d love to hear them! God bless!