Today I will be chatting about a topic that I’ve been wanting to speak up about for a LoNG time.
I’ve just struggled with how to word it and how to share my story with transparency without worrying about what “other people” will think.
Then I found some “other people” who had shared similar stories, and their stories encouraged me – they made me feel less like an outcast, more accepted.
And I knew that it was time.
If I can be the voice that encourages just one person and makes them feel less alone in their struggle or story, I need to step into those shoes. No question about it.
People who share my story need to know that they’re not alone. They need to know that there is hope and healing and that their struggle doesn’t have to last forever.
I am not going to worry about it anymore. I realised that I have been living with a victim mindset. But I am not the hostage of my past. I refuse to let my story hold me down and quieten me. I refuse to live in fear.
** Trigger warning: Discussion on depression and self-harm **
If you’ve ever met me in real life, and if I was wearing short sleeves, you might’ve noticed my scars. I met Alex (my husband) on a sunny May day and apparently it was one of the first things he noticed about me.
But I never used to talk about them. I’ve never had a conversation about them with anyone, except for Alex. He knows it all. The bad and the ugly.
Ten or so years ago I had depression coupled with anxiety, panic attacks and self-harm.
It was the worst thing I’ve ever gone through. I had no clue how to deal with a darkness so strong and powerful that I thought it might swallow me alive.
It suffocated me. Held me back from reaching out. Quieted my voice. Led me into isolation and whispered disgusting lies to me. Every day, 24/7. I was a wreck.
I thought about ending it many times. But I couldn’t deal with the guilt of leaving people behind.
I was not a Christian at the time, but I used to pray about having an accident that would end things for me.
Now I believe God had other plans for me. It certainly wasn't a straight path but eventually, He lead me out of the darkness and into His loving embrace.
Never had I felt so whole. Never had I felt so loved. Never had I felt so fully accepted. Welcomed. Healed. Restored.
Again, it was NOT a straight path. My first ever boyfriend was a Christian guy and I had at one point promised myself I’d never become “one of them”.
But even as I was starting to overcome my addiction to self-harm and move away from my old ways of thinking, an emptiness remained. And it. Would. Not. Go.
I tried everything. Meditation. Mindfulness. Yoga. Eating healthier. Sleeping more. I read self-improvement books as if my life depended on it. But that flipping emptiness remained.
And then I felt a pull on my heart. A gentle whisper in my soul, beckoning me towards the church, towards Jesus and finding out who this dude really was.
I arranged to meet a woman from a local-ish small and sort of sweet little church. I went there with every intention of leaving, having once and for all disproven Christianity to myself. Finally knowing that I was right and the Christian people were all nutters.
I ended up signing up for an alpha course. Go figure!! And then, just a few short weeks later, I gave my life to Jesus and was baptised on a stage in front of hundreds of people.
My life has never been the same. The work that God has done in me, through me and for me has been the most amazing and unbelievable thing to witness.
I live every day in awe and gratefulness for who He is and His reckless, relentless love for me.
And recently, I got myself a tattoo to remind myself of His love, His sacrifice, and what it all means for me.
It was the final word that escaped Jesus’s lips before he took his last breath on the cross.
Translated, it means “It is finished”. It is arguably the most powerful word He ever spoke. It’s the word that tells us, “Stop.”
Stop the constant worrying, the guilt, and the shame. It is a word of hope, of reconciliation, of love beyond measure. That He would give up His own life for us.
Here are some lyrics from one of my favourite songs (video below);
“There's no shadow You won't light up
Mountain You won't climb up
Coming after me
There's no wall You won't kick down
Lie You won't tear down
Coming after me
Oh, the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God
Oh, it chases me down, fights 'til I'm found, leaves the ninety-nine
And I couldn't earn it, I don't deserve it, still, You give Yourself away”
And with that, I just want to say that if you are a person who is struggling or has struggled with similar things, you are not alone.
You are not any less valuable than any other person who hasn’t gone through anything like this.
You are important. You are loved. You matter. Your life has a purpose and your story needs to be told.
So go tell it.
If you feel like there is no one who will want to listen, I volunteer!
I would love for you to reach out to me and connect. Let’s talk about life together. And if you would like me to pray for you, again, a simple email is the easiest way to get in touch with me. The best email to use is firstname.lastname@example.org.
To wrap things up, I want to challenge anyone who read this blog post or listened to my podcast today – reach out to someone you’ve not spoken with in a while. Make sure the people in your life feel loved and valued and important. You never know the impact it can have :-)
Until next time!