"I feel like life offers me 75% of each thing I fight for, but never 100% - like I work hard or ask for something and I end up receiving it, but never in full. Always with a catch or not completely what I was hoping or dreaming for. Does that make sense? Do you ever feel like that?," I asked my mom, standing outside of my brother's school.
"Yes. Often. Perhaps there's a lesson in grace both you and I are in need of learning." she replied.
Years later I was pondering this conversation with my mom. My mother had struggled with depression at times and she would share about it with me. I think we assume mothers have it all together and forget they are very human, just like the rest of us. She was my rock, but she was also real. The struggle of lack was very prevalent in my family and looking back I can see this common thread interwoven throughout my history and my family's.
The bible talks about God's plans for us to live abundant lives - so what is going on when we aren't living fully in that abundance, when all we see is lack surrounding us?
5 years ago I was dating a guy who I thought I would marry. My mother thought this, the Christian community I lived in thought this...I even convinced myself God thought this. At the time, I was swimming in a pool of people's opinions, regardless of what the reality of the situation was saying. There were some people who offered warnings but I shrugged them off like they didn't know what they were talking about. I even remember someone had a dream that I was trying to exchange a wedding dress for one with a tear in it. Spiritual warfare, I thought to myself.
Ofcourse, hindsight is 20/20. Looking back, I can see how if I had gotten married to this person, I would have been in an extremely unhappy and unhealthy marriage. He thought I was too silly. I thought he was boring. Perfect combo for marriage, if you ask me. Consequently, when the relationship didn't work out, I was devastated and completely resentful against God. "Why do you give me things only to take them away?" I continued to harbor these feelings and when my mother passed away shortly after, my resentment turned inward and built a root deep in my soul.
Years later I was sitting in my counselor's office when she asked me to describe what was going on inside of me. "I have this intense fear that can only be summed up like having the rug pulled out from under me and falling without realizing what just happened".
This intense fear stuck with me for many years. I tried to push it away, or cover it up with my silly attitude on life, always making sarcastic jokes or celebrating what was going on in other people's lives. Never my own. I dated guys who I knew I didn't even like because this was safe. I was in control. It was easy to part ways with someone I didn't really like.
Around this time I ended up meeting someone who I really liked - my anxiety was quickly on overload. How many of you know that dating can make your mental health swarm in a state of chaos? That's how I felt. I had so much going on inside of me that was unhealthy - so much disappointment, resentment, anger...it was all brewing like a pressure cooker. Then it happened, we broke up. That sent me into panic mode and I remember crying and crying, but not even because of the breakup. I was crying because the feeling I hated was resurfacing - the rug under me had been pulled out. My dreams were once again taken away from me. What I had high hopes for had quickly dissipated.
Shortly after this event, the career I had jumped head first into was also falling apart. My mind was in crisis overload and the person who was good at pretending to have it all together was dismantling.
I remember sitting on the floor of my room, crying because I just didn't know what I believed anymore. I had ripped the pages of my bible and was at a complete loss of hope. It was in that moment of deep despair, of my mind convincing me that God was disappointed with what I had let my life become - it was in that moment I saw a vision that met the deepest points of sorrow in my soul. You see, right before that moment I had realized something. I had become a shell of Kristina. When I looked in the mirror I didn't recognize myself. My silliness was gone. My quick wit was gone. My ability to light up a room was covered up by a dark cloud. I had so much anxiety I couldn't form sentences sometimes because I would be in my head. My social nature had disappeared.
But God showed up, and He did so in a way I needed him to. I saw the eyes of Jesus in a vision and he had tears in his eyes. He was looking at me with a smile that could only be described as when a Father see's his daughter return home after a really long time away. There were no words spoken but the vision was as real as a person standing right in front of me.
People sometimes ask if there was a specific moment when I began to heal from depression and anxiety. This was it. This was the start. There was so much I needed to uncover, so much unresolved pain, unforgiveness, and heartache that this was going to take time and I was finally in the place where all I had to give was my time.
I recently was with a friend who had just come out of a very tumultuous season and was diagnosed with depression. I was talking to her and she was telling me how she sometimes feels so hopeless, alone, and without a purpose. I thought really hard and told her what I honestly believe is true.
"The people who have the most influence in life are the ones who walk through the fire. A lot of people avoid the fire because what type of person willingly goes through it? Crazy people. Crazy people are the only ones who choose to go through the fire. But - they are also the ones the world listens to because they've learned the secret to overcoming fear. They pass on the power."
We started this blog with a desire to share stories of faith without the sugarcoating. We all have them and they are good stories. Book worthy stories. Movie worthy ones. Those are the stories I love to hear. This particular story in my life continues to be redemptive, and I can't wait to tell you about it. What good is the redemptive part if you don't know the pain and heartache leading up to it?
Tell us your story. We want to hear. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. What fire have you walked through?