It’s interesting how God opens our eyes as we get older. You see, for the longest time I thought my testimony was one about depression but just recently God’s been showing me that it was never about that. It’s always been identity. I never knew who I was—or at least I couldn’t accept it.
When I was a little girl I was bullied a lot. I was an overweight kid, had frizzy hair, and glasses, which were nowhere near cool yet. Not to mention I was the youngest so I got all the hand-me-downs, which typically included baggy shirts and bright multi-colored spandex tights that my mom could get for cheap at the local K-mart. I even had a cat sweater— also before it was cool. Though I’m pretty sure the jingle bells on it never were (or will be), but hey, I’m no trend-setter.
It’s not important for you to know exactly what happened to me, just to know that the results of it have had a lasting effect. Even though I went to church and “knew” Christ, I grew up thinking I was worthless. The neighborhood boys were right. I was ugly. Fat. Stupid. And no one would ever love me.
When I was 12, I tried to take my life. But 42 pills of aspirin later I was found throwing up liquid charcoal in the bathroom at the local children’s hospital. I wish I could say that was when God came in and saved the day, but this unhealthy mentality already had a firm grip on me and there would be no easy recovery.
My mind was a slew of criticisms and put downs. No matter what I did I never felt good enough. I started down the road of self-injury in middle school and as a sophomore in college I can admit it’s a hard road to walk back from.
This idea that you deserve to feel bad about yourself sets like concrete into your bones.
Before even this year I’ve never been able to get a firm grip of who I am. I’ve known who I wasn’t. I wasn’t her. Or I wasn’t them. I wasn’t the girl that could fit into all the pretty clothes. And I certainly wasn’t good enough. My life was a game of compare and contrast, except no one liked playing it.
If I’m really honest, and that’s something I truly try to be, God didn’t break this “not good enough” complex until last summer. My freshman year I started developing an eating disorder and to say the least, my self-esteem was in a pile on the floor somewhere.
My church needed one more female chaperon for a youth retreat, so trying to be a good Christian girl I offered to help out. I didn’t realize I’d be co-counseling a cabin full of 12 girls until I showed up at the van site. Literally didn’t cross my mind—I didn’t even have a pillow.
That week surprised me. There was a girl in my cabin who wasn’t very popular. One day when we spent the day at the community pool I noticed that all the other girls had broken off into cliques but she was stuck swimming all by herself. My heart hurt for her and when I got up to go join her I realized I couldn’t.
I had a really bad day at work the week before— I had a manager that liked to demean me in front of my co-workers— and if I put my swimsuit on everyone would see the new scars all over my legs. How could I talk to her about a father who loves her if my own body showed that I didn’t even believe it for myself? How could I tell anyone about the kingdom of God when I wasn’t even sure I had a place in it?
This was a turning point.
Since then God’s been guiding me down some uncomfortable roads. Opening up to my hall at the beginning of the year was hard for me, especially with the recent stuff, but God used it to create a network of people who cared about me, and knew what I was struggling with.
He tested me by throwing a few hard balls first semester and for the first time in my life when I had a rough day I started running to my R.A. and other people that cared about me rather than the razor or hunger pains.
Since God opened my eyes at the pool that day He’s been opening them even wider since. Things aren’t perfect; they’re not supposed to be. Our imperfections are covered by His grace. We’ve been set free from the law and sins that bind us. We don’t belong to that life anymore.
In Galatians 3 Paul says that we can’t finish what the Spirit started, there is no “being good enough” for Jesus. There is just being and accepting that by the grace of God we are saved. We can’t explain it, and we certainly can’t work for it.
So, my story isn’t about overcoming depression, because the truth is there are some things God allows us to struggle with, even continue to struggle with in our lives. I know depression is one of mine, but it’s finally something I feel like I have a choice in. I don’t have to listen to what those boys told me when I was younger anymore. They lied, and Jesus has been trying to tell me the truth for years and I’m finally listening. My story is about someone who once was lost, but now is found.