By Connie Aultman
“What if I just drove straight off the cliff?” This question came to mind going 75 miles per hour around a curve on my drive home 11 years ago. It sounded fun, kinda like a rollercoaster. This was my first real suicidal thought and it marked the beginning of my battle with depression.
Although I have always struggled with anxiety and depression, it took almost 20 years for me to do something about it. You can form a lot of bad habits in 20 years. I covered up my low self-esteem and anxiety with boyfriends, achievements, food, smoking and alcohol –whatever it took to look normal. Underneath my self-sufficiency, I felt overwhelmed, angry, and very scared.
I had a relationship with God and even prayed and read Scripture but none of that made this problem go away. In fact, when I prayed, the burden weighed heavier as I realized how my life didn’t measure up to God’s standard. I didn’t want to be a nun or anything, I just wanted to live my life and be happy.
From the time I had my first suicidal thoughts, to the time I completely surrendered my life to Christ it would be 10 more years – 10 more years of attempting to manage my situation my way, with alcohol, anti-depressants, counseling, food, sexual gratification, exercise and dieting. It was exhausting. Most of the time I thought, “If I could just ______, then I would be happy.” It was a rat race and I was running on the little wheel thinking I was getting somewhere.
Breeching of the Gates
If I hadn’t had a friend approach me about the life I was living apart from God, I don’t know if I would have ever stopped. She had hard conversations with me, prayed for me and invited me to her church. God used her influence to remind me that my way wasn’t working. Proverbs 16:25 says:
“There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.”
I knew that in the past I had sought God in part, but I had kept ultimate control. I was still king of my own castle. Until I let God be the King that He is – over every part of my life – I wouldn’t find any rest. Jesus reflects this idea in Matthew 11:28-30 when He says:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
He doesn’t say that He takes all the difficulty away, but He gives us a different burden – one that’s light and one that allows for us to rest.
Satisfaction in the Kingdom
Everything about my life has changed. Now, I find myself full of joy and peace – the real deal!! I smile from my heart, not because I’m supposed to be happy, or because I want others to think everything’s okay. I spend time with God and with loving friends that help me to excel in character, not in outward appearances or worldly status. The guilt and shame I used to carry have slipped off of my shoulders. I now make different choices that honor the Lord and others more than myself. I let God soften my hard heart and in turn He has healed old wounds. Every day my peace grows, knowing that Jesus is making all things new, even a wretch like me.