by Kristen R.
Of all the emotions I experienced in my childhood, the ones that best defined it were fear, sadness, and loneliness.
Even though my parents were married, college-educated, and had an upper middle class income, my home life was far from ideal. I experienced physical, verbal, and emotional abuse growing up. I didn’t receive the brunt of the abuse, but I experienced and witnessed it enough times that I lived in fear. Those incidents had a lasting effect. I reached out to a trusted adult at one point, but she just sent me back home and never looked into my allegations. This made me feel like confiding in anyone about my home life was futile, so I kept my mouth shut and lived in emotional isolation, which soon turned into depression.
By the time my freshman year of college was over, my parents were separated and on the way to divorcing. I moved back in with my mom, but another hardship reared its ugly head. Cancer. My mom was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer that had spread to her liver and lungs, and I became her caretaker.
A few tumultuous years later, she passed away, and I lost my mom and best friend in a single day. This tragedy caused the depression and anxiety that I’d already been struggling with for years to intensify to the point where I contemplated suicide on numerous occasions. In retrospect, I know that God was the only reason I never went through with my plans, but I would have been so much better off if I had actively sought Him out. In the years that followed, I tried to fill the void left by my mom’s death and my lack of a loving father with work, hobbies, and unhealthy relationships.
Years later, I got a seasonal job at Macy’s to earn a little extra cash, but God had something better in mind. One night, a mother and daughter came in to buy dresses to wear to a family wedding. As I rang them up, the daughter gave me a tiny booklet entitled “Peace with God.” After they left, I opened the booklet and saw Proverbs 3:5-6 on the first page, and I instantly knew that God was trying to get my attention. You see, Proverbs 3:6 was on a plaque that had belonged to my grandmother, and it was also my mom’s favorite verse. My life wasn’t how I envisioned because I was leaning on my own understanding and not letting God direct me.
A few months later, I was led to The Porch. The messages were full of biblical truth and they were delivered in a way that I found relevant and relatable. More importantly, my heart had been primed and opened to God, so the messages could actually affect me. It wasn’t long before I found a community group of great women and started re:generation so I could work on healing the wounds from my past, form healthy God-honoring friendships, and learn how to really walk with Christ. Understanding the goodness, wisdom, and love of God as evidenced by the sacrifice of His only Son has helped me place my trust in God instead of the broken world that we live in. My new faith also helped me forgive my abuser and others who had hurt me. I realized that I didn’t want them to pay for their sins eternally anymore than I wanted to pay for mine, so I began praying for their salvation.
As I’ve spent time in the Word day after day and asked Christ to lead me and shape me, I have experienced true freedom from depression for the first time in fifteen years. My circumstances have not changed drastically, but my heart definitely has. While I know that I’m still guaranteed trouble in this life (John 16:33), I now have more peace than I ever thought possible because I don’t allow myself to be defined by that trouble. Christ has made me new (2 Corinthians 5:17), and I can’t wait to see what God does with the new me.