Tonight I got to worship with a massive group of women (and a few men) with Mack Brock, which was, in and of itself, a beautiful experience, because we sang a song with this lyric:
"I see this battle from the victory."
And suddenly it hit me: God has pulled me out of every single suicidal depressive episode I have ever had. I have voluntarily checked myself into treatment every single time, never actually following through with the plan I've made. When I was seventeen, I sat in the red recliner in my mom's house with every bottle of pills I had and grabbed my phone and called my dad to come get me. That's as close as I've ever gotten.
The next song we sang had the lyrics,
"You never fail
You never will
I trust Your name for greater things
You will come through
You always do
I trust Your name for greater things."
When I lived in California, I listened to Air 1 all the time (a Christian radio station) because the worship music helped me cope with the aching inside that comes from living in your own personal abusive hell for three years. During that time I heard Levi Lusko's three-minute lessons (because Air 1 doesn't have commercials - it's listener funded) and wished I could hear him speak.
Imagine my shock when he walked out on the stage tonight and began to preach.
I can't explain it any other way than this: It was like he was speaking directly to me. He spoke about his struggle with depression and anxiety, sleepless nights and intrusive thoughts, and how he realized it was keeping him from God's promises. That God was strong enough to break the bonds that were currently holding him, and that he made the choice to wage a war against all that was hurting him. He had to change his thoughts, which would change his actions, which, over time, would change how he felt.
In case you aren't aware, that is literally what CBT, or cognitive behavioral therapy, is. The treatment my new therapist and I are about to start.
Turns out Levi wrote a book on it, which I now own. At the end of his lesson, he said the most important thing was to KEEP SHOWING UP. Then, he said, "If you're feeling suicidal, know that there is a plan for you here and WE WANT YOU TO STAY. PLEASE keep showing up". There were tears in my eyes.
There were two more speakers, and I could write a novel on what they said and how it impacted me, but I left that place feeling whole again for the first time since I was eleven years old. Walking out we ran into the couple who had been sitting in front of us, and I'd let them know that I felt blessed by their choice to dance during the worship that night. It was a beautiful thing to see. The woman had left her jacket in the auditorium, and we let her know, and immediately she said, "I'm supposed to pray with you". The woman proceeded to pray over me twice and wound up telling me that she had been in an abusive relationship and that when she finally stopped looking and started praying for a good husband, God brought along the man she was now with.
Note that I never told her I'd been in an abusive relationship and had only briefly touched on my depression.
Right before we left, she said she felt God calling her to anoint me. She had a roller of frankincense (which, apart from being a popular oil for diffusion, was one of the gifts brought to Mary and Joseph when Jesus was born from the wise men) and drew crosses on the top of my hands, my forehead, and the tops of my feet. We exchanged numbers, and she texted me once I was on the way home to let me know that she felt blessed to have met me.
The car ride home with mom's friends who had taken us was a long discussion about how God had intervened in my life, and how there had been a long and winding thread of things I refuse to believe are coincidences leading me to that very event tonight.
Earlier today I had talked to my therapist about wanting to be an advocate for people who struggled with mental illness, to take away the stigma and make a difference in people's lives. Tonight in the car, I told my mom I felt like maybe my future profession would be going around and telling my story to people just like Levi Lusko had tonight.
The next time I checked my phone, the woman had texted me again, this time saying, "Remember, Jesus is worthy, and Jesus is in you...so YOU ARE WORTHY. He has chosen you! He chose you! You will change so many lives with your testimony!"
I hadn't told this woman a single SECOND of my story or that I possibly wanted to pursue this as a career.
Tonight has drastically altered the course of my life. I know what I want to do, even if it isn't something I can do for several years. So many moments and miracles and things that could NOT have been coincidences lined up as if God was FINALLY answering the begging, aching, pleading prayer I had been praying since December: Help me. I don't know what to do. I don't know who I am. Take this pain away.
Yes, I will continue to take medication for my depression and anxiety and sleep issues, and I'll be staying in therapy. I also still plan on asking to change my antidepressant, because I realize that how I feel right now won't linger around tomorrow (it could, and that would be amazing, but I'm being realistic). I've never been anointed before, nor have I met such charismatic Christians who dance during worship. I realize that all of this might sound crazy to someone who doesn't believe in God. But I'm lying here tonight with a brief glimpse of what could be if I continue to seek my Creator and follow where He leads, regardless of how insane it seems.
I cannot express how grateful I am for the chance to go tonight, and that despite my exhaustion I was feeling, I chose to go tonight anyway. God's plans for me are good. GOD IS GOOD. And God has been good to ME.