I wasn’t going to share this today because it’s a beautiful day and I don’t want to ruin it, but then I felt some conviction.
Sometimes, telling the stories of how God brings beauty from the ashes is exactly what we need to build our faith and encourage others in theirs.
Three years ago today, I was at the darkest point of my entire life. I had struggled with suicide ideation for 12 years, and July 10, 2017 was the boiling point. I had my wreck just a few weeks before. I was lying in a bedroom with a back brace on and absolutely no hope. For weeks, I had convinced myself more each day that I was worthless because I was useless. I was isolated. I was desperate. I was scared.
I thought through everything. Every relationship. Every unmet goal. Every detail of what would happen after I was gone. And before the end of the night, I found myself with a bottle of oxycodone in one hand and a Sprite can in the other.
Nothing terrible happened that night. Thank God.
It took me a few more weeks after that but I hit rock bottom and the best thing about that is that the only place to go from there was up. It took a solid six more months to get solid ground under me again. I slowly discovered a new me and learned a new normal.
I spent the night at a psychiatric hospital.
I spent three days at a crisis stabilization unit.
I spent six months in intensive motive transition therapy.
Eventually, I got up off the ground and started inching my way toward a new life. Every day since, I get a little quicker and dare to do a little more.
Today, I am living my very best life. I am still living some of the consequences of that wreck and that season. I still can’t drive, there’s still broken relationships and I’m still paying off all the medical bills.
BUT despite all of that, I am working for the best team in the world doing something I love, getting stronger in the gym all the time, inching my way toward being a published author, building a confidence coaching business, serving with the coolest volunteer team I know at my church, living in a city I love…..should I go on?
The point is….I got out.
Cycles were broken.
Dreams were restored.
Health was replenished.
Abundance was fulfilled.
Hope was found.
Beauty rose from the ashes.
If you met me today, you wouldn’t know I genuinely wanted to die three years ago.
That’s nothing but the grace of Jesus, friends.
How did we do it?
I say “we” because I didn’t do it alone. There’s an evolving team of people who consistently sign up to help me build the life I love. Pastors, doctors, therapists, coaches – people who have created a space where it is okay for me to not be okay but love me too much to let me stay there.
WE consistently work on replacing lies with truth. As I discard the shame and pick up the confidence God created and called me to have as His daughter, really great things happen. Confidence breeds optimism. Optimism breeds faith.
Earlier this week, I heard a story about a man who took his own life because of the insurmountable burden of COVID-19 and the implications thereof. My heart shattered. It took me back to that lonely third floor bedroom where everything seemed magnified. I remember feeling like I was in a hole for weeks and every time I opened my eyes, it felt like more dirt was being thrown on top of me.
It’s times like these where I want to shout from the rooftops.
You. Are. Not. Alone.
Don’t give up. There is hope. Just breathe.
2020 is hard, friends. It’s hard on everyone. Not one of us is immune to the fears, struggles and confusion incurred from 2020. Based on experience, I have one promise.
It WILL get better.
This season is strengthening us for what is next. One day, we will look back and be grateful for all we learned during 2020.
But for the man I heard about this week, he won’t be here to tell the story. His wife and kids. His parents. His siblings. His friends. His coworkers. His golf buddies. They will. They now have one more thing to grieve this year. One more loss to tally. One more thing to keep them awake at night.
Can I encourage you to not give up?
That’s easier said than done, I know. Here’s some real life strategies I use.
- Surround yourself with people who believe in you and your future, even if you don’t. I learned a few years ago that I was going to have to borrow from other peoples’ confidence until I had it on my own. Here’s a secret: I still have days where I have to borrow from someone else’s confidence in me. Seriously, find someone – even if just one person – who will believe in your wildest dreams and highest success in life.
- Remember God’s faithfulness in your life. When things get hard, remember the stories of when God has provided and protected you in the past. Tell the stories of His promises fulfilled. In order to do this well, I encourage you to keep track of those stories as they happen. Keep a journal. Take pictures. Record audio notes in your phone. Whatever it takes. And when you need a reminder of how good God is, go back and remember that time a check came in the mail just when you most needed it to when a doctor said the word “remission” or when a friend came along at just the perfect time.
- Give yourself a side of grace. It’s hard out there right now and nobody that matters is judging you for being exhausted. When the thoughts and fears come crashing down in your head, just close your eyes and breathe. Once you can see daylight again, call someone who will listen and tell you it’s okay. So many times in the last three years, I have done this and had the voice at the other end of the phone speak with calmness and clarity, which transferred to me.
- Take your moments slow if you need to. Nobody expects you to be at the top of your game 100 percent of the time. Take your journey one mile at a time. Tackle one project at a time. Clean up one mess at a time. Three years ago, I had to slowly rebuild my life one priority at a time. It felt endless at first but as I mastered one area at a time, I gained the confidence to move to the next thing on the list.
Bottom line is this: Don’t give up. You’re created and called to greatness, even if it feels unattainable right now. You are seen. You matter. Your best days are ahead.
Additional bottom line: Never be afraid to share the stories of God’s faithfulness. Others need to be encouraged by your story. Sharing my struggles isn’t my most fun part of my Friday, but it is probably the most meaningful thing I will do today. Join the club and share yours too.
Because testifying of the beauty rising from the ashes is heaven’s language. And if we are going to bring Heaven down here, we need to speak its language.