Trying to condense my experiences with God into a “short” blog post has been difficult, so I’ve decided to give you all a general overview focusing on my recent experiences to start. In future posts, I’ll get into much more detail.
I grew up in a Christian family. We went to church every Sunday. My parents told me I got saved when I was five, but I remember my first encounter with God was when I was 14 in a youth service. I remember weeping because I knew God was real and that I was saved. I know that won’t mean much to a non-believer, so I’m going to explain the circumstances that can only be explained by the existence of God.
My relationship with God only lasted for about a year until I strayed. From the age of 13, I suffered from severe depression and anxiety. Constantly looking for ways to cope with life, I never had peace. I HATED being alive. I was looking for any way to feel better and my mindset was just to try to get through the day, every day. Let me tell you, it’s a terrible way to live.
I had planned on leaving long before the BBQ started, so I shouldn’t have met anyone, but the new Men’s Pastor, Evangelist Anthony Greve, came over early to help set up. My Dad introduced us, and we almost immediately got into a discussion about forgiveness of sins, Salvation, habitual sin, and the freedom we have in Christ. I learned that day that God offers everyone the free gift of Salvation if we just believe in Him, and choose to turn away from sin. I didn’t have to be PERFECT! The Bible says in Romans 2:4 that God’s goodness leads to repentance. That is exactly what happened to me. I learned how good God is, and it made me WANT to stop all of the sinful things I was doing.
I admitted to Pastor Anthony that I had addictions in my life that I used to try and treat my depression and anxiety. I was absolutely terrified of giving up my addictions because I thought I’d have to face my painful and overwhelming emotions head on. The thought made me choke up just saying it out loud. He responded by telling me it doesn’t have to be this way, and he quickly walked over and asked if he could pray for me to break the depression and anxiety off of my life. I wasn’t sure anything happened at first, but I remember feeling really good after, and wanting to slide around the kitchen in my socks! I had been depressed for 12 years, so I didn’t expect it to ever go away! The following week, I still had no depression, but every time I went to do my addictive behavior (out of habit, not to feel good, because I already did), I would just feel worse. I couldn’t stop thinking about God, about the rare genuine kindness the pastor showed me, and about how different I felt!
If lifelong depression vanishing in an instant isn’t enough to convince you, don’t worry, I have more! A week after my talk with Pastor Anthony, I decided to go to a Friday night church service. At the end of the service, the girl sitting next to me tapped me on the shoulder, laughed nervously, and told me God told her to tell me “I’m real, I haven’t been far, and I wish you would talk to me more.” God knew EXACTLY what I needed to hear. He knew my heart, my thoughts, my needs. I had been doubting if God was even real because I saw no evidence of Him anymore. All I saw was my miserable existence, just going through the motions with nothing to look forward to and no purpose. God knew I was doubting, and He made sure to tell me He’s real. He also knew the best way to get me to pray more is to tell me that He actually WANTS me to pray to Him. Those words meant the world to me.
It’s been over 8 months since my life changed forever. I gave up all of my addictions a few days after God told me He was real, and I have no desire for them anymore! That still amazes me! I had tried to quit so many times on my own, but I never could. I would be miserable and crave it constantly. ONLY God could do this for me, people! You might think you lose your freedom being a Christian, but there’s nothing more liberating than Christ. I don’t need anything to bring me peace but Jesus, not relationships, alcohol, drugs, video-games, you name it. I could never say that before. I was miserable, all the time, always seeking for ways just to feel okay.
Being a Christian doesn’t mean your life becomes easy. Not at all. I still face hardships, but I’ve never had such stability, peace, and hope like I do now. For the first time, I am EXCITED about my future! My life has completely changed. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.” Galatians 5:22-23a (NLT). I’m nowhere near perfect, but I’ve seen tremendous growth in my character. I have seen the fruit of the Spirit in my life. Before I understood God, and was trying to do it on my own, I would be so discouraged because I didn’t have any of those qualities. Now, I do. It is ONLY God and His Spirit who could change me like this. I no longer think or behave the same, and it is ALL for the better.
If you have questions or comments, please, get in touch with me by clicking on Contact in the top left and sending me an e-mail. Despite my past experiences, I am strong and healthy and full of hope! I’d love to tell you how you can have that too. God bless!