September 25th 2018, I decided my volleyball chapter needed to come to an end. The very next day my Nana suffered from a stroke. From that day to about February of 2019, I walked through the longest and darkest battle of depression that I had ever faced.
It has taken me a year to heal from the hurt I faced. It has taken a year for me to find confidence in myself again, to find purpose behind every tear, to find strength from that struggle. It has taken me a year to find the courage to open up again about my battle with depression and anxiety. So I am going to share my story with you, and I am doing so for the one person out there who is looking for something to hold onto.
This blog is titled Nineteen for a very specific reason. One being I just turned 19 four days ago. Another being what Nineteen really means to me. A year ago I didn’t believe I would see this year. All honesty. I was so overwhelmed with depression that 19 didn’t seem all that attainable. So I want to share 19 things that season of my life taught me. I want to share 19 things I learned, and wish I had known at the time. 19 is a big number, but I know someone out there is in a battle, and if 1 of these 19 things helps them keep fighting, my heart will be full.
You are never as alone as you think you are.
There is not one minute, one second, that you have been alone. The Lord has not forgotten about you. He knows your name, He hears your prayers and sees your tears. He is in the silence, He is in the unknown. He is faithful. And you are not alone.
The Lord will be with you.
"When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze."-Isaiah 43:2
Depression doesn’t define you.
I think I struggled with this the most as I was healing from this season. I felt that my identity was found in my struggle. I felt so defined by depression. It took me a while to really believe that my identity was solely in the Lord and not in that season. So friend, believe in who the Lord says you are, believe that you are His child, His masterpiece, His most prized possession. Your identity is not found in any struggle, you are not defined by who you were, who you have been, or what battle you fight. You are who He says you are.
Remember you are strong.
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles, they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Isaiah 40:29-31
He is the God of seasons.
My favorite song is Seasons by Hillsong United. It was my favorite song a year ago. And it is even more special now. I remember the weight those words carried when I first heard them. I remember how loudly I would sing this song on my darkest days.
“Like the frost on a rose Winter comes for us all Oh how nature acquaints us With the nature of patience Like a seed in the snow I’ve been buried to grow For Your promise is loyal From seed to sequoia
I know Though the winter is long even richer The harvest it brings Though my waiting prolongs even greater Your promise for me like a seed I believe that my season will come”
This song gave me so much hope. It is in the Lord’s timing, not ours, that our harvest comes. It takes time to heal from seasons of struggle. And it is okay to take time to heal. It is okay if it takes more time for your struggle to end. There is no perfect timeline we can create for ourselves. The Lord’s timing is perfect timing. So if you’re in a winter, go listen to this song, and know that your harvest is coming, He is not done working, and your season will come.
The Lord will be your light.
"Though I have fallen, I will rise. Though I sit in darkness, The Lord will be my Light."
Your story isn’t finished yet.
There is a reason you are here friend. There is a purpose to your heartbeat on this earth. If there is still breath in your lungs then God is not finished working in and through you. Your journey isn’t over. A chapter may be closing, but the story hasn’t ended. There is more for you. He has more for you.
He is working all things together.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28
Jesus replied "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand."
Seed to sequoia.
Did you know that a sequoia tree is the strongest tree there is? The thing that inspires me the most is that in order for a sequoia to find its strength it has to endure the harshest of winters. It has to go through a season of winter to gain strength. You my friend may be walking through a winter to gain strength. This season will make you stronger. You are growing from seed to sequoia and that is a beautiful thing.
Give God the control.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Psalm 3:5-6
Never doubt in the dark what God told you in the Light.
The promises that the Lord has made don’t change from season to season. His promises remain the same. Through it all. In every season, good or bad, He stays the same. You are always loved, always cared for, always seen and known. You are never forgotten. You are cherished and treasured regardless of what you are going through.
You are enough.
"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."
My coach back home gave me some advice that has stuck with me;
"In good times, keep moving. In bad times, keep moving. In times of joy, keep moving. In times of sorrow, keep moving. In times of pain, heartache, or fear, just keep moving. Experience the emotions and the feelings but good or bad don't let them keep you from moving forward and walking the path God has chosen for you."
Highs and lows, the Lord is with you either way it goes.
“Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely your goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever.” Psalm 23:4-6
Bloom where you are planted.
In the seasons where you feel buried under the weight of your struggles, keep in mind that the Lord plants you to grow. And in time, you will rise, you will overcome, and you will bloom right where He wants you to be.
He is leading the way.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11
There is purpose in your pain.
There is purpose to the pain. There is purpose for the struggle. There is a purpose for every tear and every late night. There is purpose in this season. The Lord is preparing you for what He has prepared for you. It may take time to see. But when you do, it’ll be a beautiful thing.
Come forth Gold.
“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold,” Job 23:10
The best is yet to come.
This is my story friends. This is what I have seen the Lord do. I walked through the darkest season of my life , lost a lot of faith, and was at a rock, rock bottom a year ago. And today I’m writing to you from Athens, Ohio, where I play volleyball, a sport I literally quit a year ago today. I never believed I would see 19. But I did. Because the Lord wasn’t finished with me yet. He wasn’t done working. He had more for me. He was leading the way the whole time. And the best was yet to come. My sweet friend I hope you can hold onto that. I pray my story gives you hope. I pray that you have full faith in what the Lord has in store for you. That your best is truly yet to come.