I remember wishing I could talk to my sister in that moment. Hilary had been a voice of encouragement over the course of my depression - always talking me down from that ledge. She was in college at the time and had gotten involved with a group called Campus Crusade for Christ. Hilary and I had had long conversations about faith and Jesus but I still wasn't sure how I felt about it all. It wasn't that I had a hard time believing, I just wasn't ready to commit my life to it. That day, I was brought to a crossroads. As I sat in that hallway, humiliated and alone, something caused me to pull out a small booklet Hilary had given me that I kept in my book bag. It was a guide to knowing God (as seen here) with a prayer at the end asking Jesus into my life. I stopped at the prayer, knowing I was on the edge of some life-changing moment. It was now or never. I knew I'd reached the end of my current life - that I was ready to commit suicide unless something changed. And God, based on what I'd heard about Him, seemed like my only hope. And so I prayed this prayer in my heart (twice - for good measure I guess. In case the first time didn't take):
"Lord Jesus, I need You. Thank you for dying on the cross for my sins. I open the door of my life and receive You as my Savior and Lord. Thank you for forgiving my sins and giving me eternal life. Take control of the throne of my life. Make me the kind of person You want me to be"
From that day forward, life was never the same. The funny thing is, my circumstances didn't change right away. Stephanie continued to give me a hard time and I continued to face humiliation. The difference was that my outlook changed. I had something to cling to in the darkest of hours - like a mother hen draws her chicks under her wing, so God drew me under His. Jesus was and is my refuge, my example, my everything. Four years later I received a call from Stephanie apologizing for what she had done. She said her new found faith in Jesus had prompted her to make amends. That was a miracle.
It's uncomfortable to relive that part of my life and to remember the shame and humiliation . To dive back into that time when everything was dark and I was so close to choosing death instead of life. And then I come back to what my reality is now on this sunny beautiful afternoon over a decade later where so much has changed. Where life has created life and before me are two little boys who are a part of me and my continuing story. It feels so far from where my story with Christ began and I am ever grateful for that. However, I will never forget the power found in the pain I faced. Pain was and still is one of the fastest ways God makes paths into my heart where there wasn't one before. As this post so beautifully puts it - when there is more hard, there is also more Jesus. So while I am thankful for the freedom and joy I experience today, I am also thankful for what is hard and what is painful because it invites more of Jesus into my life.
"...But you, Lord my God,
brought my life up from the pit.
When my life was ebbing away,
I remembered you, Lord,
and my prayer rose to you,
to your holy temple.
Those who cling to worthless idols
turn away from God's love for them
But I, with shouts of grateful praise,
will sacrifice to you.
What I have vowed I will make good.
I will say, 'Salvation comes from the Lord."