“Behold, I am making all things new. Do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the desert.”
About a decade ago, as my ninth grade self was climbing onto the school bus one September morning, something in my brain started to feel wrong.
I didn’t have words for it at the time. I didn’t know much about mental health and wasn’t familiar with concepts like anxiety or self-talk or intrusive thinking. All I knew was that my mind latched onto one particular fear and wouldn’t let go, and it changed everything.
Over time the fears grew until they crowded everything else out, and before long I began to wonder if I was crazy. I didn’t know how to explain what I was going through to people, so I didn’t. For a long time it only came out in journal entries and bursts of anger and floods of tears behind closed doors. It came out in strange and ugly ways, ways that kept people at arm’s length or drew them a little too close for comfort. Throughout all of it I knew something was deeply wrong, but I just kept hoping it would eventually fix itself.
2014 was a breaking point. That was the year I started attempting to put words to the silent battle I'd been fighting. I began to name the fears, to speak the thoughts aloud, and to declare truth over the lies. I began to open up and start talking about it, first with new friends and then with old. I began to realize my story was unique but not exclusive, that a lot of other people had their own versions of crazy. I began to claim the Lord’s promises of freedom and victory over what felt like an impossible war with myself. I read the verse “perfect love casts out fear” and chose to believe it even when I didn’t feel it.
Fast forward through the next five years. If 2009 was the year I cracked and 2014 was the year I broke, then 2019 is the year I healed.
Not fully. Not perfectly.
But it is the closest I’ve felt to being whole since that September morning ten years ago. It’s taken a lot of prayer, a lot of courage, a lot of counseling, a lot of breakdowns. It’s required choosing to seek help, even when it meant opening my mouth and stumbling over my words or owning the ways I hurt people in my mess.
I’ll end it by saying this: The past ten years have been painful. It’s hard to look back on what were supposed to be my “glory years” and feel like so much of it, even the good stuff (and there was a LOT of good stuff), was overshadowed by this inner suffering. It’s hard not to dwell on the what if's, to mourn the experiences I might have had or the relationships I might have better cultivated if I hadn’t been held captive by fear for so long.
The past ten years have also been incredibly beautiful. I have seen redemption play out in my own life in a way that has drawn me so much closer to Jesus, something a painless existence could never do. I have been given opportunities to share my story, even while it was still being written, and to see tears in the eyes of people who heard it and who get it. I have walked through a period of deep and suffocating darkness, and this has made living in the light that much sweeter.
At the end of it all, I walk into the end of this decade better knowing my Healer: the one whose heart beats loud and strong for me. It does for you, too, my friend. Do you hear it?
Happy New Year, and may the next ten bring healing wherever it's needed for you.
all glory to Him,