Hope for the Hopeless

Braden Anderson
I am a hypocrite, and I am a liar. These are the thoughts that come to mind when I think about God and myself. I’ll start at the beginning. I grew up blessed. I have an amazing family; parents who love me and are there for me. I have two sisters and a brother who have always been in my life. My family inspires me, and growing up in a home that had built its foundation on God and the truth of the gospel meant that as a young little tot running around, I put my faith in God. I felt like I was at church all the time and did everything right. I was smart and athletic. I had friends, and people seemed to like me. Middle school wasn’t awkward for me, like it is for most, and it flew by. It wasn’t until the summer after 8th grade at summer camp that I realized what Christianity was all about, and I recommitted my life to Christ. Looking back now though, I can see where life started to change for me.
I started making more of an effort in life to be more of who I thought Jesus was. And I was coming up short constantly. No matter what I did, it wasn’t enough. I started rating myself and comparing myself to those around me. My junior and senior years of high school were filled with a lot of searching. I questioned everything. I studied philosophies, and world religions, in order to figure out my own. I was a leader in my youth group, and with my friends. I would talk about God and pretend like I always had been the perfect Christian. I’d say I was reading my bible or really say anything at all that would make me seem better than I really felt or was. Depression started to set in. Depression, as I realize it now, has always been a part of my life. Depression is caused by a lot of things, but I didn’t know why it was happening with me. I didn’t even know what it was. All I knew was that sometimes, things seemed hopeless.
I graduated high school and came to UW-Stevens Point, which was my last choice. I wanted to be a pilot, but that cost way too much money so I came here. Right away, I got involved in Bible study and Cru. I started doing so much, thinking that the more I did the better I’d be. But no, the more I did, the deader I felt. I flunked my first year and was suspended from school. When I went home at the end of the year and found out I couldn’t come back for a semester, I sunk low. My parents encouraged me to see a counselor using their insurance, and I shot that down. That was a big mistake. I pushed everything aside and got back in to school. And everything seemed to be going fine. I was getting decent grades, and life was moving on… I wasn’t though. To cope with my depression I began to seek out unhealthy answers; through women in my life that I could use emotionally or physically to build myself up, through some really unhealthy nights of drinking, and through working too much. I thought I could run from my problems. Truth is, none of that worked, and only left me feeling emptier.
Finally, I sought out help for the first time. I began seeing a counselor and opening up to my parents about how deep the pain really went. But I also continued to try and cope my own way. When I finally began to stop, it was too late. I fell down the slippery slope and was suspended again. This time the university was going to make it permanent. I was sitting on a futon in my parent’s basement, when I got the news. I sunk lower than I ever have, and didn’t just think about suicide, but planned it. I thought the best way out of my mess was to get rid of the creator of it: me. I drove back to Point for work that night and a friend noticed something was wrong. They spent the night on my living room couch, not leaving me alone, giving me hope.
Friends and family surrounded me with love, pointing the way to Christ. I realized He was, is, and continues to be the only answer. That he had already taken my sins and my failures upon himself while he hung on that cross for the world, for me. Following the outpouring of love, I wrote a letter to admissions, begging them to give me a third undeserved chance, and I actually got one. They let me back in, and I moved forward to healthier places. Counseling, my family, and my friends all stood by me, and pushed me through.
When all I saw was brokenness, God saw Christ when he looked at me. I have come so far since that dark night, and have found myself on the path of victory. Even when faced with unexpected deaths and losses in my life recently, I find myself digging into the Word and seeking God rather than seeking instant gratification that would only leave me hurting.
In Romans we are told to “Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.” That’s what we need to do. We isolate ourselves, instead of dealing with life. I needed to rejoice and celebrate with the one who paid the ultimate price for me.
At the heart of the issue and all issues is God. And to realize that he was, is, and will always be the only answer. And that though broken and a liar, Christ redeemed me on that cross 2, 000 years.

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