Growing up I was raised in a Lutheran Church; I was baptized, confirmed and did everything that I thought I was supposed to do to go to heaven. As I look back, I never truly knew who God was. There were times when I was younger that I would get so excited about church and different programs that went on. As I got older, other kids were less excited about it, so I acted like it was a joke as well. After confirmation, church wasn’t an every week occurrence, and after I got a job, it wasn’t even a once a month occurrence.
On June 5, 2009 my mom’s only sister became really sick, and by the next afternoon she had passed away. It was so surreal. The next morning my parents and I got up to go to my sister’s high school graduation. We had to pick up my mom’s parents on the way there, but my Grandpa wasn’t feeling well. When we got back to their house after the ceremony, Grandpa said that he needed to go to the ER. It was about four hours later that he died too.
I wish I could say that those were the most painful parts of my summer but it was just the start of it. One of my mom’s brothers who had health problems since he was 19 got really sick and was very close to death. My dog that I love more than anything almost died in front of my eyes because she had eaten rat poison. My dad lost his job. My sister was going away to college.
All of these events pushed me into a pretty deep depression. It got so bad that I had a meltdown in the middle of a soccer game. I tried to reach out to God. I would pray to him and cry to him at night, with many nights of me crying myself to sleep. But I didn’t understand the full extent of God’s love for me. For years I believed that I had to trudge on through life only relying on myself. I had the overwhelming feeling that I shouldn’t tell others about my depression because they were living with their own problems, and I would only be a burden. I lived for years lonely, always putting on a strong face, and doubtful that anyone could really love me.
I turned to sexual impurities to fill the void of loneliness. Being the one friend in my high school group that never had a boyfriend when sex and dating were the most important things, I was drowning in the feeling of not fitting in. I used pornography and masturbation as a way to make myself feel better and to give myself the sense of fitting in with everyone else, but all it really did was make me feel ashamed and the secret was eating me up from the inside. I was so ashamed of how I handled my loneliness and depression.
When college started God blessed me with the best roommate I could have ever asked for! She was extremely strong in her faith, and the only thing I was sure of was that I didn’t know what I believed anymore. We became best friends. When I was at home by myself for winter break I started my search for a close relationship with God. However, being home I got sucked back into the same routine of sin that I had in high school. Feeling discouraged, I gave up and lived the rest of the semester having very little relationship with God.
That summer I decided I wanted to go crazy and live a lifestyle that seemed fun. There were a nights that I drank too much and even experimented with marijuana. I spent too much money, thinking that I needed to dress in a revealing way to get the attention of men. I did not like who I was becoming. When the school year started again I knew deep down that it was going to be different.
I had already decided that I wanted to check out Cru and see what all the hype was about; little did I know that that night was going to change my life. That fall I accepted Christ into my life with an understanding and joy that I’ve never felt before. I found myself in a community of people that didn’t know me, but accepted and loved me instantly. The rest of the semester I got involved in discipleship with an amazing mentor, bible study in my hall, weekly Cru meetings and I even started going to church again.
I have friends that love me, and I’m willing to embrace that love and give it back to those around me. Every day I find out just how much I have in common with others when it comes to feeling lonely, as if you have to take on the world by yourself. Even when I am alone, I don’t feel lonely anymore because I always know that God is there whenever, wherever I need Him. Now I fully understand the scope of God’s love for me and I’m no longer living a life where I feel like I have to take on the world by myself. Jesus’ load is light, and he wants to carry yours.