God's grace found in the midst of depression & a broken marriage.
"I love watching all the Church Project stories and hearing how God has worked wonders in the lives of those around me. They excite me and inspire me to share my story. My story is not the typical one; my background has been peppered with pain, devastation, loss, self-loathing and most of all fear. I would love to say that all of those things stopped once I found Christ. I would love to be able to say that He healed me completely and that I no longer struggle, but my story is not that of a woman who was redeemed by God's amazing grace, and lived happily ever after, the end... and you know what I don't even wish that it was.
I wasn't brought up in a Christian home. I had a childhood that was more than awful. I got married as soon as I could, as a means of running away from home. However, that was just jumping from the frying pan into hell on earth. Throughout my childhood and early adulthood, I had been abused in every way possible. I had very little hope, and I suffered from depression.
One day I was invited by my best friend to 'Friendship Day' at church –a fundamental, independent Baptist church. I walked the aisle, accepted Christ as my savior, and I was baptized in the evening service. I changed, but my circumstances didn't. God taught me so much during that time, and to be frank, I loved the rules. I loved the ability to check off all the boxes and know exactly where I stood with God. Despite my earnest prayers, I ended up divorced and alone with a four year old son.
The ensuing year was filled with so much grace and hope, but a lot of hurt as well. My ex-husband wanted to reconcile and, even though I did not want to go back into an abusive relationship once again, my pastor at the time counseled me that I needed to 'because in God's eyes... once married always married. I was his wife. If he said that I had to come back, then I had to be submissive and go back.' So I did. I trusted God to change things, and my husband didn't change. What did change was my trust in God. Years went by and I ended up alone again – this time with three sons. My faith was tried and tested, and my grip on the rules of fundamentalism faltered. I had to learn how to walk out this Christian life trusting in His grace, not in the rule book. By the time my marriage ended, I was no longer bound by 'the rules' of fundamentalism, and I felt truly free to move on with my life.
Then I met a wonderful Christian man. He loves me, and my boys. We get married, attend church faithfully and are blessed with one more son. I thought my days of depression and sadness were over. I thought I was finally going to have the life I 'deserved.' Fast forward several years – years filled with so much hurt, church hurt, family struggles, and marriage struggles like you wouldn't believe, seasons of living in sin away from the blessings of God, and even a season of the worst depression of my life. I was despaired with life on a daily basis. It was only by the grace of God that I am still here. I think that depression is such a touchy subject for the church today. There is so much shame involved in admitting it because a lot of Christians feel like if they are depressed they must be in sin, and they worry about judgement from other Christians. So they don't reach out, and confess their struggles.
When we found Church Project, my husband and I had been living as roommates for around five years. We were in a different local church, but we were not being fed and challenged. All of that was changed in almost the first week at Church Project. The teaching was like water to our parched souls. We immediately got into a house church and started the difficult journey of becoming part of a community. We have been given opportunities to serve (Mercy House, projectKids, discipleship mentoring, and an upcoming mission trip), and we found Marriage Revolution and Hans Molegraaf. We started putting the pieces of our shattered marriage back together. We have grown more in the past fifteen months than we have in the past seven years. Our marriage is filled with joy once again. We have a community of believers for the first time in our marriage, people we can count on. We have a port in the storm... and believe me the storms are still raging. Even though times are so tough right now, we have a peace and a purpose like never before.
In the beginning, I said that I don't even wish that my story had a fairy tale ending because I would so much rather God bring beauty from the ashes of my life, make me useful for Him, and more able to help His people, than to have had a happily ever after – that's what Heaven is for. For now, I want to take my pain and use it for His glory!"