About two weeks ago I was invited to a worship and prayer night at my friend’s church. I was feeling very worn out and introverted, but something – curiosity, maybe – made me go that night. It was a beautiful night of worship and testimony, and during the night I kept having this small feeling that I was to get up and share what God has done in my life.
But I hesitated. The evening ended, and I missed my chance.
Since I believe that God did indeed want me to share my story, I will obey by writing it here. I pray that it will be an encouragement, and that God’s goodness will shine through bright and clear.
My name is Hannah. I debated for a while whether or not I should say anything, but I believe that God wants me to speak, so here I am.
I was blessed to be raised in a Christian home. Since birth, my parents have taught my brother and I to love Jesus and to tell others about Him. I was raised in church – some of my earliest memories are of Sunday School classes when I was about three years old. I was that kid who was involved in youth group, drama team, and worship team. I had many friends and activities that brought me joy. My life was going pretty well.
As I grew older, going to church started to become a habit rather than a desire. Don’t get me wrong, I love Jesus dearly, but since my life seemed to be going so well I began to lose focus; I began to rely on things other than Jesus for my strength in life.
Once I reached my late teens, the amount of stress in my life began to grow. College and nursing school just about killed me. I was naive and easily overwhelmed – my mom still tells stories about my numerous nervous breakdowns in the middle of the night (studying, not sleeping), and how she would have to talk me off a ledge (or “scrape you off the ceiling”, as she puts it). Looking back, I’m genuinely surprised that I made it through. The stress of college and nursing school became overwhelming, and I began to lose focus on what is the most important – Jesus.
Anxiety and depression hit – hard. I think I’ve had underlying anxiety / OCD issues since I was a child, but nursing school made it so much worse (hence the Midnight Meltdowns). At the time I just chalked it up to the stress of nursing school, which was to be expected, right?
Once I started working as a nurse, things got much worse. Working at a new and stressful job, coupled with anxiety, depression, loneliness, getting bullied at work, and physical health issues… I didn’t know how to handle all of it. I felt like an inept juggler who keeps getting tossed more and more objects until she begins to drop them. I also felt like maybe I wasn’t good enough to be a nurse – did other people deal with all of these issues or have meltdowns like mine? I must not be strong enough, I thought. I didn’t know what to do or where to turn. I felt so alone.
But I was never alone. God was with me through it all, just as He has promised.
God connected me with family and friends who brought hope and peace, ones who continue to speak truth against the lies of anxiety that fill my mind. Instead of going out of habit (or not going at all), I slowly found myself going to church out of a desire to find hope and healing. I began to read my Bible with the desperation of one who is parched and has found clear water, or one who is starving and has found good food. My strength and earthly supports had been stripped away, and so I clung to what remained – the strength that comes from Jesus Christ.
Anxiety makes me doubt. It steals joy. It can take a perfectly lovey day and spin it into something that will haunt me. Anxiety tells me that I’m not good enough. That I am a bother to those around me. That no one really likes me. That everything is a reason to panic. That I am an inconvenience.
These. Are. Lies.
God says that I am loved. God says that I am not an inconvenience. God says that he will provide for my needs. God says that I should not be anxious, but that I should to come to Him with all of my worries and He will give me a peace that I cannot comprehend. God gives strength to the weary.
God gives me hope.
God has blessed me so many times and in so many ways, all throughout my life; I just didn’t truly realize how much until I was near the end of my rope. God has provided me with my dream job, enough money to meet my needs, an apartment to live in, family and friends who love me, a church in which to grow and bless others, and so many opportunities to tell others about the hope that God has given me.
People tell me that I should pray for healing, for release from my mental and physical illness. Believe me, I do pray for healing. I am tired of my mind lying to me all the time, and I am literally sick and tired of my body not working as it should.
But what if God chooses NOT to heal me, at least at this point in time?
God does not act without a reason. God has promised to work through us for the glory of Christ (Ephesians 1:11-12; Philippians 2:13) and that in all things he works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). We as Christians are also instructed to be prepared to give an answer when people ask the reason for our hope (1 Peter 3:15).
I am a Christian. Long ago I made the choice to give my life to Christ, to use as He will. My life is not my own. So many people today are searching for hope, and we as Christians have the answer that they so desperately need. There have been several times that God has used my story and my circumstances to connect with others who are hurting, and through our connection I have been able to show them the love and hope of Christ.
Our lives may not play out how we would expect, and sometimes the circumstances may be uncomfortable or terrifying. But if we truly believe God’s promises, then we know that God can – and WILL – use every aspect of our lives to bring glory to his Son.