It wasn’t something I planned on when I set out on the journey.
With a heart full of possibilities and eyes ablaze with hope, I set out on the road of life. I anticipated love, kindness, joy, fulfilled dreams. I didn’t count on the road being a little difficult to navigate, the journey a little rough-going.
I did not expect that I would get lost (a time, or two… or twenty), fall down and hurt myself, hurt others, have others hurt me.
I most certainly did not foresee that along the course of the journey, I would get so terribly lost and beaten down that I’d lose all will to continue.
I spent almost half my life in dark depression and pain. Lost, broken, and plagued by suicidal thoughts, I couldn’t see any way out of the tangled forest no matter how much I wanted to.
I was, and still am, sensitive — I’ve recently begun to see that as a gift from God, but back then, I had no idea how to navigate the journey whilst keeping my bruise-like-a-peach heart intact. The little nuances of life, and the people it brought with it, had the ability to pierce my heart to its core.
I was young, lost in a jumbled maze of pain, and I thought that I only had 2 options. The first was to allow the darkness to swallow me in, because I was just too tired to keep fighting. The second was to build a solid fortress around my heart and lock myself in it, anything to protect myself from pain.
I learned the hard way that those weren’t really options at all. They were just two sides of the same coin, each one after the other pulling me deeper down the rabbit hole.
I kept myself locked in that self-made fortress, alone but safe… or so I thought. Sure, those walls may have kept others out, but they also kept all the pain in. There was no room for my hurting heart to breathe, and no way for all the pain to leave. I was locked in with me, and in there, the pain spread like an infection.
In that fortress, the darkness grew wild like weeds in an abandoned garden. Pain was good fertilizer, and the darkness sprung up tall, tangling and spreading, crowding over me till it blocked out the sunlight.
I spent so many years wandering, lost in a prison of my own making.
I wandered for years, and by the time I turned 18, I was in a depression so deep that I despaired of ever being free again. The pain in my heart had become so acute, and so consistent, it reached an intensity that I hadn’t known the human heart was capable of containing.
I kept pushing people away. But in my heart, the little girl that was trapped there kept crying out, “Don’t give up on me! Don’t let me push you away. Give it one more try!”
I was so confused and lost, and I was desperate to be free from it all…
But salvation was near. One day, at the point where I had reached the end of myself, God showed up.
He stormed that fortress like a valiant knight, and He broke through those walls I had so carefully built up all those years.
But it wasn’t violent, or loud, or scary like I’d thought it would be. He was gentle, and kind, and so, so full of love. It was His love that did it. It melted the walls and chains that had bound me for so long, and it washed my heart clean (I literally felt a cleansing flow from heaven come down upon me, filling me, warming me… and when it was over, my heart & mind felt SO clean, cleaner than I’d felt in more than 10 years).
He spoke tenderly to me. He showed me that all those other things I had been running after, thinking that they would cure the ache in my heart, were mere shadows pointing to the real answer – Jesus. My heart was built for Him, and it would always ache apart from Him. The pain and loneliness were meant to be escorts, road signs, pointing me to Him.
I can’t say exactly where or when it happened — I think it’s pretty much a life-long journey, even though there are definitive landmarks along the way — but the Lord cleaned me up and healed my broken heart.
It took a fair bit of coaxing and a LOT of help, but I gradually allowed Him to clean up the garden of my heart. It had been left wild and untended for so long, and I had a bad habit of rebuilding those broken walls, so it took quite some time before it even began to resemble a healthy garden again.
It didn’t happen all at once, mostly because I think He knew that my heart would likely die from the pain of it. He did it gently, tenderly, revealing one wound at a time and then cleaning it out before covering it with ointment for healing.
All those years I had spent wandering in the dark, He redeemed. I saw them as wasted years, but He didn’t. His promise to me was, “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten..” (Joel 2:25)
All the things I was ashamed of about me, things that I thought were worthless and ugly, He said, “I’ll take them. I’ll take those ashes, I’ll take them all.” And in return, He gave me beauty. (Isaiah 61:3)
He turned my rags of despair into a glorious gown of rejoicing. He made something beautiful out of the mess and ugliness. It’s just in His nature to do that.
Looking back, I see how every moment of my life – every pain, every hurt, every disappointment – led me into the arms of God.
Every broken sign on that broken road was pointing me straight to Him.
I didn’t see it then, but I know it now. Every pain and heartbreak served as a fog-horn calling out to me in the darkness, “You need Me. You were made for Me. I love you, I want you, and I will do everything I can to bring you to My side.”
Hosea 2:14 is the perfect picture of God’s pursuit of my heart — back then, and in every other season since — “Therefore I am now going to allure her; I will lead her into the wilderness and speak tenderly to her.” The wilderness is a place of barrenness, emptiness, where we are cut off from all our natural resources… it is also the place where we find that God is all we have, and come to realize that God is all we need.
Being in wilderness is painful, scary, and just downright hard. But it is also the process that brings us to this: “Who is this coming up from the wilderness leaning on her beloved?” (Song of Songs 8:5)
God is a gentleman — He will not barge His way into where He is not wanted. But He is also a passionate lover — He will woo, and pursue, and will not relent until He has won our hearts.
He is doing everything He can to make you His, and He will use anything to do it. Even heartbreak.
The road may be broken, the journey a little rough-going. But friend, wherever you are on the journey, know that it is a road blessed by God and it is leading you straight to Him.
I absolutely enjoyed reading this. Praise God for his redeeming and restoring power.
It is great that you managed to find your way to GOD despite all that you have gone through. Kuddos.
I am so proud of you darling 🙂 . Overcoming what you have gone through have made you a very beautiful soul, and I am so blessed to share my life with you… Indeed He turns ashes into beauty.
Very powerful. Thank you for sharing.
It’s so hard to walk that road, but coming out with a story to share at the end will allow you to connect with people who are still wandering in the that darkness trapped by their own chains and walls. Thank you for the boldness to share it!
Samantha, this is such a beautiful, beautiful read! What an amazing hope we have in the grace of God and in the promise of redemption and restoration, no matter where we have been. He is so good to us! Thank you so much for sharing this!
This is beautiful. I love how you said God is a gentleman, because it is so true.
Beautifully said, thanks for sharing! I love what you said, “God is a gentleman — He will not barge His way into where He is not wanted.” It’s so true!
You are so very brave to write about depression and faith. And I love that you didn’t mention sin as a cause for your depression. I am a Christian and I believe in the healing power of faith, but I hate when I hear other believers blame depression and anxiety on sin.
God is always faithful to offer a way out, be it from out own self-made issues, or from the fallout of other people’s choices. I’m glad He found you.
“Looking back, I see how every moment of my life – every pain, every hurt, every disappointment – led me into the arms of God.”
This summed it all up for me!
This was a great reflection; a pure honest reflection. It blessed me and I am sure will bless many!
I will be sharing on Facebook and Twitter!
Very powerful and moving. I love that you have the courage to write about this and share it with the world! Thanks!
This obviously took a lot of courage and strength to write. Kudos.
Beautiful. Thank you for sharing so much about your life with us. God bless you in your ministry!
Beautiful post. Thanks for sharing.
Powerful, so incredibly powerful.
I’m at a loss for words — and that’s saying A LOT!
Thank you for being transparent with us.
Blessings of deep peace, Jody
So glad you are at a better place. Thank you for sharing such a personal post.
Samantha, what a beautiful post. As someone who has struggled and is married to someone with depression, I can emphathize with your journey. God bless!
I, too, have a “bruise like a peach” sensitive side 😉 and now nearing my forties I think I’ve finally learn to stop apologizing for it and just realizing it’s part of who God made me to be. I appreciate the honesty and vulnerability in your post, may God use it for His Glory!
Thank you for sharing this – it can be hard to not get stuck in heart break.
Thank God for his redeeming power and unending mercy and grace. He had a plan and a purpose for you and He continues to mold you and shape you and use you. You are His masterpiece!
Awesome post, I love your insight!
So beautiful how such realization can come from the trials and tribulations. <3
Beautiful post, love everything about it!Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us.
“it is also the place where we find that God is all we have, and come to realize that God is all we need.” Oh I love that! This post gave me chills! Multiple times! Such a beautiful! Thank you so much! I’m a very tender type of person myself and at times it is not easy to be so, but God definitely has a purpose! 🙂
Such a beautiful post 🙂 I’m so glad that things turned around for you. You deserve the best 🙂
This is beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story, it encouraged me today!
What a beautiful and powerful post!
Thanks for sharing! It’s wonderful you maintained hope even when you were in despaire.
This resignates with me completely, it has been like this for my life as well. And now I am in the process of God changing me and my ways and heart. It is so hard and it hurts, but I know its for my good and Gods glory! Thanks for opening your heart and letting me know I am not the only one!
Thank you for sharing. I’m glad you found a good end to your journey.
Beautiful, beautiful, beautiful! God has made you wounded and recovered, and wise. Thanks!
I really felt your pain as I read this. I’m so thankful that God rescued you from your darkness and that you now know how beautiful you are in His eyes. Can’t wait to read more of your journey. Amy
Sounds just like my God!! What a wonderful redeemer He is!! I like the insight you shared about those two choices being two sides of the same coin. I frequently have to remind myself that with God there are always at least THREE choices. I appreciate your openness and transparency as well. I’m sure others will find great hope in your story.
Nice to meet a fellow sensitive spirit. My life has been rough and I have experienced so much. I have made the mistake of blocking even God out of my heart. I am so glad God is working to redeem even that dark period. I am ready for the time that God is going to use my experiences to help someone else. Gen. 50:20. Love the verse, you shared about God redeeming the lost time. I so pray that God does that for me, like he did for you. I am going to start praying for that.
Thank you so much for your bravery and transparency. I can so relate – being sensitive and an introvert….and also a creative type. Sometimes it seems like I “feel” things so much more strongly than others. Usually I don’t have the words to describe it, but your post was so beautiful and eloquent. I, too, am learning that the sensitivity is a gift from God to help me be more aware of the people he has called me to serve. They’re not always people who are able to articulate their needs! Blessings on you!
I went through a very similar stage in life, but God helped me through it to and it made me who I am today! God is Good!!!
Thank you for sharing this very personal story! I, like yourself, have felt the pain of depression. God has pulled me out every time.
Thank you for sharing this….for being so open in sharing something personal. God truly is the master transformer…..he can take anything and work it for our good!
Thank you for sharing your heart and soul with us. Thank you for sharing how God redeemed you and your past and brought you out of your despair. Blessings
This was a really brave post, Samantha. Thanks so much for opening your heart and soul and sharing it with us. 🙂
Beautiful written. You are a brave, strong woman. God lifts us up when we see no hand to hold. God bless and Thank you for sharing xo
Lovely words, thank you for sharing. 🙂
This was beautifully written, & my first time visiting you, so much of this post spoke to me. There are moments when I have shared so many of the same feelings you describe about the Lord and it is wonderful to read anothers’ testimony of His greatness!
Beautifully written, Samantha! It seems you have a lot of wisdom about our glorious Bridegroom, for someone who I deem to be so young! 😉 Thanks for inspiring us today!
Oh Samantha, I loved your post. Your writing paints pictures that are beautiful to look at but more importantly something we can touch. We’ve all been there in one form or another or we’re going through it now! Thank you for sharing!
I’m so glad that God is a gentleman and willing to woo us! May he continue to heal your wounds and tend the garden of your soul (what a beautiful analogy!).
OMG, girl! It’s weird because I feel like reading my own story in your words. Only that my path on being single is longer. Haha. But I have found God when I got lost. So wonderful is His saving love! I am happy for you.
BEAUTIFUL – that’s all that is needed in response to this.
I am sorry for whatever you went through, but like you said, God worked it for good. I whole heartedly agree with what you said — that the difficult circumstances just lead us (should lead us) closer to Him. I wrote a post this month about the fact that I am thankful for trials in my life. They have brought me into a better place in my life. Thank you so much for sharing your testimony.
Beautiful, brave, and powerful – thank you for sharing. Touched my heart in a lot of ways, friend.
Thank you for sharing a message we all need to hear. So powerful!
This is so beautifully written! Thank you so much for sharing this at Mommy Moments last week. It was the top viewed link and will be featured in this week’s link up. Congrats!
“He did it gently, tenderly, revealing one wound at a time and then cleaning it out before covering it with ointment for healing.”
You have a beautiful way with words and Yes! What a sweet picture of God’s grace!
Beautifully written. Thank you for sharing!
This just made me cry. God is so beautiful.
Wow, this is just…beautiful. Your vulnerability is inspiring and you beautifully express how this journey with Jesus has wrecked you and redeemed you.