How many times have you heard the phrase “count your blessings”? You may hear it in church, read it on décor at a store or maybe something you have hanging in your house. This weekend, I took some time to count my blessings.
I turned 24 on Friday. Year twenty-four isn't really a special birthday like age 1, 5, 10, 13, 16, 18, or 21... but it's a special one to me. If you would have asked me when I was 18, 19 or even 20 if I thought that I would make it to my 24th birthday, I would've told you no. I was depressed. Suicide was a daily thought. I honestly didn't think that I would live to see my 22nd birthday because I didn't see a way out of the pain that my depression and anxiety brought me other than death.
But, here I am! I just turned 24 and I'm typing a blog for my Christian blog site. As I was driving Friday, God brought all of this to my attention. Three years ago I couldn't see a solution to life, so my answer was death. I felt like God was millions of miles away and didn't hear me when I prayed. So what changed? On God's end, nothing. On my end, everything.
I knew that either I was going to kill myself, or I had to get serious and fight with everything I had. It sounds dramatic and no one looking in on my life would've seen how serious it was, but for me, it was life or death. I decided I wanted to live and not just survive, but thrive.
When I would wake up in the morning, I would remind myself that God woke me up for a reason and that I had a purpose. I had to keep telling myself constantly, “Walk by faith, not by sight or feelings.” I had always been told in church that either I had to accept the Bible fully or deny it fully. I had no problem believing that God loved others and wanted them to enter heaven, but the troubles came when I tried to believe it for myself. I knew I couldn't deny the entire Bible, so I had to accept it fully.
I got my bible out and starting listing all of God's promises, as well as encouraging verses. If I believed the bible fully, then it meant that these promises applied to me and my life. So if the bible told me that God would never leave me or forsake me, then it was true. And since it was true, it meant that even if I couldn't sense God in my life, He was still there. This all didn't come easy, and it didn't mean that I instantly believed the things I was reading. I had to read my list of verses every morning and when hard times came, reciting them over and over again in my head. I knew God was greater than my depression, anxiety and suicidal thoughts. I was trusting that He could pull me out.
Through much time in prayer, my friends and my family, days started getting better. It wasn't easy, but I was determined to live a life that God wanted. But even after I felt more in control of my depression and anxiety and my suicidal thoughts were rare, I still struggled with feeling God in my life. What did I do? I prayed, went to church, read my bible and kept searching for God. Last year, after 3 years or what I call a “dry spell,” God revealed Himself to me. I had been praying for years for God to give me a sign that He loved me and heard my prayers. A sign that I couldn't explain. Well... it happened late last year. I was at work and one of my coworkers who is a very strong, devout Christian lady pulled me into the office alone and told me that God asked her to tell me that He loved me and he heard my prayers and to not give up. Talk about a sign! God had her tell me the exact things that I had been praying for. The tears began to flow and I could just feel God wrap His loving arms around me.
So... what are my blessings?
I have a loving God who meets my every need. I have a personal relationship with my Savior Jesus Christ. I have friends and family that love me. I have a roof over my head. I have a nice car to drive. I have God's word that I get to read each and every day. I have the freedom to walk into a church and worship the God that I choose to worship. My photography business is starting to pick up. I have a job that I enjoy going to where I am able to share the love of God. The list goes on and on.
If I had ended my life those years ago, I wouldn't have been able to experience these amazing blessings. It's funny how I didn't see a way out other than death, but God gave me life. I'm not merely surviving, but thriving on God's grace and mercy. Are there still hard days? Sure! But God is there to pick me up when I fall and remind me of how much He loves me.
I have a challenge for you! Take some time this week to get alone with God. Count your blessings and thank God for them. Do you have cares? Tell Him. Do you have doubts? He understands! Spend some quality time with God and just talk to Him. He loves you!