I vividly remember the exact moment I realized I hated my body. I was on the beach with my family, and I didn’t feel comfortable in a swimsuit. I was nine. As I got older, my contempt for myself continued to grow. I felt so empty.
I used to hate everything about me: my personality, my performance, my appearance.
I grew up going to church. I heard stories about God and thought I had an idea of who He is. I thought as long as I was a pretty good person and tried to do what is right, God would love me.
In eighth grade, I began channeling my dislike for myself by cutting. I had suicidal thoughts and wondered what the world would be like if I wasn’t a part of it anymore. I went to school with a smile on my face and interacted with my friends, constantly functioning in a state of false happiness.
In college, my struggles were amplified. I fell into the temptation of drinking, drugs and impurity. I searched for fulfillment and found temporary satisfaction in these things.
When the satisfaction wore off, I would be left feeling empty all over again. That didn’t stop me from trying to please the people around me.
I thought if I joined in what they were doing they would accept me. Maybe they would care. Maybe I would be loved. Maybe I would be enough.
My doubts about my worthiness affected all of the relationships in my life. Although I wanted to be cared for by others, I thought if I let them in I wouldn’t be enough for them. I thought God hated me. I was convinced He was angry with me for all the ways I was disobeying Him.
By my junior year, I thought life was starting to come together. I was in a great relationship, I had a loyal best friend and my career path was set in place. I constructed a mask that resembled happiness.
As the year progressed, my friendship began to disintegrate because of my neglect of it and my anxiety. My job security that I had so carefully planned out fell through. My once-ideal relationship had gone from one extreme to the complete opposite. I was so damaged and drained that I believed I was no longer capable of loving others.
I stopped even pretending to be happy.
My heart was hardened. I shut myself off from God and the world.
I grew up thinking I had to be a certain way or get to a certain point for someone to love me. At the beginning of my senior year at a retreat for Cru, I learned God loves me exactly the way I am.
He loves me in the midst of my brokenness, my anxiety, my imperfection. I was shocked at this news. I was broken down to a place I had nowhere left to turn but to God.
“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8 NIV
God doesn’t get angry with us. He loves us even when we feel we are doing wrong. That’s when I felt it for the first time in my life: pure JOY.
Not only does He love me, but He wants to know me and have a relationship with me. I am not perfect. I never will be, and that’s okay because God IS.
God continued to pursue me and cling on to me even when I wasn’t clinging to Him or even looking for Him. I no longer need to fake happiness; the happiness that I feel is REAL.
I still face struggles all the time, but I know in my heart that my God loves me now and will forever, and nothing I do will change that. I used to feel ashamed by my struggles. I felt that because of them, I wasn’t good enough. Now I am reminded that my trials make Christ’s sacrifice on the cross that much more beautiful and meaningful to me.
When the lie “I am worthless” is cemented in your head, how do you find hope? Take a seat, and learn how God cares about your depression.
Learn how to find hope in the midst of depression and anxiety.
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