I am honored today to share a post from guest blogger, Julia Anderson from https://faithhopeloveandtherapy.com. Revelation 12:11 tells us that we triumph over the enemy by the blood of the Lamb and the word of our testimony. Julia is finding victory thru this by sharing some hard parts of her story. I pray this encourages you to share your story or listen to someone else who needs to share.
Love in the Telling
“Last fall, my husband and I joined a new small group through our church. As part of the getting-to-know-each-other process of the small group, we were asked to each share our story. The thought of speaking in front of a group of people – even casually – gives me a horrendous case of stage fright. But this seemed non-negotiable, and so I rehearsed what I would say over and over – in the car, while doing laundry, in my head as I fell asleep at night. Over and over and over.
My husband, bless his soul, just decided to “wing it” on the night that it was our turn.
We both did fine – I managed to get through mine with a minimum of tears, and breathed a heavy sigh of relief that it was over. I felt as though I had muddled through; my story is about anxiety and depression and mental illness and anger at God….and finally peace with God and my illnesses and hope for the future. It certainly wasn’t glamorous.
But later that night my husband asked me how I felt, and I admitted to feeling relieved, and a bit victorious; to have shared such a private and admittedly painful part of myself with people I barely knew had been terrifying, but also very freeing.
“I’m thinking of writing it down somewhere.” I said, “I don’t know where exactly, but somewhere. So maybe I can share it again sometime.”
He looked at me with eyes both wide with surprise and simultaneously sincere, and said, “You need to do that. Think about what it would have meant for you to have had someone tell you that you were going to be ok when you were younger. Think about how that could have changed your life. Think about the lives you could be changing – just by talking and writing about what you already know.”
Shortly thereafter I found myself speaking to a group of teenagers and telling my story again, writing a blog with all the details and putting it out for the internet to find, messaging with relative strangers about mental illness within the Christian community. And it was terrifying, and hard…and freeing.
But more important than how it felt for me, the reaction from my friends, family, and strangers was not just supportive, but thankful. Thankful for talking about mental health, thankful for my vulnerability, thankful for my story, thankful for shared hope.
And it made me think – we all have a story to tell, but so many times it feels easier to stay quiet. Less risky.
Your battles may be different from mine, but the truth is that someone else is fighting the exact same issue right now. And your words, could be the love they need. Divorce? Financial problems? Drug or alcohol addictions? Cancer? Infertility? Infant or Child loss? Or have you survived parenting teenagers, defiant toddlers, middle school drama, or sending a child to college (TELL ME YOUR SECRETS)?
Whatever you’ve battled through, whatever giants you’ve faced down, your past could be life changing for someone else’s future. It doesn’t have to be in a blog, or online, or in front of a group – but the willingness to be vulnerable, to show empathy and understanding and love, is exactly what God calls us to do. There is love in the telling, in the sharing of the daily trenches, the celebration of minor victories, and the hand holding of broken hearts.
“Think about what it would have meant for you to have had someone tell you that you were going to be ok when you were younger. Think about how that could have changed your life. Think about the lives you could be changing – just by talking and writing about what you already know.”
God commands us to love our neighbors as ourselves.
I often think of myself as a preteen: anxious, depressed, and suicidal, and I imagine someone wrapping their arms around twelve-year-old-me and telling me that it was ok. Ok to feel all that I felt, that God loved me and called me His no matter what I was battling, that my faith was not lacking because of my mental illness. I imagine that instead of fighting alone for years and years, I had someone who knew me, who checked on me, and showed me God’s love. And I imagine that I spent my teenage years and young adulthood believing that God loved me, believing that I was worthy, believing that life was going to turn out ok.
And then, I sit down and write my blog, tell my story, reach out to others; loving them as I wish I could love myself, as I wish someone had loved me. Because loving our neighbors isn’t just a feeling or an attitude or a prayer, but rather a call to action, a battle cry. Love them enough to tell your story, no matter how dark or hard it may be, and then love them enough walk beside them through theirs.”
What beautiful, brave, good words! Julia is the wife of James, and the mother of three- Kaitlyn (16), Eliana (12), and Rucker (6). She has lived in North Georgia all her life, and has struggled with anxiety and depression for almost as long as well. She loves Jesus, coffee, spreadsheets, and naps. She hates yard work (but loves flowers) and dog hair (but loves her dogs!) She has created a safe space for people to share their stories and struggles regarding Mental Health at https://faithhopeloveandtherapy.com.