One step, two steps, three steps, stuck. You can’t move. You can’t breathe. You can’t see. You are stuck. There is nowhere to go and nowhere to turn. You are fastened to the dirt of life that surrounds you. Hope seems too distant and joy is nowhere to be found. You are stuck. The journey that got you to where you are began just one step at a time. As time progressed, the path got muddier, deeper, and more painful. Now, you are stuck. Is this where you are? Have you been here before? I have.
When I was just a girl, about eight years old, I went through far more than any child should ever go through. Life seemed near perfect before one very sad day. This was the day my childhood friend, Mark, passed away. Death was a vocabulary word I never knew until that day. Days passed and I still could not grasp it, until I saw him. What an unfamiliar feeling it was to look upon the fair skin of my friend as he lay, eyes closed, motionless, in a “box.” I then began to realize they would close that box he was in and I would never see him again. This is when life took its first turn towards the muck. But I kept pushing through.
The unknown ahead was coming faster than I could have ever anticipated. As spiritual warfare crept in, more pain came quickly and appeared in many forms. I began to have night terrors that have not stopped to this day. After Mark's death, it seemed more people began to “leave” too. Death began to press down on me. My children’s pastor was diagnosed with cancer, then all of a sudden, gone. My worship leader got in a car accident, gone. My sister’s best friend was told she had an enlarged heart, gone. My brother’s friend did not want to live anymore, gone. The list went on…gone, gone gone. Within a matter of just a few years, I had lost so many people in my life. I had not even had my twelfth birthday yet. But I kept pushing through.
During those years, I tried to grieve but I never seemed to be able to. Partly because when one death happened, it wasn’t long until another one came. The other reason was because of a person in my life. During that time, I was being physically, emotionally, and verbally abused. Even though I was an outspoken child, I felt overpowered and I let this person walk all over me. This not only hindered my grieving process, but my development of trust, self-worth, and much more. It continued until I turned thirteen. At this point in time my feet were stepping into the cold, wet dirt of adversity. But I kept pushing through.
In the midst of my hardship, I also experienced common adolescent difficulties like being bullied, having no friends, changing schools frequently, and going through a messy church split. I didn't know how to deal with the bigger situations, much less the "smaller" ones. Entering middle school, it hit me hard. I was stuck and I was stuck deep. I reached the point where I didn’t want to go to school because of being bullied and having no friends. I didn’t want to go to church because I didn’t have a church home or youth leader to turn to. And I didn’t want to go home for fear of running into that person. I felt like I had no place to go and no one to turn to. I was stuck and wasn't sure if I could push through any longer.
Out of depression, I began to cut myself and had thoughts of suicide. I did not want to be alive anymore. All hope seemed lost. I just wanted it all to be over. Each day was like one long panic attack. I had plans of what taking my life would look like and even had an idea of when to do it. I was ready to be released from the pain and take my final breath. But God had a different plan. He knew the hurt, the pain, and the agony. He knew my depression was at its peak. He knew I was deeply stuck and He witnessed all of my suffering. He knew I needed help.
I only told one friend what was going on. Only one. What are the chances that the day I was ready to call it quits was the day that my friend told her mom, her mom called my school hotline, the school hotline called my mom, and I was rescued. My secrets were found out and my pain was all on the table. I was finally seen. This began a change in me and began to unfold my need for Jesus. I was always heavily involved at church and was even a missionary kid, but I didn’t truly give my life to Jesus until that next year in seventh grade. God used musical worship, specifically a song titled “Satisfy,” to open my eyes to see that Jesus was all I needed.
Now while I had this newfound relationship with Christ, and had already gone through so much, this didn't guarantee me protection from further trials. High school was rough, but when compared to college, it was a breeze. It was as if I was a little girl all over again. Throughout my collegiate years I was deeply homesick, bullied, verbally abused by my employer, was diagnosed with anxiety and depression, learned that I had not completed the grieving process of any deaths since I was eight, had recurring panic attacks, the night terrors continued, and my dad almost died. Worst of all, my RA’s mom died and over 20 people, friends and family passed away back home in Orlando. These deaths were due to car accidents, health issues, old age, drowning, cancer, and the majority being suicide. I was devastated. I was depressed. I was in pain, but I wasn’t alone in it.
This time, I had a husband by my side to walk through the darkness with me. At times I was still really scared because I was vulnerable to loss, but I had a hand to hold onto and a voice that spoke truth to me. Most importantly, I had Christ! No matter how deep in I was, God could pull me through. God helped me push through the dirt, the muck, and the weight of my affliction. I wasn't going to be able to push through the dirt alone. I needed Him. Even though there were moments of doubt, anger, and confusion towards God, and moments I wanted to relinquish, His truth and grace pursued me to press on. I needed to trust His Word and the promises He makes to me, and hold tight to His hand to help push me through. It was not easy (and it still is not easy), but God knew my journey would grow me into the woman I am today. No matter what life delivers me, my marriage, my family, God’s ministry, my job, or anything else, with God, I will push through. God has blessed me with a godly husband that reminds me what I forget to remind myself and that is: If God brings me to it, He WILL bring me through it. Today I can say that with total confidence. If God can help me push through, He WILL help you too!
Rachel is married to her college sweetheart and a dog mom to her adorable Oliver and Harlee. She disciples middle and high school girls in East Orlando. Her hobbies include music, singing, sports, photography, shopping, journaling, and art.