On the night of September 14, 2015, life as I knew it changed forever. I walked into a church with nothing--not even the will to live--but I walked out with everything. I wish I could describe what happened to me that night, but honestly it's too amazing to describe in words. However, I will try for the sake of this article and because maybe you, dear friend or reader, need to hear my story and know that what God did for me, He will do even more so for you. 

I want to start my story at about six weeks prior to that night in September.  I was in an extremely depressive state and had already tried to commit suicide twice before. I contemplated suicide so much that I involuntarily visualized my own death nearly every time I walked into a room, drove down a highway, or allowed myself to be alone with my thoughts. I absolutely hated myself, and the pain of my past (and even present) I couldn't seem to escape from just made me hate myself even more. I was convinced that the only way to escape it all and to the make the pain go away was to die.

I had already turned to things like alcohol and (bad) relationships to try to make all of the pain and shame go away, but neither of those helped me. They numbed my senses for a moment but left me feeling worse than I was feeling before. In fact, the latter of the two got me in some really sticky situations on several occasions dating back to even my junior year of highschool.  From my junior year of highschool to about halfway through freshman year of college, I was sexually assaulted and pressured into doing things that I didn't want to do on multiple occasions by a few different boys, but I did them because the boy would almost always threaten to leave me if I didn't; and I was afraid of being alone again. I'm not saying that every relationship I had with a guy was like that. They weren't all that way, but there are always a few bad apples in the bunch.

I want to give any of you single people who are reading this some advice: don't go into a relationship if you don't know who you are. You will never find your identity in another person. You will, however, find you identity in God. He's the one who made you, respects you, and loves you despite any condition you may be in right now. If you are hurting and broken, turn to God. He doesn't just "numb the senses" for a moment; He makes all of the pain go away and heals you for forever.

About six weeks before that night in September, I was on my kitchen floor with a knife in my hand and crying so much that I could barely see anything through the tears streaming from my eyes. I wanted so desperately to die, but something held me back from going through with it. Whether it was fear or a small sliver of hope that maybe eventually I wouldn't hurt so much, it doesn't matter. All that matters is I didn't go through with it. I was interrupted from my thoughts by a text message from a dear friend and cousin of mine. Of all things that text could have been about, she was inviting to go to a revival at a church I had never been to before. I agreed to go with her and put the knife away, thinking I would save it for another day if this didn't pan out. 

At the revival, my cousin and I were told that in five weeks time, our lives would change forever. I accepted that and told God that I would try to be better if He would promise me that my life really would change and if He would prove to me that He was real. During the weeks in between, I did what I knew I needed to do for my life to change. I deleted all of the sad, depressing, and secular music from my library, and I stepped down from my position as worship leader in the church I attended. (Yes. I was a leader in a church at this time.) A few weeks pass, and I'm still hurting; however, I clung to this sliver of hope that said everything would change in that fifth week of waiting. 

On the Monday of the fifth week, I had plans to go and eat dinner with an old high school friend of mine for his birthday; however, he cancelled at the last minute. Not wanting to be left alone with my thoughts, I decided to ask my younger sister if she would like to go to dinner with me. She said she would, but she didn't want to miss the revival that was going on at her church that night. During dinner, she convinced me to go with her to church, but I said I would only stay for the worship service since my father was playing the guitar. However, what I could only seem to describe at the time as peace, hope, love, and rest just permeated the atmosphere of that church and made me want to stay for the entire service. I realized later that what I felt that night was the presence of God, and it's the sweetest thing anyone could ever feel.

That night was September 14, 2015, and the evangelist that was speaking that night asked me if he could pray for me. I readily agreed. In that moment, God fulfilled His promises to me. He became so real to me, and He changed my life forever. In that instant, I was healed of depression, suicide, and anxiety. All of the pain I used to feel was replaced with the undying and unconditional love of my Father and Best Friend. Best of all, He continues even to this day to do exceedingly and abundantly more than I could ever ask or even dream. He has given me hope. He has made sure that I have never gone without anything I need. He has revealed to me the purpose that He has always had for me since before I was even born. He continues to shower me in His love and grace as each day passes. Best of all, He gave His Son's life just for me and just so I could spend my life with Him for the rest of eternity.

If you're feeling hopeless, there is hope. If you're tired and weary, there is rest. If there is a battle going on in your mind or in your life, there is peace. If you feel unloveable, He is Love, and He loves you. Of all the things I have done in my life, none will ever be as great and as important to me as the moment I finally let Jesus, the Man who loved me so much He died for me, embrace me in His loving arms and never let me go. 

When you stop running, you realize that you could never outrun God to begin with. God doesn't grow weary, and He is relentless in His pursuit for you. He says you're worth everything, so don't ever think you're less. When you're at the end of your rope, God is still there with His arms outstretched, begging you to let Him embrace you and show you how much He loves you. You're never too far from God, for He is always right beside you. You just choose whether or not you acknowledge Him. He loves you at your worst, and He wants nothing more than to bring you to your best. 

Published by Amber Oglesby