After my baptism, I really started to notice how the Holy Spirit was moving in me. For one thing, I no longer had any urge to drink or do any drugs. It just disappeared! I was worried that being around other people drinking would lead me into temptation, but it hasn’t. I have been clean and sober for a year and a half now as I write this. I know this is not something that happens to everyone. God has His own timing in how we recover from addiction, but for some amazing reason God choose to gift my husband and I with this freedom. Believe me, we still had a lot of things that needed work!
My depression being one of those things. I have suffered from severe depression and anxiety for as long as I can remember. As I got older, my depression started to get better. Better in terms of where it was when I was a teen. When I was a teen I was depressed all the time and was often suicidal. As I grew older my suicidal tendencies lessened and I would have periods where I was not feeling completely hopeless. I was still depressed often though. Jesus was waiting to transform all that for me though.
I was working on my prayer life, trying to understand what prayer looked like and how it worked. When I would start to get overwhelmed by my emotions I would more often than not try to pray or read the Bible. Sometimes that would comfort me greatly, sometimes it didn’t seem to help at all. I had spent my whole life with my emotions controlling me. I had no way to deal with the strength of them as they would wash over me, threatening to drown me. Whether it be anger or sadness, my emotions were the boss. It could get quite scary.
I remember one time in particular when I was so overcome with depression. I was in tears, I couldn’t cope and I didn’t know what to do. My life was getting so much better, I actually had joy and I could see beauty in life, without the help of drugs. I cried out to God and begged Him for help. But God seemed so very far away. Nothing could get past this prison of emotions that was shutting me off from life. It was so awful. I sat on the couch in the family room and cried. I closed my eyes and silently prayed and asked Jesus to please help me. I imagined He was right there with me in that very moment. I pictured Him in my mind – that He was right there next to me, holding me. And it was so real in that moment. I felt His presence settle over me; His peace. His love for me was so amazing, so comforting. It was then that He began to heal me from my pain and depression.
This was just the beginning of an amazing relationship that I began to develop with Jesus. Up until this point Jesus had remained somewhat elusive to me. I had been reading about Him in the Gospels and hearing about how important He was in church. I had watched as He sacrificed Himself for me in movie, but I had never known how to have a relationship with Him. I mean really, how do you have a relationship with God? You cannot see God, cannot touch Him, cannot hear Him talk to you. Or can you?
After this amazing experience I wanted more. More of Jesus. I wanted Him to grace me with His amazing presence again and again. So I would carve out time to just sit and be with Him. In my room when the kids were busy I could find a quiet space. I would sit and think about Him, what He would look like, what He would do if He was right there with me. It was a little strange at first, but the results were enthralling. It would take some time to wrangle my mind away from all the distracting thoughts that were barrage me, but when I did, Jesus was there. I began to really experience Jesus as a real being. Not just something in my imagination, not a picture I have seen or a story I read. Jesus is real, Jesus is alive, and He was waiting for me. Christ, my King.
His presence left me feeling warm, yet excited. I just wanted to worship Him. Soon I would start off my time with Jesus by just praising Him and giving Him my love and adoration. It moved me into a place where it was easier for me to forget about the distractions that wanted to tug me away. The list of chores I needed to do, the grocery list that needed to be made, the kids fighting, or whatever else there was. I just gave Him my love in that moment and let Him bowl me over with His loving presence. It was absolutely amazing.
We were made to worship God, made to praise and adore Him. When we stop and sit quietly we can truly experience God in ways we never thought possible. He is everywhere – you can see Him in all of creation. The earth, the sky, the sun and moon. No wonder the ancients worshiped creation – they could feel God’s mighty presence infused into it! We were made to commune with God and become one with Him. It is what He wants, because believe it or not, He adores YOU. Sometimes it is so hard to believe this is true. ‘Where has God been all my life?’, you may ask. Maybe you have been earnestly seeking Him, and still can’t seem to find Him. But I assure you, God is there, in every moment of your life. Even when you have rejected and rebuked Him, He was there loving you.
The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17