From Depression/suicidal thoughts to peace: Kaitlyn’s God experience
It was day three of winter camp. It was getting colder outside and I was feeling ready to go back home. I was having fun with the whole “God” thing, but I had more important issues back home. My grades were slipping, a couple of my friends were getting into drugs, and my mom was working on finding a therapist for me that we could afford. Even though the weekend so far had been fun, I didn’t have time for fun.
It was November of my sophomore year in high school. I had been dealing with depression and suicidal thoughts for about five months, so I started attending my church’s youth group for the first time as an outlet. My school was having a four-day weekend, the same weekend my church was going up into the mountains for winter camp. Despite the huge workload I had from school, my parents let me go to camp for the first time. I was relatively new to the whole “Christian” thing, so I expected camp to just be about having fun and singing some worship songs. The last thing I expected was to be called away from being the Christian I had always been.
It was night three of winter camp. At this point I was freezing and completely drained. We went into the auditorium to have our last worship session, and I was over it. I was finally warm, the songs were beautiful, and I felt free to connect with God, but looking to God in this safe space seemed like effort that I wasn’t willing to put in just yet. Near the end of the service, the worship leader instructed us to spread out around the room, find our own little space, and have private time in silence with God. With everything going on back home, I had a lot of questions for God, and had definitely been avoiding asking them. At this point, I knew I loved God and that Jesus sacrificed himself for my sins, but that was about it. I was a Christian, I was not a follower of God.
In this time of silence, I lied on the floor enraged. In my fifteen years of living, I had been a decent person so far. I didn’t lie, cheat, steal, or disrespect my parents. I was a decent person, and for some reason God thought it would be okay to make my life miserable. I was so angry with God that I couldn’t even form the questions I had in my head. It all just came out as me internally screaming “Why God?!”
In this time of silence, chills were sent through my body. Chills that simply couldn’t be explained by a cool breeze or by someone turning on the AC unit. These chills came from something (or rather, someone), much more powerful. I closed my eyes and saw the image of a man walking towards me. His body was a warm, yellow color and he radiated light that outstretched the red background behind him. He moved slowly towards me and held out a hand. The chills I had presently been experiencing were not letting up. The man continued walking towards me as my rage subsided.
In this time of silence, I felt the strange sensation that comes along with feeing both anxiety and peace at the same time. I wasn’t angry anymore, just confused. Had I experienced God?
It was night three of winter camp, and the worship service had just ended, which meant it was time for small groups to meet. In my small group, there were three other sophomore girls and two leaders. The other girls took turns answering the questions our leaders had while I stayed silent. All of the questions and confusions I had pushed aside for so long were suddenly in the forefront of my mind. I started crying uncontrollably when it came time for me to answer a question.
It was November of my sophomore year in high school. I was completely broken. One of the leaders stayed back to help me process what I was feeling, but I wasn’t in a place to even scratch the surface of what I had been feeling. I told her my mom didn’t understand my depression, and we ended up talking about that for a while. I never told her about what I experienced in the silence.
In this time of silence, I now realize I was called to be more than just a Christian. I was called to trust God and be a follower. I was no longer defined by my depression, or my friends’ bad choices, or my helplessness. I was called to be God’s beloved child.
It was November of my sophomore year in high school. It was night three of winter camp. In this time of silence, did I experience God?