June 26, 2014 by Kara Nichols
This is my third draft in as many days! I thought sharing one of my God Stories would be easy. I’d sit down with a cup of coffee and the words would flow naturally while a halo balanced on top of my head. Yeah, right.This has been heart wrenching. I’ve cut out some details of my story so there’s few distractions from the message that God wants me to share. If you want to hear the long, uglier version, I’m available to share it with you on a personal basis.
In the spring of 2010 I was so anxious and depressed that I curled up in a ball on my parents bed and they quoted scripture over me and prayed. I felt like I was dying and I was hyperventilating and having a massive panic attack. I have a hard time expressing just how lonely and depressed I felt at that time, but it might help to know that just months before my fiance broke off our engagement because days before the wedding I had a psychotic manic episode, which is a fancy way of saying I went crazy, and I ended up in the mental hospital for a week. Not very romantic. I was also living with him at the time (which I don’t recommend) and I had to move out because he was done with me. I was devastated but if I was in his position I’d probably do the same thing. It takes a special person to stand by a loved one who is mentally ill. Brings a whole new level to “in sickness and in health.” So without a place to live and no job prospects, it was decided that I should move to Virginia to be near family and start over. But it wasn’t just like hitting reset and everything was awesome.
I was miserable and drowning in an ocean of fear. Fear about being a crazy person, fear about not finding new friends and a job, fear that I was going to be a loser forever, fear of dying alone, fear that the medicine I had to take was killing my creativity. The list goes on and on. The day I was curled up on my parents bed was the first time I reconsidered having a relationship with God. I was desperate and while I felt as though He had abandoned me, the truth was that I was the one who walked away years before. Despite feeling paralyzed by loneliness, desperation, sadness, and fear, my heart slowly softened to spiritual things. Before my move back East I had been studying Buddhism so to have interest in Christianity was a big deal.
I decided to find a church to attend just so I could be around other people for an hour. A few months later, still dealing with fear, anxiety, and a multitude of ailments I had reached my breaking point. I was sobbing and crying out to God, completely at my wits end and out of options. I sort of believed he was real and I half-heartedly wanted a chance at a happy life but I didn’t think it was possible. While I was sobbing God reminded me of a song that I used to love in high school. It’s called “He’ll take the pain away” by Kirk Franklin. (To listen to the song go here.)
I listened to the song on repeat for over an hour and wept while asking God to come into my heart. I asked if he would take away the pain and the sins that dominated my life and give me new hope. I asked this about a thousand times in a row because I wanted to make sure it would stick. So Christ became my Savior that day. And while changes didn’t happen over night, four years later and I’m a completely different person. I still struggle with my mental illness and fear, but nothing to the extent that I experienced in the past. He has slowly and surely transformed me from the inside out and he continues to do so.
This may surprise you but I actually grew up in a Christian church and I’m the daughter of a pastor. Growing up I knew all of the right things to say and the verses to memorize and how to pray in a convincing way but it wasn’t until I was 30 years old that God grabbed my attention when I was at my lowest that He became real to me. He saved me from myself. He comforted me when the pain was great, he became my best friend. He gave me a new song to sing. There’s one verse that I really think nails down my situation. I used to think it was kind of cheesy when people had a life verse but I have one now!
Psalm 18:24 “God rewrote the text of my life when I opened the book of my heart to his eyes.” (The Message)
He truly has rewritten the text of my life by providing great local friends and a loving family, as well as taken care of my physical and emotional needs. Blessed be the name of the Lord who reaches down from heaven and cares for his children. He’s so unmistakable with his loving touch. While I know there will be trouble in this world and not everything will be perfect (John 16:33) I now know the one who has overcome the world.
I still struggle to read my Bible every day and I don’t always make it to church but Jesus is in my heart and his mercies are new every morning (Lamentations 3:22). Thankfully there’s nothing I can do to earn salvation. It was a gift paid for by the blood of Christ on the cross. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
I wished for all of these changes to take place over night, but it has been a long, sometimes difficult road. I look back now at the heartache I’ve been through and I can honestly say that it was worth it because I know Jesus now. If that wedding would have taken place, I’m sure I would be divorced already. If I hadn’t of moved back to Virginia I wouldn’t have my close knit relationship with family and new friends. I can’t bring myself to say I’d do it all again because it was awful but God was with me the whole time and I know He is with me now. Things aren’t perfect and they won’t be until heaven. But He is alive in me, He has changed me, and He can do the same for you.
I don’t have all of the answers but I would love to talk to you about Jesus. Email me at kara.nichols AT gmail.com. And also be watching for the next edition of God Stories. I know you’re going to love it. Also if you’d like to share your God Story please email me at the address above.