Abigail's Story "Who I Am Underneath"

I grew up in a Christian home. My Dad’s family were missionaries and still build churches in Chile, South America. When I was a senior in high school my parents got divorced. It’s amazing how much that changes your life. I started feeling so much hate. My grades suffered, I cried myself to sleep and I went from being a super fun and happy to mad at everyone and everything. I stopped going to church and I finished  my senior year with the worst grades ever. I started jumping from one friend’s house to the other to make sure I had plans outside of the home. My relationship with my parents suffered and I distanced myself from everyone. I became very sick and got passed around doctor to doctor. My home wasn’t just broken, I was broken.  My parents were my best friends. I didn’t just lose my family, I lost all my faith. My family was what was holding my faith together.  I believed what I did because they did. So when that was broken I did not believe anymore.

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I then attended Missouri State University for the first time. I was still mad and careless. I got terrible grades, skipped class, and became severely depressed. I couldn’t find the right path in school because I had lost my way. I was attending a church now but I was just going through the motions. I had something cynical to say about everything and I was a monster to be around. The second year at college my Dad got married and I moved into an apartment by myself. My mom also got remarried, and this made things worse. I felt completely unwanted. Not because they didn't want me, but because at age 19 I was confused, depressed, immature, and living alone. My parents were starting new lives and were very happy. I couldn't pretend that one day they would get back together. I was not mature enough to understand that my parents deserved to be happy and that they were. I didn't see how happy they were because I was blinded by this selfishness and hate.

The third year at college, I only lasted a few months. One day I was in an interior design class and just decided to drop everything. I didn’t want to go to school anymore, I didn’t want to be around people, and I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I completely dropped out...of school, out of life. It was a mess!

During this entire time I was dating my now husband, Britton. He stuck with me through all of these hard years. He carried me when I was so sick I could not even move. He went to all my doctor appointments, and stayed with me each night until I fell asleep, sometimes until  2:00 a.m. even. When I was being hateful, selfish, and making rash decisions, he supported me through it all. He knew who I was underneath all of that. He had faith in me, and in God’s plan.

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After I stopped going to school I started to come out of my depression. I felt like I was making my own decisions and for the right reasons. I didn’t feel the pressure of my parents or my peers, and I started looking at where my life was going. I started a new job and met some awesome new people. Britton would sit with me on my couch for hours and talk about faith and the Bible. He let me take my own long path all the way back to him and my faith. In April 2015 we got engaged. We decided to wait a year to get married but we got a house together. This was our decision together and one that we stand by today. I was broken and I wanted him by my side. We did what we thought was best for us. But that is not what a lot of others thought.

A few months after we moved in I applied and received an internship at a church I had previously attended for a few years. I was very excited to get involved in a church again. I thought this was going to be my turning point, but the Lord had other plans for me. The next day I got a call and I was let go from the internship because they realized I lived with Britton. I was so hurt and mad because I had applied taking a huge leap of faith, knowing that my faith meter was dry, and I landed on my face! Not only was I hurt but I was completely embarrassed, and not because everyone knew I lived with Britton. It was because the church turned me away, and it felt like my parents getting divorced all over again. I felt abandoned by the church and God. I stayed mad for months and spilled back into depression until I broke down at home one day. Britton and I were talking about our faith and I told him about how mine was all gone. I just sat there and sobbed. I cried out and asked God why he had left me and told Britton how I felt empty in my faith. He just held me and talked about how God challenges us sometimes and that he never takes us through anything we can’t handle, and that God is forgiving and is always there even when we don't feel Him.

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After that, I decided to search for God. I realized I had not been seeking him, just expecting him to be there: I never truly searched for him and my own beliefs. I read books about people losing faith and regaining it and asked my family and friends about their faith and what they thought their purpose was. After many conversations, praying, reading, and forgiving others and myself I slowly started to regain my faith and self. I didn't realize that my self-worth and faith were intertwined. The more I searched for God, the more I found myself.

Now that I look back on it all, I can see it all: God had a plan.  Every time I thought he had left me, he was right there. He was putting me through trials that made me stronger. I am, and always will be working on my faith, it's a constant battle. But I'm happy to say, today that I am married to the man who stuck through it all and am extremely happy and in love. I have a great relationship with both my parents and step parents who I dearly love, have an amazing support group of friends and I am happy with my faith intact. I am also back in school getting my occupational therapy degree and getting the best grades I have ever had! The Lord really does work in mysterious ways. I am thankful now for that church who let me go, because it made me seek my own path and not rely on others to tell me what to do in my faith. I think God knew that all along. He knew I would get mad just enough to figure it all out for myself.

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The number one thing I learned the past few years was that the little things are what counts. Those little moments that you think are insignificant now, will be the biggest turning points for you in the future. A few words said, a new friend, a simple book, couch conversations about the meaning of life, and praying in the car were some of my biggest turning points. Life and faith are in the little moments of life. I know my story is one that many people have, but it only take one person to speak about it to let so many others know they are not alone.

I want people to know that no matter the struggle you are dealing with, you are never alone; whether you are an only child like me or not, you can always talk to someone and you don't have to hide it away. Things like depression may be hidden, but don't have to be - you don't have to carry the weight of that. And just because it is hidden, doesn't mean it doesn't exist. You don't have to feel bad about your depression or other issues. You don't have to pretend it is not there because you think it is ugly - it's there and it's real and it's actually beautiful. Depression is not ugly, it has helped me grow into me.