Homework. No sleep. Relationships. Work. Homesickness. Church. These are some of the things I juggled when I was in college. Needless to say, there were times that I felt I couldn’t balance it all.
At times, I got so overwhelmed by the work I had to do in college that I felt it would never end and that life wasn’t worth living anymore. At least that was what popped in my mind when I started having suicidal thoughts.
Christians aren’t supposed to have this kind of experience, are they? That’s what I thought at first.
I learned very quickly that being a Christian does not mean there won’t problems to face. I’m proud to say that was four years ago. Since then, I still get overwhelmed and hopeless at times, but I know how to handle it better now. Here are some of the things I learned along the journey to healing.
1. It doesn’t come fast or easily.
Some people may not think that getting a degree would cause a person to have to go through so much pain, but it did for me. Looking back, that experience caused me to appreciate my degree so much more now because it didn’t come easily. You tend to appreciate things more when you put in the work to get it.
2. It’s normal to be tempted to give up.
There were many times I woke up and wanted to go back to bed and hide from the world or come up with excuses to skip work and going to my classes because I was afraid of what each day would bring.
At that point, I couldn’t see any sunshine or light at the end of the tunnel. It felt like a big dark cloud was following me. As I watched more sermons, I realized that Christians do get discouraged and sometimes even fall into despair like I was. I was glad to know I wasn’t alone in the struggle and God also promised that He was with me always.
3. You have to want it for yourself.
When I thought I was losing my mind, I knew deep down that giving up wasn’t an option. I also knew that my I had to do my part if I wanted God to come through for me. I had to confess God’s word, listen to sermons and gospel music. Nobody can save you or make you become a better or stronger person.
4. Ask for help.
There is no shame in asking for help. For some people, that might mean talking to a therapist or a close friend or pastor. For me, talking to my supportive mom and seeking God’s help comforted me and caused me to keep going. It’s during our weakest points that we need somebody to speak encouragement in our spirit.
5. Press through the pain.
This is never easy to do but always necessary. In my weakness, I literally had to lean on God when my own faith was low. I chose to look at the struggle as a rehab in a sense.
When somebody is in rehab, regardless of the particular disorder or drug problem, they operate the same. The ultimate goal is to face the problem head on and take it day by day or moment by moment. When you look at each day as 24 hours and make up in your mind that you will survive that first four hours then the other 5 hours and then the next 5 hours and so on, it becomes less overwhelming.
Be determined to learn your lesson and keep going no matter how long the process of growth takes.
6. Accept that everyday won’t be good.
Allow yourself to feel the bad emotions as well as the good within reason. It’s ok to have your moment of doubt just as long as you don’t let it get to the point where you act on it or dwell on it.
When you go through a trial or trials, some days will be better than other. Even drug addicts have to go through withdraws before they get to their healing.
There were days where I was filled with so much anxiety and disturbing thoughts that I couldn’t sleep or would be curled up in a ball not knowing up from down. Then there were days where I felt like things were looking up.
7. Anytime you work towards a goal, especially if it’s something big, expect setbacks and temptations to come along to discourage you.
In my case, the devil thought he had me bound to my thoughts. Though that experience, I learned to develop a closer relationship with God and trust Him like never before. I started confessing his word and saying affirmations like “Suicide is not an option” and “I am enough”. I had to do it repeatedly.
I say that to say this: just because you have a painful experience doesn’t mean God can’t be in the midst of it. God specializes in turning what looked impossible into something beautiful.
I must say that my experience helped me to have a closer relationship with God while strengthening me at the same time. I’ve heard it said before by one of my church members that college will bring you closer to God. I had to laugh when he said that because I’m a living witness to it.
All the times I thought I couldn’t do something significant because it looked too hard or thought I didn’t have what it took to make it through, God has always showed me that through Him, anything is possible.