It was darkest in my early 20s.
It wasn’t dark because I lost sight of my faith in college or because I had no moral compass. I actually went to church regularly while in school. I also attended a campus Bible study. UT wasn’t a godless place. I was never challenged directly while in college.
Going to church didn’t make me feel better. I often felt something was missing. I wanted to connect with people but being the introvert I am it was difficult. My first year of college I met a ton of people. I forced myself out of my shell and those relationships I developed from the start satisfied my hunger. I went against everything which was in my personality when it came to meeting people. I was outgoing and I met many friends I still have to this day. However, as college went on I got back in my routine of not being outgoing and it wasn’t until my anxiety was raging I realized this was a problem.
When I was at my darkest point I didn’t have anyone around me I could talk to about what I was going through. The loneliness and despair this brought me was terrible. I remember one Sunday morning going to church and wanting so desperately to feel better. I felt like it was a trip to the doctor’s office. I wanted an injection or a prescription to give me relief. I remember the exact pew I sat on that morning but I couldn’t tell you one song we sang or what the pastor spoke about. I sat alone and felt sorry for myself. There was nothing wrong with the church and nothing wrong with the people in it. I had isolated myself. I went to church to get something out of it. I went to feel better about the decisions I made on Friday and Saturday night. Most of the time it did make me feel better. However, when I was at rock bottom and needing help I didn’t have anyone to talk with there. I was alone and afraid. It’s hard to think about this moment much less write about it. I don’t remember all the details well because it is a dark place and I couldn’t see everything when I was in the middle of it. I didn’t anticipate the loneliness being as strong as it was.
The scariest part about being in the darkness of faith is there is not an easy way out. I’m not a very stubborn person but there are times when I can act hard-headed. I don’t like changing my ways. At times when things are the darkest in my faith I realize I need to change but something prevents me. I know a solid relationship with others who I can walk with in faith is what I desperately need but it’s not something which can happen overnight. It needs to be nurtured and cared for over time.
The most comforting part is time keeps moving on. No matter what is going on in my life the minutes, hours, and days continue to roll forward. When anxiety bothers me the most this always encourages me. It can be stressful but when something is heavy on my mind it always brings me peace to know at the end of the day I will lay down my head on a pillow and several hours later the sun will come up and another day will arrive. When your deep in despair and nothing seems to matter this brings hope. It’s not something which brings hope in the middle of your struggle but rather when you look back you see it. It slowly builds upon itself day after day
I forget sometimes my relationship with God is a journey. I want to believe it is constantly going in a steady line upwards but in reality it is all over the place. There are ups and downs. There are times when it’s not in a good place and I’m learning to be thankful for those times because it is in those moments I grow. If you are in one of those moments now reach out to someone and tell them. Chances are they have been there before and can help. I wish I would have reached out to others instead of fighting alone when things were darkest for me.