I eventually stopped believing in coincidence. The power of prayer is real and it’s an incredible grace we’re able to receive through His son, Jesus Christ – through the Atonement.
Growing up, I was never the confident, upbeat person I am today – though I know some people will still argue that I still have a darkness that follows me, but I’d like to think that I’ve made great strides forward to a more positive outlook on life. I was bullied, which I blame for a combination of growing up in a dominantly white and racist community, excelling academically and athletically, and staying true to my weird, I-don’t-fit-into-a-specific-clique self. When I was younger, I felt as if I grew up in the shadow of my older brother who was an even more stellar student and athlete than me. My brother and I are quite opposites, though. We’re both social butterflies, but he has a wide network of friends – he’s the type of person that loves to have tons of friends and acquaintances. Me? I like to have a group of five close friends. Sure, there are people that I don’t mind hanging out or talking with, but there aren’t a lot of people I share my past or secrets with.
In any case, my senior year of high school, I was dealing with a lot of anxiety, depression and angst. I liked to point my fingers and just let the rage flow out of me because obviously, someone was to blame and of course, it wasn’t me. (Yes, that was sarcasm). I was accepted into a college about two hours away from my hometown, which for many reasons than not was a good thing.
During my freshman year, my depression sunk in – and being far away from my closest friends was one of the biggest factors in that depression spiraling downward fast. I turned to very destructive behaviors like smoking, excessive exercising and poor nutrition (I lost the “freshman fifteen” instead of gaining it), self-injury (breaking knuckles and cutting) and eventually binge drinking. I wasn’t a very likeable person and I certainly didn’t treat my friends the way they deserved.
The one thing I feel obligated to point out is a common phrase people say to those who are suicidal: “You’re selfish.” While I’d never deny this (it is true, we are selfish), if you’ve never been suicidal or suffered from depression, you’ll never truly understand it – that during that period of time, when we’re so numb to everything and everyone around us, we don’t realize how selfish we’re being – and even if we do realize it, we’re in the mindset that, “hey, if I kill myself, I’d be one less burden,” instead of “hey, if I kill myself, I’m going to inflict pain on the people that truly love and care about me, who want to help and may not know the struggles that I’m facing because I’m too scared or prideful to be vulnerable.”
One of my friends told me that I needed help. I’d been seeking counseling upon the request of my friend as well as a mandatory requirement of remaining an active student at my college (one of my RA’s reported me to the student housing supervisor, who then made it mandatory to seek counseling or I’d be removed from campus)– which I have to add that counseling isn’t for everyone.
One night, my thoughts were racing – I couldn’t stop them. I was flooding with “what-ifs” and they were all circling around the fact that nobody would even notice if I died or disappeared. There was a bridge on the college campus that is built over a 70-foot drop over wooded areas. I turned my headphones on loud and walked to the bridge. I leaned over the edge, sucking in deep breaths of the bitter autumn air. I started crying. I was so angry. With myself. With my parents. With my friends. With my life. With God. I prayed and prayed for answers, for guidance, but I never received anything from Him. I heard something (somehow, with my music so loud), and I spun around to find this girl who had fallen behind her friends, pausing to speak with me.
When I pulled my headphones out, she asked, “Are you okay?” She was dressed all in black, but she had a kind face and her sincerity poured out of her delicate eyes staring at me in disbelief.
“What?” I was stunned by her choice to stop and to ask that simple question everybody is either too scared to ask or thinks is “stupid.”
“Are you okay?” She repeated. I nodded and thanked her for stopping and asking. She smiled and said, “Of course,” pausing once more before walking away, “Are you sure?” Again, I nodded and thanked her.
I sat down on the bench at the end of the bridge. I cried. Others passed me by – some staring as they passed, whispering amongst their friends, but most just passed me, carrying on with their evening.
I’ll never forget that girl. And after seven years, I’ve finally come to name her Grace. I don’t think that’s her actual name, but I hate calling her a “stranger.” She was the answer I sought. She was the grace I was hoping for. She saved me. She reminded me that I had a purpose here. She reminded me that God is there for me. I wish there was a way I could thank her. I wish there was a way I could repay her. I hope that she’s living a blessed life. I hope that if she’s fighting a battle, she’s winning it, that she’ll never give up.
Because that night, I witnessed my own miracle…a miracle I never believed in before. Through Grace, God granted me a second chance.
This was the first testimony I received that God truly exists, that miracles do happen and that if you pray, if you ask God for help, He will answer.
And I testify that these things are true in the name of thy son Jesus Christ, Amen.