Every year a couple of seniors that are active in FCA at Meigs High go to the middle school to lead the school’s last FCA meeting of that school year. The meetings now have to be student led so a few of my classmates and I were asked to lead the meeting. Unfortunately, everyone involved with Meigs Middle School, along with our whole community, are suffering from the loss of one of their fellow peers who decided to take her life. Knowing this, we were very nervous as to what to say and what not to say. Long story short, we serve an AWESOME God who never left our sides during the whole meeting.
Coach J, my FCA huddle leader/ freshman english teacher, asked me about a month ago if I wanted to speak to the middle school FCA on May 29th. I of course said yes then started scrambling as to what I would say to them. I surfed the web for different ideas to try to get some inspiration for a devotion (that’s what my job was) but came up short. Nothing clicked. I then remembered that I forgot to do the most important thing, pray. I immediately prayed about what to talk about and a small thought came to my mind. It was something that only a handful of people knew about me. It was super personal and I liked to keep it hidden. So I told God no. There was no way that I could possibly have the courage to talk about that. So I continued to search for ideas and I got nothing. Zero. Zilch. Nada. Nothing came to my mind. Again, I came up short.
Two weeks later I heard about the news that a little girl in 7th grade at Meigs Middle had taken her life. As my heart dropped and my mind went blank, God spoke to me. Much clearer this time. I knew that I could relate to these kids with my own struggle so I finally took a huge leap of faith and listened to what God wanted me to say.
Here’s an overview of all the ways God used my peers and me. The meeting started off with a song sung by Ally and Ashley Clark. Alec McKenzie then spoke about high school FCA, and Kaley Meadows followed by giving a powerful testimony. Alec, Kaley, Megan Holmes, Taylor Boggess, Tristan Fischer, and Tyler Lawson acted out a hilarious but powerful skit called “The Sin Box.” The skit specifically talked about how nothing or no one can pull you out of the sins in this world besides Jesus Christ because he took our sins to the cross a long time ago! Whew!
So the time came, and it was my turn to speak. Oddly, I had a sense of peace overflowing my mind and body. And this is what God laid on my heart not only for those suffering middle schoolers to hear, but for people in my own school, community, and even the people who follow me on social media.
Everybody has at least one struggle. Maybe you have friend drama, family problems, relationship problems, or you’re scared of failing a test. Maybe your pet just died and you don’t know how to cope. Maybe you’re struggling with temptation, addiction, finding your identity in Christ, or maybe you’re struggling with anxiety and depression. No matter the situation or hardship you’re going through, you’re not alone. Here’s what God says about struggle.
“‘In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,’ says the Lord”
Okay stop there. I don’t know if I’m the only one, but that verse gave me chills. So God is telling me that the pain we go through has a purpose??? And we’re sure he really said that? Yes! It clearly states, “says the Lord” so it’s plainly written out for us. Whew! Again!
The personal struggle that I was talking about earlier came about my sophomore year. I began to have an urge of sadness following me around wherever I went. I didn’t think much of it so I just played it off because my life was great, my friends were great, school was great, and basketball was great so I told myself I didn’t have a reason to be sad.
So I let it go into my junior year. This year was a tad bit worse. I began to have breakdowns and meltdowns throughout the year. I missed out on different things that my friends invited me to. I didn’t have any feelings or emotions during my spells. Again, I pushed it off because my life was still great. I just thought I was stressed from school. I told myself that I could just be happy if I got through junior year. Summer ball would back up and senior year would be fun so I continued to hide this hovering feeling of mine.
Summer rolled around and it got worse. I slept all the time. I missed a few ball practices. I didn’t go to camps that I had already paid for. I missed the 4th of July celebration. I knew something had to be wrong. So I told a few people about my struggle. Some blamed it on me being a girl and how us girls get “emotional.” Others said that it was just a side effect of my sleep disorder that I have-which is hypersomnia. I heard “but Kelsey, your life looks perfect on the outside,” or “you always look like you’re having fun on what you post on social media though,” or my favorite, “someone always has it worse.” I listened to what they were saying and told myself the same thing. That it was normal and harmless and it was expected because of my conditions.
My senior year rolled around and fall break came. This was the roughest spell I had ever been through. I was scared. I felt hopeless and useless. The little urge of sadness became a hanging cloud that wouldn’t let me go. I sat in my room either staring at a blank wall or trying to sleep to forget about my pain. My friends tried to come over and I wouldn’t let them. I barely ate. I became overwhelmed with anxiety. And I became the worst version of myself and blamed God. So I knew I had to do something. I finally called this “thing” what it really is. Depression. Of course depression can be a side effect for many different things. It can also occur during hardships. Or even a simple imbalanced chemical in your brain. Whatever the circumstance, depression is still depression, and it’s not cool.
Before I let it overcome me I finally got the courage to tell my mom. She cried with me and comforted me during this rough time and I didn’t know why I didn’t tell her sooner. I got help and was doing great. I pushed it into my past. I found hobbies and activities that I enjoyed doing. I kept myself busy with numerous of things. But I also became selfish. I still didn’t tell anybody about my struggle because I didn’t want anyone to look at me differently. I wanted to be the happy-go-lucky Kelsey that everyone saw on social media and in my community. I didn’t use this struggle to reach out to anybody until now. Of course I regret not spreading awareness sooner, but I feel as if God was preparing me with what to say and how to approach it. When I went through those hardships I questioned God. Why me? What did I do to deserve this? I’m a good girl. I don’t do drugs. I don’t drink. I don’t mess around with boys. I don’t party. So what did I do to deserve this?
He told me that this was the reason. To talk to people who have the same problem as me. To maybe even touch someone and give them courage to come out of their shell and speak about how they overcame their struggle. Or maybe to give strength to someone who feels like there is no way out to tell someone reliable that can help them.
Before the meeting, I was nervous that my message wouldn’t touch anybody. I was scared that I would say the wrong thing or that people wouldn’t believe me. God granted me reassurance after I finished my message at the conclusion of the meeting. Ally and Ashley played a song of invitation and encouraged the students to come to us and let us pray over them. During my 3 years of going to that middle school, I vaguely remember any students coming out of the stands to ask for prayer, or even raise their hand in the air to praise our God. This is how awesome the power of God is. As soon as the music started playing a 7th grade girl came down to pray. I asked if she would share her struggle with me and with teary eyes she looked at me and said, “depression.” At that moment I knew that taking that leap of faith was worth it, and I knew that I had the ability to reach out to this young girl. We cried and we prayed and she went back to the bleachers. When I looked up, I saw that girl with her arms reached towards the sky, unashamed. She started a flame and eventually more students lifted their hands high. I looked around and saw students talking to their teachers. I saw these young middle schoolers singing their little hearts out and being unashamed about praising their God. I saw tears and hugs from friends making up. And it only got better. As the students were walking out of the gym, a boy came up to me with his friend by his side and gave me a huge bear hug. He said “thank you, I really needed that,” with tears flooding his eyes and his friend rubbing his back. All of those actions are enough to speak volumes on how real our God is. It goes to show that there truly is a purpose for your struggles. God calls us to be open and raw about our faith so I encourage you to not hold back because you never know who needs it. And if you EVER feel like your struggle is about to overcome you please tell someone. Trust me, people care about you. Especially our Lord and Savior. So bring all your burdens to Him.
“The sufferings we have now are nothing compared to the great glory that will be shown to us.” Romans 8:18