Ten years ago I left a college in Florida that I had attended for three semesters. I returned home to Virginia to start school at George Mason University in January of 2009. I was a nervous wreck. I constantly questioned why I had been brought back home, whether Mason was the right place for me, what I was going to do for money, would I be able to handle living with my family and commuting, and most of all why why why. It was a time of extreme anxiety and high stress.
Over the next six years, I earned several degrees at Mason, and now I can’t imagine what my life would be like if I hadn’t taken that new direction and accepted that God wanted me at that school, that that was his plan for me. It’s always easier in hindsight, isn’t it? Now I can look back over all the miscellaneous — rarely fun — jobs I had and see how they prepared me for the future. Now I can look back and see how my time at Mason and said jobs directly fed into me going to Idaho to continue my education. It all comes together beautifully — in hindsight.
The worst thing is the here and now. The present. Those times of such uncertainty and fear that your stomach is always in knots and you constantly beat yourself up for not doing more, for being more, because you think you’d know, that you’d have some control. As I’ve written before, that’s my life right now.
I throw out job applications (each of which takes an extraordinary amount of time and effort) and wait and see if maybe in March or April I’ll get an interview or two. After May I’m out of school, out of a job, so that doesn’t give me a ton of time to prepare. I successfully defended my dissertation last week, and everyone assumes I’m relieved, and I am — to a degree — but it’s also even more scary because now the end is in sight, and it feels like a cliff that I will be dropped off of.
It would be so easy to lose myself in anxiety and depression. But I have to stay afloat. So my mantra these days has necessarily become “God’s got this.” I am perpetually trying to reorient myself from “I got this” to “God’s got this.” Because I don’t have it, and I never have. I submit to God’s will for my life, and while that’s scary, it’s also entirely freeing and beautiful in its own way.
We all should do the best we can, but at times like these, sometimes the best thing we can do is let go.
If you have a story about mental illness—whether personal or concerning a loved one—please consider sharing your experience, either by writing a guest post, or doing an interview with me. Even if you aren’t at a place yet where you feel comfortable disclosing your name, the church body needs your voice. Let’s shine a light on the darkness, together.