I grew up on a farm with livestock and 3 older brothers. I was raised in a Methodist church-attending Sunday school and youth group. Part of me wishes I could say that my love and devotion to Christ started and maintained there, but I can’t.
Everyone knows the struggles of raising livestock and how it can drive people to anger and saying things that they don’t necessarily mean. And also that boys growing up will do anything to make themselves seem tough and manly. Well from my experience, I received the negative end from both of these. I love my father and brothers and hold nothing against them, but once you hear something so many times, Satan grabs a hold of it and starts repeating it in your own mind to make you think that you believe it about yourself also.
So instead of only hearing negative things, “I” started to “think” them too. Thoughts of, you are worthless, stupid, a mistake, and even a waste of everyone else’s time. I had unknowingly turned myself over to Satan and let him start controlling my life. John 8:44 says, “You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desire. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks of his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Once Satan has a hold on you, he will do whatever he can to keep you from turning to God. But, our merciful God has better plans. From being a sinner I deserved to go down the path I was heading, but as we know God’s mercy is not giving us what we deserve.
I wish I could say my story ends there and that’s when I was saved, but it’s not. I let Satan lead my life for way too long and eventually slid down into a pit of depression. I would come home from school and lie to my family, saying everything was good or fine but all I ever wanted to do was be alone. But when I was alone, I only wanted to be someone else’s attention and feel like I was wanted or that someone appreciated having me around.
I fully know now that I was always wanted and my family loved having me around, but Satan never let me know that. As time went on I lost all confidence in myself and even lost having a purpose in my life. I began to have thoughts of suicide and tried to find a way to end the pain for myself. I remember trying to come up with ways to do it that would look like an accident so I wouldn’t be an embarrassment to my family even though I already felt like I was, just being alive.
Shortly after these thoughts entered me, we got a new youth group leader at church, Philip Rhodemann. The Holy Spirit started using Phil to explain things in a way I had never understood before and began doing things that I couldn’t explain. One of the most impacting nights was when all we did was pray. He went around the room and just laid a hand on everyone’s shoulder individually and prayed over us.
This was the first time I ever felt the warmth and love of the Holy Spirit truly within me. Phil prayed and explained that God put a vision in his head of Jesus building a wall around me. Brick by brick Christ was building a wall of confidence so that I may be able to grow and not be shaken by the world and sins temptation. Later in life, I found this scripture from 1 Peter 2:5, “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”
After that night, I pulled him aside and asked how he knew exactly what to pray for and what I was struggling with and he told me he wasn’t sure, and that he just followed what God put in his head. I thought about that night for weeks until we had another experience. I pulled Phil aside again and told him I was struggling just with life and he asked to pray. This time after he prayed he drew out what the Holy Spirit showed him and gave it to me.
Daisy, with thorns as a rose. Your face follows the Lord and your pedals are your gifts and the things God has made. Do not deny your gentle heart and what God has made. Thorns are at your foundation, which is Christ the cornerstone of your foundation. He planted you deeply! Do not let Satan steal, kill, destroy or uproot you!
That was the night I knew that this wasn’t a coincidence. I talked to Phil after the youth group was over and told him everything. From my lack of confidence in anything to my depression and thoughts of suicide. We talked afterward for a long time and began to pray again. I remember him saying if I was the only person that the Holy Spirit saved through his ministry then he would forever be grateful and praise God.
He then asked me to picture where I was in life, surrounded by complete and utter darkness and then to picture walking through a wall into the everlasting perfect light of Christ and to take that step whenever I wanted. After the years that I had been suffering, I was so moved to be made whole and accept the love of Jesus that I immediately jumped forward to the point he made me step back again and really picture it so that I understood exactly Who I was giving my life too.
After that night during my Sophomore year, I remember praying all night thanking the Lord for loving me and giving me a purpose in life.
This was around the same period where my brother Trevor was finding his faith as well and little did we know, we were both praying to get to know God better and to improve our relationship with Him. Trevor recalls God moving him to read his bible more but we had old hard to read and understand bibles so we’re reluctant to doing so. Then the next Wednesday, Connor jumped in the truck with Phil with 2 extra bibles and said these are for the Browns.
Once they showed up to church Phil wrote in the front of them and again, without knowing anything I was still struggling with hit exactly what I needed to hear. With all confidence draw to the Throne of Grace! You are His son and He chose you! A bible verse that he added was John 15:16-17, which says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit – fruit that will last. Then the Father will give you whatever you ask in my name. This is my command: Love each other.”
Shortly after I decided to read this Bible, I felt moved to read Lamentations 3. I don’t know why I wanted to read that one in particular but I did. And for the first time in a long time, I didn’t feel alone and I had found something that truly relates to me. I remember trying to read it out loud but I couldn’t because it brought me to tears because it was almost word for word what I was experiencing.
Phil ended up leaving the area to pursue his career and I began to slip again. I knew that Christ was king, but I hadn’t let myself become totally and utterly dependent on Him. I was using my relationship with Phil teaching me to compensate for my personal relationship and once he left our relationship lost touch and Satan started hitting harder. He was mad that I had turned to Christ so he started making me think that God doesn’t have a purpose for me and I was an accident He created. Satan made me believe that even God didn’t see a sense of worth in me.
This was my rock bottom. I knew that I had to talk to someone, but I felt so unnoticeable that I wasn’t worth anyone’s time. That night I remember wanting to let myself go look at our guns, but God knew what I would do next, so I felt Him push me to get a hold of my sister in law and say I need to talk.
That next day I dropped everything on her. From Satan pushing and tearing away at me to feeling like I was alone, and a mistake to God and a burden to everyone. She helped me with scriptures like John 10:10, “the thief (Satan) comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Another being Jeremiah 29:11-13, “’ For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.’”
She explained how drawing closer to Christ didn’t mean things would get easier but that we would have peace and love in what we go through. God sees us as holy, righteous, and worth the blood of Christ. After that long discussion with Emily during my junior year, I gave God control. I walked away from letting Satan in and into the loving arms of Jesus. That was the last time I have had a thought of taking my life because I gave God everything.
And now today, I give thanks for God putting me through that. If I had not gone through what I had, I don’t know where I would be with my walk with Him. I have also been able to relate to many people that God has put in my life. Almost everyone knows someone who has been affected by suicide or depression. God has placed many people in my life that have been hurt by their friend taking his/her life or even have contemplated it themselves. By the grace of God, I have been able to share my experience and the love that Christ has for me to spread the light and testimony of Jesus.
I learned then that this isn’t a come and go as you please arrangement and there is nothing that we can do that will save us. My friend gave me this quote in college during a bible study, “Daily it is not about trying. Daily it is about dying.” Whoever gives their life to Christ shall not perish but have eternal life. So we need to accept Christ every day of our life, not just the good times or just the bad times, but every single day, so we shall know and see the Glory of and meet Christ one day and hear him say, “Well done, my faithful and righteous servant.”
To close, I would like to read one last scripture and then listen to this song. The song talks about being grateful for our scars because it what has led us to know God’s heart and understand Christ’s love and the scars that He had to receive for us. I invite you to pray during the song and to thank God for your suffering that drove you to know Him and thank Christ for His scars and His love for us. Or maybe you haven’t accepted Him yet, and this is your first time, God is patiently waiting for you. All you have to do is ask.
Psalm 34:4-10, “I sought the Lord and he answered me and delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant and their faces shall never be ashamed. This poor man cried, and the Lord heard him and saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him and delivers them. Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good! Blessed is the man who takes refuge in him! Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack! The young lions suffer want and hunger but those who seek the Lord lack no good thing.”