This summer marks an important anniversary in my life. There won’t be any gifts exchanged to mark the day. No one will be hosting a party. I’m not even certain of the exact day. I am certain that without this anniversary I wouldn’t be able to celebrate the anniversary of my marriage or the anniversary of my children’s birth. I am also certain that without this anniversary I wouldn’t be here writing.
At age 14, I wanted to kill myself. My life didn’t seem worth living. I had already begun experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Desperately, I was searching for a place to belong, to fit in. My search was in vain. Overlooked, forgotten, alone. My depression gripped tight around me, threatening to sink me. Would I let it?
Through my depression I remembered a little girl swinging her feet in the sawdust. One of the happiest memories of my childhood was going with my parents to pick my older sisters up at church camp. I remember sitting in a tabernacle and digging the toes of my shoes in the sawdust. I remember a feeling of happiness and peace had enveloped me. Could I return? Could I ever feel that way again?
My parents must have been amazed when I asked to go to church camp. I know I was amazed when they paid for me to go. At the camp, I was equally amazed at the other teens around me. They were welcoming, friendly and happy. Some of them seemed to exude a peace and joy I wanted, I needed. A strange thing happened that week. I realized that the Bible stories I had heard all my life were not stories but truth. The messages I had heard about God’s love were real. I saw Jesus that week. I felt his arms wrap around me.
This summer marks the anniversary of the day when I realized Jesus loved me. He died for me so that I don’t need to feel alone. He died for me so that I don’t have to die. He wants me to live. He wants to be with me.