TANNER'S STORY.

Over the course of 5 years, God has done some amazing work in my life in restoring joy to my heart and mind. The journey was painful, but the journey was worth it.   I had been bullied a little bit throughout middle & high school about my stature and height, but that never really phased me. However, I started to feel almost out of place, feeling like I didn’t belong wherever I went. I became lonely and felt I had no worth, like I couldn’t bring anything to the table. My life motto had always been to “spread joy” to everyone that I met, despite my current feelings.  Seeing people smile made me happy, but I soon got to the point where I wasn’t finding joy in my own life. I felt exhausted, irritable, and almost worthless to a point. No one saw me as the “depressed” kid as I was really good at putting on a fake smile.

God has mysterious ways of shifting perspectives to open our eyes and hearts.  The summer of 2015 was my first opportunity to go on a mission trip, and I took it. The youth group had been serving in Mexico for several years, and this year I made it a priority to go, wanting the experience of a mission trip and helping others in need. What I didn’t expect to happen was for the young children to show me what I was missing: pure joy. I had been missing out on the joy of the Lord for so long, and seeing kids with little to nothing put things into perspective. Serving in Mexico was an eye-opening, perspective shifting time that God used to push me closer to Him and the journey to happiness.

In 2016, Crossroads sent a youth team to Nicaragua to help put on a festival for the local town. Like the pervious year, I took the opportunity, wanting more of God’s goodness and joy to then branch out to the Nicaraguan people. Over the course of that week I saw people healed from physical, mental, and spiritual injuries, people come to Christ, and people love people from other countries. I saw the love of God work through His people, because even with the language barriers, everybody was able to love on each other and connect with each other through God’s love and joy. The journey of finding myself slowly rolled even farther, seeing happiness in places I never expected.

2017 was probably my hardest and best year ever. I struggled with my depression more than before, because I faced so many challenges in my life. Finding my identity in God was confusing as I struggled with things that were happening in my life that I didn’t understand. I didn’t know if I was going to be able to go on the mission trip that year, the youth were going to Puerto Rico. I graduated High School, and was preparing to leave home to go to college in another state. However, God opened doors, closed other doors, and made a way for me to go. Thankfully, things worked perfectly, because in my opinion, this was the best one I had been on, because of the work that God did in me and through me. I met one of the teenagers that came for the sports camp we helped put on that was basically completely deaf in both ears. He wore hearing aids, and he never stopped smiling. I saw the joy of the Lord in it’s fullest: someone with little to nothing, deaf in both ears, and yet happier than I ever was, and I’m the one that had everything I could want and more.

Perspectives change when you take opportunities and go through the open doors that God shows you. I spent time wondering if things were worth it, IF I WAS WORTH IT, and slowly I saw my life drastically take a 180 turn. My life was changed because God allowed doors to be opened, allowed me to see just how blessed I was, and allowed me to see myself in Him. I was healed of depression and anxiety just this year (2019). It took several years, but the journey was worth the wait. God heals, even if it takes 5 years. It may not seem like it, but when I look back, I am thankful for the 5 years of hell on earth I went through. Without it, I have absolutely no idea where I’d be. Without it, I wouldn’t be as strong as I am today. Without it, God wouldn’t have placed me where I am today. 

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