The power and love of God in my life is a constant; but sometimes I did not or could not see it. A few years ago I was living in Chicago and had multiple leadership positions in the Vineyard church I attended, a non-profit service organization, and a public speaking club. I was also under considerable stress at a job where I felt constantly undervalued. But I made everything work... until suddenly I couldn’t. (Technically, it hadn’t been working for a long time, but I didn’t recognize that.)
But finally after a... rather defining moment, I stepped down from all of the leadership positions, went to my doctor and a therapist, and began taking medication for Major Depressive Disorder and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. (This entire process took about a year, mind you.)
I kept my job but realistically it was giving me more stress than everything else. Then, due to a few different reasons, I left my apartment in the city and moved back home for about 16 months. So I still had the job, but literally nothing else. I attended my parents’ church infrequently and typically spent my weekends sleeping off the stress from the week.
But God was not done with me. After a life-changing surgical procedure and continued work with my therapist, I was able to gather enough self-confidence to apply for new jobs. The position I accepted is what brought me to Arlington Heights, and searching for a Vineyard in the area is what brought me to Thrive.
I walked in the door shy, nervous and lonely. I wanted desperately to find a church home, an extended family, and friends. I was desperate for connections but afraid to reach out myself. I wanted to worship and serve, but not get pulled into leadership. And most of all, I needed to heal.
What I found at Thrive was a group of honest, real men and women who love God and each other. I saw close-knit friendships between people were also open to including newcomers. And I heard the Word of God spoken through sermons and in the prophetic, in ways that spoke directly to me and began to heal the cracks in my soul. And I began to realize that I have, in fact, come home.
And while I have fallen in love with this church, this isn’t an advertisement for Thrive. This is a testimony of God bringing me where I need to be. God has spoken through people who didn’t know me at all, of what I most desperately needed to hear: I am in a place of healing and restoration, I have the gift of the Prophetic, I am loved.
It has only been a couple of months but already I have found myself worshipping again, sharing Words, and I have even found myself in a group of wonderful women who share meals, conversation, and faith with each other. And I am excited to continue meeting the other members of the church.
My experience at work has been similar. I have fallen in love with my team, and I have already been able to work on projects that allow me to use my skills and passion for writing and public speaking. I feel truly appreciated for the first time, for my knowledge and experience, and I feel that there is truly room for me to grow.
The depression, anxiety, fear and loneliness are still there, but I feel so strongly that God has indeed brought me to a new beginning. I feel like a seed planted in a garden—there will be droughts and storms, but with the Son of God and His Living Water, I know I will thrive.