Sunday, September 11, 2011


Honestly, this is probably the hardest post I’ve ever written.
Today is September 11th. A majority of Americans have spent the day remembering a day ten years ago when we realized that our nation was not as safe as we thought. We had a sense of invincibility, but on that day ten years ago, we were attacked on our own soil. We had a sense that we were “God’s Chosen People” and were untouchable. Yet, on that day, terrorists boarded planes and flew them into buildings, killing thousands of people and changing our nation forever.

But, today is also another anniversary. It’s another day of remembrance. It’s another huge event in my life. A year ago today was the last day I spent in Chicago. A year ago today was the day when I realized that I was not as powerful and invincible as I thought I was. A year ago today, I was in the hospital in the midst of having a nervous breakdown. I haven’t really blogged about what happened a year ago. But, I think it's time.


But, I’ve really begun to work through everything that happened recently. I guess what was the catalyst for all of this is that I read Angie Smith’s new book “What Women Fear”. I’m realizing a simple fact that everyone else BUT me figured out a long time ago- I have a LOT of irrational fears and I allow them to control my life. Like my fear of pickles. It sounds silly right? But I’ll run around a room away from pickles. They scare me. It’s just a fact of life, right?

You see, there's things  I don't even blog about because, well...I'm scared. I don't like people knowing my buisness. I don't really like airing my dirty laundry. It's tons more fun to point out other people's flaws and pretend like I don't have any problems. But, I guess that's what my book is about. How I'm not perfect. In the midst of working all this, I read this post by Caitlin, and I was like "Whoa! Did she read my journal?". I mean, for reals guys. Go check that baby of a post out. This line really stuck out to me "And I know it's true. I'm lying to others and I'm lying to myself. But why? One word. Fear." I mean, whoa buddy. That's my big problem. FEAR. That sentence hit me where it hurts. WHY am I lying to myself? Why am I lying to others by pretending like I've got it all together, when we all know that I don't. Oh- and then this one. "Why are we {read: why am I} so afraid of letting others see our fear? We're only human, so it is natural that there is something, or many things, in life that would cause a little trepidation on our part." Oh girl. This is what. is. right here.

Since it’s been a year, I thought I’d share my story of what happened a year ago. While to most people, September 11th was a day that brought America to it’s knees, to me it was a day that brought ME to MY knees.
God, I know you’re here. Even when I’m wandering. Even when I’m doubting. I’m trusting in you to work this all out. Let your will be done. Let my life shine for you. You’re all I want. You’re every breath I take. It’s all for your glory. Amen.
–Journal entry from September 29, 2010
There’s a specific moment when I reached my low point. I refer to it as “Chicago”. I think the story really begins here, because before this point in my life, I really didn’t know that I had a problem. It was just before my twentieth birthday when I had it placed on my heart that I needed to go on a mission trip. If you’ve never had this feeling before, I really can’t explain it. It’s like something is pulling at you, and…it’s indescribable. Let’s leave it at that. It was serious enough that I knew that I needed to take a semester off of school and “find direction”. Since I like school and all, this was a pretty serious thing. I found a program that places college students in neighborhoods all over America for a year, and I felt that this was where the Lord was leading me. I applied in July, learned I was headed to Chicago two weeks later, and then I was in a car headed “up North” one month later. This Alabama girl still didn't know what snow boots really were. It was all really quick.

When I arrived, I was completely terrified. No lie. I got out of the car, unloaded my stuff, hugged my mom goodbye…and then it hit me what I had done. I wondered what I had done and why I had done it. I began to panic. Even though I knew that it was a good thing- I was scared. I mean, I’ve grown up in a small town in Alabama. Our excitement on Friday nights is football games in the fall and going to Wal-Mart. I had moved twelve hours north to a big city. A big city where there was snow in the winter time. A big city where gangs weren’t just groups of boys that got themselves in trouble sometimes, but rather were men with guns that did violent things. It was kind of scary. Add in the fact that I was living with five girls that I had met five minutes earlier- and you have a panic attack waiting to happen. I began to listen for any and every noise outside. When I saw a drug deal occurring right outside my front gate- that was it. While these people were “nice” and “liked the ministry” and “would protect us”…I wasn’t fully buying in to that.

After being in the city for a week, I became sick and had to go to the doctor. Suddenly, something that wasn’t that big of a deal (a basic infection) became a big deal. Since I had no doctor, I had to go to the emergency room. Being the only white female in the vicinity, I was stuck in a room at the end of the hallway all by myself. It was pretty lonely, and scary. That was the first time I had to do something like that by myself. I was sent home with medication, but my anxiety was at an all-time high.I wondered how a loving God could send me to this place. I could not stand to be in that city any longer, but I feared returning home because I didn’t want to disappoint people. I began to think that killing myself was the only way I could get out of that situation.

The next morning after talking to my Mom and the director of the organization I was there with, I decided to go to a different hospital in a different part of town. There was a suspicion that my thoughts were just a drug reaction. But, when I got to the hospital, I was told that I was not allowed to leave. The nurses asked me all sorts of questions, most of which I lied about. I had a sense that if I told the truth that they would not let me leave. Since I didn’t trust them (since they scolded me for coming to Chicago), I didn’t see value in telling them everything. (Not something I really recommend by the way. You should probably tell the truth to medical personnel. But seeing as they kept yelling at me for my "crazy decisions"...I can't say I'd change what I did)  I remember sitting in that bed, all by myself thinking “How did I get here?” Why would the God that led me to Chicago by placing a love of missions in my heart, that cares for the poor and the broken, let me get to this point? I thought I was doing the right thing. Yet, here I was about to be admitted to the psychiatric ward. That moment was when I realized something was wrong.

I ended up leaving the program and returning home for “personal reasons”. While this solved my “I’m scared of getting shot” problem, it intensified my “I’m a failure” problem. It’s something that I’m still ashamed of. Why was I not strong enough to overcome my anxiety and stay in Chicago? Mental health problems are embarrassing. Nobody wants to admit that they are medicated for anxiety related problems. Sometimes, I’ve wondered if my friends would still love me in midst of my problems. I’ve wondered what the girls that I lead in my youth group would think of me. Would they still look up to me? I wonder if I’ll ever find a boy that will still want me as his wife and mother to his children, knowing about my problems. After all, I couldn’t even last a week on the Southside. But, these fears are just as false and just as unhealthy as my fear of pickles. They aren’t going to enhance my life, but rather they will hold me back. So, I’m coming clean. THIS is what happened. This is why it “didn’t work out”. This is me. I’m done hiding.

This is what September 11th is to me.


  1. I think that this is the most honest and beautiful thing that I have read in quite some time. You should be so proud of your strength to share such a thing. It's HARD to be honest. But this was beautiful. It's you. It's part of your story. And you certainly aren't alone in your fears and your anxiety problems. We're human, but thank goodness we serve a loving God who pulls us out of places like that.

  2. I love you more than you can imagine.

  3. I believe you have just become my hero.....who could not love and respect you for being so honest. God has great plans for you....really great....I know for sure!

  4. What courage you have. Let me just encourage you by saying that the kind of person you are to be this honest is going to make such an incredible wife and mother. I am continually blessed and blown away by your words. I admire you.

  5. I know it must've been very hard writing this post! I thought I was dealing with a lot lately and I finally had to write about it today too. I hope being open about what you went through helped give you peace and you really are a strong woman for sharing what you endured! That's why I love James 1:2-4 so much. Such a wonderful encouragement that I hope will help you as well. :)

  6. I love you sweetheart... more than you'll ever know. I love you enough to let you follow your heart to Chicago while I was back here crying myself to sleep. I love you when you are here or away at school... every minute of every day, I love you. ...daddy

  7. wow.

    i remember when you were writing about leaving for chicago, and you seemed so excited, and i know you were, and i was excited, too, because you were going to be really close to me {or, at least, close compared to the distance between michigan and alabama, haha} and i'd probably get to meet you while you were here.

    i thought the biggest adjustment you would face was the one to very cold and snowy winters. the fact that you were facing a cultural and demographic adjustment didn't even occur to me, despite the fact that alabama is very, very different from inner-city chicago.

    i'm proud of you for stepping out, for moving so far. i know you may not regard it as brave, since you were terrified, but i believe bravery is in facing fears, and you did that. i don't believe that going back home was a lack of bravery on your part. in fact, although i know we can never fully know God's ways, i wonder if this was orchestrated so that you would have that epiphany, that you were not strong enough to overcome your anxiety alone and that He had to be your anchor for that. but obviously, i can't say for sure.

    i can't thank you enough for your honesty here. i find it so ironic and so awful that some of the most authentic friendships i have, i think, are in the blog world, and i count our friendship as one of those. i told Faith i'd have to roadtrip down to AL if our university made it to the national championships this year, b/c that's where they have the division II championship game. if not, i hope to visit this summer, which would probably be better because i could then also hit up florida {if my blog friends don't live in AL, they live in FL - it's crazy!}. anyway, i am incredibly grateful and humbled by your honesty and vulnerability here. you have blessed me. thank you.