God is with us in the dark
I stared straight forward at my computer screen and tried not to cry. The Northside Sun newspaper had an open office with no cubicle walls, and anyone might see.
On the monitor, an email appeared. It was from my coworker Holly, who sat catty-cornered across the room from me. “Are you ok???”
It was fall 2013, and my obsessive questioning of my faith had reached a dysfunctional level.
I had experienced this before – in my senior year at the University of Mississippi, when I was struggling to make a decision for Christ.
After finally receiving Him in June 2010, I lasted a good year and a half before questions popped up again. Then over the next year or two, my times of unhealthy questioning became longer and more frequent than my times of not questioning. That’s where I was when Holly emailed me.
Around that same time, I spoke with my mentor, Teddie Faye Raines. Over the phone, Raines said, “Katie, you’ve just got to believe the gospel is for you.”
“I WANT to. I’m trying! I just can’t.”
We continued to talk, and then finally I shared with her the sliver of light that lingered in the back of my mind: 1 John 5:11. I’d read it recently.
“And this is the record, that God hath given to us eternal life, and this life is in his Son.”
Raines responded: “Oh that’s so sweet Katie – that’s God saying He’s already done it.”
She urged me to repeat this verse to myself every time a question or doubt crept into my mind – and then to ignore said question and think about something else. I tried it, and it worked okay for a while, but I knew it wouldn’t last.
One night I was scheduled to share my testimony with my women’s small group. I invited my mom to come.
By the end of my talk, I was crying and desperately hanging on to the hope I quoted from Revelation: “Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night.”
As I drove Mom home, she said, “Katie, I really think you should start seeing someone.” Meaning a therapist. I had thought about it too, and I decided I would do it.
The first Christian counselor I tried was not a good fit. The second one? She gave me the same advice as Raines, but in a way I could process. And it works.
Over the past five years, my questions have come around less often. I still struggle sometimes, but I know how to deal with those struggles now. And at rock bottom, I still know I am saved by the Redeemer who died for all my sins and rose again on the third day.
Like me, Christy Henderson has experienced mental health problems both before and after receiving Christ. That might surprise you since she’s a pastor’s wife. But that’s why she wants to share her story — because nobody is immune from mental illness, and nobody’s life is an Instagram feed. Instead, God is with us in the dark, and His gospel gives us hope that will not make us ashamed (Romans 5). What awesome news!
In other awesome news, I am so pumped for y’all to read about M.O.R.E., the Mississippi Offender Reentry Experience; this month’s This Is My Story is a testimony about addiction, salvation and motherhood that will make you grateful to God; and, our April calendar is full of local events!
If you’re reading this before April 4, make plans to attend the Mission Mississippi Governor’s Prayer Luncheon & Summit in Jackson. Also check out this month’s Mission Mississippi Moments column, a particularly powerful edition written by their board chair, Jacqueline Mack.
The Garden Club of Jackson’s Bloom! brunch and floral demonstration featuring Bruno Duarte is happening April 24, and Unite Mississippi’s A Night of Unity is happening April 27 at Mississippi Veterans Memorial Stadium in Jackson. You can find out more about what’s going on in April in our calendar of events.
Happy Easter, and happy reading!