You Belong Here!
Ten years ago, I was diagnosed with anxiety, depression, and Borderline Personality Disorder. This diagnosis came shortly after my husband and I got married AND he became Lead Pastor of Centerpoint Church in Valrico, Florida. We had no context for mental illness. I ended up with a counselor in therapy because a month after we said “I do,” I was coming undone. My friends and family were at a loss as to how I became an angry, almost psychotic woman overnight. I didn’t even recognize myself. I was self-harming and physically assaulting my husband. I was literally at a dead end and had tried everything else. Therapy (or suicide) was my last resort.
After a few weeks in therapy, Kevin, my counselor, looked at Bryant and explained to him that he knew God was going to do big things through Centerpoint Church. He said verbatim, “If Satan can’t get to you, he’s going to go through Nicole to get to you.” I was appalled, but I knew he was right. So I decided then and there to fight. I prayed for months that God would take away the anxiety and depression and Borderline. I really thought He would “heal” me.
A few months later, we visited Flower Mound Church in Texas. Pastor Matt Chandler was preaching from 2 Corinthians 12 about Paul’s thorn in the flesh. He believes that Paul’s thorn was potentially a mental illness. Paul asked God to take it away multiple times and God didn’t. Instead, God used the darkness of the mental illness as the perfect backdrop for His life-giving light. I knew in that moment that God wasn’t going to heal me, He was going to use me. When I am weak, then I am strong. When my anxiety and depression overwhelm me, I have no choice but to lean into the Gospel and to allow Jesus to speak His grace, love, forgiveness and power over me. Why wouldn’t I celebrate this thorn and the opportunities it gives me to preach the Gospel to myself?
We waited for me to be able to respond to triggers healthily before we started having kids. We have four: Brooke, Ryder, Braxton, and Case. Jesus has done a lot since those early days: Our church has grown significantly, we lost my brother to suicide, we lost Bryant’s mom to Alzheimer’s, and we’ve had several other mountain and valley experiences. But Jesus has been so faithful. I have faced things by His grace that previously would have locked me up in a psych ward. I am so excited to share this journey with you!