“God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.”
In October of 2016, when my sisters fiancé abruptly died, I spiraled into a hole of depersonalization, depression, and panic attacks. As soon as I would walk into worship at church, I would start uncontrollably crying because all I could picture was the time he sat next to me in worship. For months, I went to my youth pastor’s office and talked to him for those thirty minutes of worship. One time, he shared the verse Romans 8:28 with me, which I had surely heard before but had never grasped until that moment. God causes all things to work together for the good of those who love Him. The death of a loved one surely counted. I had faith that God would turn this season of despair into something great. Little did I know, Romans 8:28 would soon become a very important verse in my life.
Throughout the days of my depersonalization (an anxiety disorder defined as a state in which one’s thoughts and feelings seem unreal or not to belong to oneself) I felt lost and angry. I did not want to feel the symptoms of anxiety anymore. After his death in October, there was a time where I stopped going to school because the thought of leaving my house put me in tears. If someone asked me how I felt, it was nearly impossible to not break down into tears immediately. I hated how I felt. I was sad, apprehensive, and didn’t know who “Bryana” was. I knew the enemy was trying to stumble my faith by throwing all these obstacles in my life, but I never stopped loving God and that’s why He caused all things to work together for my good. The sadness only lasted a couple weeks, mainly because I, and those around me prayed a lot during this time. The panic attacks stopped. My depersonalization has been a slow process but God is faithful in His word to heal. I recited this verse everyday for months and made it my lock-screen to never forget: “do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 ESV. From how bad my anxiety was a year ago to now, the difference is unbelievable (thanks God!!!).
School was always a struggle for me last year, as I was absent at least twice a week and had less than a handful of friends. Over the summer I decided I wanted to go to a private Christian school that my best friend attended because I no longer wanted to deal with the loneliness I felt at the school I had gone to the year prior. Even though the new school was a strenuous 45 minute drive from my house and would cause more stress for my parents, I genuinely felt God was opening this door for me. Before applying to the Christian school, I was in my garage praying. I asked Jesus to reveal a sign to me, as I was unsure what to do for my senior year of high school. I opened my Bible and read Romans 8. I got to Romans 8:28 and felt a sense of comfort. A few days later, the Christian school sent an email asking my dad if I was still interested in attending their school. They ended the email with the verse Romans 8:28. That was totally my sign, right? Oh, but Jesus wasn’t done yet. About a week later, I was at dinner with two of my closest friends. I explained all of this to them and they definitely felt it was the right choice for me to go to the Christian school. We ended up hanging out at one of their houses until like 1 am playing card games. We put American Ninja Warrior on in the background but were not paying attention to the show. For some reason, I decided to pause the game and watch the next contestant do the obstacle course. There were two posters people were holding up in the crowd: the one to the left said “Romans 8:28” and the one to the right said “do it!”. We were all shook. God gave me all the signs I could possibly need to go to this school. Had we played a different show, played a different episode, had I not paused the game, none of this would’ve happened. It shows how God is outside of time and orchestrates every moment for us. A couple weeks after that, I was listening to a podcast by Greg Laurie where he discussed Joseph’s whole life changing at 17 and how his life verse would’ve totally been Romans 8:28. It was probably me reading into it way too much, but I’m 17 and I took that as God saying the Christian school would change my life for the better. I then met with the school counselor and she told me that in order to graduate, I would need to take eight academic classes: 2 history classes, 1 math, 1 english, 1 psychology class, 2 bible classes, and another science class. I didn’t even care about all this extra work because I believed this was the place for me so I went for it. I went through the motions of getting enrolled and attended classes for a whole week. I started to feel extremely stressed out and worn down as I had to prepare for the SAT, college applications, and tackle eight classes all at once. It felt impossible and though I have an IEP (Individualized Education Plan for my autoimmune disease) the school was not able to accommodate to my needs. They needed me to take eight classes because that was their graduation requirement. I believe God placed me in this school as a test of faith to see whether I would follow where He was leading me and let Him take charge. Though it didn’t work out, I definitely passed the test. I ended up staying at the school I originally went to, and though I have a limited social life at school, I have the most incredible friends at church and couldn’t ask for anything more. I only take one class in school and four online. The school is super accommodating with my health needs and I am on track to graduate in June! I know I have much more free time to work on recipe testing and blogging but if I’m being honest, every day that I’m at school, I wish that I was at the Christian school. That being said, I know Jesus has a plan for me that is far better than any of mine. How beautiful and cool is it that the Creator of the universe makes time to send love notes to His children? If you took the time to read this, I hope what you got out of it is that even when you’re in a season of difficulty, God is still there. He will never leave you. He will never forsake you. His love endures forever. And He has an ultimate plan for each and every one of His children that love Him and are called according to His purpose.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11