I struggled with self-hate and all that goes with it beginning in my teens. I based my self-esteem on what I did or didn’t accomplish or by what others thought of me. If I wasn’t the top achiever among my peers, then I was convinced I was the most worthless person in the world. There were no in-betweens for me.
I suffered from serious depression, eating disorders, and other destructive behavior. Several times I tried to take my life. My relentless need to be loved and accepted drove me to unhealthy relationships, which left emotional scars. Each time someone hurt me, my world grew dimmer.
The regrets in my life seemed to outweigh the good things I’d done—by a huge margin. By the time I was in my twenties, the emotional darkness closed in. I knew instinctively that if I didn’t begin (once and for all) to trust God, the darkness would overtake me.
I sought Christian counseling and spent as much time as I could praying and reading my Bible.
I came across Psalm 18:28. It wasn’t the first time I’d read this verse, but this time its message “took.” It says, “For it is you who light my lamp; the Lord my God lightens my darkness” (ESV). I clung to this verse. I desperately wanted God to lighten my darkness.
It was during this time that I learned the value of meditating on Scripture.
Regularly pondering on Scripture changed my thought life. It helped me see things differently. I was God’s child—loved and valued unconditionally. I knew God had forgiven me for my destructive choices and suicide attempts. Now I not only wanted to live, but believed my heavenly Father had a purpose for me.
I finally understood what real mercy and love looked like. Consequently, I prayed to love and forgive those who had hurt me, and I asked God to show them their value and purpose in Christ.
Ultimately, I realized that I needed God to change my heart. I prayed for God to help me desire God's love for me more than the love and approval of those around me. Although I’ve made progress in this area, I continue to seek my heavenly Father’s help.
Today, when I keep God’s word in the center of my thinking, I’m healthier, happier and more focused. I’m more like the person I pray to be—the person God created me to be.
Is regret making your world a dark place? Hiding God’s word in our hearts invites God to show up in the middle of our circumstances, our relationships—even our thought lives.
We can ask Almighty God, our powerfully compassionate Father, to reach into our lives. And we can allow God’s presence to lighten our darkness.
Sheryl H. Boldt writes fiction and non-fiction for children and adults. Her weekly devotions have appeared in newspapers across the South since 2014. Visit Sheryl’s blog “Today Can Be Different” here: www.TodayCanBeDifferent.net.
"Thank you for the creative teams [of The Upper Room] who are working together to share the power of prayer around the world. You have collaborated with everyone working from our homes to share the gifts of hope, love, grace, and peace." (Written in response to The Upper Room COVID-19 response efforts). View Jaqui's video contribution to the initiative, helping us create space and time for God in these anxious times.