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When Failures Pile Up

When Failures Pile Up

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with My righteous right hand. —Isaiah 41:10

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. — Deuteronomy 31:8

My great-grandmother Mary was severely depressed, emphasized by the fact that her husband was a raging, abusive alcoholic. This played a hand in why she beat her kids. One day she was trying to beat her son for some misbehavior. He ran away, jumped a fence, fell, and broke his hip. As punishment, Mary didn’t take him to the doctor. For the rest of his life, he walked with a limp. My grandmother, too, faced severe depression and mood swings and was on Prozac most of her life... My dad struggled with it.

So it wasn’t entirely surprising that at an early age I started to show signs of depression too. At the age of twelve the depression was so bad I tried to take my own life.

There were so many factors: my father was dealing with a life-changing injury, and my mother was consumed with caring for him; we kids were shuffled from family member to family member, no sense of normalcy whatsoever; our family was facing the financial stress of my father being out of work and the mounting medical bills. 

I had no friends; my only friend had moved away. I was stuck in this small, extremist community, either at home or at a harsh, lonely school, surrounded by nothing but chaos. Even at twelve, I remember feeling like I couldn’t live that way anymore. So on one particularly bad day, I decided I was going to do it — the thing I had thought about so many times before but had never had the guts to try — I was going to kill myself.

I opened the medicine cabinet and picked out the first bottle I could find. Something I knew you weren’t supposed to eat a lot of. I chewed up the entire bottle of cherry-flavored children’s Tylenol and went to sleep, hoping that would be the end of me. That I wouldn’t have to wake up to the insanity anymore.

Of course, since I’m telling you this story today, you know that didn’t work. I woke up, surprisingly without any ill effects. I lived through that harsh season of life, and while I wouldn’t say I necessarily learned my biggest lessons then, it did help prepare me to overcome when I was hit hard again about a decade later...

Alcohol had never touched my lips before... But the second I discovered it, I went off the deep end and hung out there for six months. Partying, going to clubs. You wouldn’t expect such simple activities to dramatically change someone’s life, but let me tell you: for me it changed everything.

I met Josh during that time. He was six feet five. He was charming. He was the life of the party. Three months after we met, three months into that new, exciting life so foreign to anything I’d ever experienced, I found out I was pregnant.

And everything I’d had going was suddenly... gone. All my plans, my hard work — gone. 

We dashed down to the courthouse. I sealed myself in marriage to a man I hardly knew. Sealed myself to a man who would turn out, as I discovered soon enough, to be the opposite of what I had expected.

My world was completely flipped upside down — all because of a few bad decisions. All because of a few nights trying out a different life. All that immediate change again triggered that deep, dark depression that would take me to the ledge. 

We lost the baby. 

And on top of that grief, I was suddenly stuck in a marriage I’d never wanted.

Then Josh’s own issues starting spiraling out of control, and I felt worse than stuck. I needed something better than children’s Tylenol. I needed to make this better or I was going to drown. 

Cornered, I zoned in on the one thing I thought could fix everything: having a baby. I had lost the one, so maybe, just maybe, if I had another one, that would make everything better. Maybe that would heal the hole inside me, fix him, fix our marriage, and make our lives work. Obviously I’d screwed up my old life plans at Bible college. I might as well make new ones.

And I did get pregnant again. But even after I had my daughter, I was still depressed. In fact, I loathed myself. I loathed my life. I succumbed to an eating disorder and let the number on the scale dictate my happiness.

Then things with my husband began to get really bad. He was out of control and eventually did things that I just couldn’t ignore anymore.

I moved out.

And oh, wasn’t it all so painful. The grief of living a life I never wanted. The depression I masked so well. All compounded by the guilt that I was now separated from my husband when, in my family, nobody got a divorce. No one knew how low I felt.

Getting a divorce was the one thing in the world that nobody did. Abuse your kids? Manipulate them? Withhold love? Fine. But divorce? Never. That was the sin that mattered. That was the sin I could never overcome.

And then I got pregnant again, with the husband I’d just separated from. Whatever you’re thinking now, I’ve heard it. Not only did I carry criticism from those who didn’t support my decision to move out, I also gained new criticism the moment I saw those two faint pink lines on the pregnancy strip. How could I have gone back to him, even momentarily? What was I thinking? I’d almost gotten out. I was almost free.

Then suddenly there I was, alone, pregnant with my second child.


But in that moment of being pushed so deep into that dark hole, of really hitting rock bottom, I found a pebble of strength. In that moment of feeling so bad, I realized I had to do something, right then, or I was going to die.

That’s when I finally went to a doctor, got counseling, and began to work through my issues. My exterior problems didn’t end there, but it was a powerful moment and the mark of a fresh beginning.

  • Eventually, out of nothing but pure desperation, I turned to the Bible.

Because I had to do something to stop the voice inside my head that was hounding me day after day, telling me, You’re now a single mother because of your failure to stay in the church... just like they said would happen. Your life no longer has value. Your mistakes are all you are. Everything they said would happen without them has happened. And in a desperate attempt to salvage my ruined life, I turned to the only thing I knew: my religion. But this time, in reading the Bible, I discovered a way so radically different from anything I had ever been taught...

I read and realized that the Bible was much more than fire and brimstone and rules and regulations; it was about a relationship with a Being who wanted to know me and loved me, failures and all.

Excerpted with permission from From the Ground Up by Noell Jett, copyright Noell Jett.

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Your Turn

We can make such gigantic messes of our lives, can’t we? It snowballs and gets way out of control. But, in the meantime, we never leave the love of Jesus behind. He’s with us and He loves us. All we have to do it turn to Him and His love is right there. Come share your thoughts with us. We want to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily