By Rev. Ericka Bailey, 4th Episcopal District
A few years ago, someone that I loved dearly died as a result of suicide. His death affected me greatly as he was a member of the body of Christ. He knew the Lord and attended church on a regular basis; yet, he suffered from such deep personal pain and anguish that suicide appeared to be his only option.
I took his death personally because I too have been at that point of desperation in my life; smiling on the outside yet suffering greatly on the inside. I too am a member of the body of Christ. I attend church on a regular basis. I pray, fast, tithe, believe His word, take Him at His word; and yet, I live with major depression. Despite my best effort, sometimes the pain simply doesn’t go away. Like the Apostle Paul, I asked the Lord at least three times to take this condition away from me. He responded, “my grace is sufficient for you.”
I never spoke of my condition because of stigma and shame. However, when this young man died, I made the decision to remove my masks and admit that I too hurt so that those who struggled would know that they are not alone. I decided then to take up the mantle and join in the fight against the dreaded disease of mental illness.
I felt the Lord calling me to do more. I had long since given the Lord permission to use me but I had some stipulations. Imagine having 10 different doors to your life. I had given God access to eight of them, allowing Him to use any of the eight for His glory. Two of those doors, however, were marked “off limits” because they contained things too ugly and too painful to be of any benefit. Those doors were sealed off from public viewing but God wanted to open the very doors that I had marked “off limits.” He wanted to use those doors for His glory!
My book, I Survived, details the contents of the ninth and tenth doors. They are the aspects of my life that I considered ruins, ashes, the skeletons that I never felt would be of any use to the kingdom of God. Once I surrendered them to God, I have witnessed the most beautiful and unexpected harvest. God has miraculously blessed the fragments of my broken life and used them to bless others who have journeyed through similar circumstances. I am humbled at His magnificence.
I am privileged to share my story of recovery in the Chicago Public School systems as a Lead Presenter with NAMI. My story is two-fold. It includes topics such as domestic violence, childhood sexual abuse, and homelessness but it also highlights components of my recovery: my faith, proper nutrition, daily exercise, the importance of getting adequate sleep and medication, and yes letting everyone know that in spite of it all, I survived!
In May 2017, I Survived was released. It is available for purchase on this authors website at ISurvivedMinistries.org or on Amazon.com.