Written By Jordan DiFernando, USA
Depression and anxiety are no strangers to me. Panic attacks are routine, followed closely by waves of doubt and unbelief. I’ve experienced different traumas, toxic relationships, and being knocked down many times.
I have often felt like I was dancing with the devil. It was as if he had chosen this torment for me. During my sophomore year of college, that torment began to take over more fully. You see, timid me had begun taking voice lessons in high school. Under the guidance of my vocal coach, I explored the art of opera, of channeling who I am into music that was centuries old.
As I continued studying opera in college, I remember struggling to channel the emotion necessary for a specific aria, O Del Mio Dolce Ardor. It was a love song that blended great passion and pain, and I just could not get it right. As I began digging deeper and deeper within my own heart, feelings of worthlessness, filth, and desperation that I thought I had packed away came spilling over. I began to shut out my friends and family.
My mental battles caused me to lose sight of reality, and I dropped out of college. I spent days and nights in bed. I was in a haze that I could not break out of; a fog thicker than I had ever seen. I hated being open with others, because people never understood what I was going through. It was easier for me to hide in solitude, because that was less disappointing for me.
Though I knew that God was with me, my life was crashing down around me. I was caught under the rubble, desperately trying to get back to the light. Then one day, in the depth of my pain, someone reached out to me.
I received a card. I read it. I tucked it away. The card meant nothing to me on that day.
Weeks later, I had a horrible panic attack one night. I sat up in bed, sweating, out of breath, my heart palpitating. Everything felt so tense. Through the haze, I remember searching through my books. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I grabbed my Bible. As I began flipping through it, the card fell out. I opened it again, and this time, I soaked in every word.
The person who had written it was speaking life into me. She wrote of how she believed God’s best was yet to come, how He had prepared me for what He had in store, and how she was proud of me. These words blew me away. For the first time, real light was beginning to break through the walls I had constructed around myself.
In that moment, I realized that if I could use my experiences to speak life into other people, then everything I lived through would be worth it. Every sleepless night would have purpose, and each trauma would be justified in Jesus’ name, because I could use my pain to pour powerful love into the lives of people across the world. This card was the start of a bigger journey for me.
That night, I sat up and wrote dozens of cards to a bunch of strangers. Each card had an encouraging quote or scripture verse, and some words of validation. The next day, I went around my city leaving them in random places.
Words are powerful things. And when they are wielded by God-fearing people, they can change lives. My life was not changed by a piece of paper. It was the written contents that forever changed my heart. For the first time in a long time, I believed in myself, and I believed that I could use my pain to make a difference for someone else.
Today, this act of random card-giving has another name—Compassion Cards. It’s a movement of people who are on a mission to use their own experiences to validate others. These little cards have found their way all over the United States, and as far away as East Africa.
What is your story?
Maybe you are on a similar journey. Perhaps you struggle with the lies that depression feeds you, or with panic attacks. You might be in a toxic relationship or even experienced abuse. You, like me, might believe that your life has no value and that your time is useless. I am here to tell you that those things are not true! God took me from a depressive, secluded wreck, and made me into a woman who advocates for people who feel as I once did. He planted a passion in me to serve people across the world. He has a purpose for you as well.
“Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy.”(Psalm 126:5)
My story was planted in tears. I cried out to God for years. How could God really use me in any way? All I’ve done is quit, cry, and run. The funny thing about God is that He can take nothing and make it everything. What I planted in sorrow, I am now reaping in shouts of joy. I have always thought that those seasons in my life didn’t matter, but look what He has done with them! My pain, my abuse, my sorrow? Without those, this time in my life would be useless.
May you never doubt the orchestration of the Master. He is composing a lovely symphony from the ashes of your life. The score will be painful, but along the way you will find joy that far outweighs the present trials. Your time matters to God. Are you ready to let Him lead?