Purpose from two perspectives. When I invited these two to join me on my relaunch of women+words I allowed time for them to reflect and submit when they were ready. It was a divine moment when both of them shared their story with me and emailed me at the SAME time with the SAME WORD. What opened my eyes was that every word that God speaks can be the same but the meaning, details, and story behind it are different and truly beautiful.
MEET CELINA OSEGUERA
Hello, friend. My name is Celina Oseguera. Wonderful to meet you. I’ve been a Christian for as long as I can remember. Why am I telling you this all of a sudden? Not to gloat, I assure you. It’s just so you know that what I’m about to testify can happen to any person at any time. It doesn’t matter if you identify as a child of God or not — the hardships of this world affect everyone. Even Jesus said we would have trouble in this world (John 16:33). Life can be hard and I want to assure you of this — even if you believe in God, it’s OK not to feel OK. My testimony is a testament to the fact we can be battered and bruised, but still find hope and purpose in God.
“Every time I talk to you, I feel depressed.”
Those words still hurt. They came out of the mouth of someone I loved dearly. Apparently my problems were too large a burden for them to help me carry.
As a person with General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), I was used to telling myself mean things — that I was worthless, helpless and that I brought people down with my problems. But it’s different when someone says those words straight to your face — they feel so much more real and hurtful.
Those words were the final straw. I started to lose my faith. I let myself believe I was too dysfunctional to uphold relationships, let alone fulfill God’ purpose for my life, whatever that was. How could I be useful to God when I often found myself sobbing on my bathroom floor almost every night? How could I show God’s love to others when I didn’t love myself? How could I show people God’s blessings when I was still in a darkness I could not shake?
Friends, those of us who have anxiety, depression and other mental illnesses have a very hard time finding purpose and meaning in ourselves, even when we depend on a higher power. I often felt I could not trust myself at all — I felt joy and happiness one second and found myself sobbing the next. There was no rhyme or reason and eventually it started to seem this pain was my purpose. It’s hard to believe there is more to life when you are fighting with your own mind.
I began to compare myself to other Christian brothers and sisters — why can’t I be more involved in church, why can’t I preach as strongly as them, why I can’t I just be normal like them? I lost all sense of purpose.
I started therapy and medication, which made me feel even more broken. It all felt like a crutch and I was ashamed of it. It didn’t help that the medication caused pretty nasty side effects. But I felt in my spirit that I needed to stick with it. I didn’t understand why I had to go through all of this, but then my moment of clarity came.
I was in a Bible group at my church in San Jose that focused on spoken word and poetry. I was still in the trenches of darkness and anxiety at that time, but I stayed in the group and wrote my first piece. I sat with pen and paper, unsure of what to write. I didn’t think I had anything substantial to say. But then I heard a whisper, so sure and soft, “my child, there is more.” I knew instantly who that was. I collapsed and cried. I knew instantly it was God telling me there was more than the pain, the tears, the anger and anxiety. And I needed to tell everyone else that, even when I didn’t feel it was true at the time.
So I did.
I stood in front of a room full of people and performed my piece. I don’t know if I touched anyone there, but I choose to believe I did. Why else would God’s Word say “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Eph. 2:10) and “All things have been created through him and for him (Col. 1:16).” Why would God create man that has no purpose? What glory would that bring him? And what joy would that bring us?
Since performing that piece, I have held onto the truth that God has a purpose for every one of us. Even when I have my moments of anxiety, I have found purpose. Though I wish I did not have this burden, my condition has caused me to be so much more empathetic to others and their own burdens. I feel deeply for them and feel called by God to love them with everything I have. I have found purpose in pain.
Friends, I know it’s hard to do that. I mean, it took me 23 years and I still flub up. But let me assure you with this — I have never met someone who hasn’t had a purpose. God didn’t make us that way. And don’t worry if your purpose seems small. Whether it’s being a greeter at church, making time for a friend in need or simply flashing a smile to a stranger, the world needs you. Believe me, I’ve had people I’ve never met give me a compliment on my worst days and I thank them in my heart every day. You have a God-given purpose and it’s much bigger than you think. It’s precious. Don’t let anyone tell you different.
Because I know this is a tough topic and some of us reading this may be struggling, here are some resources you can use. Take care of yourself, friend.
National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255 Other resources (courtesy my Church)
What does WOMEN+WORDS mean to you?
So much. I never felt brave enough to share my fight with mental illness so publically like this, and the fact Miss Cherelle invited me gave me strength. God spoke through her, and though I was scared to talk about this, here I am!
Our book of Proverbs is the power of WISDOM. What wisdom would you love to share?
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he will make your paths straight,” Proverbs 3:5-6
When my mind is out of control and my anxiety takes over, I think of this verse. In those moments of darkness, God is the only one who can help you overcome.
In the Bible, who or what book inspires you?
I’ve always loved Ruth. I was always amazed by her dedication to Naomi, even when her husband died and she had no reason to stay with her. Her love for a fellow woman of God is really powerful and is a perfect example of women supporting women.
Favorite Scripture at the moment:
“Come to me all you who are weary and burdened and I will give you rest,” Matthew 11:28
I say this to myself every night before bed. Anxiety causes my mind to race at the most inconvenient of times, especially bedtime. This verse always calms me.
TIME OF WORSHIP
Sit in a place of silence, listen to one of Celina's favorite songs right now and reflect on her story, word, and let the Holy Spirit speak into your soul.
I’ve always loved this song. It is simply a person saying they will praise God no matter what. Even in the pain and sorrow. There is this crescendo toward the end where the singer belts out “if the sum of all our praises still fall shy, we will sing again 100 billion times.” It’s just such a powerful message of praising God when all seems lost.