It’s a Tuesday night. I’m writing to you from college. It’s finals week. I can’t begin to tell you how thankful I am to know this is about over. The past three and a half months have drained me emotionally. I don’t feel like writing this. Add it to my growing list of depressing columns.
I never imagined this would be my story. I always looked forward to college. It was my dream. I remember dreaming about how much better college would be than high school. A prominent Christian college in Ohio gave me $50,000. I accepted the offer. At face value, people probably thought I was content. What more could I have asked for?
If you’ve been following my column since August, you’ve learned a lot about me. I haven’t been okay. I’ve shed more tears these past three and a half months than the past three years combined. I’ve battled depression. I’ve watched my relationship suffer. I’ve considered leaving God altogether. I haven’t been okay.
But it’s okay to not be okay.
Some of you are annoyed right now. You’re tired of reading my sad columns. But this is my therapy. Someone needs to know that it’s okay to not be okay.
The Apostle Paul writes, “For we do not want you to be unaware, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead” (2 Cor. 1:8-9 ESV).
Even Paul battled depression. He despaired of life. He desperately desired his circumstances to change. But through his pain, he learned to rely on God. He experienced the power and presence of Christ in a deeper way. And the same has been true for me.
The same Jesus who says, “‘… I am with you always, to the end of the age’” (Matt. 28:20 ESV).
The same Jesus who says, “‘I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world’” (John 16:33 ESV).
The same Jesus who says, “‘Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid’” (John 14:27 ESV).
Jesus is enough for me. And the same is true for you. It’s okay to not be okay. But it’s not okay to stay that way.
Paul writes, “He [God] delivered us from such a deadly peril, and he will deliver us. On him we have set our hope that he will deliver us again” (2 Cor. 1:10 ESV).
I don’t know how I made it, but I did. I don’t know what you’re facing, but you’re going to make it. God is a deliverer. It’s okay to not be okay. But don’t settle. God is faithful until the end.
Paul writes, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ” (Phil. 1:6 ESV).
In the meantime, learn to rely on Jesus. Let Him be enough for you. If you’re lonely, remember He is with you. If you’re sick, remember He is your healer. If you’re anxious, remember He is your peace. If you’re sad, remember He is your joy. Jesus is whatever you need, whenever you need it. And so much more.
“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort. He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us” (2 Cor. 1:3-4 NLT).
I pray this glimpse into my story comforts someone. It’s okay to not be okay. Just don’t stay that way.
Isaiah Pauley is a 2018 graduate of Wahama High School and attends Ohio Christian University. He can be followed at www.isaiahpauley.com, or on Facebook at Isaiah Pauley Page.