~By: Krista Steuber~
Chronic pain, anxiety, depression, hopelessness...I’ve been there. God brought me through it all. He brought me to the end of myself so that I could come back to Him. I wanted to share my story, which is really HIS story, with you.
My husband and I moved to Florida in February of 2017. At that time in my life, I had been suffering from chronic foot and ankle pain for about two years. After we moved, my pain peaked and was at the worst it’s ever been. It was debilitating for me. I couldn’t tolerate standing or walking for very long. I became consumed and obsessed with finding the right doctors to help me and shoes that were comfortable. I spent hours sitting in front of my computer researching doctors, shoes, and insoles. But months went by, and nothing seemed to work. I saw four different doctors who were of no help and tried countless pairs of shoes and orthotics that offered no relief.
I began to have horrible anxiety that started giving me heart palpitations. I was stuck in my house, which began to feel like a prison to me, and I couldn’t do much of anything. I was isolated and felt so lonely. Besides my husband, I didn’t know anyone in Florida at that time. I don’t have family in this area, and I wasn’t able to meet new people because I was trapped at home alone everyday while my husband was at work. (I hadn’t yet found a new job after we moved, but I don’t know how I would have been able to work at that time anyway.)
I felt extremely alone and hopeless, and I slipped into the pit of depression. I cried everyday. I wasn’t able to sleep much at night, but when I did, I hoped that I wouldn’t wake up in the morning. In addition to the pain and loneliness, part of me was mourning the life I used to have. I used to love going on long walks and hiking and doing yoga, and my feet hurting me was never an issue. And, as silly as it might sound, I missed wearing sandals and flip-flops and being able to walk around barefoot. I couldn’t enjoy anything about living in Florida.
My marriage started to feel strained. My husband was doing his best to be supportive, but it was taking a toll on him. I knew that he dreaded coming home from work because of how miserable I was. I was sucking the happiness out of his life, and I remember telling him he’d be better off without me.
I think I prayed as I was going through all of this, but I honestly can’t remember what I prayed. (Let me rewind a bit: I was a believer in God and Jesus, but I didn’t have a real relationship with Him. I didn’t really know Him. God was always in the background of my life and never played a major role in my thoughts and actions. I only knew pieces and fragments of Bible stories. I had tried reading the Bible once, but I didn’t get very far and didn’t really understand what I was reading, so I gave up.)
I came to a point in my pain and depression where I didn’t know what to do. I was at my wit’s end. I remember specifically crying out, “I can’t do this anymore!” Looking back, I believe that was the turning point when things slowly started changing for the better.
My husband encouraged me to reach out to my parents and tell them what I was going through. They were really supportive and encouraged me to see a doctor, and I began taking medication for my anxiety and depression. I also finally found the right doctor for my feet and ankle issues and started a treatment plan that was going to help me, as well as the correct shoes and orthotics that I needed. My parents flew down to Florida to be with me for a week, and I was later able to fly back up north to my hometown to visit them and my extended family. I had several job interviews and accepted the job I have now. I wanted to find a church, so I went to a local Lutheran church a couple times.
I was starting to feel better, and I was able to sleep much better at night, but I still wasn’t ‘good,’ for lack of a better word. I remember driving to work and thinking that I used to be happy, but I don’t know if I’ll ever feel that way again. Maybe this was as good as it was going to get and would have to be my new normal.
Then came the very beginning of my real healing. As I was getting to know my neighbor, she invited me to join her at the Bible study she was attending. I had never been to one before, and I had no idea what to expect, but I felt a real pull to go, so I said yes. The book we read together for the study was Seamless by Angie Smith, and I loved it. It started opening my eyes to the fact that the Bible really is a seamless story where everything connects together and points to Jesus.
My neighbor also invited me to go to church with her and her family, and I said yes again. Her church was something of a shock to me at first. It’s a non-denominational Christian church with much more contemporary music, and had none of the structure or formality I was used to in the Catholic/Lutheran/Methodist churches I had gone to in the past. But, this church really connected with me. Its pastor and what he taught through his sermons were much more real. He taught through Scripture in a way that was understandable and relatable to my life. I started listening to his previous sermons online, and they really clicked with me.
Then, my neighbor led a Bible study in her home, and that was the transformation point for me. We studied the book Hinds’ Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard, and God used that book to shift my perspective. He began to show me the purpose of all the pain and suffering I had been going through in the past year. God drew me back to Him. He was using all the ugliness I was going through to refine me and deepen and strengthen my relationship with Him (Isaiah 48:10). From that point on, I began to run after Jesus.
And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 5:10-11
It’s been almost two years now since that Hinds’ Feet study, and God is now front and center in my life. I have been learning and growing spiritually, and He has been teaching me SO MUCH. God has healed me in so many ways. I don’t even know where to begin to describe how different my life is now, all I can say is praise to Almighty God! He has surrounded me with women of Christ, and these friendships are unlike any others I’ve had in my life. I now read Scripture with a new understanding; God gives me the tools and the empowerment of His Spirit that I need in order to learn from His Word. He has been working in me and through me in ways that I never could have imagined.
I have joy back in my life again, and I am beyond grateful. My life has not been easy since that point; please don’t misunderstand. It’s been far from a blissful road of sunshine and roses. The trials and tribulations still come (John 16:33). I still deal with chronic pain flare-ups and moments of fear. I’ve struggled with aspects of my faith and have asked God hard questions. My husband went through major health issues. We’ve dealt with job layoffs and financial uncertainty. But, what’s different now is that my trust is in HIM. I don’t dwell in the fear and uncertainty. Through studying His Word, God has revealed Himself to me. I have a relationship with Him, and I come to Him in prayer. I know He loves me, and He works ALL things out for good (Romans 8:28). He keeps His promises, and He does what He says He will do. He has a plan and purpose for EVERYTHING, and it is all under His control. Despite my circumstances, I have peace that comes from HIM. Even when I don’t feel good, I know that HE is still good (Numbers 23:19; Hebrews 13:8; James 1:17).
“I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the Lord, am the one who does these things.” Isaiah 45:7
But those who trust in the Lord will find new strength. They will soar high on wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31
Even though my chronic pain and depression were the worst things I’ve ever been through, I wouldn’t change it. It made me who I am today. I have been reborn as a follower of Christ. I can use all of what I’ve experienced to help others and point them to Jesus. Nothing is ever wasted - every ugly thing I’ve gone through is for a greater purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:11; Isaiah 61:3). God has blessed me immensely, and I’m so thankful for everything He has done in my life. I see things so differently now; through the new lenses God has given me. My life is about continuing to deepen my relationship with God, reflecting the light and love of Jesus, and pointing others to the healing, redemption, and salvation that is ONLY found in Jesus Christ. There is no pit so deep that He can’t pull you out, but you have to let Him.
Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.” John 14:6