After a brief walk on
the beach, I sunk onto my knees in the sand. With my finger I wrote two
sentences in the sand: What do You want me to do? I am in Your hands. I stood, wiped the sand off my pants, took
one last glance at my message, then walked away…
I think for most of my life I’ve been afraid to be who I am,
to embrace my quirkiness and be proud of the person God made me. This
insecurity started in middle school, those wonderfully awkward years where
everyone was figuring out who he/she was while trying to cope with puberty.
I had discovered me—I was a dork who loved Christian rock
music—but was unable to really express this. Sure my friends all knew I was
obsessed with Skillet and other bands—I had an argument with my friend Claire
during algebra class in eighth grade over who was better, NSYNC or P.O.D.?
(Don’t worry, I soon converted her to Pillar and Relient K.) But what I liked
wasn’t the mainstream, wasn’t the popular thing to like—and not just with
Christian rock. I was the girl who read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lord
of the Rings, and Harry Potter; who watched Farscape every Friday night after
the football game; who had an obsession with Orlando Bloom; who dressed up as
Queen Amidala from Star Wars during homecoming week; who sat in the back of
class writing stories of her own. I knew that, for the most part, my classmates
labeled me the awkward weird girl.
This was also the time that most of my friends started
getting boyfriends. Of course, they never lasted long—anywhere from a few days
to a few months. Boyfriends came and went at the lunch table. And I was very
much aware that no boy was coming to sit with me.
So through the end of middle school and much of high school
I kind of lived a duel life—I started going to lots of concerts—I went to my
first Skillet concert for my 14th birthday. They were really my
“gateway band.” Through them I discovered many more bands including Pillar and
Justifide and Kutless and tobyMac and the list goes on. And my dad and I
started running sound at Club Fathom. There was something so exciting about
watching bands set up, listening to sound checks, and hearing drum tracks to
your favorite bands before you knew they were in the studio. Concerts were such
a blast! I could be myself and no one would care.
But while at school and church my self-perception was
sliding downward. My insecurities blossomed into the belief that I was
unattractive. I would stare at myself in the mirror and dream that my body
resembled the idealized image of beauty seen in movies and television. For my
friends, boyfriends continued to come and go. I pretended that it didn’t bother
me, that I didn’t care, but deep down, every time my friends talked about dates
and holding hands and first kisses, I couldn’t help but feel I was getting left
behind. I felt like no one cared about me. I was fading.
I spent my 17th birthday in the doctor’s office
listening to him diagnose me with depression. Depression drained the life out
of me. Each negative thought felt like a weight being attached to me—the more I
had the harder it was to stand. Trying to get rid of the negative thoughts was
a challenge I usually never won.
With medication I slowly got better. I genuinely had fun my
senior year, and I cared less about trying to seek approval through a
boyfriend, mainly because I figured in college, along with a degree and a job,
I’d also acquire my “Mrs.”
I did have fun in college. I moved to Wilmington, North
Carolina and lived ten minutes from the beach! I made friends. I made decent
grades. I ran through sprinklers at one in the morning and suffered epic
sunburns from lazy beach naps. Recognizing that I had depression, anytime a
negative thought tried to take over, I would cope with it and move on.
But towards the end of my junior year and beginning of my
senior year panic started to slowly rise in me each day. Graduation was looming
in my near future, and I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I was going to do on
the day after. All my life, school had been my structure—I knew what the future
held—more school. But the day after graduation was a big, dark, empty void.
What was I going to do with my life? How was I going to support myself? I
started to regret going for a degree in creative writing—what kind of job was I
going to get with that?
Along with this other unhealthy thoughts returned. The voice
in my head reminded me that I still hadn’t had a boyfriend. I concluded
something must be wrong with me. Or maybe I was wearing an invisibility cloak.
I cried myself to sleep several times with images of me, old and alone, passing
by. It didn’t help either that I have a relative who constantly asked me where
my wedding ring was. He told me one time: “Your parents are paying all this
money for you to go to college. The least you could do is find a husband.” I
played it off, but his words stung—I felt like a failure.
I started to get angry with God. I was uncertain of my
purpose, and felt I had no value, no worth. Depression clawed its way into my
psyche with its negative, vile comments. It turned into a vicious cycle that
spiraled downward. I felt down about myself, which I coped with by laying
around watching television and doing nothing. The lack of activity gave the
voice in my head ample time to defeat me, which made me not want to do
anything. And repeat.
The proverbial straw that broke my back happened on
Halloween. I got talked into going to a party, but promised myself I would only
have two drinks. Well, after four whiskey and cokes, I was drunk. And when I
realized I was drunk, I got so mad at myself. No one had told me to drink more;
no one pressured me into it. It was my decision to get another and another and
another knowing the consequences.
When my roommates and I left the party I climbed into the
backseat and burst into tears. At that moment I hated myself, and all I could
think about were Paul’s words in Romans: “I want to do what is good, but I
don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:19)
A few days later the stagnation and frustration were boiling
inside me. I went to the beach to take a walk. As I wandered the beach,
listening to the waves crashing and watching the few surfers who braced the
cold water I tried to remember the last time I was happy, genuinely happy, and
I immediately thought of a Skillet concert I had attended the previous spring.
Then I went back to high school to the time I spent at Club Fathom hanging out
with bands (when I had the nerve to talk to them) and pushing faders on the
sound board. Concerts and music were what made me happy. But how was going to
concerts supposed to be my purpose?
After a brief walk, I sunk onto my knees in the sand. With
my finger I wrote two sentences in the sand: What do You want me to do? I am in Your hands. I stood, wiped the
sand off my pants, took one last glance at my message, then walked away.
On my drive back to my apartment, I had the local Christian
rock radio station on. A commercial came of for a venue called the Lampstand
Lightclub. They were looking for volunteers, and their next show was in a few
days. My palm smacked my forehead. “Okay God,” I said. “I get it.”
Long story short, I went to the venue, which was at a local
church and witnessed a fight. After one more show, the venue called it quits.
But going to that one show re-ignited my joy. During my final five months of
college, I stopped worrying about what people would think and dressed like a
rock star, combat boots and all! I saw Skillet at home in Chattanooga, dragged
my roommate Heather to a bar about an a hour away from Wilmington to see
Decyfer Down, and drove to Raleigh with my other roommate, Ashlea to rock out
to The Letter Black, RED, and Skillet. I was going to concerts again, and I
And well, it’s been almost two years since that walk on the
beach and what am I doing? I run a website called Forte Chattanooga that
focuses on the local Christian music scene here in Chattanooga. I get to go to
concerts and review shows. I get to interview the local bands and talk to
touring bands. The site is slowing gaining popularity. Bands have started
asking me to be featured on the site, and at one show, I was snapping pictures
and this person just turned to me and asked, “Are you the lady from Forte?”
And I fell like this is what I’m supposed to do, working to
promote the music I love. This doesn’t mean that things are suddenly easier. I
still have days were I have doubts and I worry about the future. But I just
trust God and open my eyes to any opportunities available to further my website
and my dream. The most important part in all this: I am happy! I have finally
accepted who God has made me, and I am full of joy.
My dad always states that there are three important things
to do (1) Love God. (2) Love others. (3) Love yourself. The third is the
hardest, but you can only accomplish the other two when you truly learn to love
yourself. When you’re happy with yourself, with who you are, with the person
God created you to be, everything else just falls into place.
My name is Sarah Brehm, and I am second.