April 23, 2016
Ever since Michelle Martinez was a teenager, she struggled with major anxiety and depression. She was “very fearful and worried all the time. When I was around people, I would have panic attacks. The experience is truly awful. Sweaty hands, trouble breathing, heart pounding and racing thoughts. I felt like I was always waiting for something really bad to happen.” This affected Michelle’s daily life, including leaving high school for a smaller setting, and attending regular therapy sessions.
Michelle believed God existed, but she didn’t have any relationship with Him. She “didn’t have anyone to guide me, or teach me. Growing up, church attendance was very scarce for my family.” There wasn’t a faith being lived out in the home, she went through the religious practices, but that was it for her. “I didn’t have any hope in the midst of all I was going through during those hard years.
During the worst of times, Michelle wasn’t leaving her house because of her extreme nervousness. “I became secluded and very angry at my life. During my late teens, I had made some progress, I was able to go out, but my nerves would leave me exhausted from dealing with everyday tasks.” It was easy for Michelle to shut down in a depression, or to be burned out from anxiousness. This made it very hard to be around her in those moments, with the depression and anxiety making her a very angry person. In this time in her life “I didn’t know what I was alive for, this couldn’t be all there was, dealing with my issues was all I knew.”
A short time later she met her husband, had a daughter, got married, and had her son a few years later. Her own family brought much lite into her life, she wasn’t depressed anymore, but she still struggled. Michelle tells us that she remembers “just always feeling an emptiness that I couldn’t fill, like there was a purpose I was here for but didn’t know it. I finally cried out to God and asked for help, for Him to reveal Himself to me, show me who he was. At that time I felt like I desperately wanted to know Him. I didn’t know much, but I knew I needed Him.
“When I thought about Him I would feel this sense of hope inside.”
Michelle remembered that she had her grandmother’s old Bibles, and started reading. “I didn’t know back then where the desire for God’s Word came from, but I know now that it came from Him.”
Though she was never witnessed to, and didn’t have anyone in her life that talked to her about God, He showed her in the Bible what was done through Jesus. Michelle looked to 1 Peter 1:3 ESV which says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
Through this verse, and all of the Scriptures, Michelle has “a hope for not only the things of this life, but beyond the grave. I am so grateful that we have such a merciful God, and because Jesus paid for my sins on the cross. I don’t have to be separated from him.”
As the Lord started changing her heart, Michelle knew that He was speaking to her on her need to be around other believers. Despite feeling fearful, and wrestling with it for a while, Michelle pressed forward. “I was scared, but He was showing me that He would be there, and that I can trust Him. I knew I had to hold on to His promises and step out in faith.”
Michelle came to Crossroads Church at first, but didn’t stay. “Everyone was so welcoming and nice, that was exactly what scared me. There were some who wanted to get know me.” She really liked Crossroads after that visit, but felt discouraged finding herself uncomfortable and shaky when she spoke. “I wasn’t used to being around a lot of people so I panicked.” She tried going to a small church, but it didn’t feel right for Michelle. She “felt that God wanted me to stay at Crossroads, but I was terrified, so I waited.”
God started to change her heart. Showing her in His Word that if she trusted Him she can do it, because His power is made perfect in her weakness. “That didn’t mean I wasn’t going to experience any anxiety, but that my hope wasn’t in my feelings or myself, but in Christ. I went back to Crossroads and I stayed. If I didn’t take that leap of faith I would have missed the opportunity to trust God, and the blessing of being baptized, and becoming a member the church.”
Since coming to Crossroads “God has never let me down. I am grateful to be a part of the women’s ministry, where I get to fellowship and study the Word with such great women. Every time I walk through the doors of Crossroads I feel less and less anxiety, and feel more and more like the people I have come to meet are like family. I have learned not to trust in my feelings to steer me, but to let the Holy Spirit be my Guide.”
Though her anxiousness hasn’t gone away, God has shown a purpose in it to her. “I never thought I’de say this but, the anxiety I experience keeps me close to God and dependent on Him. I am not strong enough on my own.”
Michelle has felt led join a small group, “which I’m grateful I did. I even got the opportunity to start serving in the children’s ministry. I am so thankful for the Lord, for everyone at Crossroads, and Pastor Ray’s teaching.”