Tiffany Webster is a writer, blogger, and graphic designer. She is also featured in our new video series, Hope Works, as one of six presenters who share interesting insights about hope and faith and how it works in their lives. We asked her to share more about the lessons she learned while battling crippling depression.
At the beginning of your presentation, you said you were asked as a teenager what you thought your life would look like in 15 years. If you could give advice to other young men and women who are asked that question, what would it be?
Today I would start by reminding myself what this mortal life is about. Despite everything we want to accomplish and all the success we want to achieve, this life is about growth. It’s about learning line by line, step by step, and grace by grace.
Does God want us to dream big? Yes! Absolutely. In every way. However, God cares about who we are becoming, more than He cares about what our life is becoming.
Now, don’t be confused. This doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have a beautiful, amazing, successful life available for each of us. He does. But God’s route for us to our promised land includes sharp turns, long red lights, roundabouts, and plenty of detours. Don’t be discouraged when these things happen; instead, embrace them. They are part of the journey.
How have your experiences shaped the way you approach life now?
It has drastically changed the way I live in every aspect. For years I let my external circumstances run my life. Everything that existed on my checklist was directly linked to my self-worth, my perceived value to God, and how successful I was in the world’s eyes.
Once I finally accepted—really accepted—that, first, I am already enough, second, my worth comes from being a daughter of God, and third, being mortal, broken, and flawed is a crucial part of mortality, everything changed. When you start living your life being grounded in who you are and whose you are, your life becomes powerful—not easy, but powerful.
Jesus Christ knew exactly who He was and what His life’s mission consisted of. Because of this, His life was steady, constant, and sound. He never panicked. He never rushed. He was never in a hurry and never had any need to prove to anyone who He was. He knew God’s will for Him personally and everything that He did was to glorify His Father not himself.
Although I’m still eons away from being just like Christ, this is now the attitude I take every morning. I pray to know God’s will for me personally, I pray to know how I can be an instrument in His hands, I pray to know be intentional about what goes on my checklist, and I pray for Christ’s grace to enable me to do it all.
Through this process I have learned that a successful day in God’s eyes, is not the same as a successful day in the world’s eyes (or mine). I’ve learned to expect weakness and failure because this is the learning process. It’s how God keeps us meek, humble, and united with Christ. I’ve learned that in order to say yes to God, I have to say no to a lot of other things. I’ve learned that despite my circumstances, when I am focused on my divine, personal mission, I am happy.
I’ve also learned that by saying no to perfectionism and long checklists, I say yes to a life that is steady, peaceful, present, and joyful.
Many of our readers are struggling with debilitating mental illnesses right now. What did you do physically, mentally, and spiritually to get out of bed and move forward on your darkest days?
Before I start, I need to be honest and say that somedays, especially in my darkest hours, I didn’t get out of bed. In those moments the darkness was too much, I was too mortal, and all I could do was surrender.
However, in these moment, I also knew that this wasn’t the life God wanted for me. I knew that somehow I needed to fight for the light. For me, I found that these four things helped me the most:
How can others who are facing challenges find hope and share it with friends and family who might also be struggling?
We live in a world of isolation. In the past, neighbors knew each other’s heartache, pain, and trials. They rallied around one another, hand in hand, carrying each other back home to God.
Today, Satan has done all he can to keep us busily living life alone. We come and go from our homes, never seeing our neighbors, rushing from one task to the next. We put on smiles, wave briefly, then scroll through the surface of each other’s lives.
How many of us really know the depths of each other’s mortal journey? How many of us know that our neighbor sits, just as we do, in the corner of his or her room in tears, fighting the darkness of this world alone?
Satan loves when we’re silent about our trials and he loves shaming us into solitude. God, on the other hand, knows that we need each other. When I first decided to open up about my personal trials, I was terrified. I thought, “What if no one else has felt this way? What will people think?”
However, despite what Satan told me, when I chose to be honest, I found freedom. I found hope and light, and I discovered how desperately we need each other. We need to know of each other’s struggles and trials. We need hope that we aren’t alone. We need your voice and mine. We need love and less judgement. We need truth and less perfect facades. And we need each other to get back home, hand in hand.