Monday, July 9, 2018

More Than Conquerers

Guest Blogger: Camryn Williamson

Change. College. Death. Heartbreak. Grief. Depression. Anxiety. These words can be used to describe the last two years of my life. I graduated high school in 2015 at the top of my class, ready to take on the world and everything that would come my way in college. My dad had been battling Esophageal cancer for the past 6 years, and I knew the end was in sight. That summer he was put on Hospice care after needing surgery for a feeding tube because he wasn’t able to eat. I came to Kansas State University in the fall of 2015, walking on to the Women’s Rowing team, with my sights
set on Athletic Training as my major.

October 9, 2015. My world changed forever when my mom called me at 3:45 am to tell me that it was time for me to come home. She put my dad on the phone, and all I could hear was, “Cam? I love you. I love you, ok? I love you, Cam.” My brother, his wife, and their 2 month old baby lived in Manhattan (Kansas) at the time and we loaded up their car to drive home. We were halfway there when my mom called again, and I just stared out the window until we arrived. My mom and older sister came out of the house when we pulled up, and the 5 of us just cried in this group hug. It was the
strangest thing walking into my house with all these people there already. Manhattan is 4 hours away from my home and I immediately felt gypped that all these other people were here to see my dad leave this world, while I was stuck in a car. But I put a smile on my face, hugged people, ate some food and chatted about school before someone said, “Are you ready?” I have never cried like that before or since that day. I honestly feel sorry for those people who were in my house, because I’m sure it’s a sound that they probably won’t forget either.

College can be a challenging time for many, as you learn to navigate the real world, and make decisions that can affect you for many years to come. But college is also the time where you can have some fun by going on adventures, learning new things, and making new relationships. My first semester was full of a lot of emotions. I was learning a new sport and trying to balance school, workouts, responsibilities, and spending time with my new nephew. I put my grief on a back burner because I didn’t want to think about it. I was determined to make the most of my life, because I knew
that’s what my dad would want. He loved life, he loved people, and he loved the Lord. That’s how I wanted my life to be. So I applied to be a Camp Counselor at Camp Chyoca in Calhoun, Louisiana for the summer of 2016.

I had the time of my life. I found myself again. I absolutely loved every day. Under most circumstances, I am not a morning person. But I had no problem getting up at the crack of dawn to start my day at camp. Those 6 weeks were exactly what I needed. I learned so much about my own strengths and weaknesses, and how to handle different situations. The days were long and summers in Louisiana are HOT, so of course I had my moments when I wasn’t full of grace. I’m also semi allergic to mosquitos, yet they love me and at one point I counted upwards of 30+ bites on my
legs! But oh how much peace and joy I had in my heart. The other counselors were amazing and life long friendships were made.

But then my grief caught up with me. I tried to transfer schools at the end of the summer, but it didn’t work out. I was so afraid to come back to school. School was full of bad memories, and to make matters worse it felt like I had not made any friends at all. I was REALLY bitter. I would take every opportunity I could to make it known that my life was worse than somebody else’s. It wasn’t because I wanted their pity, it was to inform God once again that he had abandoned me. No wonder no-one wanted to be my friend, I had an awful attitude 95% of the time. Grief has this awful way of distorting the real image and stealing your joy. Your view of life becomes veiled because that’s
the only thing going on in your little world. It’s hard for other people to understand what you’re going through or why when you’re in a room full of people, you want to cry because it feels like you are alone in a dark hole.

Because of that bitterness and anger, I didn’t really care about anything. I stopped working out, I stopped eating healthy, I didn’t brush my hair, sometimes I didn’t shower for a while. I just let my body be an all consuming pit of despair. I fell into the trap of sin that enslaved me many years ago. Then I felt even more awful, but I didn’t hold myself accountable with that awful feeling. I stopped going to church, not really seeing a point in why I should.

This past summer, I chose to work on my family farm and had a lot of time to think, reflect, and talk to God. I found a lot of peace, plowing back and forth on fields for many days, but there was still a since of solitude. At the end of the summer, I tried to transfer schools, again. It didn’t work out, again. This past year I have battled depression and anxiety as my form of grief. It has been hard. I have struggled with medication that messed with the chemical balance in my brain and made me want to end my life. I started thinking of how I would do it. That scared me. I thought for a long
time that if I was depressed, it would be like the nail in my coffin, that I wouldn’t ever be able to get out of it. That scared me, so I just ignored what was going on in my heart for a long time, not wanting to deal with any emotions. So then I stopped being happy. I lost my joy. I was so angry. At God, at my family, at school.

Last week in church, our Pastor was preaching a sermon on talking to God through our series, “Questions for Everyday Faith.” He starts out in Romans 8. Immediately, I’m thinking “Oh yes, this is gonna be gooooood!” Y’all, the first sentence sets a tone for the entire chapter: “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.” WOAH. Verses 31-39 are titled
More Than Conquerors, and I want to challenge you to read the entire chapter, but I’m going to focus on the last two verses. “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angel nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from he love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Do I struggle with depression? Yes. Does that define who I am? No. Does that separate me from my Heavenly Father? No. Does that keep me from becoming whom God has called me to be? No. Does it separate me from the Father’s love? Absolutely not. Will I be able to look forward to each day with confidence in strength and without fear of the future. Yes, a thousand times, yes.

I am a conqueror. You are a conqueror. We are conquerors made through the prefect love of our Heavenly father who gives us the strength to tackle each day, each hurt, each broken heart. He has called us for more. He has called us to speak truth into each day, and spread the good news of the gospel.

My now 2 year-old nephew is the cutest thing, and he has recently started saying the phrase, “You ready?” but is sounds more like, “Youu reaaay?” And I think that’s God’s way of telling me that he’s got something bigger in store for me. And I want to be ready when the time comes.

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