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My name is Vaishali Lucas-Lebron and I live in Lawrence, MA. I always knew God existed. I just could never figure out how to have a healthy relationship with him. It was in late high school-early college when my mental health started depleting. It was then that I would call on God constantly through prayer or reading the Bible, yet I felt this distance between Him and me that ate me up inside.
In my second year of college, I came out as gay and faced challenges in my family life. That killed me and lead me to do the most research about God and the Bible I have ever done, constantly listening to podcasts of people explaining the Bible, more reading, more praying just so I could feel like I was not as worthless as I felt I was. Junior year of college I was at an all-time low. Fights at home were a constant and with the added pressure of school and work, I started getting different messages from the Bible. Instead of seeing Jesus as a beautiful savior that died so we didn’t have to, I viewed his act as a goal I should reach.
I started practicing my sacrifice and training my body to resist any fear or pressure. Little things turned to bigger ones and what started as a few motions with a knife turned into constant abuse of prescription medication. New Year’s Eve I attempted suicide and I woke up on New Year’s Day with a bad headache, unable to move my body due to indescribable soreness and weight, and dizziness like you couldn’t imagine. I cried out to God and asked Him why he didn’t let me die and live with Him like I was supposed to and at the time I felt I received no answer. With the plot to do it again I reached out to a friend as a final goodbye and they sent me to the hospital. From there I was placed in a mental hospital, afraid and confused. However, in that mental hospital I became the closest with God as I finally admitted to Him all the things that caused me stress and struggle. I opened up to friends and family members about what I was actually thinking and feeling instead of holding it in and punishing myself. In the mental hospital I felt God say to me, “let it all go” stop holding onto the things that dragged me down and try to grow and be my own person with my own story.
In the hospital I was read a scripture that I hold onto to this day, Psalm 23 “The Lord is my Shepherd” I would like to read the message version to you:
Psalm 23 (The Message)
1-3 God, my shepherd!
I don’t need a thing.
You have bedded me down in lush meadows,
you find me quiet pools to drink from. True to your word,
you let me catch my breath
and send me in the right direction.
4 Even when the way goes through Death Valley,
I’m not afraid
when you walk at my side.
Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.
5 You serve me a six-course dinner right in front of my enemies.
You revive my drooping head; my cup brims with blessing.
6 Your beauty and love chase after me every day of my life.
I’m back home in the house of God for the rest of my life.
Even through all the trials and strife after my release from the hospital, I would constantly repeat this verse in my head. It made me feel like I was holding God’s hand and he was walking my hard moments with me. For the first time, I felt close to God. And that goal of being a martyr and dying like Jesus slipped farther and farther from my mind.
My life is not perfect after the hospital. I struggle daily with my mental illness and how to properly function in this world after knowing what I almost did to myself. But it was through all that hardship that I realized that I did have a relationship with God and even when I didn’t think he was hearing me, he was. He sent friends my way to help build me up, He gave me strength and courage to help advocate for my needs, He gave me a chosen family that I could count on when things got hard and He introduced me to some really great mentors and organizations that help lead me towards a more godly life. He is there. He is with me and I feel his presence so strongly now. His presence was always there in my every moment. I am so glad to be a Christian. I am so glad to have a God that loves me the way I am. And I am thankful that he gave me the opportunity to live another day and discover why I need to be alive.