I was born with Treacher Collins Syndrome which is where the bones in my face didn’t form properly and I was born deaf as well. Over the years I have had many operations; I think the first one was when I was 10 years old where I had metal pins put in my jaw to lengthen my jaw. I’ve had surgery to build up the bones around my eye sockets, bone taken from my rib to build up my cheek bones and bone taken from my hip to build up my chin.

As I was growing up I would always have people making fun of me. Every day when I went outside, there were people making fun of me, laughing at me, staring, pointing, calling their friends to laugh at me and I even had people taking pictures of me as well. I was really hurt that people would go out of their way to make fun of me. One day I was going in to a shop and two girls were coming out and one of the girls actually went back into the shop just to stare at me, which really hurt. Eventually, over time I began to get a very negative view of myself and I hated myself and I was really depressed, people were always putting me down and I believed what they were saying. I didn’t think anyone loved me or cared about me and I was really depressed. People were always putting me down and I felt intimidated every time I went outside. I really hated myself and I wanted to die, I didn’t want to live a life where people would always make fun of me. I wanted to kill myself and I actually thought about how I would do it as well, which upset me because I couldn’t believe I actually thought about killing myself. When I was depressed I just had this awful pain deep inside of me that I can’t really describe and it was really painful. When I felt depressed I would go to my room and cry and all I would say is, ‘God, please help me, please take away this pain.’ Sometimes I was in so much pain that all I would say is ‘God….’ and I couldn’t say anything else and I would just have to go to sleep because I just had to forget about the pain. I couldn’t read my Bible; it took a lot of effort just to open it. During that time, I really questioned whether God was real and I would say, ‘God, if you are real then please take this pain away because I cannot cope, why am I suffering like this?’ The pain never went away.

 I don’t know how long I was depressed for, maybe about 2 years at least, where I was really low before I went to the doctors and he put me on some tablets, and I also had counselling for 18 months. During those times when I was really depressed I found it more and more comforting to talk to God and I just felt a sense of peace when I was talking to God. I just felt that God was listening to me and that he understood what I was going through and he was my friend.

 Then one Sunday I went to my friend’s church and they had people there from Teen Challenge. There was this one girl, Claire, who was giving her testimony and she was saying a lot of things that I had been through and what I was feeling. When I looked at her she had such a passion for God and was so radiant, I just knew then that God helped Claire so God would help me as well. Things didn’t change for ages, I still felt so depressed and intimidated, and was still having thoughts of suicide. I continued to pray a few words and during my depression I found it so comforting to talk to God, telling him exactly how I felt and I began to read my Bible more and more.

 Then in summer 2006, I went on camp to Sizewell in Suffolk, I don’t know why I wanted to go but I am so glad I did. When I was driving down the motorway I was feeling depressed and a few times I would pull over and just start crying. I felt really low and I didn’t want to carry on, not with the journey and not with the rest of my life.  I really believe God was leading me there, because I knew I couldn’t go there myself, because I just wanted to die. I met a girl while on camp, who was really depressed, in fact I met loads of people on camp who had been through depression. I was talking to this girl, telling her about my experiences and at the end of the week she thanked me for being an encouragement to her during the week and I was glad that I had been an encouragement to her and I knew that I couldn’t have done that unless I had gone through what I did…and actually on the Tuesday I stood up in front of about 80 people and gave my story, which I knew I couldn’t have done without God. I had such a great week being around so many other Christians and I can honestly say that it was the best week of my life.

 When I got home from camp I did struggle for a while, after having such an amazing week on camp, I was feeling low but I would just go and talk to God, telling him everything. I would just be in awe of God and everything he had done in me and I actually thanked God for the depression and I still do. I am so thankful to God for the depression because that is how I have come to know him! If I hadn’t been depressed then I wouldn’t know him now. I really believe that we need to be crushed and we need to be brought down so that we realise that we have nothing without God and that is what happened to me. Who am I? I am a sinner, I sin every single day.

 I am not telling you this because I want you to feel sorry for me, I don’t want your pity, and I don’t want you to feel sorry for me. I am telling you this because this is my story and this is what God has done in my life. I want you to see and to encourage you of what God can do in your life as well.

One evening I was low again, and I felt really ashamed, thinking about all of my sin, the things I have said and done, and I was really ashamed. I was literally on my bedroom floor face down, crying because I felt so crushed by all my sin and of course the depression as well. I felt really ashamed because of my sin but I was so thankful because I knew that God had taken away the punishment that I deserve for my sin, in the death of his Son Jesus. God sent his Son Jesus into the world to save me from my sin and to give me life! What amazing love…that God should put the punishment of sin on someone who was totally blameless!

I asked God…why? Why did God do this? I know that he loves me and has forgiven me for all of my sins. But one thing I was really struck by that God wants to take us back to the place where he first made us, before the fall, where there is no sin, no pain, no hurt, no bullying, no depression, no sickness, no worrying and no death…to a perfect world, in a perfect relationship with him! Now, that is love! Why would God want to take me back after everything I have done? That God is so loving that he would take us back after all we have done is sin and rebel against God. I know that Jesus got what I deserve! God didn’t have to send his Son to save us…God doesn’t get bored or lonely, that he chooses me is awesome!

 I deserve nothing from God, apart from hell. I deserve to be put in hell because of my sin and that I still sin every single day, but because of what Jesus has done on the cross, he has forgiven me of my sins and I am free from the punishment of my sin! He wants me to have a relationship with Him. What amazing love!

Now, as I still suffer from depression, I know that I can look to God, I just love talking to God, telling him how I am feeling, knowing that he is in control. It is only now as I look back I can see how God has worked in my life, convicting me of my sin, crushing me so that I can get to know God and how much he loves and cares for me, knowing that whatever I face in the future I can trust God, that he is always loving and I just thank God for saving me! Amen.