My junior year of high school sparked a season of change in my life. This season of change brought about a diagnosis of depression. As my depression continued, my search for something more began. I knew Jesus. I had a relationship with Him. I was attending a church. But I was stuck. Before my relationship could really grow, something had to change. I found that change in a surprising place: a new church.
One day I was invited by a mentor of mine to check out a new church with him. He was planning on doing an internship at Grace Fellowship, so he was starting to attend as well. As soon as I entered the worship service, I fell in love with the atmosphere. The setting was appealing. It was in the movie-theater-type auditorium of a local high school. Lights were going, the music was my taste, the graphics were cool, and the preaching was engaging. After I attended the first time, I knew I wanted to go back. I started attending pretty regularly. Those services were where God really started to use the local church in my battle with depression. God worked through three major avenues to help me in my battle againstdepression.
I had grown up in the church, so I knew what the stereotypes were for men singing in the church. I was supposed to stand there and sing with zero passion and only somewhat sing. Things were different here. Not only did they create a good atmosphere via lighting and noise level, but the band sounded amazing. And other people in service truly “got into worship.” It was an amazing experience of worship where I could truly lose myself, abandon my shame, and experience the joy of singing to my savior.
Attend a service at Grace Fellowship and you find, no matter your worldview, solid, engaging preaching that challenges you where you are. Something I lacked was a challenge to my thought processes at the time. Messages at Grace helped me to do just that. I was confronted with challenging messages that were rooted in Scripture and the Gospel.
To this day, I never leave Grace without feeling comforted, convicted, and challenged. The best part is, no matter the topic, it is relatable. Hearing the Gospel preached with such passion was huge in overcoming my depression. I still remember when Pastor Keith gave a message on mental health. There was an overwhelming comfort in knowing I was broken but also that I was being healed, all the while being loved by the God of the universe. That feeling is something I will never forget.
If you have ever done any real study of the church, then you know that a church is about people, not a building. For my first eight months at Grace, we were still meeting in a high school, so this reality was even more prevalent.
One of the biggest struggles of depression for me was feeling alone. I was scared when I started attending Grace alone. I knew one person, and he worked there, so that meant I was going in solo. I have never seen a church, especially of this size, be so welcoming and accepting. Eventually, I worked up the courage to join a Grace Group. You know how teenagers can be — I was terrified. Thankfully a new friend pushed me to come. I instantly felt at home. In that group, I gained valuable friendships, learned a ton, and laughed a lot.
And now, every time I attend, I seem to meet someone new. The feeling of being surrounded by all these people I know and love creates an amazing community. There is nothing I love more now than gathering as the body of Christ with my best friends at Grace.
Those are just three, broad aspects of Grace Fellowship that are valuable to me. I look back to my first Sunday, and know with certainty that my sovereign God brought me from there to here. As the leaders so often say from the stage, no one is at Grace by accident. God has been and continues to be at work in my attendance and involvement here. I can say for sure that depression is a much lighter burden to carry with Grace Fellowship in my life.