When Your Misery Becomes Your Ministry

in at August 17, 2016

I struggled with depression early on in my life. There were no wild moments, which caused this relentless, even crippling awareness of life and its breadth. I come from a good, nurturing family, an established high school yet time and time again, I found myself undeniably sad. On good days, I was simply brooding yet on worse occasions, I welcomed suicidal thoughts. Thankfully, I was too much of a coward to do anything about it. I am reminded that depression does not choose who it enfolds. It disregards an individual’s age, status, and even faith.

As a young girl, I was bullied. I was a naïve teenager welcoming the newness of the self I was slowly growing into. I reveled in attention, which I found myself subject to – just not exactly how I imagined it to be. Now at 23, I find myself living out these unhappy parts of my youth during dull days.

On Fridays, I remember going home to my mother, shamelessly breaking down. I was surrounded by other women who were determined to make life miserable for me. Familiar scenes from 80s films and chick lit novels played out in real life. I was the quiet protagonist hiding in dusty libraries with my nose buried in a book, hoping – even just for an hour – to escape my reality.

I hardly knew these people yet they attacked me: through boisterous laughter, intimidating stares, and unending gossip. For a young girl so adamant on people liking her, I was devastated. I felt as if it was my fault. Why was I so different? We were all discovering ourselves, and somehow, these strangers lashed out their vulnerability, their curiosities on an easy target.

In my early college years, I went through even darker days. I found myself spiraling downwards a path I promised myself not to tread anymore. I became more active on the Internet, a public platform where it is so easy to breed gratuitous hatred – after all, we are protected by our anonymity. I created a blog, an honest space for me to share my daily musings, passions, and frustrations. Through time, while creating and strengthening my personal brand, I found myself subject to strangers’ hostility.

I received hate mail on a daily basis. From cruel opinions about my appearance, loathing sugarcoated as criticism towards my art, to even more repulsive queries about my sexuality, I was bombarded with statements an 18-year-old should not be receiving. It even went as far as getting a gang rape threat one December day. Worse, I encountered having a troll send a hoax message to a close friend that my parents were dead. I honestly do not know how I carried so much hatred in my heart.

I discovered that hurt people hurt people. I could easily have repaid evil with evil but a change of heart and a renewing of spirit led me to tread on higher places. Through a rediscovery of my faith, an all-encompassing transformation by grace while eternally committing myself to Christ, I continue to direct my gaze towards that, which is right, pure, and admirable.

Five, perplexing, life-changing years later, my misery has become my ministry. Creating She Makes Him Known, a personal passion and faith blog targeted to young women, I find myself communing with strangers who go through the overwhelming struggles of my past. It is a product of years of learning about His character, understanding compassion, and leading my heart away from depression. This blessed gift of shared brokenness allows me to make peace with my younger self who embraced fear, misery, and rejection. A key verse from Genesis 50:20 says, “You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good.” I hold on to this passage during days of unnecessary uncertainty. Through undeserved hatred – silenced by my insurmountable Love – I have embraced a cause, which is infinitely and eternally greater than myself.

This entry was originally published in the July-August issue of Meg Magazine. I praise the Lord for the opportunity to share my (main) ministry on this particular platform.

Elisa Aquino

Elisa Aquino is a portrait photographer, life(style) writer, passion blogger, and beauty rookie from Manila, Philippines. This platform exists to document her daily musings and to showcase the life-changing power of grace to transform women from ashes to beauty.