At our last baptism service in August 2022, Layna shared her story with the Troy campus community. She had been baptized weeks before in the Dominican Republic by Student Ministry staff member, Sarah Ranz.
Sure I dealt with things like my parents’ divorce, the passing of family members, and moving across the state due to my mom’s remarriage, but during that period of my life things didn’t really bother me, or at least I didn’t let others know it bothered me. Since I was a sensitive kid, it was easier to not ask questions and continue being the ray of sunshine everyone viewed me as.
In February 2021, life became not so manageable. I found ways to cope with my feelings that were unhealthy and simply not safe. When my mom figured out the things I was dealing with, my life changed drastically. I started attending several therapy sessions and several doctors appointments.
One specifically that took four hours of testing in the hopes of being able to diagnose me with something; I just wanted answers. Severe Depression and Anxiety soon became the labels of my life.
I was prescribed several different medications throughout the year, but the self-harming never stopped. It became an addiction. Covid hit my life hard like many people I know. The struggles of everyday life soon seemed so overwhelming to me that I thought it would be best to simply be gone.
What I can say now is that l didn’t want to die. I just wanted all the pain and constant struggles to be resolved.
About a month after my first suicide attempt, I spent time in an outpatient hospitalization program. Once out, life went on just the same as before and in November 2021 I made a second attempt, leading me to the emergency room.
That night was without a doubt, the worst night of my life. I received a call from someone I looked up to. Their words still break my heart to this day. How could such a short call be so hurtful? In their words, I was “a disappointment” and “hurting them inevitably more than myself.”
That’s when I knew I needed to change — not for the people who wanted me to, but for myself and my connection with God. The path I was going down wasn’t what I dreamed my future would look like.
Today, I can say that I still struggle; life is hard in its own ways for everyone. But what I realized after getting out of the hospital that still sticks with me today is that God was there for me and there with me.
In late June, I was blessed with the opportunity to go on the Edge mission trip to the Dominican Republic. What I assumed was going to be just a good experience happened to be so much more than that. I came home with so much to say and share but with no way to do those experiences justice.
I came home truly feeling like a new person. I was able to cope in healthier ways with the emotions I was experiencing. I developed a new perspective on life and soon became able to share my testimony without shame or fear because I knew that God kept me in this world to not only reconnect with him but be able to impact others through relatable experiences.
But most importantly I came home baptized.
One night my team was asked if anyone wanted to be baptized. And without a thought about if my parents would want to see it or if it was the right time, my hand shot up. The next thing I knew, I was being baptized by one of the most amazing people in my life, Student Ministry leader Sarah Ranz. To this day I know I was meant to meet her. In fact, she is the reason I am brave enough to share my story and be vulnerable with you all!
So what I leave you with, is this:
Whether or not our experiences are similar, I can tell you with 100% certainty that God is working nonstop. He will provide and continue to provide. So ask yourself, have I been praising him to my full potential? And if you haven’t, what can you do individually to change that? Because trust me, it is worth every second of the day to know and pursue Jesus!
Interested in learning more about our high school trip to Dominican Republic? Visit kensingtonchurch.org/trips.