If you know the current version of me, there’s a pretty good chance you know me to absolutely love every moment of my life. I love my career, my church, my people, my city, my gym, my team, my dreams, my Jesus….and maybe most significantly, I love myself.
That wasn’t always the case. In fact, it wasn’t that long ago that I was so miserable that I was resolved to ending the pain. Five years ago today, I laid in a dark room with a handful of oxycodone in one hand and a can of Sprite in the other and was a moment’s notice from taking my own life. I had spent weeks thinking through every single relationship I had – down to the 8 year old boy who called me his Miss Felicia and worshipped the ground I walked on – and had completely convinced myself that while everyone would be sad for a little while, they would ultimately be better off if I was just gone. Yes, even the 8 year old who very honestly probably loved me more than anyone had ever loved me up to that point in my life.
It wasn’t selfish from my perspective. I cared about the people around me. I wanted them to have the best life they could. Because I believed the lie that I had to be useful to be valuable and I didn’t feel very useful at that moment in my life, I also believed the lie that I was value-less to everyone around me.
Thankfully, God had other plans. He was writing a story with my life and His pen wasn’t out of ink yet. Instead, He shook the pen a little and then began to feverishly write in such an intentional way that the process itself can only be explained as an act of God.
I didn’t end up killing myself that night. Instead, a couple of key people in my story rose up and made an intentional decision to step into my story. They weren’t intimated by my mess. They didn’t roll their eyes and write me off. They didn’t linger in the hallways and whisper about me. Instead, they rolled up their sleeves and jumped into the journey of redemption with me.
Their willingness to partner with me in my fight for mental and emotional health was a game-changer for me. They had nothing to gain and everything to lose by taking a risk on me day in and day out. In the early days of my fight for freedom, there were so many tough conversations full of brutal honesty and sad realities. There were tears of anger and of sadness. There was moments of screaming and moments of silence.
It was hard. Brutal. I would use the word “excruciating” except I recently learned that word literally means “from the cross” and nothing is as difficult as what Jesus endured that day 2000 years ago. But seriously, my early days or recovery sucked.
It got worse before it got better. I had to experience the pain I was causing int he hearts and lives of those who were doing everything they could to help me. I ended up having a mental breakdown in the church bathroom and violently shaking to the point I think I was having a heart attack. I even ended up finding myself in the corner of an assessment room at a psychiatric hospital crying out to God and this is how the prayer went:
Me: “God, I know I’ve said this before but if you save me just one more time, I promise I’ll get help. I’ll do whatever it takes.”
For the record, I know this is not how God works. However, He was so gracious and He “saved” me that night through a bizarre set of circumstances I still can only give God the credit for.
I spent the next three days in a mental health facility where I wasn’t allowed outside and ate. Jersey Mike’s sandwich for every meal of the day. I didn’t speak to anyone unless I had to. They put me on a medication that made me sleep 80 percent of the day but then forgot to give it to me more often than not. I didn’t fraternize with the other patients. I just laid on my bed and cried, prayed and slept.
Over the coming weeks, months and even years, I dug deep and I honored my promise to God. I got help. My life was stripped clean of almost everything and I had to rebuild my entire world one brick at a time.
One relationship at a time.
One truth at a time.
One step to being a productive member of society at a time.
One therapy session at a time.
One church service at a time.
One conversation at a time.
One minute at a time.
There were days I didn’t feel like I could move. There were other days I knew I needed to not move.
Something incredible happened though.
One day, I woke up and it felt easier. I felt better. Things felt lighter.
And then I got up the next day, and it was even easier.
And now, it’s been five solid years of my journey with Team Felicia helping me become the very best version of myself.
Let me tell you about the lies I believed 5 years ago tonight and the promises I know are true today.
- I used to believe I had to be useful to be valuable. Now I know I’m useful because I’m valuable.
- I used to believe my story was worse than everyone else’s. Now I know my story is one God gifted me with so I can help everyone else with theirs.
- I used to believe I could never be great at anything and should accept just survival as a win. Now I know I was created and called for nothing short of greatness.
- I used to believe I had to deal with this life. Now I know I GET To embrace the life God has given me.
- I used to believe nobody liked me. Now I know I am so well loved and liked by people in every segment of my life.
- I used to believe I needed chaos to survive. Now, I know how to exist and thrive in normalcy.
I am now a top performer in one of the top teams in the best real estate company on Planet Earth. AND I get to not only coach my own team but also encourage many other agents from across the nation in helping them build better business and better lives.
I now serve and lead with the online campus of one of the greatest churches in Nashville where on any given week, I get the honor and privilege of helping people in every corner of the globe find and follow Jesus.
I now live in a beautiful home in Franklin, TN (dream city) in which I get to host 4 other girls at any given time and be a part of their walks by building community with them and believing in the best version of their stories.
I now have an entire team of professionals that push me in every way imaginable to continue to pursue the very best in all areas of my life because there’s millions of more lives God still intends for my story to impact.
My walk with freedom wasn’t easy. It still isn’t most days. It also doesn’t have a finish line. This journey only ends when I leave this fallen earth. In the meantime, I pray I am always intentional to wake up with gratitude and then humility to surrender to my Creator.
Here’s five very practical things I do to intentional walk in freedom every single day:
- Wake up with gratitude. I thank God for allowing me to open my eyes and then thank Him for the day I’m going to have. Gratitude and anxiety cannot coexist.
- Surrender to God. I verbally say the words and ask God to be in every decision I make every single day.
- Exercise. It doesn’t matter what it looks like. I always do something. Every single day. No questions asked. I won’t get into all the science and benefits behind this. You already know it.
- Accountability. I’ve surrounded myself with a team of professionals who have my very best interest at heart. I often hear that what I have is special and that many people would give anything to have a “Team Felicia.” I don’t blame them but let me tell you something, it wasn’t free. I worked my you-know-what off to earn these relationships and the right to lean on them. Trust isn’t easy for me. But this crew. They’re as rock solid as they come. They also don’t let anything slide. Ever.
- More specifically, therapy. Five years ago, all I did for 6 months was go to two therapists every week because I had to. There were people very specifically holding me accountable to that part of the process. Today, I am in therapy because there’s no place I’d rather be. It’s one hour a week I get to help myself so I can go spend the other 167 hours a week being a rockstar for everyone else in my world.
I could write about this all night but I heard this at church today and I want to share it with you as well:
“Jesus will go further out of his way than you might think to be able to have a seat at your table.”
Jesus wants to be in relationship with YOU. Not the version of you that you put on Instagram. Not your titles or net worth. Not the plastic smile and hollow heart.
He will travel far and wide to meet you where you are. And then He will grab ahold of your hand and He will walk with you through fire. Why? Because your story is worth it.
Five years ago tonight, I was a few seconds away from my legacy being “Felicia lived a tough life and was such an overcomer.”
Today, I pray my legacy is becoming “Felicia loved Jesus and loved people with all she had. She believed in the best version of people and their stories because someone else did that for her. She served and led from a place of passion to help people be all they were created and called to be.”
Whatever you’re feeling in this heavy world we are living in these days, know that the pen isn’t out of ink yet. Your story is not over. God isn’t through with you yet.
And if you’re one of the people who was obedient to God’s call to step into my mess five years ago tonight, thank you. You’ll never know how many thousands of lives will be forever changed because you didn’t let me give up on hope and freedom that night.