[Guest Post by Rachel Berry] – I certainly never thought a broken dream would end in depression.
I had chased my dream of becoming Miss America for 7 years–and at the abrupt end of my journey, it wasn’t welcomed with warm memories and joyful reflections.
I felt numb.
And when I could feel, it was only fear, anxiety, and purposeless that saturated me.
I competed in my first Miss America preliminary when I was a junior in college.
I was reserved, self conscious, and carrying an extra fifteen pounds. I was excited to earn scholarship money, but what I really wanted was to win the preliminary title that would send me to Miss California and possibly Miss America. After three preliminary competitions over a year span, I finally won my first title.
I loved what I gained from competing: I was forced to figure myself out (my viewpoints on world and political issues), become comfortable as a public servant and role model, and acquire a sense of confidence in myself I had never felt before. Ironically, through competing, I learned to end the useless practice of comparing myself to other girls and I started to see how God had been preparing me for years to compete.
I competed at Miss California twice, and was happy to place in the top 12 both times.
During my last year to compete (before I “aged out”) I was living in Portland, Oregon, after making a move for more career opportunities outside of the tough L.A. news market. I won a local preliminary in Portland that sent me on to Miss Oregon, and couldn’t believe my ears when last June I heard the judges announce my name as Miss Oregon 2012.
I was shocked.
I was going to Miss America!
Fast forward to a month of being Miss Oregon, and my world looked completely different.
In what became a drawn out, media frenzy of an ordeal–I was told I had not lived in Oregon long enough to even be an eligible contestant for the local pageant I won months earlier that sent me to Miss Oregon. (You can read the details here).
As you can probably imagine, I was crushed.
And after about a week of mourning the sudden loss of one of my biggest dreams to date, I attempted to start moving forward. But in that season, I wasn’t moving anywhere. I was treading water, and even if I got the strength on rare days to swim, I didn’t know which direction to head.
I was overtaken with an indescribable numbness.
I feared following any big dream again would only lead me back to the painful state of disappointment I was experiencing.
I identified with David:
“The enemy hunted me down; he kicked me and stomped me within an inch of my life. He put me in a black hole…I sat there in despair, my spirit draining away, my heart heavy, like lead.” -Psalm 143:3-6 (MSG translation)
The hardest hurdle I faced was feeling like I had no purpose.
Being Miss Oregon had been my plan, my road map for the next year of my life.
I woke up day after day without a sense of vision or purpose after that dream faded away. I felt the pressure of accomplishing something great again, and having a response when people asked me what was next for my life.
Looking back now, I can begin to understand why I felt the way I did. God created us with purpose and to have purpose.
Proverbs 16:4 says it clearly: “God made everything with a purpose; even the wicked are included–but for judgment.” When we feel we have no purpose, we essentially feel useless. Purpose and vision are interwoven essentials to carrying out the call God has on each of our lives. I believe that depression is one of the enemy’s most powerful weapons to disarm our vision and steal our purpose.
Without vision and purpose, we can’t move forward into the new dreams and blessings God has waiting for us.
Rachel Berry is a dreamer who loves encouraging other 20-somethings to follow the dreams God has placed within them. From interning for Ellen Degeneres to waiting tables, Rachel has learned that dreams require perseverance and a steadfast reliance on God to succeed. Rachel loves tap dancing, Jay Leno, running marathons, and her chihuahua Tessa. She lives in Los Angeles where she’s writing her first book and blogs at http://www.PerseveringDreams.com.
[Photo: lostinthemountains, Flickr]