Lisa Johnson, holding on to what’s important.
As a child I was extremely blessed to have loving parents and two older brothers to grow up with. My childhood was a fun and active time and I enjoyed participating in different sports and activities.
When I was eight years old I found Kids Club at The Salvation Army. Even though I grew up in a non-Christian home, my mum was keen to let me take part in children’s activities at the local Salvos, such as Sunday school and SAGALA (similar to Brownies). I ended up giving my heart to Jesus in 2002 at the age of 14 and have been actively involved in the church since.
Life had always been pretty good throughout my teens and early adulthood, which included marrying my soul mate when I was 20 years old and giving birth to my beautiful daughter Denneil in 2010.
However, my life was turned upside down on 15 May 2011 when I received a phone call from my father informing me that my eldest brother Jason had taken his own life the night before.
Being a young mum and wife through this process was very difficult and it did cause me to shut down emotionally. I fell into a pretty dark place spiritually where I disconnected from God, emotionally from my family and my friends, and physically, dealing with my feelings of depression by eating and sleeping my life away.
By June 2013 I decided enough was enough. My weight had ballooned to 105 kgs and I made the decision to tackle my weight issue head on. I joined a gym, acquired a personal trainer and started working hard to improve my physical health by working out and eating healthily. By October 2013, I had lost nearly 20 kgs. My physical health had improved dramatically.
However, realising I couldn’t emotionally eat any more to supress my feelings made my depression worse. I had worked on the physical side of my life but I was still severely damaged spiritually and emotionally.
I hit a darker place then and I realised getting help was the only way that my life was going to improve. I could no longer hide from the issues that had surrounded me for so long. I sought out a Christian counsellor to work through the depression stemming from my brother’s suicide.
I had spent two years running from the grief and consequential emotions. During this time I had friendships break down and harboured a lot of anger and bitterness, not only towards my brother, but also myself and others.
It has been almost a year since I started seeing my counsellor regularly and I feel I have come a long way. I have reconciled friendships, learned to forgive others and myself, but most of all I have reconnected with God and learned to love again.
This process has not been an easy one at all. There are days when I really struggle, but knowing how far I have come is encouraging. I have learned not to stress about the small stuff and surround myself with positive people who encourage and build me up.
I feel, and hope, that God will be able to use my experiences to touch and impact lives one day. I am proud of the steps I have taken in the past 12 months physically and emotionally, and, most importantly, in my Christian walk.
I feel so blessed to have my husband and my two beautiful little girls who have loved me through this difficult process and encouraged me to keep facing my issues head on.
God’s love is something I will always hold onto and feel blessed to have. On the toughest of tough days, the Lord reminds me of a passage in the Bible that says, ‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me,’ (Philippians chapter 4 verse 13).