The Mantra That Gives Me Hope as a Christian With Anxiety and Depression
For me, starting college meant starting with a clean slate. No one here knew my past. No one here knew what they “should” expect me to be. No one had to know any of it.
In college, I started going to church again. It had been a source of peace and happiness for me in the past, and I wanted that again. Through that church, some friendships started to grow, and true healing began to start, though there were still many nights when I was curled up alone, crying in my room.
A few months into the school year, I went to confession for the first time in years. I was scared. Scared I would not be strong enough to face what I was about to say, scared I would be judged and destroy everything I was trying to build, and just scared in general. But, in that little room, my story came out. The priest didn’t judge, didn’t even speak for a while, he just listened.
People who are not Catholic may not know, but confession/reconciliation is not just the person talking about their sins. There is also something called penance. It is something the person does, be it to say a prayer so many times or do an act of charity every day for the next week, but something that helps to counteract and redeem the sin.
The penance he gave me was to repeat nine words to myself.
“I am forgiven. I am loved. I am beautiful”
Just hearing it unlocked something inside me, and I spent the next hour writing those words over and over again in a journal, trying to believe it, trying to make it part of me. In the following days, I found a way to remind myself to repeat those words. The picture with this article features the three charms I wear around my neck.
“I am forgiven” — the crucifix. What happened in the past does not have to be my future, and I don’t have to carry it with me because the price has already been paid. It doesn’t matter what I did or what happened to me, I can be redeemed. I can heal.
“I am loved” — the Jerusalem cross (the weird cross thing on the right). I got this cross on a retreat at the university’s church. Many of the friendships I had started grew deeper during that weekend, and I felt like I was wanted, like I belonged somewhere. It was amazing.
“I am beautiful” — The mustard seed heart. Yes, the heart actually belongs to this one. Jesus’s “Parable of the Mustard Seed” has become one of my favorites because it teaches that just a little of something good can create all of the difference. This hits on so many levels for me. A little bit of beauty in my eyes can overcome the acne. A little bit of light in my soul can outshine the darkness. A little bit of self-forgiving can set me free. A little bit of worthiness is enough to live for.
Every time I notice the necklaces, for whatever reason, I repeat the words to myself. At some point, I started holding the necklaces when I was starting to feel anxious. The necklaces and the words became one of my most powerful weapons to battle my anxiety and depression, one I still use to this day.
I know that priest has given other young women this mantra to repeat, and I’ve tried to share it as much as I can as well, because we need to hear it.
So repeat after me, as much as you need to, for as long as it takes:
“I am forgiven. I am loved. I am beautiful.”
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Photo via contributor.