Erin found a way out of “the pit of despair”
Adopted by loving parents as a miracle survivor of infant heart problems, Erin DeOtte knows God loves her even in the midst of battling depression.
Erin was given six months to live after being born with a rare heart ventricle disorder but today, at 17 years of age, she credits her survival as "a miracle from the Lord."
"God provided everything for my family, from plane tickets to rooms at Ronald McDonald house, to a Christian doctor and nurses whom I was under the care of," Erin says.
It had been a severe test of her adoptive parents' faith in God but they stood strong and were later able to encourage Erin to surrender her life to Jesus as a little girl.
"My little 6 year old self was so excited about the good news of Jesus, I told everyone I could, and even led several of my friends to know Him," she says.
Over the following years Erin felt a growing desire to become a missionary overseas but her confidence in pursing this dream was shaken after a personal tragedy.
"Fear of my inability deepened into depression when my best friend of six years committed suicide out of the blue. Although it wasn't my fault and there was nothing I could do, I blamed myself and thought that God couldn't use me because I was afraid," she explains.
"I was later in a fight with (another) good friend and hurt several others. I felt alone, desperate for attention and love, and saw no light in the world."
Suicidal thoughts soon surfaced as her depression deepened.
"There was always something stopping me from suicide: God – but I didn't know it at the time," she adds.
A month after her high school boyfriend broke up with her, broken-hearted Erin was pushed to the edge and sent a text message to her best friend, saying "I can't do this anymore".
Thankfully the next morning, she recalls, "I had a message from my best friend, and he reminded me of the love that he, my other friends, my parents, my sister, and most of all God had for me.
"If I hadn't read that text, I wouldn't be alive to tell my story. I continued on, but this time with my best friend at my side, both of us working to get back on the right track with God."
Erin honestly shared her struggles with leaders and her youth minister at a Christian camp, but even as she felt close to God and to her friends, she did not understand why she was still hurting and hating herself.
Three weeks before another mission trip to South Africa, Erin remembers God intervened through a visiting speaker at a youth camp, who shared about what she had been pushing away: God's forgiveness.
"I did not think I was worthy of complete forgiveness because of the things that I had done. I sobbed as the speaker closed his message. I hadn't ever thought that little, depressed, broken and scared me, could ever be forgiven by the God of the universe.
"But I had forgotten one thing: 'If God's grace is an ocean, then we're all sinking'. Oh man, I wasn't just sinking, I was drowning in His undeserved kindness.
"Every time I had felt love, stopped from ending my life, seen a light at the end of the tunnel, I had accredited it to human works, but all this time it was God, calling me back to Him."
Going to South Africa with this new hope dwelling in her, Erin felt God's unconditional love flow through her to the children she worked with and she soon rededicated herself to becoming a missionary worker.
Since learning to show love in this new way, Erin says, "The void that I had in my heart is now filled to the brim and pouring over with knowledge of God's everlasting love."
Although knowing she may always struggle with depression, "just as lying or stealing may be someone else's 'thorn'", but, she adds, "I know now that there is nothing my God cannot handle."
Despite her depression, Erin says she does not doubt that God has the best plan for her life.
"Though I was hurt and in a pit of despair, God used my depression and my brokenness that I may help others that I may relate to those who are like me; He will use my journey for His good.
"Because of Jesus I am still alive. And no matter what I say, believe or do, I am bankrupt without God's love. God is love, He will always bring His children through trials for the glory of His name." •