‘I found a father figure who will never leave me’ says Holly
Abandoned by her father before she was born, Holly Whitwell was able to deal with the emotional baggage of his choice when she learnt about her true worth.
As a little girl, Holly recalls thinking, "If my own dad didn't love me, then how could anyone else?"
By her teens she says that her confusion turned to anger, hurt and low self-esteem: "I suffered with depression and anxiety and I was suicidal. I just hated myself. I felt utterly worthless."
Despite having a loving and supportive stepfather from age 13, Holly started looking for a daddy-daughter relationship in the boys she dated and placed her entire worth in what they thought of her.
"I just wanted to feel loved, accepted and protected but unfortunately it led me into the arms of the wrong people. I also struggled with friendships because I had built up walls to protect myself so no one else could get close and then leave, just like my dad."
Amidst this, Holly says her mum was a strong rock who did everything she could to show her that God was her heavenly Father, and that He loved her and wanted to have a relationship with her.
She learnt from a very young age that Jesus had died so her sins could be forgiven and that He was God. Holly believed it and prayed for God to come into her life as a little girl.
Yet as a teen she says, "I was so angry with God. I didn't think He loved me at all".
She chose to walk away from God around the age of 16, getting involved in the wrong crowd while trying to deal with her depression and suicidal thoughts on her own.
"There were days I couldn't even get out of bed and I used to lock myself in my room sometimes. I stopped talking to my mum and stepfather. I felt so lost, alone and unloved."
The turning point came when Holly's mum and stepfather took action and sent her to a Christian psychiatrist to talk through her struggles and learn how to deal with them.
Although it was a two-year process, Holly says "God revealed Himself like never before" in helping her understand her worth in His eyes and how to deal with her depression and anxiety.
"I started going back to church and regaining my confidence and self-esteem," she says. "God then brought some incredible Christian women alongside me who helped me understand God's character and love for me."
else?”"God became the father I never had as a little girl," she adds. "It's so easy to look at God the same way you look at your biological father but now I know that God is not like him. God is faithful, He keeps His promises and He will never change. He has never left me, even when I walked away from Him."
Holly says God also taught her to forgive and feel compassion towards those who had wronged her, including her dad.
"This was a huge overcomer for me but it was only in God's strength that I could do this," she says.
"Also, God isn't at fault for people's decisions in life. My dad chose to leave. God did not do this. We all make decisions that sometimes hurt people."
Being able to let go of the hurt that had once crippled her, Holly says God became "the healer of my broken heart and soul", giving her a new healthy perception of others and herself.
"God has also taught me how to manage my depression and when times are tough, to come to Him first and allow the Word of God [the Bible] to speak truth into my life. Depression is such a huge issue in people's lives and so many like me have felt they have no way of getting out.
"To know that God is with me every single day, even on those down days, brings me much hope and knowing that I'm not alone in it and that He loves me unconditionally and without judgement."
With a revelation like this, Holly says she would never go back to her old way of thinking and hates to think where her life would be right now without God.
"I am just so grateful that I came back to God and finally allowed Him to love me the way He always wanted to!"•