By Holly Compton
“Thank you for the gift of your son,” I said, holding my mother-in-law’s hand as she lay in her hospice bed, unresponsive. “He’s the best husband you could have ever given me. And it’s ok, Mom. You can go. We will all take care of each other. I love you,” I whispered in her ear as I kissed her gently on her cheek.
Our Hearts Sank
The next morning before getting out of bed, my husband Alex looked at his many missed calls and played his uncle’s voice message, giving us the news we were expecting. Still, our hearts sank.
As Alex went to arrange his mother’s memorial service, I had a few friends come over to help prep our house for our realtor’s photographer the next day.
Later, as I went to slice a homemade pizza for my helpers, my emotions were so overloading my brain, I absentmindedly burned my hand on the hot pizza stone. Luckily, my helpers could watch my two daughters while another friend drove me immediately to Urgent Care.
It Was A Series of Tragic Events
That year, 2014, a series of tragic events unfolded in the life of our family.
In July, Alex and I decided to find a house with a finished basement so that my mother-in-law could have her own apartment. However, the following month, she was diagnosed with stage 4 breast/bone/lung cancer, and she passed away within weeks.
Regardless, our house went on the market September 11th, the same day as her memorial service. I didn’t even realize at the time that I was miscarrying at 8 weeks too.
A few weeks later, MaryLynne, our neighbor and a friend from church, died unexpectedly in her sleep at the age of 48, leaving behind four children between the ages of six and 12.
While my post-miscarriage hormones were messing with now mounds of grief, I had also been training for a year to run a half marathon that Thanksgiving Day. The day before the race, I found out I was pregnant again and in danger of another miscarriage. My doctors told me I couldn’t run the race, despite all my training. Thankfully, I did carry my son to full term, and we did move into a house with a finished basement, although it was 30 minutes north of where we had been living.
Even that short distance felt like we moved to another state! We felt so isolated and far away from our church family and friends and rarely had visitors. That new house now represented all that I had lost in 2014.
At the end of April 2015, my own father was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and suddenly passed away in less than two weeks.
In June, my aunt/godmother was diagnosed with esophageal cancer and died that same month. My son was born on July 27th, tacking postpartum depression onto my trauma train. I also dealt with an illness following his C-section, which caused hypertensive pulmonary edema. As a result, I spent three days in ICU to get that under control, which forced me to give up breastfeeding him.
Hopelessly, 2016 dawned, and my depression had grown deeper than any other time in my life.
Daily considering suicide, I imagined death being so much easier than trying to function at all.
I often was required to take care of three children alone while my husband traveled for work, but I pushed through it. The only reason I didn’t kill myself was because I didn’t want that to be the story my children grew up with or had to explain for the rest of their lives.
As desperate for help as I was, I couldn’t ask for it this time. Isolation, rather than pretending I had it all together, became my own well-worn road.
That summer, my husband arranged childcare for two weeks so that I could join him on a mission trip in Peru.
We had gone or sent missions teams there for 12 years, but I hadn’t been there myself in eight. When he told me I was going, I fell to my knees under the weight of confusion. I used to enjoy mission trips to various countries, especially Peru, but I didn’t feel like I had anything to offer anyone anymore.
I agreed to go, but with the self-stipulation that it would be my last…ever…
I Just Stared At the Floor
On Tuesday, July 26th, 2016, my husband and I attended a church service in Lima, Peru, with our mission team.
It was a very lively service for everyone—except me, sitting on the front row while all others in attendance were worshipping around me.
“Escape” was the sign hanging above the exit door to the left of my seat; I just sat there staring at it.
Afterwards, we brought this team of 30 Texans back to Pat’s Place, a home for victims of domestic violence (also our dorm), and they continued to worship and pray—right outside my bedroom! I was annoyed to say the least! Why couldn’t they just stop?!!
I truly wanted to go to bed; so when midnight came, I prepared to deliver the bedtime mandate. I marched out of my room into the center of the group, but before I could utter a single word, one of the ladies grabbed me and sat me down in a chair right there.
Smack dab in the middle of the common room, all 30 of them began to intercede for my deliverance from my depression! What was loud became louder—like a herd of elephants storming heaven on my behalf! But me? I just stared at the floor.
I Chose Life
As 1:00 AM approached, the group had persisted in fervent prayer for a full hour. One of the ladies asked me, “How do you feel?”
“I feel nothing. I feel dead inside.” They literally rolled up their sleeves and began to pray harder. Even louder.
They were determined not to give up.
Then one of the ladies got down on her knees and embraced me. For the first time in months, I felt something real happen in my gut, something painful, something being dug up from my very core.
Tears began to flow uncontrollably, and yes, their prayers grew even louder! These believers, these prayer warriors, were fighting for my freedom, but it had to start with me facing the deepest pain of my life.
So many walls around my heart had to crumble first, a lifetime of stones intricately pieced together to keep all the light out. I had a choice to make. I chose to let it all go; I chose Life.
A Happiness I Had Never Known
And just like that, the tears turned to laughing! Quiet at first, but it grew with each passing minute.
The clock said 1:30 AM when I stood up and started to dance as we all started singing a song of praise! Shocked and excited to feel this spring of joy bubbling up out of me, I felt a happiness I had never known before.
It took another 30 minutes to get anyone calm enough for bed, but oh, it was well worth it! Our praises echoed the Psalms of David:
You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing.
You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy,
that I might sing praises to you and not be silent.
O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever!
Every day that soon followed, I knew I had to make the decision again to choose life. But after even just a few weeks, I knew for sure: Life was most definitely different now. The deep darkness had dissipated. I could breathe like I never had before. Not a single doubt existed in my mind that this was an act of God and the power of prayer.
A healing this magnificent, a miraculous mountaintop to be sure, could only come from the One who chooses to give His Spirit to those who choose Him.
This prayer was prayed over me on the night of my healing and has come to pass in my life:
Now may God, the fountain of hope, fill you to overflowing with uncontainable joy and perfect peace as you trust in him. And may the power of the Holy Spirit continually surround your life with his super-abundance until you radiate with hope!
(Romans 15:13 TPT)
May all of us who have been restored and healed from depression choose to radiate with hope and be a beacon of Life for those who continue to struggle.
I know that “the Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed. The righteous person faces many troubles, but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.”
Today I choose to put my hope in the Lord who is forever my Savior!
Holly Compton has been married to her husband Alex since 2005. She is the mother of three children and lives in Houston, Texas. An avid blogger since 2013 and a teacher at heart, she and Alex run a nonprofit missions organization, Amor Real Ministries, which owns and operates Pat’s Place, a home for victims of domestic violence in Lima, Peru, where they have
ministered for over 18 years. They lead multiple mission trips to various parts of Lima every year and enjoy seeing God transform people by the power of His grace. Holly feels God’s pleasure when she speaks to groups about choosing life by surrendering to God. She loves to write real, hand-written letters to those who join her on the journey from water into wine.
Holly has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wheaton College in Norton, MA, where she majored in English Writing & Literature with a focus on Christian living/poetry, and minored in Mathematics. Before becoming a stay-at-home mother, she gained 10 years of experience editing and design as a sales/marketing administrative assistant. She is a member of Hope*Writers and a published poet. She has been a public speaker for all kinds and sizes of audiences in Peru for more than 18 years.
Follow Holly and her journey at https://hollycompton.com/ and on instagram @comptonholly