It was the summer of 2001, and I was 17 years old. I wanted only one thing that summer: to die. For seven years I'd struggled with an infection that affected my brain and my heart – leaving me depressed, alone, and afraid. I wanted to end it all.
Then I met Annette.
It was an accident, actually. I was surfing the Web one day when I came across Teen Light Magazine, an online journal published by Annette Dammer. I submitted poetry to the
site, and Annette immediately e-mailed me back. "This is great!" she said. "You have a gift."
At first I didn't believe her, but I kept writing. Working for Teen Light gave me something to do on dark sleepless nights – nights when the pain was so great I wanted to die – nights when suicidal thoughts raged through my mind.
Annette's words kept coming back to me. "You have a gift…" The question haunted me - could she be right? What if writing was the reason God had put me on earth? What if my life actually had a purpose? What if I could write to encourage others – even if I had to do it from my mattress?
Slowly, Annette gained my trust. I told her about myself, my illness, and the hopelessness I felt inside. "God is using you," she told me. "Don't give up."
That summer, Annette taught me how to write a query letter. She slammed my inbox with writing-market information. Before long, I started to secretly send out queries. My first article was soon published by Focus on the Family Magazine.
I danced around the living room as the slippery white pages rubbed against my fingertips. At that moment, something inside of me came alive. I knew. My struggles weren't in vain. God was using them to encourage other hurting people through the words He gave me.
It's been eight years since the day I danced around my living room. Eight years since I wrote my first query letter. Eight years, and I've been published over 150 times – each article a gentle miracle from God's hand. But there's another miracle from God's hand: the miracle of my healing. Not long ago, He touched my body and made me whole.
Then the real crisis came. What should I do with my life? What should I do with my new-found health? I spent months on my knees before God, crying out for guidance.
The answer came clearly one cold winter day - go to journalism school.
"Journalism school?" my friends asked. "Are you crazy? Writing is a hobby – not a calling. Why be a journalist when there were so many other jobs out there?"
My answer was simple: everyone has a story. Every story needs to be told.
From the beginning of time, God penned the words of our lives His book. We may not understand why He chooses the tragic – the painful – or difficult moments.
But we'll love the ending – if we'll stick around long enough to see how it turns out.
I'm so glad I did.
BJ Hamrick loves to live out the dreams God has for her. One of those dreams is Real Teen Faith, a place where she mentors teen writers - just like Annette once mentored her.