Depression, anorexia, self-harm…… painful realities and a darkness known all too well by Stacee Goetzinger.
Despite being raised in a minister’s family, Stacee grew up struggling through dysfunction, insecurity, and brokenness. Burying many hurts along the way, Stacee adopted a number of unhealthy coping mechanisms to deal with the pain. Although she became a Christian at a young age, experiencing God’s unconditional love was a constant struggle, always feeling instead the need to somehow prove she was acceptable and worthy of being loved.
Marriage, two precious daughters, and a husband in ministry couldn’t prevent the hurts and insecurities of the past from resurfacing in her early 30s. An eating disorder, held in check for a number of years, no longer was manageable, and Stacee quickly found herself in the darkness of depression, anorexia, and other means of self-harm. Struggling with these issues as a Christian added to the guilt and “self-mental abuse” she afflicted on herself. Stacee discovered misunderstanding was common and that her struggles, “the darkness” inside of her, were seldom talked about or openly dealt with, particularly in Christian circles.
Little did Stacee know that these low points were the beginning of a long, uncertain and difficult journey towards hope, peace and life. Counseling, hospitalization, medication, and other forms of therapy sought to overcome not only years of addictive and destructive behaviors but also a lifetime of negative thinking, self-hate, and compulsive dark thoughts.
After years of struggle and coming to a place of both physical and emotional exhaustion, Stacee came to a point of surrender. In her own words, “The hurt was just overwhelming; life had grown toxic and was becoming a slow and painful road towards death…… This was not living. Something had to change – I couldn’t go on existing this way any longer.”
At that moment of surrender, God spoke into her heart and mind a life-changing picture of hope and life. One which, for the first time, helped her undeniably see and feel God’s unconditional love and acceptance, despite her struggles, choices, and pain. The forgiveness and acceptance that, in Stacee’s mind were always reserved for others, became real to her as she surrendered this inner struggle to God.
Stacee recognizes she’s on a journey, and like any journey, some roads are smoother and some days are better than others. Part of Stacee’s recovery has included spending four months at the Laureate Hospital for Eating Disorders in Tulsa, OK. Entering an in-patient treatment program for several months was fearful and a significant step of faith, especially as it meant being away from her family, but God has proven faithful in not only what was accomplished in Stacee’s recovery but also in allowing Stacee to deepen and broaden her opportunities to be a voice of encouragement and hope.
God continues to restore Stacee’s life and has given her a message of hope she is eager to share. For those struggling with issues like hers or just struggling through the journey of life, Stacee’s hope is that out of her experience of pain and triumph, she is able to encourage and point others to the life-giving love, forgiveness, and hope which only come from God, the Father’s, heart.