For the most part I’m a happy person, but there was a time in my life where I wondered if I’d ever be happy again. My darkest time was when I was 17 years old and pregnant. Because of shame, I’d dropped out of regular high school. I’d had a rocky relationship with my boyfriend (to say the least), and he was dating a new girl within weeks of my pregnancy announcement. My friends at high school were going on with their senior year.

Even during the moments when I dared to be excited about my baby, sadness crept in. As my pregnancy progressed I was reminded—month by month—of the abortion I’d chosen to have just one-and-a-half years earlier. The pain of my past decision added to the pain of my circumstances.

As my pregnancy progressed, I spent most days in bed, sleeping to noon. I didn’t want to see anyone, talk to anyone. During my free time I worked on finishing the last of my high school credits, but part of me wondered what was the use. Wasn’t my life totally ruined? My dark emotions told me it was.

When I was down, I tried to remember moments when I was happy. Amazingly, my happiest moments were spent as a child at church or with Christian friends. Maybe those memories were God’s way of wooing my heart. If so, they worked. At six months along I turned back to Him, asking Him to take over my life, hoping He’d turn it into something good.

There are a lot of people who face very dark doubts of depression. My good friend Kristen Anderson is one of those people. I wrote Kristen’s story of trying to take her life by lying down in front of a train in the book Life, In Spite of Me. Thankfully Kristen’s story has a happy ending!

I can’t say I’ve ever been to a place where the pain seemed too much to bear and suicide seemed like the only way out, but I do know what it’s like to feel as if life isn’t going to get better and hope is more elusive than a red- and white-striped hat in a Where’s Waldo book. It wasn’t a chemical depression for me. It was a heart-full-of-sin-depression. I didn’t need medication or medical treatment (although I do think it’s necessary for some people). What I needed was to admit my mistakes and ask God to remove my sin.

People ruin their lives by their own foolishness and then are angry at the Lord.

Proverbs 19:3

There was a time I ignored God and didn’t want to turn to Him because I didn’t like how my life was turning out. It took truthfulness—looking at my own heart—to realize I was the cause of my problems. I’d brought the pain on myself by choosing to become sexually active outside of marriage, by choosing to drink, by choosing abortion, by choosing to follow my desires instead of God’s Word.

I’m no medical professional, and I won’t try to give advice about depression. I will say . . . if you feel that dark, looming sadness and despondency, start by looking at your own heart. Ask yourself, “How much of my pain was brought on by my choices?” Then ask, “What would happen if I turned everything over to God?”

God is waiting for the opportunity to take your pain. Not only will He replace that darkness with His light. He’ll also give you something greater than you can imagine: Himself.

My life has drastically changed since the moment I turned my life over to God. I won’t say I never have dark moments, but whenever I do I know where to turn. I know Who to turn to, and God never disappoints.