I don’t know who said it but I’m not sure it matters: 

“She believed she could, so she did.”

This post serves as an important reminder. I’m just a blogger to you, but I can tell you one thing about yourself that you may not know. Yes, I’m talking to you. And this message comes directly from me, someone who was raised to never stop, to never listen to the nay-sayers, and to take constructive criticism, fix it, and do better next time. I was raised to believe in myself, but that didn’t stop others from telling me I couldn’t achieve my dreams. That didn’t stop me from wondering if I was good enough, smart enough, or if God loved me enough to help me make my dreams happen. I’m not perfect, but I work my butt off, I fight hard for what’s good and true, and I like it that way. I make mistakes, stick my foot in my mouth, and regret things I say and do from time to time, but I chalk it all up to learning and growing. Say sorry and get over it.

I know you have your own story and dreams, so I won’t bombard you with the details of mine. I’ll just give you a little info so you understand we all have challenges. We all have a story, obstacles to overcome, and people to prove wrong.

Use your challenges to make you stronger, work harder, and find your God-given journey.

At one time, my husband and I believed we were being punished, even believed our challenges, mainly depression and suicide attempts, were the worst things that ever could have happened to us. Now, we’ve shared our whole reality in our book, “Never Alone: A Husband and Wife’s Journey with Depression and Faith.” We learned we can’t help anyone if we stay quiet, if we stop fighting to understand our purpose and choose rather to just stay alive, rather than truly live. 

Do you trust in God enough to truly believe He will make your path open for your dreams to come true? If He’s putting it on your heart, He’ll help you make it happen. Trust Him. Trust your journey.

We don’t have it all figured out, but I will say we’ve never been happier having learned to find good in everything and believe in ourselves. Trust is a funny thing; it always comes down to faith.

Here are a few things to help you learn to believe in yourself and in your purpose.

1. Find your passion.

You probably already know what it is. If it’s your passion, figure out a way to make it your life. My passion is helping those who can’t easily help themselves, being a voice for others, and advocating for individuals with disabilities and mental illness. How am I making it my life? After taking a lot of leaps of faith, I’m almost a Doctor of Special Education (working hard on my own research dissertation now) and I just landed my dream job as a lecturer at the University of Nebraska at Kearney in the Teacher Education department. We also started a weekly support group for people suffering from mental illness or supporting a loved one.

2. Make it happen.

If there’s a will, there’s a way. We won’t talk about the balance of my student loans right now, but every time I start worrying about it, my husband reminds me that we can’t focus on that. There’s a reason student loan programs exist, and I’m trusting that God will make it good because I know my passion and my purpose. You can too.

3. Surround yourself with a fan club.

My husband and kids are the best cheerleaders I could ask for. While my leaps of faith have been hard for other friends and family members to understand, because of societal pressures like those pesky ideas of money and insurance, they eventually got on board. I had to defend decisions often, but that only prepared me to fight harder in other areas. I’m thankful for the opposition now, as getting my doctoral degree doesn’t come easy and I am having to fight for it.

4. Remember not everyone will agree with you.

We all have different passions; that’s healthy. My favorite saying right now is “Be nice or leave.” It’s true. Just be nice. Simple as that, and if those around you can’t grant you that respect, read number three above.

5. Grow your faith.

In your own way, grow your faith. I like Christian music, nature, my baths with a book, and my research. That’s how I connect with God, but you have your own way.

6. Think about how you’ll feel in 10 years.

Ten years from now, will you be pleased with the decisions you made to hold back, or will you wonder what would have happened had you decided to believe in yourself?

7. Remember, we are our own worst enemies.

We can do a lot of damage to ourselves by believing we aren’t good enough. If your primary support person isn’t so supportive, you’re going to have to work even harder, especially if someone is making you feel like you aren’t good enough. Yes, you are. Now prove it.

8. Be positive.

A positive attitude is, by far, the best defense you can have. There are many who will try to make you feel inferior, even throwing in little digs they just hope will get under your skin. Smile and walk away. Keep going. Achievement comes in many forms, and no form of achievement is better than another.

9. Remember your happiness will upset some.

This one is a hard one, but it’s also true of many humans. Some want to see you fail in order to make themselves feel better. Some get past it and grow up; some don’t. Be happy and spread goodness (shout out to Ashli with that line). Your happiness, positivity, and strength to persevere will help many…most you won’t even know until much later, if at all. Love to prove the haters wrong. 

10. Find your reason.

Why do you want this? What’s your driving force? For me, I wanted my kids to see me fight. I wanted them to see that education is important, but also that it means nothing unless you use that education for good. I wanted my boys to understand that good will come from terrible every time if you allow yourself to trust in His plan and His good. I wanted my husband to be able to truly understand his brain and what his mental illness was doing to him, that it wasn’t his fault. I wanted to help many in many ways.

11. Forgive yourself for your mistakes.

This is probably the most important. Remember we all make mistakes, but I once heard someone say to another, “Don’t act like an a**hole and then go sit in church and act like you’re better than everyone else!” Really? Is that what you think of Christians? I’m sorry you’ve been made to feel that way, but it sounds to me like your faith has been in people and not in Jesus. Put your faith in Him. Thank God I now understand that Christians aren’t perfect humans who make all the right decisions all the time. I’m forgiven because I have a Savior, and so are you. Forgiving myself has been harder, but it comes in time. Forgive yourself.

If you can’t tell, I believe we all have a purpose. My husband is literally on life number eight. After six suicide attempts, a near-death car accident, and a heart attack, God has made it clear He’s not done with Jeremy yet. We work better together, so we aren’t done yet. What’s your passion and purpose? Now go for it because you can.

Bailey Koch

The story of Bailey Koch finding her love for and strength in writing begins with near tragedy. In February of 2012, Bailey's husband was nearly killed in a head-on collision with a semi truck. As a method of getting information to friends and family, Bailey began a Caring Bridge page. Immediately, others began commenting that Bailey should be a writer. "Yeah right!" Bailey thought. "There's no way I could do that!" "Never Alone: A Husband and Wife's Journey with Depression and Faith" was published in March 2015 and is written by Jeremy and Bailey Koch. It details their struggles with severe depression and the journey toward understanding their purpose, accepting help, and finding faith. High school sweethearts, Jeremy and Bailey know their lives were meant for each other and to help others by being honest about their story. They are proud parents of two beautiful, and often rambunctious, boys, Hudson and Asher. You can learn more about their journey and even purchase the eBook or paperback copy of "Never Alone" at www.jeremyandbailey.com. Additionally, a new book written for families to open up a conversation about the reality of Depression is now available. "When the House Feels Sad: Helping You Understand Depression" is available at www.jeremyandbailey.com as well. Jeremy and Bailey found their purpose in helping others find hope when suffering from a disability, especially unseen illnesses like depression. Jeremy, who suffers from suicidal thoughts, continues to learn to live, not simply stay alive, through hope from God and the acceptance of help. Bailey is his biggest supporter and left her teaching job, after being in public education for seven years, to focus on what the two know to be God's plan. Bailey now works as a Lecturer in Teacher Education at the University of Nebraska at Kearney and will graduate with her doctoral degree in Special Education from Walden University sometime in 2019. Jeremy and Bailey co-own and operate Natural Escapes, a landscaping and greenhouse services business that also includes a paint your own pottery and canvas family art studio. The passion to advocate for those who can't easily advocate for themselves is strong. Bailey has a message of hope and acceptance for all; she has plans to completely demolish the societal stigma attached to mental illness.