A Renewed Outlook
"I didn't want to live anymore, but I knew I could never end it because I had too many responsibilities," recalled the Zeeland woman of her feelings around five years ago.
"I felt trapped in a world I didn't want to live in."
But through counseling, prayer journaling and supportive relationships, the 37-year old married mother of three has rebounded with a new outlook. Tiffany is exercising her gifts, helping to lead worship at her church and has resumed her promising songwriting.
"I really have a heart to reach out to people who may be going through the same experience and offer a word of hope," she said.
A PERILOUS PATH
A young Tiffany had it rough from the start. Her childhood in Holland included several periods in a foster home. She would be placed there temporarily while her single mother struggled with alcoholism and depression. "I went back and forth," she recalled. "It was a long, dark road."
Although she played clarinet in the school band, her first musical love was singing. But she simply did not receive the support she needed to pursue her dream.
In her early 20s she began attending a new church where she discovered opportunities to use her musical gifts.
"I really didn't know if I was a good singer, so I entered the 'Lakeshore Idol' contest," said the Holland Christian High School graduate. Tiffany finished in the top 10 in that 2009 competition. "So I figured out I was good enough to be on the worship team," she smiled. Occasionally she led worship, playing a newly-acquired ukulele and doing original songs.
A PERCARIOUS TURN
But "life events" began piling up, as did her responsibilities. Things at her job were discouraging, her mother became disabled, and she learned she was pregnant. Other factors also strained her circumstance. Tiffany stopped songwriting and other creative activity. "Depression was coming on," she recalled. Medication suggested by her therapist brought mixed results.
But eventually a newer journey began. Her family began attending a different church (Vertical Church in Zeeland) and she soon became part of the worship team.
She sensed that at least part of her battle was/is a spiritual one. Tiffany needed to get to the "bottom" in order to fully rely on God. "Now I know that's important in my life," she added.
A NEW FREEDOM
Confirming her calling as a worship leader, Tiffany contributes background and occasional lead vocals for Vertical's two identical Sunday services, working under worship director Daniel Nino.
"I have to let my insecurities go to fully engage in worship," she noted. "It's important to me knowing that God loves me and wants to use me because I often felt unwanted growing up."
She still has "sad" days, but now has the tools to deal with them.
The singer-songwriter recently debuted her song, "You Will Be Alright," at a Christian conference where she also helped lead worship. The keyboard ballad offers a musical testimony of her life for those who are broken or lost.
Tiffany has some advice for those struggling with depression: don't give up, stay in God's word, listen to him and focus on what you can do for God rather than simply waiting for him to "make it all better."
"When I did that, everything really changed for me," she said. "Then blessings will come and trust that the Lord will give you joy."