Born and raised in Howard County, and then moving to Columbia, Maryland when she was 12, Hannah Martin has always lived close to home. Growing up as the middle child in a family with six brothers and sisters, Hannah felt for the longest time that she was a little lost. From the outside looking in, it looked like the perfect family, but even in the Garden, before sin, there was a darkness lurking. And just like in the Garden, darkness found its way into Hannah’s heart as well.
While being raised in a Christian family certainly has its advantages, there are also some disadvantages that many people may not realize. When you grow up in an environment like that, surrounded by Bible verses, Sunday school, and church activities, you tend to go along with the flow, adopting the lifestyle because it drags you along. It’s sort of like a fish swimming downstream. It’s easier for the fish to follow the current as it flows, but is that really where it wants to go? A lot of times we are put in environments where it’s easiest to just follow the crowd, even though we’re not sure if the final destination is where we want to end up. It is the same for faith. Hannah followed what her family believed in, but at this point in her life, it wasn’t her own. She had yet to decide that her parent’s faith was hers.
Little did she know that things were about to start getting real…
At this point, not only was Hannah already struggling with finding her own identity, but because she was homeschooled all the way up through middle-school, her freshmen year of high school at a public school was a big culture shock for her. She had no friends in a strange, new place, and she felt more lost, more alone, and more unsure of what direction her life was taking her than ever. Hannah was just going through the motions with no idea where she was supposed to go, or who she really was. She was just along for the ride.
Hannah began to get more and more depressed as time went on. Many tears were shed in solitude, and this growing sense of hopelessness was slowly creeping into her soul.
Eventually, in the summer of 2000, Hannah felt like she couldn’t go on anymore…
Where Hannah lived at the time was a four-story house right next to a highway that truckers would often use as a shortcut. One evening, she went out onto the roof, intending to end the pain that she was going through. On top of the house was a weather vane, and as Hannah clung onto it, she looked out across the landscape surrounding her house. It was nearly dark outside, and the wind howled softly amidst the pitter patter of raindrops, the weather a direct reflection of what was going on inside her. She had never felt so lonely, lost, and unwanted. The darkness outside was reflected in her eyes, indicative of the final moments of a war between light and dark waging within. As the battle was coming to a close, Hannah gripped the weather vane tighter, knowing what was about to come. She knew that she had to jump into the street, just in case the fall itself was not enough to end her life.
As the world continued on, oblivious of the fourteen-year-old girl who was preparing to leave it, the battle in Hannah came to a close. The darkness rushed over her as she thought of all the loneliness that had consumed her soul, and she felt her grip on the world loosen, as did her grip on the only thing keeping her from falling to her death. In that final moment, just as Hannah was about to let go, a bright flash from a massive crack of lightning etched across the sky. The sound and sight of the magnificent light startled Hannah, and she gripped the pole tightly again. It was enough to snap Hannah back from the darkness pulling her down.
At that moment, Hannah felt God calling out to her, telling her that she was not alone.
She felt that God had shown her that he was watching, and that he did not want her to end her life that night. Hannah felt compelled to get down off the roof.
When she got down, Hannah went to her room to be alone and soak in what had just happened. As she entered her room, she noticed that her Bible lay open on her bed. When she picked it up, this is what she read:
But now, this is what the Lord says—
he who created you, Jacob,
he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel, your Savior
At this point, it was undeniable to Hannah that God had intervened in her life. The words on the page came to life, and for the first time in a long time, Hannah felt seen and wanted. She felt that, even though she still seemed lost, she no longer felt hopeless. Hannah believed that she could find direction through Jesus. And that’s exactly what she began to search for, now with a renewed hope.
She began to reach out instead of waiting for people to reach out to her first. She joined the soccer team, got very involved in the youth group at church, and even started a Bible study at her high school. Hannah also turned to music to help deal with her emotions. She always had a knack for music, and this is one of the main places where she began to find her purpose. She taught herself how to play guitar, and she would sit in her room and write songs or poems to help process all the thoughts and feelings that she was struggling with.
God began changing her from the inside out. He took a shy, fragile, and depressed girl, and turned her into a friendly, outgoing musician/singer who boldly talked about her faith and shared her love for Jesus. Today, if you know Hannah personally or attend the Church at Severn Run, then you’re well acquainted with how God has used her to make a big impact. Who would’ve thought that nearly 15 years ago, the woman on stage each Sunday was a lonely and frightened girl with so little hope that she was prepared to give it all up.
There may be those of you reading this right now who are in the same place that Hannah was all that time ago. Maybe you’re not literally on a roof, but mentally you are on the verge of giving up. Maybe you feel unseen and unwanted, just looking for an opportunity not to jump. Perhaps you’re on the edge, looking down into a future that has no purpose, and all you see are dead ends. If you’re there, then like Hannah, maybe all you need to do is look up to the sky to see a God who’s watching, desperately trying to get your attention and tell you that you are loved and worth more than you know. Hopefully you can find some small hope in Hannah Martin’s story. Because you ARE seen, you ARE wanted, and you have infinitely more value than you know.
If you do feel suicidal, please reach out to someone or call 1-800-422-0009 or one of the suicide prevention hotlines at this link.