There’s no story that I have more struggle with beginning than this one. This is where you get to know me right? So I guess I’ll just start with the easy stuff and work from there. My name is Courtney Adelle and I am a quirky 20 year old musician from Arkansas who loves her cat and her husband and her tiny apartment two floors up with a welcome sign that she meticulously wrote, and rewrote in her chalk marker to get it just right. I’m a perfectionist. Not in the neat and tiny kind of way, although my mother definitely wished that were the case in my teenage years. I’m a perfectionist when it comes to party planning, dinner presentations, and hand drawn signs such as the one strung to my front door. Unfortunately, life has a cruel way of driving perfectionists crazy because, as I continue to keep learning: life is not perfect, people aren’t perfect, timing is not perfect, and I am especially not perfect.
My mother is a perfectionist just like me but completely unlike me all the same. She’s an accountant who values even numbers and straight lines. Her and I were like two south ends of a magnet. Many times, we would, and still do, fight about the dumbest things because we are so alike and yet so different. This definitely made me wonder if there was something wrong with me. As I have grown up study human nature and different personalities, I now can see that there are different kinds of crazy. Because let’s be honest, we all feel crazy in our own way. So growing up I felt like I was alone in my own mind. Thats when I found an escape that allowed me to express my hurt or anger or whatever my little pre-teen heart needed to express. Music created a safe space to be myself. For once in my life I didn’t feel like I was too much or not enough. I had found my calling.
Here’s the thing, when you find what God put you on this earth to do, the enemy really hates it and loves to discourage you in that in any way, shape, or form. For me, since I had found it at the young, spry age of 9, that meant a lifetime of mind games and rejections I never signed up for. On top of physical set backs such as bronchitis for 3 months every winter during Christmas recitals or being kicked out of choir, I battled anxiety, fear, frustration, disappointment, confusion, anger, and the big kahuna: depression. I let my emotions run me over like a school bus full of my worst nightmares. Though I grew up in a nuclear family (mom, dad, sister, half-brother, dog, horses, cows, cat, fish, turtle, and at one point even a bird-yeah thats right, I’m from the country) I constantly dealt with loneliness. I let the enemy whisper his lies about how unloved and unwanted I was. I saw myself as the black sheep of such a great Christian family. I seemed to be the only one who couldn’t keep her emotions in check, I gave up sports which my family practically worshiped, and my schedule really slowed down while everyone else picked up-which left me feeling left behind. I separated myself from them often and hid my feelings because, up until I was old enough to understand where some of the hormones came from, my mom did not know how to communicate with me when I was at my worst. Now that I am studying social work we have had very constructive conversations where she and I have both learned how to talk to each other without overwhelming the other person. However, as a thirteen to seventeen year old, if felt like music was all I had to run to when I needed to let my crazy out.
You know what happens when you let your emotions sit in your heart for too long without opening up about them to your community? For me it lead me down the road of depression. Just like an untreated sinus infection: what God created as something natural (ie mucus) our emotions can get infected and turn into something that can only be treated once you see someone about it. Many nights I cried in my pillow or in the shower, unsure of how to reign my thoughts back in and unwilling to ask for help, until I had become numb to all things. Now don’t get me wrong, I had an incredible childhood and I understand that I was and still am privileged. The problem is, it doesn’t matter what our circumstances are, we are all vulnerable to losing our hope. I was bullied in Jr High for being developed at a young age which led me to homeschooling for a year to get my mind right, but that didn’t cause my depression. My brother, my best friends, my short lived romantic relationships, even my family at times all failed me and made me feel unwanted. Rejection cut me deep and I loved playing the blame game. However, none of those people or situations had the kind of power over me to bring me to depression. Only I had the ability to spiral myself into that kind of distress. I sat myself down in that hole and I thought it was my job to climb out.
There is hope and light and love to this story. I wanted you to see the darkness, wanted you to feel the discomfort of wondering if I would ever get it, ever seek God through this. I read this and remember the hurt, the pain, the loneliness, but feel the hope. God was there, though it all. As cliche as that was to type it is so incredibly true. I read old journals where I begged God for just one friend, one person who would listen to me and not tell me I’m too dramatic or crazy. Of course he eventually gave me my freaking awesome husband who is everything I need and more, but he answered my prayer before I met Seth. He gave me His son. I met Jesus as my brother and friend in those years and learned to talk to Him. I would stay up late at night crying out, laughing, or just talking like He was sitting right next to me. He showed me how to write real music. Music that helped me think through and solve problems rather than just sit and vent (though those are good too). I found my hope in Jesus Christ and everything good that was already around me came to my attention. I was finally able to be thankful, and trust that God really had my back. I fell in love with His character.
A few years later I moved to Memphis, studied songwriting at a tiny college in an old bank made of all windows. Six hours from my family, four hours from my boyfriend, and right next to the God who lead me there. It was terrifying, it was invigorating, it was living. I had no intention of ever living so far from home if it wasn’t Nashville, but it was an adventure with many amazing characters. I found community for the first time in my life that I was so compatible with I didn’t know how to handle it. I was the outcast in high school and here I had made friends with every student (it wasn’t that hard, there were only 60).
I moved back to my hometown in Joplin, Missouri after a semester because God called me back. Ironically, that was a harder move than the first one. I had to go back, face my fears, confront the rejection I had built up in my mind. In the long run, I’m glad I had that spring semester to revisit the old wounds. I found two jobs, enrolled in online classes, and got engaged to that boyfriend I now only lived two hours from. The time flew by and soon I was loading up another moving truck, only this time the whole family was coming with me. We said goodbye to the house I grew up in. It felt like a death in the family, but it was a necessary change that only grew us. That whole summer was like trying to swim through a wave pool (because in the midwest we don’t have oceans with the real things). We said goodbye to a whole life, and we started up a new one, then Seth and I said “I do” and I had to start an even newer life with fewer stuff and a less people under my roof. We grew up that summer, a lot, but it was perfect. I still don’t know how to balance my checkbook or how to properly fold a sheet but I can get to it eventually when I’m a real grown up with a 401k and stuff. Until then, I get to keep growing up with the guy who lived five minutes down the road.
We found a home church, I joined the worship team, I got promoted at the bakery I work at to pay the bills, my EP “Ship Go Down” was released, we got a cat, and now we are about to move into our first real house. I figured out that there’s such a thing as settling and being settled. I love my life, I love that it’s not perfect because if it was it would look totally different from what I have. I still strive for success in my music career but the slower pace is just what I need for the season I am in. I still struggle trusting God, but I found time to spend with him each day and I grow more and more in my faith every minute. My story is far from over, I still have some mountains to climb, babies to have, songs to write, friends to make…but I’ll get to that. Until then, I’m content with who I am and the God I have.