Embracing Jesus changes hearts — and lives. That’s the lesson author Ericka Andersen learned after she met her now-husband, Rick, discovered his backstory and then watched God move in his life in stunning fashion. After growing up in an intensely abusive household and later suffering from the results of that treatment, Rick found Jesus — and his life was never the same.
Anderson tells Rick’s incredible story in her new book, “Leaving Cloud 9: The True Story of a Life Resurrected from the Ashes of Poverty, Trauma, and Mental Illness,” explaining how he went from a childhood of intense poverty, neglect and abuse with a mother who was addicted to drugs and alcohol to a person who found God and overcame his lifelong trauma.
“He became a Christian and was able to heal not only physically but emotionally and spiritually and [in] so many other ways as well,” Andersen explained, noting that Rick faced “things that no child should ever have to go through” and that “trauma basically defined ... [his] growing up.”
When Andersen met Rick she said he was suffering from “inner wounds” rooted in his experience as a child — pain that carried into adulthood. These struggles included depression, extreme anxiety, bipolar disorder and social anxiety.
"He could not even speak at a meeting at work because he would have a panic attack,” she said.
But then something dramatic happened: Rick found God. Listen to Andersen share Rick’s incredible story of transformation:
“It wasn't until he pursued a relationship with God that all of those things began to be lifted from him,” she said. “It wasn't easy ... but he took the first step to say he couldn't do this on his own.”
Andersen said that overcoming struggles wasn’t an overnight process and that it took several years of hard work and dedication and “believing in God’s grace” to be set free from the struggles that overtook him. Rick still takes medication for bipolar disorder and has some anxiety, but is a totally renewed person.
“That wound from his childhood ... all of that is basically dead,” she said. “It's dead, it's gone, it's scarred over and he is a really different person. That's only by the grace of God.”
The “Leaving Cloud 9” author said that her husband went from a guy who had no relationship with God to one who wholly relies on the Almighty.
“It was a miracle,” Andersen said.
She added that she’s hoping the book will help others who face similar mental health struggles such as depression or trauma from their childhood.
“It feels impossible in these moments sometimes that you will ever feel differently,” she said. “I want people to have a little seed of faith that they too can have what my husband has.”
Andersen continued, “I want this book to offer hope ... it is possible through Christ.”