Holly Mast emits sincerity and peace with every single interaction. Her gentle nature, intricate vocabulary, and deep wisdom make it hard to believe she’s only a senior in high school. Holly pulls out her chair, her baggy sweatshirt falling below her palms and her white sneakers reminiscent of a style her parents likely wore when they were her age. She adores her family and immediately begins talking about her parents and younger two siblings.
“Both of my parents are really strong Christians, so that’s been a good foundation for me and my faith. They’re also very supportive of me. Most people would say the career I’m heading towards isn’t a stable career, but my parents say, ‘If it’s for God – great!’”
Holly may still be in high school, but she feels God has already given her direction of what career path she’s supposed to head down.
“I know God wants me to do something with music. I’m not sure what that looks like yet. I’ve done a lot of songwriting, even though it is hard sometimes. I’m learning how to play the guitar and that is going ok – but not great.”
Holly giggles and her eyes twinkle as she’s recalling her previous guitar lessons.
“I’m going to major in media production in college. I’m hoping to do something with worship arts in church, but the thing I want to do the most is record my own music and possibly write songs for more people – whatever I can do in my life to use music to glorify God.”
However, Holly’s journey to this decision hasn’t been easy. Depression and deep insecurities have made a regular appearance in Holly’s life.
“Depression has shaped me the most – not that I’m defined by it, because I’m not. The depressive symptoms and the apathy had been developing for a long time, but it all culminated my freshman year in a very bad way. It wasn’t that I didn’t believe in God, I was just very apathetic about Him and in my mind, I had bigger things to deal with than God. I was sad all the time, couldn’t get out of bed, or socialize with people. I thought, ‘Why should I care about going to church and furthering my relationship with God and reading my Bible?’ Those were things that didn’t even cross my mind. So, God and I drifted apart for a really long time.”
The summer before ninth grade, Holly attended Summerfest and had the realization that depression may be something she was struggling with.
“My friend had shared that she was struggling with depression and the things she had been feeling. I didn’t know what depression was but as she was talking I was like, ‘That’s me. I feel that way, too!’ I had a complete emotional breakdown after everyone went to worship. I went into my freshman year and for maybe two weeks everything was fine. But after that it came back way worse.”
Despite Holly’s struggle, or perhaps because of her struggle, with mental health and apathy towards her relationship with God, she hit a breaking point and in a desperate prayer, cried out:
“God, I can’t do this anymore. The way I feel is terrible, and I can’t fix this on my own, and I don’t know what to do. I feel directionless. I have no idea what my purpose is or why I’m even here.”
Then the Holy Spirit began to whisper in Holly’s heart.
“I heard Him say, ‘You are made for so much more than all of this’. I felt like He was saying, ‘You are made for more than this depression, but in order to overcome this you need to tell somebody. You can’t do this alone.’ He also said, ‘You need to come back to Me and let Me lead you.’”
Slowly, Holly began to work on her relationship with the Lord.
I began to talk to God every day. Even stupid things, ‘Oh, nice weather today’, just to keep in mind that He’s right there – a point of reference. I started getting back in the Word. and I told my parents what I was going through and began seeing a Christian therapist so I could heal spiritually as well.”
This slow and steady spiritual and mental transformation was crucial for Holly to discover her direction and her purpose, which was the second half of her prayer.
“There’s that moment of realizing how much I needed God. I need Him and His purpose and not my own. That was the place that changed my life the most.”
From there, God began to move and work in Holly’s heart, and she was able to fully listen to His promptings. She has always loved music, but stage fright can consume her and she doesn’t like to be the center of attention.
“I had been feeling purposeless and directionless, and now, looking back I can see that His answer to my prayer of showing me a purpose was a pressing He had on my heart a few months later when I just felt like I needed to try out for the worship team. But I felt like it was all in my head, so I fought it for such a long time. Then we had a sermon about the rich young ruler and how there were certain things he wasn’t willing to give up to follow Jesus. God asked me, ‘What’s your thing? I’ll give you a hint… it has to do with music.’ So then I was like, ‘Ok, You win.’”
Just because Holly is willing doesn’t mean it has come easily for her. She joined the worship team for the student ministry, but struggled every single time she led worship.
“I was terrified every time I went on stage. My stomach hurt and I would feel like I was going to throw up. It was terrible.”
When Holly went on a mission trip to Ecuador, her fear collided with her willingness.
“I kind of had a turning point when I was in Ecuador. I was asked five minutes in advance to lead the team in worship. I had a panic attack and couldn’t do it. I’d been obedient to His call but didn’t trust Him. That’s a learning curve. As I became more confident with who God made me to be, I accepted the person God made me to be. My love of music continued to grow and I began trusting God more.”
Holly has continued to grow in her relationship with God. She still battles intense stage fright every time she leads worship, but continually surrenders to God, following Him in obedience and trusting that He has a purpose for her even in the midst of fear.
She clings tightly to Jesus, trusting that He’ll carry her through it all, as she continues to heal from depression and live out God’s calling in her life to pursue music. Now, Holly feels the exact opposite of apathy for God.
“I don’t want this to sound irreverent, but Jesus is a friend. Obviously I don’t think of Him as if ‘God is my homie.’ I understand that He’s the King of the universe. There are times I feel like God is looking at me thinking, ‘You are absolutely ridiculous.’ But it doesn’t take long in His presence to know that isn’t how He views me at all. Jesus is there for me, understands me, is an advocate for my healing, and when there are days that are hard for me, I can just wake up and talk to Him. He’s not going to condemn me or tell me I could be better. He tells me He’s there for me and will walk with me. That closeness and intimacy with God, you can’t experience anywhere else – that deep comradery I feel with Him. Jesus is my friend.”