“I stood there with the water lapping at my feet, and I thought ‘I can just keep walking, and all of this will be over.’”
He knew his insurance policy would take care of his family. Depression was about to win and claim Jody’s life.
Jody McBrayer Eight Years Ago
“Avalon was a dream come true for me,” said Jody. He had gotten a big break in the music world, and Avalon had won the American Music Award for Pop/Contemporary Inspirational Group of the Year. They recorded 21 number-one songs, won six Dove Awards, and three Avalon albums were RIAA Certified Gold. Jody was with Avalon for twelve years, but he admits that music became an idol for him and he lost sight of the Gospel.
“I wasn’t like ‘Let’s go out there and change lives!’” said Jody. “Instead the focus was on making the best music possible, pick the best songs and get another number-one hit. That became the driving force.”
So in the middle of a successful career, Jody McBrayer found himself in a perfect storm. The Christian music industry was waning, Jody’s marriage was crumbling, and on top of that, he was diagnosed with a serious heart condition.
“There were so many things swirling, and I wasn’t mentally or physically able to hold it all together.”
Though it was one of the hardest decisions Jody McBrayer had ever made, he knew it was time to leave Avalon. He went home to take care of his marriage and family, and literally his own heart. His diagnosis was Hypertrophic Cardiomyopathy, and his cardiac counselor told him he needed to slow down if he wanted to save himself and his family.
Jody worked in an office position for eight years, all the while holding onto the dream of returning to music ministry. When he asked his manager what his chances were to get back in the music scene, his manager said “You’re done.”
“That took the air out of my lungs,” said Jody.
The Almost Death Of Jody McBrayer
The death of Jody’s music dream sent him barreling toward an all-time low. “I fell into a deep depression. I was basically told to hang it up while sitting behind a desk, gaining weight, not feeling good and working on my marriage. There were so many things, I reached a point I couldn’t handle it.“
So while his wife and family slept, he went out to the beach at three in the morning, planning to end it all.
“Then, what had to be the Holy Spirit turned me around and walked me back up to that house. The next thing I remember was waking up the morning after and being terrified of the thoughts that had gone through my head; I was so close to taking my own life. That’s when I started seeking out help.”
Jody’s doctor breathed hope into him. He helped Jody view his life with thankfulness and worship to God.
“Look, you’ve got to get out of bed in the morning and keep breathing,” said Jody’s doctor. “Be thankful for the breath God has put in your lungs.
Slowly, with small steps of gratitude, Jody slowly began to see the blessings all around him.
“I like where my life is now and think, ‘Oh my gosh, every morning I get up, this heart that is still beating in my chest is a miracle!’”
And it is—not everyone with Jody’s degenerative heart condition can say as much. Even some of his friends with the same disease have died from it. But Jody’s still breathing, and his heart is still beating.
Jody’s Big Break
“God found me at my lowest point. He finds all of us in our lowest point.”
God breathed life back into Jody’s music dreams, too. Jody once thought “no” was God’s final answer, but he now sees the hiatus as his humbling.
“Nothing can humble you quite like Jesus. When Jesus humbles you, it hurts—and it definitely hurt for me,” said Jody. “But it didn’t end with the hurt. There’s always restoration and healing.”
From Jody’s healing came his new album, “Keep Breathing,” named for his doctor’s life-saving advice that helped Jody pull through. The song “With Each Borrowed Breath” is an anthem of his recovery—and giving God all the credit is an inescapable compulsion resulting from Jody’s bout with depression.
“Everything we are and everything we have is a gift from God.”
Now, Jody doesn’t even look at the music charts anymore. His only motivation and hope is for listeners to realize how deeply Jesus loves them.
“Regardless of who you are, where you’re going or what you’ve done, the Gospel still pertains to you.”
If you or someone you know is struggling with depression, know these things:
You’re not alone—It’s easy to feel isolated when life feels like it’s spiraling out of control—even when you feel there is no point to living anymore. You are not alone, even when you feel like you are; God is always there. Don’t give up on yourself because God hasn’t given up on you.
Get Help—Find someone you trust who can point you in the right direction. Go to a trusted friend or pastor. Reach out. You might be surprised at who reaches back with a helping hand.
Nothing is a mistake; God has a plan—Life is hard, and sometimes filled with loss. You may be at your wit’s end, but know this: there IS a plan and a purpose for your life. Keep Breathing.