In many ways, things for Sam Youssef (’00) couldn’t have been better. He had a loving wife and two amazing daughters, a house in Abbotsford, and a strong church community. In addition to that, he had a stable government job as an analyst for Public Safety Canada, which he’s held for over 12 years. But despite all this, he felt like something wasn’t quite right.
“About three years ago, I realized I wasn’t sure if this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life,” says Youssef. “I started to pray and seek the Lord to ask what was going on. I love my job, but I could sense there was a change coming.”
Youssef says he knew he needed to take some time to seriously pray about what was next, so he spent about three months praying and seeking God for wisdom.
One morning, Youssef felt God telling him to sign up for a real estate course, and to do it that same day. This was hard to process. It wasn’t something he’d ever wanted to pursue. His wife Jennel worked in the field, but Youssef couldn’t see himself in such an unstable profession.
But the prompting stayed with him all day and he wasn’t sure how to respond. They didn’t have a lot of extra money at the time, and the real estate course cost $1,000. But when Youssef came home and told his wife, she responded with grace and enthusiasm.
“My wife is great because she’s the adventurous one of the two of us,” says Youssef. “She doesn’t bat an eye with this kind of stuff. She said to just do it and follow God’s leading. So that was the confirmation I needed.”
Despite the cost, Youssef registered for the course before midnight, trusting that God would provide what they needed. Within that same week, Jennel closed three deals.
An Unexpected Darkness
It was an exciting time, or at least, it should have been. But shortly after Youssef started the course, he began to feel anxiety unlike anything he’d ever experienced before.
“I had an anxiety attack one day and had to take some time off work. I didn’t have answers as to what was going on and still don’t have them to be honest. It took its time and toll on me,” says Youssef. “Literally there were days where all I could do was stay in bed and sleep. For about a year and a half, I was definitely needing to nap every day just to get through it. I couldn’t really do my normal tasks.”
Youssef took some time to pray, rest, seek counseling, and get support from friends.
“I set up an email group, pulled in close family and friends, and started sharing exactly what I was going through,” says Youssef. “It seems like most people aren’t comfortable sharing about mental health issues, but I found I was the opposite. I believe this was a big part of helping me get out of it. I would encourage anyone who is struggling with this sort of thing to reach out to others and ask for pray and share with others. When they know and understand, you will find support.”
Two other things that Youssef says made a big difference was medication and eating healthier.
The Final Exam
After a year and a half, things started to get better, but he was nearly out of time to write the final real estate exam. His last chance was three months away. If he didn’t take the exam, he would have to pay another $1,000 and start all over again.
“I didn’t understand,” says Youssef. “I felt God made a promise, confirmed it, then I went down for a year and a half. Was God going to take this away from me?”
Youssef felt there was no way he could pass the test, as he’d not been studying because of all he’d been going through. But because he was starting to feel better, and he’d already paid the fee, he decided to try his best. He signed up for the final and studied as much as he could with his wife on his days off.
Three months later, he wrote and passed the exam.
“It’s amazing to see Gods faithfulness in the midst of the storms,” says Youssef. “This is one example of that for me.”
Youssef says that this whole experience has reinforced to him the need to trust what God is doing day to day and not to worry about what tomorrow holds.
“God knows what He’s doing,” says Youssef. “We can get frustrated, we can question. But I have a personal relationship with God and can say, ‘Why Lord? Help me understand and grant me wisdom’. At the end of the day, it’s like David writing the Psalms. He complains and whines. He struggles with God and fights, but at the end of almost every psalm, he writes that God came to his help and rescued him. God comes through. It’s a theme in our life we need to constantly remind ourselves.”
Although some days are harder than others, and Youssef still struggles with anxiety, he reminds himself constantly that God knows what He’s doing and has a plan that is far better than anything he could come up with on his own.
“I need to stop wondering and look back to remember what God has done up to this point and how He’s always been faithful,” says Youssef, adding with a smile, “Why would he stop now?”
Today, Sam Youssef runs Blue Diamond Real Estate Team. If you’d like to chat with him about real estate or mental health issues, please feel free to email him: email@example.com