I’ve had a couple of experiences with suicide and suicidal thoughts. When I was a senior in high school, I almost lost someone extremely close to me due to their ideations and very serious contemplation of suicide. If it wasn’t for classmates who reported this person’s intentions to the school principal, well, I can only dreadfully imagine what would have been.
Fast forward 14 years…thankfully that person I spoke about is doing well and enjoying life, but my family was rocked by the suicide of a close family friend. And in both situations, outsiders, myself included, wonder, “what made them think life was so bad, they had to do it?”
I know this is a “spiritually single” blog, but I felt compelled to write about this issue because it becomes a topic of conversation in my household.
Throughout my blog entries, you’ll find that I am very open about my own life. I feel that God wants all of us to be able to use our lives as testimonies for the incredible works He has done and we can give glory to Him.
My husband and I were baptized on July 8, 2001. My husband was baptized first and then he submerged me into the water of salvation. I remember coming out of the water feeling every burden being lifted from my shoulders. I remember hugging my husband and through my ear-to-ear smile saying, “we did it!” I remember feeling as though I was given a fresh start on life. I was 21 years old. And then, only a few months later, my husband left God. He left the church. He left behind the truth that was shown to him only months before. Then, another few months down the road, my father-in-law passed away, unexpectedly, due to a heart attack. My husband spiraled, he went downhill fast. He was angry with God, angry with the world, angry with life. He turned to the bottle to numb his deep seeded pain. Then came kids, then came job insecurity, then came my sin...in my despair and hurt of living with a man who no longer was the man I once knew, I also let go of God. I turned to shopping. My husband had the drink, I had the mall and online shopping. We both escaped & we both threw our marriage and our stability out the window. I created so much debt we almost lost our home. He drank so much he doesn't recall half of what went on in our home. We were both depressed. I stopped eating, I barely weighed 100 pounds. I stopped taking care of my home. I didn't care. I would think about and contemplate how to take my life, on several occasions. I started doing things I never had done before: partying, drinking, smoking, flirting with other men. I was a mom. A wife. I had a life and reasons to live. But I was in despair. I felt hopeless, I felt like I made my life so difficult & I couldn't fix it. I was deep down in a hole and couldn't see the light of hope. I was suicidal. That's not a statement one makes lightly. I wanted to kill myself. The only thing that ever stopped me was the thought of my toddlers finding me lifeless. Every day, I made a choice to keep going.
I'm thankful God rescued me. I didn't turn to Him. I never called on Him. I was embarrassed. I was scared. I felt guilty for ever letting Him go. But He still rescued me. He placed various people in my life to act as my savior because I let go of His savior for me. I grasped on to new friendships and went back to old friendships. And I made my way back. I could see the light of hope and I started digging my way to the top. I thank God every day for rescuing me.
Where I am today, where my marriage is today is because of God. He came through for me even when I wasn't calling on Him. Our tears are prayers. Our sobbing is a prayer. Our hearts whisper what our words can't say.
And you know what? We're not the only ones who have felt as though they were at the bottom of a hopeless pit. Remember Job? Man, that guy had legit reason to want to end his life. And he felt it, he cursed the day he was born:
"After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said, 'May the day of my birth perish and the night that said 'a boy is conceived!' That day - may it turn to darkness, may God above not care about it; may no light shine on it. May gloom and utter darkness claim it once more; may blackness overwhelm it." Job 3:1-5
He keeps going:
"Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?" Job 3:11
And then, this:
"For now I would be lying down in peace; I would be asleep at rest with kings and rulers of the earth, who built for themselves places now lying in ruins, with princes who had gold, who filled their houses with silver. ...There the wicked cease from turmoil, and there the weary are at rest. Captives also enjoy their ease; they no longer hear the slave driver's shouts the small and the great are there, and the slaves are freed from their owners." Job 3:13-19
"What I feared has come upon me; what I dreaded has happened to me. I have no peace, no quietness; I have no rest, but only turmoil." Job 3:25-26
Read on! Job was severely depressed. "Severe" actually doesn't even begin to describe his state of depression. He actually begged and prayed that God would take his life:
"Oh, that I might have my request, that God would grant what I hope for, that God would be willing to crush me, to let loose his hand and cut off my life!" Job 6:8-9
Job felt he had no hope. Nothing to live for. He felt he was a burden to his friends who tried to reach out to him. He was mad at God. He blamed God. He felt as though God abandoned him. He was angry with life.
He. Was. Done.
But God listened to Job. He heard every word. And he let Job go on and on. He waited until Job was done. And then, 35 heart wrenching chapters later, God answered Job. And He reminded Job that He is in control. And God did not feel that death was an option for Job. In today's slang, God was telling Job, "I got this."
Job heard God and he listened to God. He trusted God's reassurance and did as God asked him to do. And what did God do? "The Lord blessed the latter part of Job's life more than the former part." (Job 42:12)
You know who else was at the end of his rope? Scared and worried? Our own Savior. In Gethsemane before his death, Jesus was in despair:
"They went to a place called Gethsemane, and Jesus said to his disciples, 'sit here while I pray.' He took Peter, James, and John along with him, and he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. 'My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death,' he said to them." Mark 14:32-34
Our Savior was scared, worried and clearly so sad, it felt like death. He asked God for a different way, a new plan:
"Going a little farther, he fell to the ground and prayed that if possible the hour might pass from him, 'Abba, Father,' he said, 'everything is possible for you. Take this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.'" Mark 14:35-36
God obviously (and thankfully) did not change His plan, even though His sad, scared and worried Son asked him to.
So what's my point? God has a plan. For each of us. All we have to do is wait and listen. God had a wonderful life planned for Job. God had a wonderful plan of salvation for us.
I'm not opening this up to arguments of religion vs religion. Or religion vs psychology. Or psychiatry vs disease. I'm only sharing my life, what I've learned and what I believe.
Depression is real. And it's dangerous. And it's obviously been around for a very, very long time. The bible records Judas taking his own life. But had he just waited, we can bet on the fact that Jesus would have forgiven him, just as he had forgiven Peter who had denied him. But Judas couldn't see the light. All he knew was what he had done. The hurt he had caused and the guilt he felt. But all he had to do was wait. His peace was coming.
Having almost lost someone extremely dear to me to depression, having lost an extremely close family friend to suicide and personally having gone through the ideation of suicide, the thoughts are intense. Like Job, one can believe that death will bring peace. But it won't.
Listen to those around you. Pay attention to their words. Help where and when you can.
If you're there, if you're at the point where you can't see the light of hope, then wait. Please wait. God is listening, even if you're not speaking. It may take 35 chapters of your life before He answers, but wait. His response may not be what you expected or wanted, but wait. His peace will find you, comfort you and rebuild your strength.
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-8255