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Tuesday, June 12, 2018

The call to walk out of darkness and into the light. It's ours to share.





This past week I have been lying awake at night...thoughts and words tumbling around in my head, scrambling over each other trying to find their way out into the light. Today I've decided it's time to release them...hoping that by doing so, they will serve a greater purpose than I can imagine.

But in order to do this, I will have to go back to a dark time in my life...a jumping-off point for where I am today...back to a point in time that I almost didn't survive.

Unless you've been living in a closet, you can't help but be aware of the rash of suicides out there. Maybe not even "out there"...maybe they have come closer to home than you ever dreamed. Like stealthy night-time intruders, they forced their way into your life and wreaked havoc...smashing and destroying your safe world. And now you're trying to find your way home to a new "normal"...though God knows it will take a lifetime.

I hope that what I am about to share may save a life...or give hope...or do something I can't even imagine as I follow God into this. If that happens, then writhing under this vulnerability I feel will be worth it. 

Some of you know my story. Most don't. The part I am about to share was so long ago. But it's been engraved on my mind as a signpost that I return to over and over again when I'm finding myself lost and wandering...a sign post God has erected not only for me, but for others also. I see that now.

I grew up in a non-Christian home with parents who loved each other and did their best with their four children. I know that to be true, because my mom once told me so. From a young age I embraced the lie that approval was based on success and being what others expected me to be. And, above all else, making others happy. Over the years, I learned to dance that dance, and in time I forgot that I was even dancing. But unbeknownst to me, with every step I took, a part of me was dying. 

From an early age, I knew that I wanted to be married. God knows I had no idea what marriage was, only what I wanted it to be...a way to finally find the love and acceptance I hungered for. So during college I found a good man who I thought would fulfill my needs. And he found me, a woman who he thought would fulfill his. It was a tsunami in the making...

To my delight, we became pregnant several months later, and one year after we married, I gave birth to a son...and two years later, another son. I was finally feeling that I had done something right. 

But at the same time, it felt like someone was pulling down the shades on my life...every day was a struggle to keep on going. Feelings of failure and inability smothered every waking moment and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get life "right". Depression became my constant companion as my thinking became twisted. Slowly I began to reason that my children and my husband deserved a better woman than I was...one who wasn't always in tears...one who hadn't lost all joy in life...one who could be to them all that I couldn't.  

So with dark clouds swirling around me, I made the decision to end my life.

On a day when my husband and children were away, I went outside to my garden to say goodbye to the world. I had always found peace and comfort in nature so it seemed a fitting way to spend my last few hours. But instead of peace and comfort, I found myself weeping...and literally screaming into the air..."God are you there? I don't want to die. I just want the pain to end...please!"

And then in my desperation I threw out a plea, "If you are real, show me. Send down a Chickadee." With what miniscule faith I could muster, I held out my shaking hand. And seconds later, a Chickadee landed, turning his head from side to side as he sang, looking directly at me. And that's when I shattered...all the years of pain and desperation pouring out of me. There was a God! And He saw me. And He heard me....even me.


That day God mercifully reached down and initiated a love-based, grace-filled relationship that has kept me alive for the past 35 years.  It has been painful and hard and good all rolled together. And it always will be, this side of Heaven. 

God saved my life that day, of that I have no doubt, But like Paul, who had a thorn in his flesh that God would not remove, I too have a thorn. It's called depression. Some days I can still see the dark clouds rolling in, threatening a storm in my life that I could easily buckle under. But what He has called me to bear, He has always, always, given me the grace to carry. 

There are times when I still hear a whisper that says ending it all would stop the pain of whatever life has thrown at me.  But I no longer choose to run from the pain. Instead, I allow it to fling me into the arms of a God who won't ever give up on me, though I could often give up on myself...and this crazy world we live in.

So why am I sharing this? Because I've been there...both on wanting to end my own life, and watching others be devastated when a loved one took their life. My uncle, my mother's only sibling, decided a gun to the head was better than his pain. She never recovered from what he did, though she learned to live with it. And there have been others...way too many others.

I hate that we live in a fallen world. That people hurt. That they are in pain. That they are lost and can't find their way Home. For whatever reason, God has wired me to feel it more than others. But all I have been through has taught me empathy and sensitivity and a willingness to step into other's pain. And to encourage. And that's why I'm going to say some things that I wish someone had said to me many, many years ago...

If you are dealing with depression...and possibly the thought of ending your life...please, please let someone know. If they don't listen or believe you, then find someone else. Don't believe the lie that there is no help...no hope. Because there is. There are people out there who will help you walk through it. And there is a God who made you...who knows you inside and out and sees what you are going through. And He loves you...so passionately that He left his home in Heaven to come to earth to not only show you the way Home, but to help you walk through one day after the other here. Cry out to Him. He will always answer, for He is good and all good Fathers meet their children's needs. 

If you are dealing with the loss of someone from suicide, my heart breaks for you. There are so many questions you have...so much unfinished business. Could you have done something? How could you have missed it? Was it in any way your fault? It's okay to be angry. To even hate the one who left you behind. Because these are all normal gut reactions to the pain you feel. Your life will never be the same...something precious was stolen and there's no way you can get it back. Dear one, you are not responsible. The choice they made to take their life was one made in great pain, and usually great darkness....often not realizing that it's the pain they wanted to escape, not the life. Give yourself grace. And time. Surround  yourself with others who loved the deceased. Ask for help. Live one day at a time...sometimes even one second at a time. And most importantly, cry out to God...lean on Him. He will support you and the weight of your pain. And He will redeem it, though you can't see that now. I promise.

None of us is perfect. None of us gets it all right...or keeps it together at all times. We all sin and fall short. Our sin-cursed world dumps weights on us we were never intended to carry. The enemy of our souls wants to destroy us...not only our testimonies, but our very lives. We all need help. We can't do it alone. We need each other. And God. Desperately.

We must give the gift of our presence to those around us. We must be willing to step out of our comfort zone and into the pain of others. Jesus did.

And finally, let us reach out to embrace the gift of His Presence. It may very well save not only your life, but the life of someone you know...someone walking in darkness or depression who is so close to  giving in and giving up.

I love that God redeems...that He brings hope to the hopeless...beauty from ashes. There is no one beyond His reach...nothing impossible for Him. It's time to start saying these things and not keeping them to ourselves. I am. Right now. Because He loves you and so do I.

And there should never, ever be hopelessness while God reigns.

Shine on, dear one.











photo credit: Jörg Bergmann <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/156093343@N02/39660225532">Winter Sun</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>


photo credit: gpferd <a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/24641249@N00/32319412282">Chickadee_76955</a> via <a href="http://photopin.com">photopin</a> <a href="https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/">(license)</a>