Taking Life & The Life Giver

The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14

The Facebook share started with “Wanna kill yourself?”.

I was immediately and uncomfortably drawn in.  Several sentences met my thoughts with, sure, that’s true enough.  Others made my eyes well.  But most annoyed me.  And honestly by the end I was somewhere between offended, infuriated, hurt, and perplexed.

You see, suicide isn’t something you can be casually scolded out of.  It’s absolutely not something you can be bullied out of.  It’s not something you can be talked out of with trite statements and ‘look what you’ll do to others’ sentiments.  It’s just not that easy.  If it was, suicide wouldn’t be rampant, depression wouldn’t be so serious, and lots of people wouldn’t grieve the holes in their lives left by those who decided to make that final decision. Suicide doesn’t come from a place of selfishness.  Suicide comes from a place of despair-deep, groaning, lonely despair-that didn’t poof into existence in a day, or week, or just one situation.

 

A suicidal mentality is not something people want to have.  It’s a crushing weight, carried in silence.  Many times finally to the grave. The act of suicide isn’t a purposeful slap in the face to others. No, rather, the act of suicide is not embracing wanting to kill oneself–it is wanting to finally be free of that feeling.  Not wanting to heave it around anymore.  Not wanting to feel the constant weight of it, the pull, the snag, the perpetual sandpaper of it any longer. The hurting. The overwhelming fog of it.

I know this weight well.

On any given day I can close my eyes and measure it’s volume in the fibers of my being.  I can determine it’s mass on my heart, it’s weight bearing down on my soul.

Surprised?

I love to laugh. I love to love others.  I have joy, and peace about the tragedies and abuses I’ve suffered.  I can be the happiest, silliest girl ever.  I will fight for your trust.  I will fight to make you laugh, and to make you feel valued. I will drag you out of your own despair while mine deepens, because that’s who I am. I feel deeply for you, will wrap my arms around you, hope for you, care for you.  Love you.

I really am me.

I have millions of glittering facets that shine in the warmth of friendships and love.

And I have unnumbered black, groaning pits of despair as well.

Since the very beginning of my life I’ve been aquainted with the burden of death, along with the very worse sources of pain.  Alcoholism, addiction, sexual abuse, physical abuse, cruelty. Death.  Fear of death.  Suicide.  My grandfather’s mother took her own life decades before I was born, and the sadness and weight of it remained in him, though he never spoke of it.  And still won’t. He and my grandmother lost two daughters at very young ages, and the grief sat always on their shoulders.  Death mocked them in this, and I felt it in my grandmother until the day she died. Family members I’d never met had taken their lives, and as I grew up I saw the hurt of friends from losses of their loved ones by suicide. Always there.  Silent.  Heavy.

The trauma of my childhood began to manifest itself in my teenage years as I began to cut myself, wanting so badly to just feel something tangibly I couldn’t get relief from.  As if the pain physically could somehow trump the pain inside. Hurt wanted to purge itself from inside me into something I could see, and heal from.  As I passed through this valley, I knew I wanted nothing to do with this part of myself, but didn’t have the ability to put into words to myself what was happening to me.  And so I just locked it away.

As an adult, I found that just because something is locked away doesn’t mean it will be silent.  Deeper and more intensely personal pain than I had ever experienced unfolded across the following years, and I found not only had I never locked away anything, but that it had hold of me.  Like an enemy.  Like THE enemy.

The floor of my heart has long been filled with the shattered glass of my aching.

Failures.  Broken dreams.  Screw ups.  Loneliness.  Unworthiness.  Mistakes. Sin.  Most painfully, the feeling that the Savior I believed in with all my heart saved me, but had nothing else for me. Because I was the worst failure of all.

It’s only in the past couple of years I’ve been able to really examine my feelings for what they are.  To see them with the eyes of my faith. To finally separate others’ cruelties from who I have become, while relegating them to the dark corner where they belong-and not feel that they are a part of me.  I want to eradicate them completely, but still they chant at me from their moldy places in my heart.

But where people think it’s so easy to get past these things, I’m here to say it’s not.

I’m here to scream and stomp my feet and turn red in the face to howl at you NO. IT’S. NOT.

I was rescued as a child from sin, hell, and death by putting my faith and trust in Jesus Christ.  Oh, how He brought me through those black years of my childhood and teenage  years, even when I was not aware of it.  Oh, how faithful He has been through my heartache as an adult.  He is always good, always there, and always able.  Even when I’ve not been able to feel Him there, or wanted to push Him away and so I sinned more, He remained. Quietly waiting, watching like a loving father from the window for his prodigal child.  He has truly never left me or forsaken me.

Without Him, no matter how far away I roamed, truly I would have taken my life many years ago, or a couple of years ago.  Maybe a few months ago.

But even knowing how good He is, how He loves me, what He did to offer me life, I bear the burden of suicidal thoughts. Others like me don’t make it.  They are not lacking for that.  They are not less. They just couldn’t go on anymore.

Yes that is possible.  To say it’s not possible is ignorance.

To say it’s not possible weakens those who could be helped, because it demeans the reality of what they fight.

Several months ago, I finally got up the nerve to read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. I have battled spiritual warfare my entire life, I believe because of the things I saw and experienced growing up, and partly because of the perpetual feeling of death surrounding me.  And because death was so prevalent all through my growing years, I developed quite the interest in the spiritual realm.  In so doing, I opened a lot of doors I never should have, and thus I needed courage to read that little book about a wizened demon and his nephew.

How it rocked me. That the enemy should influence me so greatly, and that I could unknowingly allow it, even embrace it, shot through me like lightning. That I could fight it…oh, that I could fight it, gave me wings.

Let’s get real, here.  We talk church, and we talk grace and mercy, wonderful things–and yet it’s so easy to leave out that our adversary is out here seeking who he can DESTROY. To ignore what that actually means, to ignore what it means for others not like ourselves is utterly dangerous. It’s so easy to casually roll our eyes at spiritual warfare and bondage if we just don’t admit it’s all around us.  It’s so easy to deny that there could be whispers, not heard but felt raging through us at all times, of the enemy.  To cripple us as believers.  To steal our joy, our power, our usefulness, our hope, and our courage in our Creator.  We determine that because we’ve felt pain, or disappointment, that we can somehow understand what a suicidal person is thinking and that we can minimize it somehow, by saying LOOK WHAT YOU’LL DO TO EVERYONE.  Look how you failed.  Look how terribly you screwed up this time.  Look how you hurt us all…never realizing in this that we are in fact adding fuel to the very fire that will one day push a person to claim their own life.

It doesn’t have to be this way.  We can offer REAL unbounded grace and mercy to others.  We can accept that there is a very real battle waging all around us, affecting us all in different ways.  Ways we’d never be affected ourselves…..That guy might be sucked into porn.  That girl may be sucked into idolizing that product she loves. That dad may rage at his kids, that mom may drink too much.

That friend you never dreamed thought of taking their own life may be one day away from that final fight against themselves. 

Brother or sister, I URGE you to consider unconditional mercy.  I urge you to offer a soft, solid shoulder.  A quiet voice.  A tender hand, reaching to those who cannot and will not tell you their struggle. I urge you to fight for your friends and loved ones by praying for them, by asking with fervency for the Lord to hold onto them, even when you don’t know who ‘them’ is.

And dear brother or sister in Christ, if you find yourself somewhere in these words, know this…

You were created by the one true God, who before time began knew how screwed up we’d be. He is almighty God, but He came to this wretched earth, putting away His glory and might, and walked among us.  He sweat and He hurt, He laughed and He grieved.  He breathed in our dust and stink and our unworthiness, saw our failing–and determined, even in our hatred for Him, to offer Himself as a sacrifice for us.  For me, and for you. For our hate.  Our cruelties.  For our apathy and doubt, and the plague of our incapabilities.  He died to free us from any judgement, to free us from hell, and to free us from the power of death.  If you can hold onto that, sister or brother, there IS hope there.  There IS just enough strength there to make it another few minutes. He WILL fight Satan and his schemes and rescue you. Call His name, cling to Him.  In Jesus’ name, ask that your chains be broken, that His voice cast out all others.

If you don’t know this Jesus, but there in your silence and despair there’s a tiny spark of wanting Him, of wanting what He alone can offer you, cry out to Him.  Ask Him to show you who He is, and why He matters. That He is real.  That He is able-that He wants you, right now, for all that you are.  He will show up, and He will save you, if you believe on who He is, what He’s done, and freely cast your heart before Him.

He is all that has ever saved me, and I pray you’ll let Him save you, too.

If you need to talk:

  • The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached 24 hours a day by calling 1-800-273-Talk (8255). You may call for yourself, or someone you care about. The service is free and confidential. Your call will be routed to the nearest crisis center near you. 
  • Lovelines (24 hours in the USA) @ 612-379-1199 This is a Christian help line.
  • U.S. Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline is available at 1-800-273-8255 (Press “1”)
  • The Boys Town National Hotline is a toll free number available to kids, teens and
    young adults at anytime. They can provide help and hope if you call our Hotline
    (1-800-448-3000). 

The Lord will fight for you; you need only be still. Exodus 14:14

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