Suicide struck close to home last week. It’s not only my story to tell, and I’m not even sure I am ready to tell it even if it was, but if you are a pray-er, please lift us up, along with a host of our loved ones.
This agonizing death has caused me to ponder my own journey through suicidal temptations, as well as the deaths of others who were close to me and have taken it upon themselves to end their lives. There is no grief like the grief in the wake of a suicide. Because there is no hope for redemption. There is no joy on the other side of that grief.
Last night, I stood gawking at the moon, thanking God for carrying me through my own struggles and bringing me to the Light on the other side, so that I could stare at that beautiful orb piercing through the clouds.
I remembered the frantic feeling of desperation. I remembered wondering if I’d ever survive. If I’d ever get better. If I’d ever be whole. And I grieved the loss of someone I dearly love who was swallowed whole by his own tsunami of painful emotions.
I still wrestle despondence at times. My middle-aged hormones have taken me like a bull at a rodeo at times, and at others they feel like a sedative, numbing the joy out of things. But I am breathing and grateful and whole. And better for having made it to the other side. You see, I learned a lot about myself, about God, and about my own dependence upon Him, and others.
For 9 years we lived among Redwoods. Mammoth trees that survived for thousands of years. Soon after we moved to Northern California, an ancient tree tumbled in a windstorm. Loggers had clear cut around the tree, yet left the giant standing. The problem is, they removed it’s windbreak and root support. The tree had withstood time, until it had no support or protection.
We are like Redwoods. Top heavy with shallow roots. Due to their (and our) shallow roots, they must interlace their roots with other surrounding trees.
When I reflect on my wade through the most intense mental-illness-like depression I have ever experienced, I remember a moment when I was contemplating ending my own life, and instead I picked up my phone. I began to text some friends. The same friends I had become accustomed to texting when I knew I didn’t have the strength to fight on my own. I knew they would pray. I paused, as I was about to hit send, and cried out to God about how weak and needy I felt. How I thought my friends must hate me for being such a parasite. He encouraged me that it was my turn to be weak, so I hit send and kept breathing.
I realize now that it was texts like these that saved my life. It was also texts like these that brought the humility I needed to learn through that season. It seems to me that when people don’t have the prayer (root) support I had, or are unwilling to let others be their wind break by opening up about the internal struggle, it doesn’t end well. Depression is an energy vampire. It exponentially multiplies in the petri-dish of isolation.
Please, if you resonate with my story, for the love of all who will suffer much more grief in your death than in your honesty, cry out for help if you’re tempted to end your story prematurely. Find yourself a “Pit Posse” (friends who will cry out to God on your behalf). I will give you my phone number, if you want it. And watch the horizon for redemption, because you’ll never see it if you truncate your story early. All good stories have an arc. A plot line. A problem and a resolve. Don’t give into the voice of hopeless in the tensest part of the plot, or you’ll never arrive at the resolve.
The voice of hopelessness is not the voice of truth. It’s lying to you.
If you want to hear the voice of truth, reach out to loved ones… and read the Bible, even if it’s just the same verse(s) over and over again for months. The Psalms are the best remedy for a despondent soul.
That’s all I have to say. It’s not a very encouraging post, but it could save someone’s life, and I hope it does. Please feel free to share with anyone who might benefit (or whose family might benefit). Thanks for listening.