"God," I cried in desperation. "I can't do this. Please just take me. I don't want to live like this anymore."
Those were the thoughts that plagued my mind many nights as I cried myself to sleep 5 years ago. I was running on empty and didn't know how to keep going. Most people think that living into old age is a blessing, but to me it felt like a curse. Back then, I couldn't imagine living for 5 more years, let alone 50+.
It was a scary time – for myself and others. People around me were constantly worried, which I hated because I didn't want to be a burden. I couldn't often articulate how dark my thoughts were because I was afraid of what people would think. Nothing seemed to matter. I felt trapped by the impossible expectations I was putting on myself. I felt like a failure and that everyone else around me could handle their lives, but somehow I couldn't. I felt replaceable and worthless.
It's something I've never talked much about, and even though I've been open about my depression, anxiety, and eating disorder, this feels like a whole other level of terrifying vulnerability. A vulnerability that's willing to admit that yes, I am one of the thousands of Christians that have contemplated suicide, and we NEED to talk about it.
I went to church every Sunday.
I loved Jesus
I had incredible friends.
I had a loving family.
I had no financial stressors or worries.
And yes, I wanted to die.
And honestly, it wasn’t just years ago, for if you were to read my journal entries over the past 6 years you would find a heart in a fierce wrestling match against some of the darkest forces of hell. Prayers of desperation, followed by paragraphs of thankfulness, followed by sentences of sorrowful longing, intermixed with declarations of hope.
I think one of the only things that has kept me hanging on during these times has been my faith. That somehow, even in the pits of darkness and despair, I know there is something on the other side. I can’t always see it. When a depressive wave hits, it can seem like I’ll never feel like myself again. But it’s in those moments I remind myself of His promises – that He makes beauty from brokenness and there is grace for the journey.
There’s a verse in the Bible that says this:
“He has made everything beautiful and appropriate in its time. He has also planted eternity [a sense of divine purpose] in the human heart [a mysterious longing which nothing under the sun can satisfy, except God]—yet man cannot find out (comprehend, grasp) what God has done (His overall plan) from the beginning to the end.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, AMP)
Actually, a complete stranger in a coffee shop gave me the first verse of this chapter in my freshman year of university, at the very beginning of my mental health struggles. At the time, I believed it was an encouragement speaking into my frustrations about a gymnastics injury I had just endured. But looking back now, I believe it was actually way more significant than I could have even imagined.
I had no idea that the "sense of divine purpose" that is talked about in those verses would be the thing that carried me on through the subsequent years. I had no idea the tumultuous seasons I was headed into. But God knew. And he knew I would need words of truth to cling to. This blog is called “When Grace Whispers” for a reason, and that “sense” was a life-saving whisper of grace.
I often journal my prayers and then listen for what I feel God is speaking into my heart. The following is one of those entries written in one of those heart-wrenching seasons. I pray you let the words He spoke to me back then pour into your spirit.
Dear Sweet Child,
For so long you've tried to discern my cries from your own. Don't you know that I hurt when you are in so much pain? I long for you - to touch your heart and to heal your wounds. You've run for so long dear child. Come back to me. Run into my embrace. My waiting arms are held open. I just want you. I made you beautiful. I made you perfect. Why do you question what I designed and knit together? I love you.
Sometimes you have to trust beyond the waves and storm. Trust that there is a ship coming to rescue you and its captain controls not only the boat but the sea as well. That boat is anchored in the truth of my promises, and a promise that I, as the captain, will bring you safely to shore. I will keep you from harm and I will not give you more than you can handle. My grace is sufficient. My grace is all you need. Have hope, and try to see what I see in you.
Life is not always a competition. I make everyone special and unique because everyone has a special purpose on earth that only they can fulfill and by telling yourself you're useless and that you're nothing you are denying the plan I have written just for you. Please, cling to what is good and you will be amazed at the footprint you have left in the world and on the hearts of others. But remember to keep me first. I am a jealous God and I want all of you. Every single part of your life, the good and the ugly.
Let me reiterate that. He wants ALL of you. The good AND the ugly. You will never be too broken for Jesus. He wants to hold you, if only you'll let him.
If you are/have ever struggled with the will to continue living, I promise he see’s your pain and his heart aches with you. You are not less of a Christian, and He doesn’t need you to fix yourself up. He simply wants relationship with you. How beautiful is that?
Please reach out for help. Talk to a psychologist or therapist. There is no shame in fighting for your life. Quite the opposite actually. You are a true warrior.
And Christians, if you ever have the honor of walking with someone through this kind of deep despair, please know that you can be the literal arms and voice of Jesus for them. Don't try and fix things. You can’t. But simply love like Jesus loved and be an available refuge of safety. Be a listening ear. Be a shoulder to cry on. Be a friend who can hold space for the messiness of life, and at the same time hold out hope when they can’t believe it for themselves. It’s maybe the most valuable gift you can possibly give. It may just save someone’s life.
Please, if you are feeling suicidal or unsafe there are people available to help you:
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
Crisis Text Line: Text HOME to 741741 (United States)
Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14 or text 0477 to the same number