For me, the death of the young man who recently took his life took me back into time. From fourteen years old until recently I was in a huge valley.
For a long time, I felt there was no end in sight. I had many suicidal thoughts, few failed attempts, many moments of screaming for help, too many days of self defeat. I searched. Hard. For all those years, I did everything. I searched real hard for a way out. I went to church, I wrote journals, I went to therapy, I took drugs (the legal and illegal kind), I searched for love, I spoke to my mom, I spoke to my friends, I spoke to complete strangers. I yelled. I drank myself drunk many times. I’d hurt myself physically. I gave myself over to people for nothing in return. I was empty. I was suffering. I hated myself. I was lonely. I was vulnerable. I wanted to die. Dying was better than this. Dying was sleep. I became numb to everything. Life went on as best as I could make it. On the outside I was a sweet girl, always generous, always smiling. People had nothing bad to say about me. But on the inside, I was mush. I’d sit alone for hours. Crying, writing, thinking, plotting. With each passing hour, day, month, year, I sank deeper into a depression that enveloped me. Nothing I did to get myself out of it worked. My attempts to feel better, including death, were futile. I messed up so many times and that only made things worse. I had absolutely no self worth. So I gave up. I locked myself up in a small dark room in my heart, closed the door and tossed the key. I thought that perpetual feeling of loneliness, self-hate, self-destruction was just life and as they say, the show must go on.
I found my husband. We started a family. Little glimpses of light. But with each of my daughters, I managed to blow out the candle because I wasn't good enough for them. I had absolutely nothing to offer them but despair, lies and false moments of happiness. I was prepared to tell them that life was hard and sad but you make the best of it. But even in that small statement of hope I felt nothing. All the happy events in my life were overwhelmed with all the darkness I saw within me. I remember the few times I had the courage to speak up, to tell someone I didn’t feel well, only to be knocked down with a “Snap out of it!”, “Stop being a baby.” or my favorite, “This is life. Deal with it.” The very people I trusted gave me no hope. They had no idea that was my cry for help. They had no idea how weak I was becoming.
Then one year, during Easter. I went to church alone one day to see a live re-enactment of the Stations of the Cross. At the time I was reconciling with God. I had apologized to Him. I wrote Him a letter about how much of a fool I had been. I said sorry for not being a good friend. I told Him I had hopes of starting it over with Him.
But Jesus, to me, was another story.
I didn’t know Him. I read the gospels, lightly. I didn’t want any of that to sink in. God was my God, but a human being as My Lord and Savior? That was a hard pill to swallow. I was too smart to believe in fairy tales. I told myself I’d stick to God and keep it there.
God said nope.
So this evening I sat, alone, like always, and watched the scenes. I listened to the reflections. Something hit me, a sharp pain in my heart. I cried. I bit my lip and in my mind I could hear God saying to me, “You love me? Well you gotta love Him too. Because He loves you. More than you’ll ever know.” I sat there waiting for the nuclear missile to hit the church, or for the earthquake to start. I sat and waited for the destruction of my world because I was ready. It didn’t happened, at least not on the outside. Someone tossed the key back to me. Someone beckoned me to get out. Someone whispered softly, “Come with me.”
I walked out of that church feeling like a bird, ready to fly. I smiled, but this time it was for real. I went home to hug my family. This time it was for real. I was a prisoner set free. I felt like the blind man who was given sight. I felt like the lame man who was told to get up and walk. I was that dead little girl who was told to rise and get something to eat. I was with Jesus, God’s son, and for the first time and I was ready to be with Him forever.
You know what this feels like? I’m sitting here, typing this out to the world, crying the happiest tears. I mourn for who I was. I think back at who I was and it makes me so very sad. I was truly dead inside. But Jesus raised me from the dead. He called my name. And I followed.
I know how it feels to be in that dark, small dungeon of hurt, despair, desperateness. The devil is the warden and he loves to collect the lost. That boy that took it another step further perhaps couldn’t hear Jesus. I’m sure it was very hard for him to see in the dark. Maybe no one told him to call out His name. Maybe he felt ashamed to seek Him. Like me, maybe the young man didn’t feel worth anything. So he took himself away. I wonder if that young man now sees that he wasn’t alone, that somebody saw him and truly loved him.
I have this strong desire to help the youth. Because for most of mine I was lost. I will never forget what it felt like and because of that I will never turn back. Everyone deserves to be happy. Only Jesus can gives us that joy.
Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now am found,
Was blind, but now I see.
T'was Grace that taught my heart to fear.
And Grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that Grace appear
The hour I first believed.
Through many dangers, toils and snares
I have already come;
'Tis Grace that brought me safe thus far
and Grace will lead me home.
The Lord has promised good to me.
His word my hope secures.
He will my shield and portion be,
As long as life endures.
Yea, when this flesh and heart shall fail,
And mortal life shall cease,
I shall possess within the veil,
A life of joy and peace.
When we've been here ten thousand years
Bright shining as the sun.
We've no less days to sing God's praise
Than when we've first begun.
-Amazing Grace, By John Newton