I was struck to my core a few days ago when I had a chance encounter with a young man who, as he showed me his wrist, told me he had attempted suicide numerous ways to no avail. Let’s call him Darwin. I immediately pondered in my heart exactly what was relevant to say to him at the time, knowing full well, this one moment could undoubtedly transcend a lifetime. I felt a connection to this person because, in him, I saw myself. I’ve been unsure, felt unloved, deeply depressed, among other things. I battled suicidal thoughts throughout my teens and early college years. Seemingly, every time I felt I was at my breaking point, a hand or encouraging words pulled me out of great despair. I struggled with not belonging, always feeling like I was some sort of misfit. I believed I would never be compatible with the regularity of life so I wanted out. If life was a circle, I was a square. Those who knew me intimately knew of the strangeness I felt, but did they really know? In my own mind, I was better off dead than alive.
Fast forward to my early life as a Christian: I loved God, but struggled to know if He really loved me. Not only did I struggle with God’s love, I struggled with loving myself. I found myself right back in the thick of despair, longing and wanting to throw in the towel. Life was too hard. My dream of being a world class writer was going absolutely nowhere. I had reached the perfect time to bow out of life and I believed no one would notice.
One night I decided it was time. I took an OTC medicine for allergies. This medicine always put me to sleep so I expected the same result. I figured I’d drive out to the church I attend because I felt the distance would give me enough time to fall asleep at the wheel. After taking the medicine, I waited a while before I got into my car. I didn’t leave a note. My plan was to fall asleep and run off the road or into another vehicle. As I drove, my eyes opened as soon as they closed. I told God if I made it to my church, it would be because He wanted me to live. The distance seemed so short, shorter than it had ever been. As much as I felt I wanted to die, I couldn’t. In as much as I thought I should die, I didn’t.
I unlocked the door to the church. I went inside, awake beyond imagination. I went to the altar. I prayed. I worshiped. I wept. I wanted to know why I was still here. How could a life I felt was going nowhere be practically indestructible? Even I couldn’t destroy it. It was in that moment, I understood my worth. There had to be something in me worth saving. I was worth saving, and even though at times I am challenged by life, I know I am supposed to be here.
My message to Darwin: you are supposed to be here! You are in the plan of God! I told Darwin to live. Don’t die. Declare God’s glory! No matter the adversity we face or the challenges we endure, inside of each of us is a strength that is unparalleled. Finding and drawing from that strength may at times seem insurmountable, but by no means is it impossible. Don’t be a prisoner of your own fears/inadequacies nor a slave to the perceptions of others. Get more out of life. Live! I’m glad I did.
*If you or someone you know needs help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)