Yesterday, a beautiful, intelligent, humble, wonderful woman believed that it was necessary to take a shotgun and end her own life. She was a friend to me, a friend to my family, and the last thing I remember her saying to me when she visited last summer was "You have such a beautiful family." She kept saying it, over and over, as if I was not really hearing what she was saying. I kept saying, "Thank you," but I remember seeing something in her eyes....maybe a longing for what she didn't have. She was successful and brilliant, and had one serious relationship in her life, but never married and never had children. She always seemed full of life and content with the way life had worked out for her. I remember thinking the last time we sat around the table together...I wonder if she knows Jesus. We had never talked about it directly, and I remember feeling afraid to tell her my testimony because the subject never really came up. I remember thinking that some day, I might sit with her and tell her how Jesus had changed my life, and what great joy and hope (and even my beautiful family) had come from him saving me from depression and hopelessness. She knew me when I was still troubled, and I believe that day as she left our house, she was trying to tell me she noticed the great change in my life....but we never really had that conversation about Jesus. I guess I always thought we would have more time, another chance....later.
Last night, as I lay in bed and remembered her wonderful smile and fascinating conversations, I thought of how a brilliant, successful woman with an awesome career....could be so miserable that she wanted to shoot herself with a shotgun. The brutality of the suicide yesterday is what affected me most. Did she just want to make sure that the job was done right? She was successful at everything else, after all...or did she want to punish herself in some way? I learned from my mother that they had been having conversations about the rough times she was having after losing her mother and sister, and that she had been in counseling recently.
Then, my heart began to delve much deeper in introspection of my faith and my calling and my purpose....God called me out of the depths of deep depression, even being suicidal, He healed deep wounds that no medication or counselor ever could. I had been in group therapy, individual therapy, and on medication for years for depression. When I was saved by Jesus Christ, I never had to take another pill, and I never saw another counselor besides the great Counselor of the Holy Spirit. I feel a need today to speak life into dark situations and to tell others that there is a hope in Jesus that they could never imagine until they accept Him as Savior and Lord. I had been drinking since I was 13 years old, and in that day, God took away my desire for all alcohol. I had been drinking to numb the constant pain, discouragement and hopelessness (plus guilt, anxiety and fear about the future) that I constantly lived with each and every day. I had tried everything at that point to make my own life better, and found that nothing I ever did brought relief...which propelled me further into hopelessness. I know that feelings that my friend was facing yesterday....a deep abyss that you feel you can never climb out of. But just like her, I could always laugh in others' company and be "normal." But at home, I would think about the reasons why I should NOT end my life, and for several years, there was only one reason....my daughter Mariah. I lived for her, and her presence in my life probably kept me for awhile from committing suicide like my friend. I thank God every day that when it seemed my whole life had crumbled, my marriage was totally failing, I was still drinking, and I was the worst mom I could imagine (in my own mind)....that God reached out me and I took His hand by accepting Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior...and He lifted me up from that pit. I remember waking up the next day after I had prayed for God to save me, and believed in my heart that Jesus would save me....I felt a peace in my heart I had never experienced in the 24 years of life before that. I felt warmth running through my veins (an actual feeling at the time)....and I immediately began to realize that all my sins in life had been washed away. I had a true second chance....it was not a strategy to hide the pain, or cover up the hurt with medication....it was true FREEDOM from the pain.
So last night, I was laying there thinking about what God had done for me, and worshipping Him for the awesome deliverance He gave me....and I began to think...how many times have I not shared this love of Christ with others who desperately need the same rescue as me? How many times have I sat at a table with a close friend, a loved one, or even run into a stranger who needed to know that God loved them so much that He sent His only Son, Jesus, to die for them on the cross. They needed to know that God was for them and not against them....they needed to know that there was HOPE, LOVE, and that FAITH could move any mountain that stood before them. I am a living, walking, breathing testimony of what Jesus can do in a person's life....and the HOPE that only He can give to someone who desperately needs a new life, a way out of present circumstances, and they need Him to lift the burdens of discouragement, hopelessness, pain and suffering from their lives. I began to think about the times that I have been through something difficult AFTER accepting Jesus Christ, and how God has given me the peace that surpasses all understanding, and guarded my heart from that sinking depression....He not only brought me out of the pit, but He keeps me from going back in. So, as I sit here and know that I will never see this beautiful friend again....that she chose in her hopelessness to take her own life, that it is I that needs to change my game plan in life. I need to begin to pray that God would give me an incredible boldness, that I would fearlessly speak the gospel of hope through Jesus Christ to each and every person He puts in front of me. I will no longer allow fear to keep me from giving them the HOPE that they so desperately seek, and need for survival. I have let the ways of the world, and my fear of man keep this message bottled up inside of me (even if some disagree, you ain't seen nothing yet)....I have not spoken it out like God has given me the power to do so, and there are so many hurting, suffering people in this world that need God's salvation through Jesus, but they also need more than anything - His power to walk out the rest of this life in peace and joy, without the burdens of their sins or past hurts...their own failures and discouragements....they need God's Presence to keep living. Otherwise, one day, they will take matters into their own hands and take their own pain away....but the real pain for those of us who know God and lose someone to the hand of Satan is that we know that they will be in eternal pain. They will eternally suffer away from the Presence of the only One who can give them everlasting love, peace, joy and hope. It is Satan's trickery to make someone believe that committing suicide will end pain, when really, the true pain that lasts for an eternity has just begun. This is one that I hope deep in my heart somehow had accepted Christ as her Savior, but I also know that her death is like the seed that goes into the ground and dies, so that the plant that rises up can bear much fruit. I am going to take her death as a catalyst to speak the gospel fearlessly....and not let Satan have one more of my friends or family without putting up a good fight in both speech and the prayers of a warrior.
I know God can heal, restore, and save someone from this because He healed me, restored me, and SAVED me. This is my testimony, and I pray that all my friends and family will take the time to read it.
God bless each and every one of you with a hope that never dies....