My introduction to the concept of suicide happened as early as six years old. My mom had locked herself in her room in a fit of deep depression and anger and was threatening to kill herself with my father’s shotgun. I remember sitting in the darkened hallway of my childhood home, crouching against her door in an effort to be close to my mom. That day stood as a beacon of torment in my life for decades. I was crying, begging, pleading with her to stop. She was screaming and crying from the other side of the door as well. Time has thankfully blurred the torturous commentary from my recollection. What I do remember is wondering where my father was that day. Maybe he had experienced this before, but this was my initiation into the world of my mom’s bipolar disorder; and it would affect the rest of my life. Though my mother’s mood swings would never again reach the previous all time low, my life was irrevocably caught in the wake of her mental illness.
Many years later my own thoughts would turn to suicide, but I was already conditioned to being the good son, the straight ‘A’ kid, the boy who always followed the rules. In other words, I scared to do the wrong thing and suicide was extremely wrong in my head. So when I felt myself approaching the point of checking out, there was some part of my psyche that screamed “NO!!!” Though I wasn’t allowed to commit suicide, no one had ever said I couldn’t write about it.
At the age of 19 I authored the following poem, with years of mental, physical and verbal abuse from my mother and my personal struggle with homosexuality as my inspiration.
Death is the Answer 6-2-91
To allow the soul to go on in so much pain is an undoing of the mind.
One quick snap is all that would solve the equation of life and death.
Over and over it turns in one’s mind
What will be added to your side of the equation next?
One side is not like the other
problems + distress + loneliness should be equal to the exactly the same.
But one quick snap could equal them all to a solution.
Try again another day
Should a person in a cataclysmic mindset be allowed to roam the earth unheard?
It is necessary that they be heard and helped
Lifted up and healed
So much pain dwells in a soul
held captive by a mind and a body
Set the soul free to roam
find its own answers.
One quick snap is all it would take
The frequency of hurt and pain of my twenties would lend further inspiration to one other poem about suicide. Then life would stabilize a bit, as I left home behind and my mother’s influence.
Within the past few years, suicidal thoughts made a resurgence in my life. They were offered up by satan as an alternative to the hurt and pain that had once again kicked up in my life, because of ministry failures and hurts. I haven’t shared this publicly, but I promised God this would be a blog about my messy Christian life and not a verbal diatribe about “how you too can achieve perfection” like me. What you are about to read is my uncensored heart.
A few years ago, I was unhappy with my job, the ministry was in the garbage and my feelings of inadequacy were skyrocketing. Quite frankly, I hurt more than I breathed. I would have all night Netflix movie parties and lose myself in a fantasy world of Hollywood’s perfect life. I remember how deceptively elegant and crafty, the thoughts of the enemy were during that time. I was bombarded with the thoughts that I should keep my struggle to myself at all costs. “You are the leader of a ministry and you want people to respect you and not think your crazy.” Thoughts like, “You are a man and you’re supposed to be independent and strong.” “You have to do this on your own to prove that you can.” Sound familiar?
Satan used those thoughts to keep me separated from people that could have helped. Perhaps the most disturbing thoughts of all were the ones that came next. “Wouldn’t it be better if you were somewhere else right now?” Simple enough. But he wasn’t leading me to believe I needed a vacation in Hawaii. He was laying the foundation for suicide in my life. Other thoughts eventually came along. “It will be easier if you are somewhere else. Is this all really worth it any way? You are in so much pain.” What scares me the most looking back on that time in my life is that he never mentioned death, or killing myself. The thoughts were comforting and loving in nature, as if whoever was planting them in my head, had my best interest at heart. I can honestly say it was if he was spinning the thoughts into romantic notions of death.
I wasn’t a fallen, backslidden Christian. I was attending church every Sunday and leading others into the presence of God. I was a professing Christian, but I was tormented with thoughts of inadequacy and failure. Satan is out to steal, kill and destroy us my friends. He is out to separate us from loved ones and end our life ever so eloquently. Satan never came to me with horns and a pitchfork. He came just as the bible describes him, an Angel of Light.
This week we remember those whose lives were ripped away before they could be fully lived. I would also like to encourage anyone struggling with thoughts of suicide, to talk about it with a trusted friend. The enemy may be whispering to you that no one cares, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. There is at least one person who gave His life, so that we would have the chance to live ours to the fullest. His name is Jesus. Your life was created on purpose for a purpose. You may not have found that purpose yet, but let me encourage you as someone who was courted by death. Life may be difficult right now, but if today is the worst day you have ever had, tomorrow has the potential to be a wee bit better. Hold on. Reach out. Live life. Jesus has come so that we have life and life more abundantly.