Suicide

Originally published on Tents, Tarps, and Tears  in June 2016  original post 

When someone commits suicide there are usually two distinct groups that emerge in the aftermath:

…the ones that have experienced similar turmoil firsthand and know exactly why someone could take their own life…   and

…the ones who cannot imagine what could be so bad, or how a person could be so selfish, as to take this “easy” way out…

I’m going to share my story in the hopes that BOTH groups will understand suicide a little better and that together we can fight this battle.

Driving home to Louisiana this week to take my mom to have a little minor surgery, I crossed the familiar bridge that goes into Krotz Springs. I’ve probably traveled over that bridge a thousand times in my lifetime, white-knuckling over half of them.

Quite simply, it was all I could do to not drive my car off the side of it.

I could never understand why.

The desire to drive off the bridge would completely overwhelm me and it didn’t matter if I was happy, sad, sober, or high…from the time I could drive, bridges brought about a pounding in my heart so severe I’d literally hold my breath until I reached the other side.

Even after salvation, the feeling was there, albeit not as strong.

It confused me.

By then I was happy, healthy, and serving God.

So why was that still in the back of my mind?

It would finally become clear.

As a child I had nightmares about bridges. I also was molested. I believe that those two events were no mere coincidences in my subsequent battle with suicidal thoughts over bridges; however, even if I was an innocent victim when that door was opened, I later blew it off the hinges.

Sin and manipulation go hand in hand, and as a young teenager, I was well-versed in both.

When caught doing something wrong by my parents, I’d threaten to commit suicide to lessen my punishment.

I wasn’t suicidal at all. Just conniving.

But life and death are in the power of the tongue and you can’t profess something without it taking root.

Soon enough, the suicide battle became real.

Break-ups, failed projects, financial struggles…suicidal thoughts began to enter more freely.

Drug-induced states fueled the fire.

I wrote poetry about suicide.

I fantasized about it.

It was ALWAYS the last resort.

There were a few half-hearted attempts.

Less a cry for attention than a desire to “temporarily” die.

There were two full-out attempts that didn’t succeed only by the grace of God.

Then my life changed.

The drugs were gone.

The depression was gone.

I was serving God.

Yet I still panicked a little going over bridges.

And sometimes, especially after a fight with one of my loved ones, those suicidal thoughts were still so strong.

A decade in the wilderness didn’t do much for my relationship with the Lord.

I was, at best, a lukewarm Christian. One with his hand to the plow.

And the house that had been swept clean was getting filthy again.

Then came complete surrender.

And another house cleaning.

I let go of everything. Guilt, anger, hurt, resentment…

Some of those things I’d let back in.

But some had never left the first time.

I was feeling free indeed.

And then my husband and I had a small spat over something so insignificant that I can’t remember what it was.

I walked outside.

I remember thinking how glad I was that taking a pill hadn’t been my first thought. (For years it was and I hated that. Realizing that was a spiritual battle had been the first step to overcoming it.)

But just then a car came by and the urge to throw myself in front of it was so strong that it literally dropped me to my knees.

In that instant, I understood.

It was a spirit of suicide and it had been with me almost my entire life.

The dreams, the bridges, the thoughts, the attempts…it all made sense.

I immediately spoke to the spirit, “In the name of Jesus, I rebuke the spirit of suicide in my life. You have no place, you have no rights. You have to leave.”

There was no show, no commotion…just a quiet conversation between me and what had sought to destroy me my whole life. What came in through sin done TO me but grew in power by choices I made on my own.

There was no evidence that it left right then.

But I had faith.

So I moved on and didn’t even think about it again.

Until the next time I went over a bridge.

And nothing happened.

NOTHING.

It wasn’t until I reached the other side that I realized the gripping fear or even the slightest inkling to veer off was gone.

I realized then that I had lived with a spirit of suicide almost my entire life.

I knew that the bridge nightmares were planted by the devil as well.

And I understood why, even in times of joy, there was always that little nagging thought. Especially when I encountered bridges.

Suicide isn’t something people like to talk about.

Loved ones left behind are angry and confused.

Those contemplating suicide are lost in a myriad of emotions.

They either don’t talk about it or they talk about it so much that no-one wants to hear anymore.

We must recognize suicide for what it is, a tool of the devil to destroy lives. An evil spirit trying to take lost people out of this world before they are saved and to take Christians out so that they cannot spread the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Satan is no respector of persons either. He will take out ANYONE he can. All he needs is someone to open the door.

And those doors can be opened easily…unforgiveness, guilt, shame, anger…you can be a victim of wrongdoing and still open the doors to sin by harboring anger and hate in your heart.

Desperate situations cause desperate thoughts.

Desperate thoughts leads to desperate actions.

We need to guard our hearts, our thoughts, our minds.

We need to pray for those who are struggling, particularly with depression.

And if you, or someone you know, has suicidal thoughts or tendencies, you need to rebuke the spirit in the name of Jesus.

As always, I can be reached by private or public message in the comments section below. Feel free to send prayer needs or to ask questions.

No-one should suffer in silence.

Because there is always hope.

On that I will claim to be an expert. Because I was sure that my life was completely hopeless and would never, ever be okay again.

Yet, here I am today with a heart so full of joy it literally feels like it could burst open.

Though the sorrow may last for the night, joy comes in the morning.

It might still be night for you, but morning is just around the corner.

Throw open the curtains!

Cheer Up, Charlie

Originally published on Tents, Tarps, and Tears on Sept. 28, 2015         original post

I found myself in need of the “Cheer Up, Charlie” song today.

The tradition started years ago when my children were small. An avid Willy Wonka fan (the Gene Wilder version) as a kid,  the songs from the movie were ingrained in me and popped out randomly.

“Don’t care how..I want it N-O-O-O-W-W-W,” Veruca sang as she fell down the “bad egg” chute. I’d attempt to thwart temper tantrums by belting this song. No, I wasn’t the one worried about being embarrassed in the grocery store checkout lane when my kids were small. They were.

Especially the time we were at IHOP.

Kelsey was ten and upset about something only ten year olds could be devastated over. My words of comfort were anything but so I slid a napkin to her side of the table. When she opened it, she found the words CHEER UP, CHARLIE.

I’m not sure exactly what happened next- there are differing stories from her brother and sisters- but I think the napkin somehow ended up on the floor under the table.

Two minutes later, Kelsey joined it.

Because what else could I do? If reading the words didn’t help her, there was no other choice.

I had to sing it. And with flair. (I did have a theatrical background.)

“Cheer up, Charlie..Give me a smile…What happened to that smile I used to know
Don’t you know your grin has always been my sunshine….Let that sunshine show”

Nearby diners were laughing; my other kids were acting like they’d accidentally sat at the wrong table and Kelsey was nowhere to be found.

When she re-emerged she had a smile the size of Texas (forced, of course) but for these last thirteen years she has been a lovely dinner companion.

So over the years it became a song of love, a source of comfort to my kids in their time of need. Whether they were eight with skinned knees or eighteen with a bad day, I’d sing the song.

Just last week, I sang it to my adult son, a former Marine-turned-police officer. Even big boys need their mommies.

But today, this mommy needed to hear it herself.

It was a coveted rainy day Monday so I should have been as content as a fat cat with a bowl of milk. But I wasn’t.

It had been a hectic three weeks without a single day off. At times fraught with tension and at others, just super busy. I’ve been trying to get a few days together in a row that I could leave town and visit my grandmother, who doctors say won’t be with us much longer. It hasn’t worked out and to make matters worse, my husband and I have had to pick up the slack from those who have bailed on commitments made to the church. It has been exhausting and I’ve struggled with becoming discouraged.

I also learned that husbands don’t take too kindly to being penciled in.

So I decided to slow down. I didn’t have any scheduled appointments today so I decided to not address any “pop-ups” either. There was only one phone call, but I politely declined. Most times I’m only one in a Rolodex of resources anyway.

The problem is, I don’t do SLOW very well.

I operate at two speeds, full-steam ahead and standstill.

And so when I slowed down, I came to a complete halt.

At first it scared me. But then I realized that all my be-bopping on mountaintops is going to make me weary every time.

We grow in the valley. We get rest in the cleft of the rock.

Maybe one day I’ll learn to walk to these places of rest instead of hurling myself off a spiritual cliff.

But for now, I’ll hang in this valley and rest.

UPDATE: Husband still not a fan of being penciled in, but I’m working from home mostly now so it’s been better and we are no longer seeing each other in passing. We are doing more of our ministry together which is how I’m sure the Lord wanted it before I took off in my own direction.

I have definitely learned to slow down and to enjoy life at a more leisurely pace. That required saying NO a lot more and setting some firm boundaries for myself. No longer a “taxi service” I’m available for REAL needs, not just for convenience.

We lost my grandmother about a year ago. I was able to go spend some time with her before she died. I’m grateful for that. I was also able to go back to Kansas for her funeral and connect with family members I hadn’t seen in years. It was a time of mourning but also a celebration.

I still have my Cheer Up, Charlie moments. Just today, as a matter of fact, I came home from a wonderful church service expecting a relaxing Sunday afternoon only to find my slippers chewed up into a million pieces and every dog toy in the house “marked” by the aptly-named Rascal. I was furious and as I stomped around cleaning everything up, I told my husband that I was done spending half my days cleaning up after dogs and he better find somewhere for them to go. As he got on the phone to find new owners, I broke down into hysterical sobs and insisted that I’d never forgive him if he give my babies away. Poor guy, he looked absolutely lost at what he was supposed to do next.

“You really are an emotional wreck over this,” he said as he held me close.

I’m starting to think maybe I’m actually at a C-minus on this progress report!

report card