My family has been out of town for the last couple of days and I must admit, the time to myself has been nice. I’ve been doing schoolwork, a necessary evil, taking time to go on walks, sleeping in a bit later and indulging in my favorite pastime, watching movies, specifically movies of the romance genre. These are the movies that the rest of my family scoffs at – ones that they won’t give me a moment’s peace over. So when I get the chance I probably overindulge. Here are some I’ve been watching: Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, a fun little one called, Penelope, and a classic 90’s one, You’ve Got Mail. It’s been great to dust these gems off and revisit my favorite romantic scenes.
Then came last night. Last night, I felt like watching something new, something I hadn’t seen before. Since I’ve rented most of the movies I’ve watched, I felt it might be good to watch one that came with our Amazon Prime subscription. That’s when I noticed it, Me Before You – one I’ve passed over on previous occasions, thinking it sounded a bit cheesy. But after a moment’s thought, I decided, ‘What the heck.' It was free, and I could always turn it off if I didn’t care for it.
When the movie started, however, I was immediately hooked. This quirky little movie drew me in from the get go. It’s a story about a man who loses all mobility after being in a serious accident. When the movie opens, you see him in his “normal” life waking up to a beautiful girlfriend, on the phone making business decisions, seemingly in a top-of-the-world euphoric rush. Then as he steps out onto the street one morning, he is hit by an oncoming motorcycle. End scene.
Fast forward two years, and the man is now living with his parents in the annex of their house, in a state of complete disrepair and fighting demons daily; demons like depression, listlessness and hopelessness, not to mention an array of medical maladies.
Enter the cute, quirky, chatty girl who’s been hired to be a companion of sorts. From her fun sense of fashion, to her bubbly personality, she is everything he needs in a companion – someone to rouse him out of his stupor and bring him joy again. And that’s exactly what she does. At first, he resists her efforts to form a friendship and continually makes her life miserable. But day after day she comes back, ready to try again and, eventually, she brings him around.
She gets him out of the house. Takes him places, watches films with subtitles with him. In general, a warm and genuine friendship begins, and she basks in the idea that she has done her job. Until one day, she finds out something rather disturbing. She overhears his parents discussing the fact that this man has made plans to end his life by assisted suicide. As they talk, she learns that he has tried to commit suicide once already and has made a deal of sorts with them. He will give life six months more and then, if still unsatisfied, travel to Switzerland to end his life in a peaceful manner.
When the girl finds out, she determines to make him change his mind, to show him how beautiful life can be and that it’s worth living. Despite her best efforts, however, in the end, he does travel to Switzerland and end his life with his parents and the girl by his side. And though I’d enjoyed the film, as I described it to my husband later that night, I felt thoroughly unsatisfied with the ending. I tried to account for that, and here’s what I came up with.
Suicide was something I contemplated for years before I was diagnosed. I write more about it in my post, ‘This is called the I wish I didn’t have to write this post.’ In short, I lived in a pool of misery and despondency for many years. But though I contemplated it on more than one occasion, there was never a moment when I went through with it. There’s a reason for that, and it has to do with more than the dogmatic thinking that committing suicide is like committing murder. It has to do with three things that remain despite the most difficult of circumstances we may face in this life.
1 Corinthians 13:13 New International Version (NIV)
13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.
See I believe as the Bible teaches that though all else should pass away in this life, three things remain: faith, hope and love. Faith to get us through the dark times, hope that our life will not just be one long, wretched day of misery. And most importantly of all, love – the love of our Heavenly Father who sees in any type of darkness and provides a shining light to guide us out of it. Faith, hope and love. These things remain.
Back then, when I wanted so desperately to end the pain of my existence, these three things kept me going. I think more than anything else when times were tough, I believed that things would get better. What’s more, I wanted to finish this race of life, not quit early, because there was a stitch in my side and I was gasping for every breath.
Watching the movie, what troubled me was that in this case, hope didn’t win out, faith didn’t win out, love didn’t win out. That’s why at the end of a movie that in all other aspects was well done, I felt wholly unsatisfied.
God is a God of hope. He is a God who knows every moment of our life, a God who has a plan for the dark times we go through. He understands our suffering. He understands how desperately we wish the pain would end. He understands and more importantly, he cares.
Life is difficult. It can be dark, and cold, and sad, but there is joy even amid the darkness. Believe that because it’s true. Finish the race you were meant to run. You will encounter steep hills, long, tireless days, and moments when you just want to be done, but press on. Press on trusting in the three things that will remain: faith, hope, and love.
Happy are those who are strong in the Lord who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping it will become a place of refreshing springs where pools of blessing collect after the rains.
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness month, a good time to repost an old blog, ‘This is called the I wish I didn’t have to write this,’ post. On my former Pools of Blessing site my post on suicide received the most hits. I have to believe there’s a reason for that. Someone asked me yesterday if I thought the stigma that comes along with having a mental illness is going away. I can’t say for sure that it is, or that it will ever go completely away, but I can do my part to break that stigma.
I understand what it’s like to contemplate suicide, even as a Christian. I hope and pray that this post helps many people who feel there’s nothing in life worth living for any more. Dig down deep into your soul and figure out another way to deal with your pain and suffering. Be honest with others. Don’t try to hide your misery. Find people you can share it with so you don’t feel so alone and isolated. I’ve found the more honest I am, the lighter my burden becomes. Reach out. Get help. Most of all, believe that you’re important and that there is a vital role that you still have to play on this side of heaven.
You don’t try to kill yourself because death’s appealing — but because life’s agonizing. We don’t want to die. But we can’t stand to be devoured. ~ Ann Voskamp
Should I, or should I not? That was the question I pondered this past week as I looked ahead to Monday's new post. It's been everywhere, the news of Robin Williams—how he took his own life. So many thoughts, questions, opinions have been expressed—was there any room for me to share my own experiences?
But I decided not to pass this up—this opportunity to share my own suffering and grief. And I hope I won't share these words in vain. I hope they will help someone, somewhere.
Suicide? Yes, I considered it. I pondered what it would be like. How I would end my own life. I was a Christian who contemplated suicide. But, I wasn't thinking selfish thoughts like, "Gee, I can't wait 'til they find my body and feel sorry for all the mean things they did to me." It was never about that. It was never about being selfish. It was about finding a way out of the pain that seemed never-ending. I was dying inside and nobody knew it. Not even those closest to me.
I don't like to suffer, so I thought a car running in an enclosed garage would be the way I would do it. I knew I couldn't slit my wrists, too painful. I wanted to go quietly and simply end my life by falling asleep.
Meanwhile I cried out to God to save me. There were so many times when I would lie on the floor, curled up in a fetal position, crying out to God, begging him, 'Please, please take away my pain.' Much like Job, I sat in agony wondering why God had left me and what I was doing wrong.
Only I wasn't doing anything wrong, I was just suffering.
In an old post called the, Colors of My World, I tried to describe depression using the color gray. Though I did my best, even those words didn't tell the whole story, the whole truth of how it feels to be deeply depressed. It's silent. It's hidden. It's hell.
The one thing that truly kept me going—hope. The hope that things would get better, that change would come. But sometimes that golden thread of hope stretched very thin. So I got out my Bible and started to underline passages—like, Jeremiah 29:11:
11" For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
I put dates beside each verse and shoved them into God's face and reminded him that when he makes a promise, he always keeps it. And I waited for the day when all those promises of God would come through for me. Promises like Psalm 9:18:
For the needy will not be forgotten forever; the hopes of the poor will not always be crushed.
And verses like Psalm 90:15:
Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good.
I waited patiently, persistently for the day when God would turn my 'valley of weeping,' into 'pools of blessing'. And he did. Since my diagnosis in 2004, my life is a 180 degree turnaround from where it was—a fact that I am grateful for every day.
I can't promise you that the pain of depression will go away all together, because it won't. I can't promise you that you'll never deal with another bout of anxiety, because you will. It's inevitable. But I can promise you this; Hope is a good thing, and it will not disappoint you. That's not my promise. It's God's.
Psalm 12:6 The Lord's promises are pure. Like silver refined in a furnace purified seven times over.