The suicidal Christian. Does this sound like an oxymoron to you? I’ve been compelled to write on depression within Christian culture for some time now and being probed by the Spirit at 5 am seems like a pretty solid time to write.
First wanted to write my personal testimony about depression, explain how others walked with me through hard seasons, and encourage those of you suicidal, depressed, anxious, and lowly. This morning as I write, I sound messy and I’m sure sleep deprivation does not help, so extend grace. I would like to ask you to pray before reading this and that the Spirit would use this short blog to impact others for the Kingdom, maybe even you.
Let me start o by saying you are not defined by your depression, mental health, anxiety, or darkest hour. You, if in Christ, are redeemed from all of these things and the battle has already been won. I would like to say although the battle has been won, this does not mean an easy road to being fully restored. Our broken culture feeds life will be easy with God, depression is for the weak or maybe not even real. As your sister, I would combat these lies with a perspective that we come from a culture where brokenness, darkness, depression, and suicide reign. I don’t have an answer, but my only solution can be found in the name of Jesus Christ.
He sees you. He wants you. He is crushed for you. He understands you.
My biggest battle with depression stems from a lie I am misunderstood and unwanted. In my darkest hours and feelings of depression I am overwhelmed that I am too much and no one wants me. Writing this now I am cringing at these words. I cringe to know that even though my identity is fully found in Christ, who loves me and knows me and delights in me, I still battle with such dark lies. You could say my entire life I have been given reasons to believe these things through experiences with friends, family, and hurtful words and actions of others. For the longest time I was a self-inflicting, angry, hungry for any attention and wanting to be loved girl. I wanted so badly to be known and loved that my identity had been conditioned to be found in the tangible. Whether that was getting high with friends for some momentary happiness or falling in love with a guy who promised my significance, I felt like I never had a steadfast love and joy that was unconditional. And then I met God.
Throughout high school I had been the friendliest person, most encouraging teammate, and seemed to have it together. However, due to a crazy home life and wrecked self-image, this persona of a happy person had become too much. I was exhausted from holding it together for 8 hours at school only to come home and feel completely empty, questioning my significance. If you would like to know about this season of my testimony, I would be happy to talk through it, but just know I was in an incredibly dark place for years. No one knew except a close friend. One night when I had cut my wrist and was sobbing because a boyfriend cheated on me, she came and brought me to her house in the middle of the night. This was one of the first times I felt heard. Soon I got into a counseling routine, but even talking to a woman twice a week for two hours didn’t seem enough. I still felt misunderstood and unknown.
My testimony continues into a story of redemption where God revealed Himself through people in my life and continuous desires to know more about Him. Again, more than happy to share in detail if you’re curious. Let me just say that me coming to know Him, die to myself, and let Him take the throne of my life was about a year long process of searching for answers that I still don’t have. However, there is not one day that surpasses that I do not fall more in love with the Father, He knows me and sees me. He continually declares I am His and pursues me on days where I battle depression the hardest.
My Christian walk was met with conflict in the Fall of 2015. God, I was so angry. Kayla, my brothers girlfriend for years and basically part of the family, died in a car accident when I was a Team Leader at Summer Beach Project. Throw this on top of conflict with friends, feeling isolated from community, and projecting feelings of insignificance onto others all Summer/Fall long-I only had one feeling to experience: depression. I never felt so alone in my entire life. I felt ignored by God, I felt unheard in the hours of prayer I would spend alone in my room begging just to hear Him and experience Him, I felt like none of my friends knew what was happening, despite my conversations asking for help and inclusion. There are a handful of people who will remain nameless, but you know who you are, and you walked in this with me more than I could have ever thought possible. When I questioned my salvation, you reminded me of who I was in Christ. When I cried about feeling isolated and alone, you made sure I was not alone. When I did not want to talk about how hard my day was, you sat with me as I cried. To my friends who loved me in all things, I want to say I owe my life to you. Without you being amazing sisters and a brother in Christ, I would have probably committed suicide that Fall. I felt like no matter how hard I cried, fast I ran, no matter how much school work I consumed my schedule with, or finding things to pass the time, I felt like my life had no significance or meaning. To write this now breaks me for friends in this season. I hate you are feeling alone. I hate you feel unheard. I hate you feel like you are insignificant, because I promise you that you are not.
Those of you who cannot relate to depression, I pray that God would use this to reveal how hard life is for those who feel enslaved to these lies. I pray for those of you in this season that God would make Himself known and proclaimed over your life through your friends and family around you. I am broken for a culture which tells you to hide in shame at your darkness. Feeling misunderstood, unwanted, insignificant, isolated, unheard, and overwhelmed by the dark thoughts you think when no one is around is all too familiar to me. I cannot express what a dark thing it is to walk through depression, but I hope to have shed some light.
Gods redemptive story for this season came from searching for beauty man cannot create. I spent a lot of time hiking and in nature contemplating creation and what the purpose of religion is. The day I experienced God for the first time in months was on a rock in the middle of a river I swam to. I laid there for hours, praying and pleading to feel Him. Hours later, I felt. For the first time in months I felt warmth and scripture flooded my heart in remembrance that He was there the whole time. Not withholding anything good, but He was there. This may sound a little charismatic for some of you, and that’s okay because it’s my story. But I want to say fight to see His glory where you experience Him most. For me, that was the beauty and complexity of His creation. May He be glorified.
My prayer over you and over this blog:
Dear God, you are the most mysterious, righteous, holy, perfect being who has ever been and who ever will be. God, I pray that my writing tonight would not be in vein or cause any confusion, but rather people reading this would feel heard, understood, and known. God, in you all things have come to pass. I do not understand why this world is so dark, but I am thankful I can rest in you. I can rest in your glory, in your steadfast love, and in the fact that you loved me enough to reach down and redeem me. Father, I pray for the “me’s” out there who feel suicidal thoughts and depression all too often. God, I ask that you would be known and glorified through what they and I experience. God I pray for strength and the ability to choose to continue to live and persevere. Father I pray that those who do not know you, but feel alone-I pray that you would reveal yourself to them and be made known. If anything I have said sounds inconsistent with the Gospel, I ask you would use my flaws and make yourself known. Father, thankyou that in my anger towards you, you continued to redeem me. You drew me in and out of darkness. To you belongs the highest praise, even in the darkness. God reveal that you are already walking with them and continue to remind me that you’ve got me. Thank you that I am not alone. Thank you for Christ. Thank you for the Cross. And thank you God for salvation. I am thankful that because of my position with your son I am able to have a firm foundation of identity which screams that I am significant, I am loved, I am understood, and I am wanted. God, be with my brothers and sisters out there and make yourself known. Heal and mend the broken hearted and in all things I pray you are glorified. In Christ name I pray and ask all of these things. Amen.
Verses to cling to:
Genesis 16:17 “So she called the name of the LORD who spoke to her, “You are a God of seeing,” for she said, “Truly here I have seen him who looks after me.”
Psalm 51:8 “Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have broken rejoice.
9 Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and renew a right[b] spirit within me.
11 Cast me not away from your presence,
and take not your Holy Spirit from me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
and uphold me with a willing spirit.”
Psalm 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.”
Psalm 34:17 “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears
and delivers them out of all their troubles.
18 The Lord is near to the brokenhearted
and saves the crushed in spirit.
19 Many are the afflictions of the righteous,
but the Lord delivers him out of them all.
20 He keeps all his bones;
not one of them is broken.”
Isaiah 41:10 “fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand”
May God be known and glorified through all things, forever and ever Amen.