I can endure my own despair, but not another's hope. — William Walsh
God has really been hammering me on the issue of fear in a slightly different way than I’d imagined. He keeps showing me stories and verses related to failure and success. Here’s a devotional that I found in my inbox this morning:
Thoughts for Today
What words come to mind when asked to describe yourself? Sometimes we might define ourselves by listing our failures and our negative traits. But God has a different perspective! If we are followers of Christ, this is how God sees us …
We say: I’m a failure. I can’t do anything right.
God says: You can do all things through Christ who strengthens you. Philippians 4:13
We say: I still feel guilty about things I’ve done in the past, even though I’ve confessed it all as sin and don’t do those things anymore.
God says: I blot out your sins and remember them no more. Isaiah 43:25
We say: Sometimes I feel so unlovable. How can God possibly keep on loving me?
God says: God says nothing can separate us from his love. Romans 8:38-39
We say: I tend to be such a fearful person.
God says: The righteous are as bold as a lion. Proverbs 28:1
God sees us as righteous, wise and forgiven. He sees us as his treasures, his children.
Lord, thank you for clothing me in the righteousness of Christ. Help me not to think too lowly—or too highly—of myself, but to see myself as you do. In Jesus’ name …
And then I read an article on Olympic diver Laura Wilkinson in Today’s Christian Woman (TCW) and she addressed the issue of failure and success. If God doesn’t get to me through this, I don’t know what will! I’ve posted excerpts of the TCW interview that spoke to me (occasionally interspersed with my commentary) under the cut.
Wow. I never realized all the responses that my post on “Suicide” would garner me. Again, I am not proud of my tendencies toward suicidal actions. I have some opinions on the following comments that I’ll reserve until afterward.
First, a comment from Amy:
“My brother committed suicide via hanging in our garage. My parents will never be the same some 17 years later.
Suicide is selfish and to be brutally honest, if you are going to do it do it somewhere where your dearest family and friends will not find you first. The aftermath and lingering nightmares are just too much.”
A follow-up comment from Anna:
I have attempted suicide, unsuccessfully; my sister killed herself, my grandfather killed himself with arsenic, my sister-in-law's mother gassed herself, my step-father's mother took an overdose. We do suicide in my family. All of us have been severely affected by it; I still cry at the thought of walking into my sister's flat and finding the dried pool of blood – an image I will never get out of my head, some 15 years later.
I have kept myself alive through all the pain because I have 3 children who I could not bear the thought of damaging in that way; I have been living for them, not for me.
However, I have tremendous sympathy for all those who attempt or succeed at committing suicide – I say succeed with emphasis. Any person who has ever felt the depths of despair of not being able to face another hour of the intolerable pain of deep depression, would understand the longing to end that pain. Living through it takes an unselfishness which is arguably admirable, arguably the biggest form of self-harm and denial possible. For someone to continue to live with that pain so as to avoid giving someone else the pain of grieving is not necessarily the kindest act; watching your loved one living (or rather "existing") with the pain of depression is arguably as bad, if not worse, than grieving for their death. They are existing in hell for that period of time it takes for them to crawl out of that hell. Nobody wants the person they love to live in hell – why keep them there???
Who is being selfish: the person who takes their life to end their suffering, or the person who watches that person suffering day in day out and doesn't want them to die because they themselves cannot stand the idea of their own grief and suffering when their loved one commits suicide? I personally cannot "judge" which person is being the more selfish.
I wouldn't want my worst enemy to have to endure that pain, day in day out, and to know that the only reason they are keeping themselves alive is for my benefit. Ultimately each of us has the choice to live or die and that choice deserves respect and compassion, not condemnation.
I understand that families left behind are often distraught as my own family has been; I have been, but I also understand why someone does it. If you can develop that understanding, it eases the pain, lessens the blame and enables all who are affected to feel compassion – a vital element in loving and being loved.”
I’d like to say, “Been there, done that,” but it’s not something I’m proud to dismiss. February 14, 1997 was the first time I attempted suicide: I tried to jump off a fourth-story balcony. But I’m a drama queen and like standard drama queen fare, I called my pals and left them goodbye messages. People call it a cry for help; I just can’t leave this world without saying goodbye. (I liken it to leaving home for a long trip in another continent You’d say goodbye to those you love and would miss.) It’s become a bad (or perhaps, good) pattern that has kept me alive. I’ve tried jumping out of cars, swallowing pills, slashing, stabbing, drowning, suffocating — and barely stopped short of hanging. I got as far as a chair and a noose until I couldn’t bear to imagine my father walk in the door from work to see his only child hanging from the ceiling fan in the hallway.
I’m not happy to admit all this, but people can learn a lesson from a life as varied as mine. I’ve been to the depths of desolation and desperation and I know the feeling of not being able to “go on” or even wanting to “go on.”