Sunday, March 21, 2010

But For the Grace and Power of God...

Suicide has been the incidental topic of discussion during several car rides and hair appointments over the past few weeks.  In light of recent events, I don't see how any parent could casually dismiss the idea of their child or one of their child's friends contemplating suicide. 

Perhaps I am overly affected by this -- I know how easy it is to fall quickly and deeply into despair so comprehensive that death seems, not the only solution, but the best.  I have spent months in darkness and pain, in a place devoid of oxygen and sound, human light and warmth, reason and logic; I have slept, eaten and breathed in anguish; I have passed the point of desperation and embraced hopelessness as life.  I have spent an unspecified amount of time contemplating the deaths of others as well as my own.  When asked by counselors if I'd had suicidal or homicidal thoughts, I delivered the socially acceptable answers and avoided any references to those ideas in any of my narratives, but the numbness that comes with excruciating pain remained the rhythm to which I moved, the fuel that drove my deepest desires.  In all honesty, I never once gave thought to the reactions of friends or parents; I never once considered the pain or trauma they would experience.  I never wavered in my faith that God existed, but I never truly believed He was at work in my relationships or career or housework or finances.  The tangibles -- all but two of them, anyway -- were unimportant, just more casualties in a life I had irreparably mutilated.  Foolishly wasted were glorious opportunities; I had sucked others into a vortex driven by selfish trangression.  From those things there was no escape; for those sins, there could never be forgiveness.  

My daughter and I have spoken about this -- not necessarily the details of my experience, but we have discussed the "self-ness" that drives anyone to end a human life in such a way.  We have discussed the inability for one person to see past their own pain and experience to the point at which they would carelessly impact others' experiences.  We have discussed the consuming power of self that crowds out reason, hope and love for others, as well as true love for oneself.  We have discussed how easy it is for an individual to find himself or herself in such a perilous wasteland.  We have also discussed Jesus as the redeeming tonic for our pain, the light in the darkness of harmful or misguided thought, the eradicator of such despair. 

I would not be so irresponsible or naive as to say that Christians never go down this road; I have known those I considered to be "right with the Lord" and have lost them under the most tragic of circumstances.  The "sin of self" seems to be one that sneaks in ever so quietly and carries off the most valuable possessions.  I do, however believe God heals, forgives and loves each one of us, and I am praying for us all.
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