This is going to be a very difficult post for me to write. I don’t want to write it, but I must. I feel compelled by the Holy Spirit to reach out to someone out there whose life is teetering on a precipice, someone who is ready to give up.
Maybe that’s you. Maybe it’s someone you know.
For me, it was my mother and my sister. For most of my childhood, they comprised my immediate family. Though we couldn’t have been more different – physically, emotionally, mentally – we were family all the same.
A natural-born Tigger, I never understood their struggles. Never will. All I knew was that from the time I was about 11, my sister began making suicide attempts. Several times she tried overdosing, and once she tried running her car over a bridge, only to survive and face years of plastic surgery to reconstruct her eyelid and her chin.
In and out of juvenile detention, in and out of mental institutions. This had become my sister’s norm. My mother spared me the visits to jails but often took me to see my sister at institutions. Let’s just say that all the stereotypes of clay ashtrays proved true.
Then it became my mother’s turn. First it was heartbreak over a miscarriage, then heartbreak over a successful pregnancy, over which she doubted her competency as a mother. Alcohol was my mother’s drug of choice until desperation drove her to prescription medications. Then the overdoses began.
I remember Mr. and Mrs. Moore, an elderly couple who lived next door to us during all of this. Mr. Moore was sick and weak and weary of being sick and weak, so one day, he shot himself in the heart. My mother was stunned. How insensitive, she said. How brutal. But the seed was planted in both her mind and my sister’s.
My sister went first. It was just a month after finishing rehab. She got her hair done, put on makeup, and when her roommate had left, she shot herself in the head. Finally she had succeeded.
My mother reacted with anger. How could she be so cold? my mother would ask. Did she hate us? Did she do it to punish us? my mother would say again and again.
Then my mother bought the same model of gun from the same store and, six months to the day later, checked herself into a motel room, where she shot herself in the heart, just as Mr. Moore had done. She too succeeded.
I am not among those who believe that suicide is an unpardonable sin. The only unpardonable sin, as I understand Scripture, is dying without Christ.
And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. – 1 John 5:11-12
Whoever believes in Him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because he has not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son. – John 3:18
That said, I have no reason to believe that either my mother or sister knew the Lord. My mother, in fact, cursed God. But if they did know Him and were simply led astray by mental illness and pain, they are now in the place where every tear has been wiped from their eyes. (See Revelation 21:4.) And if they are not – and what a horrible thought this is – they will eternally regret their choices, and they will eternally be compelled to worship the God they had refused to acknowledge. (See Philippians 2:10.)
But nothing can change the horrible finality of their last desperate acts. What a terrible legacy they left for me, my much-younger brother and our extended family. What guilt they inflicted. What questions they left unanswered.
And now it’s too late for them to say they’re sorry, though I truly believe they are. (See Luke 16:16-31.) Even if they had left a thousand apology notes containing a thousand assurances that no one was to blame but themselves, the magnitude of their final acts would discredit any apology. It would be the same for you.
But the manner of their deaths wasn’t simply an affront to our family. It was an affront to God Himself, who had created them in His image (Genesis 1:27), and who had a plan and purpose for their lives.
“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 a hope and a future.” – Jeremiah 29:11
If you find yourself thinking desperate thoughts and making desperate plans, stop. Find a pastor or Christian counselor immediately, and get help. Jesus knows all about troubles. He had troubles of his own.
Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinful men, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. – Hebrews 12:3
This doesn’t have to be the end. It can be the beginning – the beginning of a new life in Christ in which you can find purpose for your pain. Don’t give up – not on yourself, and not on God. Life is already too short. Don’t make it shorter.