The common Christian perspective I have often heard on suicide is that taking one’s own life is the self-centered equivalent of playing God and hurting others. Some sects still argue over whether suicide is an unforgivable sin that nullifies a believer’s salvation, as well. I believe our salvation is safe with Christ, but this article is about getting to the other side of suicidal still alive. For those who have never felt that dead weight in their limbs and bones and blood while hearing the whispers of “just let me die” as you walk through your days trying to interact, this is possibly a far stretch of understanding. You may ask why someone would be so selfish as to kill himself if he knows his family and friends will never fully recover from their loss.
My experience with despair was that of a shrinking world, where I could intellectually tell myself that I was being selfish but could hardly justify living in such pain so that another would not have to suffer instead. The edges of existence started to converge on my emotional and spiritual vision, drowning out the light of hope and faith in others. I might remind myself endlessly that I could not hurt the people I love so deeply, but what was logical began to shift. I believe that many people who do complete a suicide attempt have faced that dilemma and that alteration of perception.
As a Christian, I asked what God would say to me if I stood before Him prematurely, and it was a strong enough unknown to move me away from the edge many times. I have chosen a side to stay on because life is even more painful with the constant question of whether I should end it or just stick it out. And I am here still. Living is an intentional decision that no one else can make for us.
However we fight our way through, after meeting ourselves in our loneliest places and seeing no way out, we are different when the light finds us again. In the suspended discomfort between an absolute collapse and realizing I have to get back to my feet, I have the clearest window of what really matters in this life. In the darkness all the things I thought were important turn to dust, and in the dimness all I can say to God is, “my life is worthless to me, so use it however you will.”
I believe that is a starting place, though we are not through the struggle. If God can work all things together for good (Romans 8:28), including the messes and the evils in this world, then He can take a life I have no strength to live and make it worth something again. I surrender my ideas of what makes a life meaningful or worthwhile and put such worries in His hands.
Life still goes like nothing happened – on the outside. There are still places to go, money to make, people to meet. But we are different. We have to intentionally keep going, with each labored stride, and there is no way around such obstacles. I continually ask for acceptance of God’s direction because I am a human being, and I can easily forget the miracles I have seen. Doubt is like the dust in a house that thickens and thickens until someone finally cleans it, and dust collects spiders and insects like doubt collects fear. We have to clean house.
Corrie ten Boom gave an analogy about our roles versus God’s role, that we should let God be the hand in this empty glove that could never do anything on its own. She also said that “You can never learn that Christ is all you need, until Christ is all you have,” and when I look at death and am ready to demonstrate that nothing on earth matters to me anymore, then I am stripped of the petty cares that weigh us down.
I have found Christ waiting for me, and I am amazed to find Him happy to see me finally ready to leave all my idols and priorities. I had this belief that I would make my life worth something if I busily worked and produced and made money and checked off all my adult responsibilities, but when I could not make myself keep going and when nothing on the outside appealed to anything inside me – when all I could do was sit and stare and pray because I could not move – I found Him glad to just be with me. So such deep despair can become the gift of seeing reality through different eyes. He can have my life if I choose to stay here as a glove.