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12 Ways to Turn Your Pain into Praise

Sapphires from Psalms

Better Than Jewels

Suicide

My heart breaks as I continue to read articles about Robin William’s tragic death. With all of his talent, money, and fame, with his amazing ability to make us laugh freely and think deeply, a man who achieved the highest honors in his field...it begs the question, what helps a person find hope?

This has forced me to look at a time in my life that was so dark (and I’ve had some dark times.) that I have hardly been able to face it in all these years. I have seldom talked about it, and I certainly haven’t written about it, or spoken in public about this pain.

I was in college feeling like a duck out of water. It had been less than a year since the painful night my mom had a major meltdown, and this time she got so violent the cops showed up in the middle of the night. Then one minute I was living in Chattanooga, Tennessee planning on graduating with honors surrounded by all of my friends, and the next minute I was in Charlotte, North Carolina living with a dad I barely knew, a step-mom I had only met once, and a little sister I had never seen before. At least it wasn’t my mom, an angry crazy lady who considered her kids as cheap labor at best and bothersome pests, at worst. Still I felt lost.

My self-esteem was nonexistent and despite the fact that I was a good student, and I couldn’t reconcile that I was good enough to make it in college. I was constantly haunted by the fear that I would live down to my mom’s expectations and, “never amount to anything in life.” Along with the fear of failure, I was a southern girl in a California culture, and I felt the difference of not fitting in. That contributed to me being too self-conscious to make friends.

One night around the Ides of March, feeling hopeless, helpless, and alone, I went into my dorm room and tried to end it. Then my memories get fuzzy. I’m not really sure how anyone found out what I had done, but the next thing I remember was riding in a car. I dozed and woke up in the emergency room.

I remember sitting on the table in the exam room. The doctor asked me what happened. When I did manage to spit out what I had done, he walked over, flung open the door to the waiting room full of patients, and screamed at me, “Look out there, dammit.” These people are sick, and you did this to yourself!”

Perhaps there are those who would question his response to me. Perhaps if it had been a less busy night in the ER, he would have questioned it himself. But I needed his words to wake me up. It was the first time I could look at myself objectively. He was right. I brought this on myself.

Other than violently puking up black charcoal, the rest of my short hospital stay was a blur. I do remember a slender man with no expression on his face stopping by. He said he was the on-call psychologist. He asked me what happened, I told him a few of the details, and still with no expression on his face, all he said was, “I think you need group therapy.”

The next few weeks were dark days. In fact, I remember sitting in the dark for hours. I couldn’t eat, or sleep, or study. I could barely cognate.

 A few years prior, I found faith in God. That experience was life changing, but I had lost my way with all the hurts that had happened in recent months. But in the quiet hours in that dark room, I cried out to the God I had given up on. I realized I was angry at God because even when I had tried to follow Him, my life still fell apart, or so it seemed.

I didn’t know where to turn, so I turned to Him. I needed a Higher Power, a power greater than me to restore me to sanity (Where have I heard that since?) and He was there. Even when I flipped Him off and tried to take the very life He had given me, He didn’t give up on me. I made a decision in that moment to talk to Him whenever I felt hopeless.

I opened up the Bible and found comfort again, like I had done in years past. Everything I read showed me how much God loved me. That was something I had a hard time believing because my own mother couldn’t love me. I didn’t feel alone anymore (Duet. 31:6). I started to download that He loved me with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3) and that He had welfare, not calamity to give me a future and a hope (Jeremiah 29:11). The more I let God back into my life, the more hope I felt.

The college I attended required that go to counseling. It was the best thing that I could have done. I wasn’t used to talking about my problems, so it was hard at first. But the relief it brought made it worth the challenge.

My counselor was a compassionate, wise Christian man. It was obvious that he cared, but it didn’t take long before I realized he wasn’t going to indulge any of my self-pity. In fact, whenever I would lament about what was wrong, he would constantly point me toward what I had going for me. It built my non-existent self-esteem. Before long, I realized I did have quite a bit to be thankful for.

The tiny thread of hope I embraced on that dark night in my dorm room was the beginning of a total transformation. I don’t know that fragile, hot-mess of a girl who wanted to check out. I know now I was seeking a permanent solution for a temporary problem. I am so thankful that I was unsuccessful at my attempt to stop the world and get off. Otherwise I would have missed so much—graduating college with honors (and I was the girl who felt like she wouldn’t graduate at all.) finding my wonderful husband of now 37 years, my 3 awesome kids and their spouses, and now a delightful grand daughter.

I had distanced from God because I didn’t like the way things were going. Now I see in hindsight so much good that has come from my pain, not the least of which is the passion I have as a counselor. I know what it’s like to feel pain, and I know how to help people get past it.

Please trust me and don’t check out. YOU HAVE TO WAIT TO SEE HOW THE MOVIE TURNS OUT.  I can’t express how grateful I am that I did.

Still embracing hope,

Linda

 

 

Comments

August 15, 2014 @05:49 pm

Thank you, Linda. This was a very courageous and beautiful thing to share. I have been there, too. Perhaps more of us should be sharing and getting this out in the open. Name it, claim it, give it to the Lord. Easier said than done, for sure, but He can use it to help and heal others. God Bless You and all that you do.

Pamela
August 15, 2014 @05:47 pm

Thank you SO MUCH for your candid testimony, Linda! I believe your experience may help to free a lot of people!

Christina
August 15, 2014 @05:26 pm

thank you for sharing this :)

Nicole
August 14, 2014 @11:34 pm

I admire your honesty in sharing your pain... You have blessed me again and again with your words and integrity...Stay strong my wisdom filled wonder!!!

Teri
August 14, 2014 @11:32 pm

thanks for your honesty I know it will help someone out there to get help. Bless you and your ministry. I know you make a difference in peoples lives.

Pat
August 14, 2014 @11:31 pm

Wow, Linda. Thank you for sharing your very personal story with us. It proves to me that some of the most compassionate and wonderful people are those that go through terrible pain and suffering. So glad you did not succeed in "checking out".

Dottie
August 14, 2014 @11:31 pm

WOW, Linda, what an scarry time you lived through! I can't tell you how hopeful it is, I am sure for those in that place and for their loved ones. I am so grateful that you chose life and worked through all of it and have the courage to talk about it , giving others hope. It is wonderful how our God uses our worst pain for good in the lives of those we can encourage from it.

Pamela
August 14, 2014 @10:15 pm

Linda, Thank you for your bravery in sharing your story! We never know exactly why we go through such times but we do know that the strength we achieve from our circumstances can be of great help to others who prayerfully do not have to endure the same. God Bless you for having the strength to persevere and allow God to work miracles in your life! He didn't let you go and certainly had/has a plan for you; part of which is your talent in counseling and helping so many of us. I'm thankful for you Linda! You inspire me push harder, to feel the blessings and love of God. You've helped me to have a fresh start by helping me to unpack my bags. You've given me tools that I continue to use each and every day. You are a true testimony! I pray that God will continue to guide you as you help others. I pray that He will continue to give you strength as you continue down the path He has set forth for you. And I pray that you will receive God's comfort, love, and peace that only He can provide. May you find rest in the quiet hours. I love you! BIG Hugs and a kiss on the cheek!

Nicole
August 14, 2014 @08:39 am

Wow, I have never heard you speak of this before. I am so proud of you for stepping out and telling this story. So many people need to hear these words of encouragement. Linda, I know that Heaven would not be the same if you had been successful in ending it. Look at all the people who have come to know Christ because of your faithfulness and all those who not only know Christ but are finding healing and joy because of your council.

Danise
August 14, 2014 @08:37 am

Linda~ Wow!! What an amazing testimony. I wanna hug ya right now. One cyber hug coming at ya!

Vcky
August 14, 2014 @08:36 am

Wow, Linda that is an amazing unfolding and how courageous of you to share that with the world. The stigma that goes along with depression and dark times needs to be overcome and replaced with compassion and light. Thank you so much for sharing that with us. I love you and am honored to know you!! Love and Blessings to you for ever and ever!

Theresa
August 14, 2014 @08:35 am

Thank you so much for sharing Linda. I have been through those situations also and I have to admit still thoughts come to mind. But in reality God is amazing and there's always a rainbow no matter how gloomy it gets.

Michelle
August 14, 2014 @08:34 am

Thank you for taking the time to respond to this horrible event that has gotten our attention. How sad...how futile... How beautifully you share about those difficult things in your life which God has used for your good and for the good of those you share with. What a wonderful gift God has give you in communicating about things that matter...offering hope...you shine like a bright star as you bring Him glory. love and appreciate you. Praying for you as you prepare for the upcoming retreat at Diamond Arrow.

Marilyn
 

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