There’s a distinct difference between thinking about suicide and planning it. That’s what I learned this summer. The first is dreamlike, vapid; the second has sharply focused edges. The first becomes an almost addictive coping strategy, pulling darkly at the corners of every thought. As recently as July, they were both phone a friend occasions, things that stuck out in the spread of a day or a week or even a month. Now it takes a significant amount of planning and intention to even make a blip on my radar.
I haven’t been well. Not at all. My life…it was okay. Things were good. My…self…wasn’t.
And if I’ve lied to you, I’m sorry. But I needed to. I needed to feel like things were going to get better, or at least like I was better than it seemed.
But, actually, that’s not what this is about. Not entirely anyway.
So I cruised into church on Sunday somewhere between thinking and planning, but mostly okay. Mostly hanging in there, toughing it out, pick a cliché. Mostly. But I was frustrated because it had been a good weekend, and yet there I sat. Listening to a pastor lay out the Gospel frankly, at a church I’ve sort of landed in by default. Because I haven’t been trying. I haven’t been doing much of anything.
So I sat there, unflinching. Mired in the middle of a day were the world didn’t really have a chance of getting in. I might have heard seven words, total. And then we stood to take communion. I’m a Baptist by nature, and it’s never meant that much to me. This was different. I slumped against the wall, holding the cup and the bread in my hand. If I’ve learned one thing as a Baptist, it’s that you don’t take communion when you’re not right with God. So I stood against the wall, wondering if I could be.
Depression makes you humble. And when you let it take over time and time again…
“It is always before me” those are the words I said. The thing I confessed. It would not go away. And that was true. “I don’t want to need you, but I do. I wish you hadn’t had to die for me. I wish I could get there on my own. But I needed it. I do need it. I need you to help me.”
The words were simple, and I’m sure you don’t really understand the drama there. I choked the bread down. I felt it all the way down my throat. I asked God to let His death nourish me. It seemed barbaric, desperate, and pathetic. But I needed Him. I needed Him to die.
I didn’t drink out of the cup right away. I didn’t. Because as I stood there, staring at it, it all came rushing in on me. The hurt. The pain. The hopelessness. The despair. The emptiness. And I choked out a paraphrase of Jesus “If it can pass over me, please let it. I can sit in this but…please”.
And I knew. I knew that Jesus drank that cup. The cup of being deserted by friends, and alone. And exhausted. And in despair. And far from God. At the end. That was never mine to drink. I stood there, staring at it. It was just grape juice.
I swallowed it, and at the risk of you not believing me, the world came back into focus.
As I fell asleep last night, I swear I felt the words in my soul: “If the darkness comes back, you tell it your cup is empty”
I’m not going to say that everything is better, but…
It has been more than a day. That hasn’t happened since June. And I slept for nine hours last night. And every emotion I had today made sense, had a reason. There’s a lightness I haven’t felt in what feels like a million years. I really think I am going to be okay.
I don’t expect you to understand that as a miracle. But it is.