dark tunnelI wish I could talk about my struggles with depression and suicide openly without fear of misunderstood alienation.

Okay, let me rephrase that to be a bit more on point: I wish I could talk about my struggles with depression and suicide with my fellow Christians without fear of misunderstood alienation.

To quote an Aerosmith song, it’s the same old story, same old song and dance: whenever the topic of suicide comes up, whenever doing that “fellowship” thing with the brethren and sisteren in whatever setting it is, it’s always accompanied by statements of not understanding what would make anyone think that taking their own life was the only option.

Which, really, is a good question. Especially when you factor in the list of recent celebrity suicides, people who would have been the last persons anyone would expect to take their own lives. Even on a more personal level, people that have been known personally, whether family members, friends, or work acquaintances. The question lingers, what would drive someone to take their own life?

Unfortunately, we evangelical Christians seem to have a very simple answer to a very, very complicated issue. It’s trotted out every time it’s brought up: “If they only knew God, if they only gave their lives to Jesus, they never would have had suicidal thoughts any longer.”

That phrase runs a very close second despised Christianese phrases I’ve come across in my years as a Christian. The first being telling someone “God has a plan,” to someone who just buried their loved one. But, I digress.

I have one very strong word to say about that: Bullshit. There’s no other way to say it. Do you know why? It’s simple.

I struggle with suicidal thoughts to this day.

Now, if you’ve made it this far without clicking away and blowing me off as some kind of fake Christian at this point, good. Because maybe you understand that, regardless of Jesus being our Lord and Saviour, the Holy Spirit indwelling us and sanctifying our minds and bodies, and Father God declaring us righteous due to the work that Jesus did on the cross for us, and even knowing the many promises in the Bible where God said He would never leave us or forsake us, that even the full brunt force of the gates of Hades couldn’t loose His grip on us, we still have that bone-deep weariness that makes us physically not want to engage, to not get out of bed; a weariness that no amount of sleep or good thoughts or even coffee can relieve us of.

You understand the intense, shameful sense of self-hatred that can come, believing yourself toxic and harmful to those closest to you, and you understand how easy it is to begin thinking that, maybe if you were no longer around, everyone will be better for it.

You also understand that depression is far more complex than just being sad. There’s emptiness, a kind of void that is tangible, and sometimes a strong numb feeling, a disconnect with life and those around you.

You also may understand that, if you talk about any of it, you may be perceived as not having enough faith in God to heal you. Or, they may think you have some kind of unconfessed sin that’s causing this. Or, my personal favorite statement of ignorance, you may have a DEMON! and all you need is more prayer and Bible study and faith in God. Maybe there’s an Essential Oil that cures depression?

Sorry, I tend to wax pretty sarcastic with this. Anyway.

Can God heal me of my depression instantly? Yes. There’s no doubt in my mind whatsoever. Have I prayed for God to take away my depression? You have no idea the many times over the decades where I’ve begged God to take away this suffering of mine, to make the darkness just go away. To let me be carefree, bubbly and happy, like I see others in the Body of Christ. But, for some reason I really cannot fathom with my puny human brain, God has seen fit to let me continue with this proverbial thorn in my side. As He told the apostle Paul, His grace is sufficient.

Maybe you’re reading this, not because you struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, but because of a genuine desire to understand why, without resorting to pat answers. We are called to be a light to the world, to reach out and comfort the broken and weary of living. But, how can we if we don’t understand the darkness that we endure?


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