You Can’t Kill Yourself with Everyone Watching

Depressed ManI wrote a post for The Gospel Coalition several months ago called “Hearing God in the Midst of Suicidal Thoughts.” I had written a total of three posts and thought they might post the latter two. . .so I refrained. I believe the latter two get to the practical side of getting through the darkness. Here is the second post that ought to be read in tandem with the first and the third.

Eloi, Eloi lama sabachthani! This is the cry that makes my heart sing, even as it breaks. The Righteous One. The One who lived perfectly. The One whose sacrifice pays for my rebellion cried out in dereliction. Abandoned. Alone. And breathes his last. . .alone. It breaks my heart because it is utterly incomprehensible. It makes my heart sing because he knows. He utters words that even I have not been bold enough to utter. Though I have felt them.

 

When I have struggled with depression and suicide, I have found that 7 times 70 times it has been a result of my curving my thoughts in on myself. It’s an issue Augustine (and subsequently Martin Luther) called incurvatus in se. It’s a condition that I have needed forgiveness for with the allotted amount of committals.

 

I remember very clearly thinking about slitting my wrists and sticking them in the warm water I had just poured in the bathroom sink. I paused for a moment to consider what would happen when my parents would happen upon my limp body. And my pause turned to a full stop. Why? My thoughts dared to venture outside my interpretation of the ways things were and stepped into another’s shoes. I found that the world was much bigger than what I could see through my eyes.

 

So it is with the Gospel community. Our western culture has done much harm in our revivalist, individualist, decisionist culture. I prayed to received Jesus. I obeyed the Bible. I sinned against God. I failed again. I will have victory. No, I won’t. Our story too often has me as the main actor. I have forgotten that I have a supporting role. No, if I’m honest, my role oftentimes is setting up chairs. . .after the show. The miracle of salvation is not that it just saves me, but it saves an us. It makes a family out of strangers.

 

When I have my greatest bouts with depression, it’s when I am going at life alone. When I unwittingly fool myself into thinking that I need to have a cheeky smile with sparkly teeth that “ting” when I smile. Instead, the Gospel frees me to smile and show my gapped teeth, rotted with the meth-induced self-centeredness I have relished.

 

I am convinced that much of the remedy to our depression comes first by way of confession. Yes, like I said in the previous post, it is good to be broken and sad and grieving about the way the world really is—no filter. But, the depression that ensues due to my curving in on myself must be repented of. I need to grab someone—anyone (it doesn’t even have to be a close friend)—and tell them I need help. Freedom comes when we own up to our tiny worlds being more important than the beautiful, majestic, awe-inspiring world that hides beneath the shadow of the Fall. We can’t stay in the Shadow. Come into the light of God’s countenance. Be blessed with a multitude who seek his face.

 

You are, quite literally, never alone. Not only has God promised never to forsake you, but he has given a host of witnesses to his faithfulness. He has given us brothers and sisters who have struggled with the dark nights of the soul. Read a biography on Charles Spurgeon or William Cowper. After that, go get coffee with a friend and do one simple thing. Ask them how they are doing. I promise, 69 times out of 70, your darkness will lift.

Comments 3

  1. Matthew, I appreciate your writing having visited your blog a number of times. While I would not wish this experience on anyone, and I don’t hold it to be any kind of merit badge, it’s good to hear of another’s similar experience. Thanks.
    Let me ask, How do you as a husband and father approach those relationships and function in these times? You may have written about this before, if so, I’d love to read. I ask as an older single man who has avoided relationships because of fearing perpetuating this experience in the lives of others.
    Thanks again!

    1. Casey, I will consider your question and respond with a blog post–thanks for the fodder!! I think it is worthy of further thought than a short reply. Thank you for the encouragement!

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