Suicide is an option
The year before my car wreck adventure, I was sorting through a big question - Is my life really worth living?
I know the sayings about suicide. It is not an option. It is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. It is selfish.
Always, at the surface of my mind, I agree with all those precepts. Deep inside a hurting and lonely heart, they are all crap. They are statements made by people who do not understand deep, soul-wrenching pain accompanied by all types of abuse. Or they are made by people who have already been through the darkness and found a path toward light. If that is the group who has come up with those statements, they need a new epitaph.
A few weeks before I turned 16, I did not (and I will shout it again..DID NOT) have a life worth living. Quick recap to you...long drone of a song sung like a dirge through my head...unwanted, abandoned, beaten, neglected, almost drown by mother, molested, sent away, alone, alone, alone.
It is said by specialist that in order to compensate for each yucky thing you have done/said to 1 person, you must do 9 positive things so they can actually stop focusing on that 1 negative thing and see something else. I always tell my students a nicer-version of this and focus on how important it is to be intentional with our words because it is impossible to un-speak them and it is almost as hard to have someone move past them.
I was mistreated for nearly 16 years of my childhood. Multiply that by 9, and I would need to live until I was 144 years old with nothing but happiness and laughter in my life in order that I might let the crappy ones not matter as much.
And so I sat on my bed, in my uncle's home because my mom and I were still mad at each other about strawberry pie filling, and I did not want to live anymore. Here is the real culprit - hate. It is an ugly emotion. It is ugly enough to have it directed toward you, but it is even worse when it is the only real feeling that you have.
It is just like kudzu. Kudzu is a very appealing, beautiful and luscious vine. It is hardy and will grow in areas where the environment is not ideal. It will cover the ugliest of terrains, climb to the highest of heights and remain deliciously green even during times of droughts. It is so successful because it can grow its own climbing structures - tendrils. The little tendrils (doesn't that sound like a sweet little word) dig a little into the climbing area which allows a firm footing for growing. The tendrils can also absorb small amounts of water and even some food. Soon, though, the kudzu has dug millions of tendrils into whatever surface it sits on, in order to keep growing upward and whatever is under those tendrils have received a million little puncture wounds. For trees, this means that the transportation highway that exchanges water and food is damaged and derailed. With enough damage, the tree will die. Kudzu, left to its own devices, can kill out a forest in just a few years.
And that is exactly how hate works! Hate begins as very appealing, beautiful and luscious emotion of retribution and protection. It does not just arrive into anyone. It always comes as a side effect of hurts. It is protective. It helps us voice our pain and our injustices. It begins as a helper. It grows only onto the pain we have experienced. If it is not uprooted and thrown out quickly, its tendrils will slyly begin rooting into every other experience we have had. The tendrils can even change something that was good into something that looks almost unbearable. Hate can overtake and uproot any other emotion that a person has inside of them. I suspect that if it is left long enough, hate will eradicate every other emotion to the point where it becomes the emotion that remain inside a person.
If you take a beat and think, I bet you can actually picture a person who you are almost 100% sure their only emotion is hate.
And I sat on the edge of my bed that evening so full of hate. I hated having been molested. I hated my stepdad. I hate my mother for letting it happen, for letting me tell her, and for her choosing to ignore me. I hated that she was still married to him and that she was trying to make restitution in their marriage. I hated living with my uncle and aunt. I hated my upcoming birthday. I hated new schools, new people, old friends...can you find me on the kudzu-meter?
For a fleeting moment, I remembered when I had felt joy and peace. I remembered how my life had once included lots of laughter. It was then that I could see what the hate in my life had done. I was almost empty of anything loving or joyful. My future was slowly slipping into an eternal journey full of hate. It was that moment that I faced the answer to my question...was my life really worth living?
My ranting to the heavens about life and suicide began right at that moment.
My mother was not a consistent church attender. Even if she had been, I would never had really seen anything pure or joyful. My Granny did attend church regularly and she took me often. If there was a Vacation Bible School at her church, I was signed up. If I needed money to attend a church camp, she was willing to pay for it. I saw her pray some, but mostly I could see that she tried to be kind and loving and joyful.
My Nanny, on the other hand. lived church. She arrived early and stayed late. She served her church and her community. When she got really ill and had to be put into a nursing home, people came by her business many times to give us money. "Ms Rita filled up my gas tank one time when..." or "Ms Rita lent me some money when I was laid off..."
It should not surprise you that I decided that Jesus was going to be my Savior when I was just 8 years old. The two most important and wonderful people in my life loved Him.
If you do not know Jesus or have just begun your journey, I need to take a theatrical aside for you. Christianity is like a tall set of stairs. They extends so far up that you can't see the tip-top step because it enters into the area beyond the horizon that you can see. With all colloquialism, it extends up to the heavens. Christianity is not the only set, though.
Every set of steps begins with the first acknowledgment, "Oh look! Steps." You don't have to take them. You can pass them by and ignore just that set. Or you can move on to another more appealing set. Or you can even ignore every set of steps you ever see. It is a personal choice. I think some sets of steps are easier to begin ascending.
I will tell you, though, that the Jesus-steps that I stepped onto at the age of 8 cannot be started accidentally. It takes a decision to intentionally take that first step. You can descend the entire set of steps, but you cannot ever leave that last step if you have ever taken it. So, I want to begin on that first step.
I saw it. My grandmothers had shown it to me. My life had not been bright and shiny (as Meredith says). A journey that had joy and happiness on it seemed like a good place to start. That first step is complex and simple (ironic!). You have to fully acknowledge that there is a Savior, Jesus, who was sinless and did no harm to anyone. He knew that we were full of sin and had done so much harm, to ourselves and to others. He was sent for 1 mission--pay the cost of that sin for every person who had ever lived and who would ever live so we could be ransomed from the punishment of hell for all the harm we had done. You just have to believe it (SO SIMPLE) but the what is out-of-this-world irrational. There is no perfect person. Why would a "good" person be willing to die in place of a "bad" person? It took me some time to wrap my head around the logic. Once I sorted it out, I just had to believe it and pray that Jesus would enter into my heart and be my Savior.
And I emotionally felt the change that I experienced the day I took that first step. And then I just got stuck there for years.