I talk to God but the sky is empty.
How many times have I thought that? How many times have I laid awake at night crying out to God, wondering if He hears my screams, wondering if He feels my pain? Because as much as I believe in the divine goodness and divine power of God, there are days when I doubt His existence. There are days when I wonder If God truly exists, why do I feel this way? Why was I raped? Why do I want to die even though I want so badly to live, even though I’m fighting so hard, trying everything I can to survive?
I was a Bible Quizzer. I have entire books of the New Testament memorized. But I’m also suicidal.
And sometimes, it’s hard for me to reconcile the two together: How can I be a Christian and also be suicidal?
How can I believe in a God who loved me so much, He died for me, but also want to die?
How can I believe in eternal life, but also have days where I struggle to stay alive?
If you’re the lady who stopped me on my way in to work this morning, I can’t be both–I can’t be suicidal and a Christian (at least not a good one). For people like her, I can’t have a strong faith if I want to die because people who love God with their whole heart, who trust God completely to take care of them “shall want for nothing.”
But this is where the disconnect, for me, happens: there are two parts to who I am. There’s the traumatized, suicidal part, and then there’s the I’m-in-love-with-life part. And every day, these parts are at war, trying to one-up each other, trying to talk over each other, trying to be heard more clearly over the noise.
Imagine a room full of Italians.
That’s what it’s like inside my brain. And for so long, I tried to silence the suicidal part. (To quote Achmed the Dead Terrorist: Silence. I Kill You.) Because that’s what I thought I had to do. I thought I had to because “Christians aren’t suicidal. Christians value life. Depression is a lack of faith.”
Read your Bible more.
Focus on yourself less.
I didn’t think I could be a Christian and be suicidal (to be perfectly honest, some days, I still don’t).
So, I would go to church and sing the songs. I would shake hands with my neighbor in the pew next to me. I would pretend I was fine, going through the motions because I thought being an authentic Christian meant I had to be inauthentic to who I was–I had to deny a part of myself that was becoming louder and louder.
I would listen to the Christian radio stations and prominent Christian preachers who said: Suicide is a choice.
But to me, it never felt like that.
To me, suicide was never a choice; it was a lack of choice. To me, it’s always been a moment: a moment where there’s action or inaction, and you’re not sure which is worse. You’re on autopilot and nothing can switch it off.
To me, it’s still a moment: the pain I’m feeling right now is greater than any hope I have left.
Which brings me back to the whole point of this: If suicide is the moment when the pain you’re feeling is greater than the hope you have left, can Christians–the ones who have the greatest Hope–be suicidal? Or are they inauthentic? Are they suicidal because of a lack of faith?
Do I have a lack of faith?
It’s a thought that I’ve been wrestling with a lot, especially since the New Year. (Can someone say “New Year. New Me.”?)
Sometimes I’m so sure that I feel this way because my faith is lacking. Because if I was a stronger Christian, if I read my Bible more, if I prayed more, if I really and truly loved God with my whole heart, I’d want to live.
True Christians are happy people who value life.
I don’t believe that. I can’t believe that.
Because the people that illustrate Christ’s love best to me are those who are broken and hurting just like I am. Because they’re the ones who sit with the outcasts, who welcome the outsiders, who associate with the “unclean.”
Can I be suicidal and a Christian?
Some say no.
I say yes.
On the cross, Jesus cried out “My God; my God, why have you forsaken me?” Sometimes, that’s how I feel: abandoned, alone, destined to live in darkness forever.
And then, sometimes, I feel God’s presence closer than I have ever felt it: on the night I attempted suicide, on the nights I almost drive into trees, on the nights when I feel the pain and hurt and numbness inside me is too much to bear.
He whispers: You’ll be ok.
Because, yes. Faith can move mountains. Faith can make the lame walk, the blind see. Faith can heal leprosy and stop bleeding that’s lasted 12 years.
But, faith can also get me out of bed in the morning. Sometimes, it’s the only thing that gets me out of bed in the morning. Faith can help you walk on water.
And faith can help you stay alive just a little longer.
It’s certainly helped me (but so has medication and therapy and a whole lot of friends).
Mind over matter? Not so much.
Faith and Prozac? Definitely.
“I talk to God, but the Sky is empty,” Yes, Sylvia. But sometimes, it whispers back: I am. I am. I am.
And that gives me just enough strength to keep going. Because living when you’re suicidal is a miracle in itself.
And God is found in the miracles.
And I hope you join me on this miracle of life, fueled by Prozac and faith, as I try to find peace in the hurt.