A few months ago, I felt the Lord impressing on me to share about chronic illness in my Instagram. Because of that I have been able to connect with other chronic illness spoonies from various countries. One of them is a woman in Sweden who goes by funniebunnie on Instagram. She does live interviews on her Instagram with people. She asked me to do one.
We did it today. It is a but long, but I wanted to share it with you. If you click on the link, you can view the interview.
It has been quite a while since I last wrote a short story. The one I wrote today is The Wanderer’s Encounter on a Path. It is about a person, who I never describe or identify. who is walking down a lonely path thinking of suicide but has an encounter that changes things.
I purposefully did not describe or identify the character so that anyone who reads the story can picture the character however they wish. If even one person is helped, it is all worth it.
The shortest verse in the bible is John 11:35 that says- Jesus Wept.
Picture that Jesus the Son of God, the person who walked on water, calmed a storm with a few words, healed numerous people, and who created the world, WEPT.
His friend Lazarus had died. But Jesus knew he was about to bring Lazarus back from the dead. So why did he weep?
He saw the sorrow of his friends the sisters of Lazarus. He felt their pain. Jesus can empathize with our pain. So he wept.
Yesterday I had a tiny bit of an understanding about why Jesus wept. I was at the funeral of a young woman, who was my student and friend, and I saw the overwhelming grief of her little sister who wept and cried out for her sister. I saw her mother overwhelmed with grief.
But I knew something. My friend had prayed with me to trust Jesus. Even though she had turmoil and depression, she had faith. I am certain my friend is with Jesus in heaven now.
But I also know something else. It is the reason that when I attend funerals for people who know Jesus, I am not overwhelmed by grief. In fact the day my father died as I sat with him, I taught my class that evening. Why? Because my father had prayed with me to be at peace with God and ask Jesus to forgive him.
What is the something else? When I was sick and close to dying in July 1995, one night I prayed. I told Jesus that if he wanted to take me to heaven it was okay but that more people needed to heard about him. Then I felt a hand on my shoulder and was filled with peace. I lived alone at the time. I felt his presence so deeply it was as if I had one foot in this life and one in the next. I will never forget being in his presence like that.
So when my fellow believers die, I know how wonderful they have it in his presence.
But yesterday as I saw my friend’s mother and little sister overcome with grief, I teared up for them. I plan to visit them and follow up with them to share about my friend trusting Jesus and where she is now. But I felt their grief.
This week is suicide prevention awareness week. This is an issue that has impacted my life through the deaths of three people who have completed suicide. The first was someone I knew when I was in high school. The second was a 19 year old girl who completed suicide a few weeks before she was supposed to start college because her boyfriend broke up with her. Depression was an issue for her for a while. The third was my friend who completed suicide this past Saturday at the age of 28.
There is a popular phrase that I wholly agree with.
It’s okay to not be okay.
There is truth in that saying, but I do not want to leave it there. Yes it is okay to not be okay. But I do not want people to stay stuck in not being okay. There are steps we can take to experience healing in our lives. I think the second saying that needs to tag with it’s okay to not be okay is:
It’s okay to need and ask for help.
We can ask for help from someone we trust. If we feel there is no one we trust in our personal lives, there are people we can turn to. If in high school, a counselor at school. A school counselor would want you to come ask for help.
If in college, colleges have resources to help.
If not in school, or as the saying goes-adulting, there are counseling services, churches, places to go for help. I know my pastor would definitely want someone who is struggling to come ask for help.
Did you know Jesus wants you to come to him for help? He said so himself in Matthew 11:
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Notice he said- ALL. All means all. Jesus wants all to come to him. The reason he gives is that he is gentle of heart. He want to give us rest for our souls.
Remember it is okay to need and ask for help. Asking for help is much better than suffering in silence.
By asking for help, our stories can continue and in time take on new and better meaning. I am sharing a wonderful spoken word video- Your Story Isn’t Over Yet. I am also sharing a wonderful song- The Mention of Your Name.
Today is Suicide Prevention Awareness Day. It first became very real to me how important it is to watch for signs and to show compassion and love to people in September 2011 when a 19 year old girl I knew completed suicide. Being at her funeral was one of the saddest days in my life.
Only five days ago it became even more real to me when a young woman who was 28 years old completed suicide. I will go to her funeral tomorrow. She had a difficult life having been abused by her father growing up. I tried to help her for a few years but lost track of her when she got married to a man who ended up also abusing her.
Darkness whispers to those who are struggling that there is no hope seeking to lure them into a fatal decision. Despair, loss of hope, and feeling there is no way out harass the person.
In contrast Jesus said in John 10:
The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
Darkness seeks to destroy. Jesus gives life, hope, peace inside and love. Jesus heals wounded souls.
It is so important that we show the love and compassion of Jesus to those around us. We do not know what inner turmoil people are going through, but Jesus does.
If you are reading this and have thought of suicide, please know that God loves you and cares deeply about you. There is hope. Also please call for help.
In the USA you can call-800-273-8255
In Canada you can call-833 456-4566
In other countries please Google for the number.
I would like to share two videos with you. One is by a young woman who was suicidal but got help. The other is a song that will help you to feel God’s love.
Lord, I’m so tired in this fight Tired of waking up with no end in sight I feel I’ve got so little left I know that I’ve come to the end of myself
Ever feel you have come to the end of yourself? Ever feel life seems like a disappointment? Ever feel discouraged?
Such feelings are understandable especially in the times we are living in now. Jesus does not want to try it alone. His desire is to be in our lives and help us step by step.
No matter how far down we feel we have gone, Jesus is there inviting us to come to him. I love the way Corrie Ten Boom, who endured a Nazi Concentration Camp, put it-“No pit is so deep that God’s love is not deeper still.”
Friday evenings are one of the highlights of my week. It is the time I meet with my Life Group from church online via Zoom. We have been going through John in the bible using some notes I have been putting together.
The group is lively. I often joke with them by thanking them for not looking down on my youth. There is laughter but also a lot of love. One of the group members is battling cancer. The other women in the group bought her flowers, and gave her gift cards one of which was for a nail salon. I have to admit I never would have thought of a nail salon.
Last night was made even better by having a Zoom chat with my friend from Vietnam who is in medical school in a a city just an hour from my city. We talked about her personal statement for her applications for Residency programs.
I have not seen her for five years because she has been busy with Medical School. By the time she graduates from Medical School, she will have her MD and also a Masters in Public Health. We have communicated via email but not in person. It was great to chat with her via Zoom.
It was wonderful to catch up with her. She has accomplished so much since the time she was the shy teenage girl that joined my weekend groups.
Last night was like an emotional oasis during this time of COVID-19. This morning will be Blogger Chat via Zoom and then at noon I will meet with my friend from Vietnam again to go over her personal statement.
It is so important to have moments of being refreshed during this time. What are highlights in your week during this time?
Hi My loves, This video is about the time when my anxiety and panic attacks got so bad, I had to go to a mental hospital. The summer of 2016, I had debilitating panic attacks. I was having multiple panic attacks a day, several trips to the hospital thinking I was having a heart […]
What is a person to do when their own body is affecting their mental health? That was my dilemma a few years ago. Due to living with three chronic illnesses for a long time, I began having panic attacks and also experiencing depression. I am not talking about temporarily feeling sad. I am talking about feeling numb, staying in bed, losing all interest in things that normally captivate me, and losing all hope even though I know Jesus.
I had the bottle of medication my doctor prescribed for me. It had been sitting on my desk at home for six months. My depression was getting worse. Finally, in June 2017 I watched a movie-Brain On Fire. It is based on a true story of a woman with a rare autoimmune problem that affected her brain and left her catatonic. Watching that movie helped me accept that my situation was physiological. It is an excellent movie to watch.
The problem? There is stigma in some churches about medication for mental health issues and about mental health issues in general. I will never forget starting the medication and feeling better within a week. That can vary for individuals, so please don’t expect the same. It might be sooner or longer.
I will also never forget sending an email to the pastor of my church who oversaw missions. I let him know the situation and that if he needed me to resign my missions ministry, I would do so. He responding with, “Let’s talk about it at church.” I emailed because I thought he would tell me I needed to resign and then I would just fade away and go elsewhere.
BUT- when I saw him, the first thing he said was, “Matt it is medical. You will not resign.” Huge burden lifted off my shoulders.
My hope is that by sharing my experience it can help a little with lessening the unnecessary stigma regarding mental health issues. If we think about it, the brain is a physical organ in the body. It is the most complex of the organs, so there is more to learn. But why stigmatize someone with mental health issues? We would not do that for someone who has other illnesses.
If you suffer with depression, one thing that I want to make clear is that Jesus understands you. He loves you. I say that not as a cliche. I say that as someone who has experienced that love when I was in the depths of the worst of my depression.
I am sharing a song that helped me so much in those dark days.