Suicide’s Silent Cry

This past Tuesday was World Suicide Prevention Day.

That very same day, a well-loved young pastor, mental health advocate, husband and father of two, Jarrid Wilson, committed suicide. He had been open with his struggle both through preaching and social media. Only hours before his death, Jarrid tweeted this:

His death sent shock waves throughout the Church at large. His young widowed wife and fatherless sons now face a very different future.

People who struggle with thoughts of suicide don’t want to die, they just want to stop hurting. And it’s a moment-by-moment struggle. For professional counselors and mental health professionals, every day is suicide prevention day.

Many people have asked how to respond if someone is brave enough to tell you that they’re struggling with suicide — or have actually attempted it. Let me share a first-hand account.

Six years ago, five minutes into a lunchtime conversation with a former co-worker, she looked at me with haunted eyes and said: “In November, I tried to kill myself.”

Stunned, I could only stare at my friend, tears welling up and spilling over. She had emailed the day before asking to meet for lunch. Just to chat and talk about a new venture in her life. We hadn’t seen each other in months. 

“I didn’t believe anyone cared if I was gone,” she said. “My family dynamics, my health struggles, financial stress – it just became too much. I was just so very tired.”

Her attempt wasn’t a spur of the moment decision. She had researched on the internet an over-the-counter drug that would be a lethal combination with her prescribed medication. She drove to the store, made the purchase, took the pills, and went to bed. 

She silently assumed her husband, family and friends didn’t care. That they wouldn’t miss her. She never expected to wake up again. But God had other plans.

When she awoke the next morning and realized her suicide attempt had failed, she confessed to her husband. He was beside himself and rushed her to the emergency room. The doctors informed her she had miscalculated the lethal dose by a mere 200mg. 

Looking back on that dark time, she realized that God gifted her with a new perspective. She sought counseling and shared hard, honest feelings with her family. She opened up to her church’s small group, who inundated her with love and support.

After years of struggling silently, she had reached her breaking point. Perhaps you can relate to breaking points.

Her story served as wake-up call for me.  I felt as if I had let my friend down. That I wasn’t there when she most needed me.

That experience made me realize that I need to have more conversations with friends about stuff that matters instead of the weather or latest TV program. To ask how they’re doing – really doing – and listen without interruption. 

It is easy for busyness to take the front seat, allowing those around us to slip through the cracks under a façade of “Everything’s fine.” 

If you know someone who is enduring a difficult season, call them. Send an email. Drop by. SOMETHING. Let them know you care. It may provide a 200mg difference.

We need to keep talking about mental health issues. People are suffering and we cannot be silent simply because it makes us uncomfortable.

I love you and do not tread lightly into this subject. It’s a privilege to pray for you and wrestle through the Scriptures together to find certain hope and strength. 

If you are reading this today and find yourself at a breaking point, please reach out to someone. A family member. Pastor. Friend. Trusted co-worker. SOMEONE. Because you are not alone.

You matter.
You are worth fighting for.
Jesus gave His life so you could live.
You are cherished.
You are loved.
Reaching out for help is BRAVE.

The comments are open. Let’s talk. 

NATIONAL SUICIDE PREVENTION LIFELINE: (800) 273-TALK (8255)


Donna’s brand new individual and small group Bible study: “Perseverance: Praying Through Life’s Challenges” (based on the book of Nehemiah) is now available through Concordia Publishing House and currently on sale at Amazon.

Dear Christian Single Woman

Early last year, for the first time since my divorce seven years ago, I actually took the initiative to ask a man that I greatly admire on an informal “date.” I bought two concert tickets to hear my favorite band and took the plunge. Yep, I was scared stiff.

With trembling fingers, I texted  him a casual, nonchalant invitation that did not  include the word “date.” I was a complete chicken. Feel free to paint a yellow stripe down my back.

The waiting game began. I was a wreck and clearly not cut out for being a date initiator. As a fairly confident person in most other areas of my life, the insecurity was torture. Like wearing a fluffy, burnt orange rabbit coat in July.

He finally declined my invitation citing a prior engagement. Gulp. Should I believe him or take it personally? In all fairness, I never checked his schedule before purchasing the tickets. I chose to believe him. Hello, StubHub?

Fast forward.

A few days ago, a single female friend asked, “Where is God hiding all the good, decent men?” She’s tried dating and feels fed up with her less-than-stellar pool of prospects. If you’re a single, Christian woman, how many times have you asked yourself that question?

I wasn’t a Christian the first time I was single. And let me tell you, it makes ALL the difference in the world. Having said that, I believe God through His Word has given us abundant instruction how to live a God-honoring life as a single (or single “again”) Christian woman:

I need to act like I’m already married. Let me explain.

As an unmarried woman I am careful not to spend significant time alone with married men. This is partly to guard against misconceptions, but it’s also to guard against weakness. I’m not interested in opening the door for trouble. Having watched infidelity play out in my own marriage and other peoples’ marriages. I’m under no illusions that hearts are bullet-proof to physical attraction.

As an unmarried woman I guard my speech around men. This is a hard one for me because I love using humor to put people at ease. Teasing or sarcasm often communicate flirtation, and innuendo invites heartache. Weigh your words carefully.

As an unmarried woman I think twice about what I wear around men. Looking nice is perfectly acceptable and we feel more confident when we do. Dressing to intentionally attract a man’s attention to certain body parts is not God-honoring. Dress so that men will look you in the eye, not from neck to naval.

As an unmarried woman I think twice about my body language toward men. This one is hard because I’m a Southern woman who loves to hug the stuffing out of people. However, I ensure there is daylight between me and a man I am sitting next to. I still hug, but it’s a “hug-and-release” policy (yes, I love to fish).

As an unmarried woman I guard my thoughts about men. If I find myself daydreaming about “what if” or “íf only” scenarios with male acquaintances, I ask God to shut down that dangerous thinking. I’ve also learned to “bounce my eyes” so that I am not disrespecting men with a neck to thigh assessment which will invade my thoughts late at night.

This list may seem fastidious, but constructive dating to discover the “one” is serious business. Dating is a process that we prayerfully move through to determine the character and moral fiber of a man. Dating is not a status that we sit in for years with one man without discernible momentum.

Yes, dating can and should be lots of fun, too. But don’t cheapen yourself with the legalistic gymnastics of “How far is too far?” We know what Scripture says when it comes to physical boundaries for sexual intimacy. You are a daughter of the King. If that man uses you, he’s going to have to answer to your heavenly Dad.

Scripture describes the church as a bride awaiting a husband-who-is-to-come. That bride is to keep herself pure, to live as though she is already the wife of her bridegroom.

This is a powerful image of a Christian single woman.

As for me, I have not extended another dating invitation. God has never prompted me to do so — with that gentleman or any other. Honestly, the anxiety almost wrecked me. I believe that the responsibility to invite in the future belongs at their doorstep. Call me old-fashioned. That’s okay, my big ol’ Texas hair would agree.

I don’t know whether I will be married next year, in five years, or ever again. But I trust God’s perfect plan for my life and yours. I take heart in seeing how God mightily used the apostle Paul in his singleness. God also powerfully used the apostle Peter in his married state. Those apostles linked arms to make an eternal difference together for the kingdom and glory of God.

Whether a husband is ever in your future, a Husband is certainly in your future. Honor Him now in eager expectation of meeting Him soon. Think like a married woman whether you ever become one or not, guarding your heart from sin, and opening it to God’s incredible plans.

So to my Christian single and single again friends, I pray that God uses us mightily for His good purposes today. Right where we are. In whatever dating status we find ourselves, to spread the hope of salvation to a hurting world.

That is our highest priority above all.

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Dealing With Our Labels

We all wear them.

Labels.

Some labels we like: Smart. Beautiful. Rich. Skinny. Successful.

Some not so much: Stupid. Ugly. Needy. Fat. Lacking.

But some labels go much deeper. Sometimes the adhesive leaves marks on our heart.

Scars.

Labels that cause us to lower our head. Avoid eye contact. They strike something so deep in us that we just want to run. From the stigma. From the memories.

From the pain.

Childless. Widowed. Divorced. Abused. Abandoned. Failure.

It doesn’t matter who attached the labels. Sometimes we adhere them on ourselves. Perhaps we switch them out depending on circumstances and mood. Or attitude. Or who we’re blaming. Or who we’re mad at.

People in the Bible wore labels, too:

… King David, Adulterer
… Moses, Murderer
… Solomon, Idolater
… Judas, Betrayer
… Noah, Drunk

It’s easy to label others. It doesn’t cost us anything. We take a glance at the less-than-stellar aspects of someone else’s life and our mental label-makers start cranking. We hear malicious gossip so our label-maker shifts into overdrive.

But you and I wear a label that trumps the rest. Made before the beginning of time by God Himself.

LOVED.

“I have loved you with an everlasting love.” Jeremiah 31:3

He labeled us first. A manufacturer’s stamp, so to speak. But we’ve covered it over. Allowed others to deface it with a mustache and beard.

Perhaps you’ve even tried to peel it off just because you don’t feel worthy.

So how do we deal with our labels?

1. Pray. Maybe you’re not aware the detrimental labels you adhere to yourself. Ask God to reveal them to you.

2. Identify them accurately. You may struggle with insecurity, but that’s a secondary emotion. The root is fear. Fear of not fitting in, not excelling, not being “good” enough. Accurately identifying what you’re afraid of opens doors of understanding.

3. Seek help. You may uncover serious issues under those labels that may go beyond your capability to properly work through. Seeking advice or guidance from a pastor, counselor, or support group may be in order.

4. Put on the Teflon of God’s Word. When we view ourselves through God’s love and forgiveness found in His Word — finding our peace and contentment in Him alone — we discover that other labels won’t stick for long. Filling our mind and heart to overflowing with His rich truths from Scripture leaves no room for mislabeling.

As we read through God’s transforming Word, He offers you these life-restoring labels:

Forgiven – Psalm 86:5
Redeemed – Job 19:25
Pardoned – Psalm 103:3
Renewed – Isaiah 40:31

God’s labels don’t change. You are always loved by Him — regardless of what you’ve told yourself or heard from others.

In Christ, you are His priceless treasure and dearly loved child. 

Worth creating.

Worth dying for.

Worth spending eternity with Him.

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