(With my boyfriend before Marion High School Homecoming, October 2003)
Written October 2017
October 2003: I was seventeen and had been to my boyfriend’s senior homecoming dance with him the night before. That Sunday morning in a quiet house I swallowed a bunch of pills and went to bed, hoping I would never wake up again. But I did and my boyfriend called. We talked on the phone and I told him what I did. I ended up having to go to the hospital. I am alive today because my boyfriend Chris didn’t give up on me—not that day, and not in the years that followed. Jesus sent him to help rescue me in dark times.
My life has not been a glamorous one. It has not been something you’d want to step into and take for yourself. It’s had a lot of painful moments—years of depression, numerous losses… yet as I stand here amidst the rubble, I know that there is a purpose in all that I’ve gone through. I stand here in the rubble of some of my dreams, yes, but I am standing, am I not?
I am like a woman who has survived the blast and now goes searching for other survivors. The only way I know to keep myself upright is to look for people I might give a hand to. It’s like if I sit down, if I let myself survey the damage, I might notice what I have lost, you know? I might find myself too damaged to keep going. But if I just keep helping other people, keep pouring my heart and soul into serving them—then I can keep going for another few steps, a few hours, a few days.
This must be why work is such a safe place for me. You see when the whole world seemed to be spinning the wrong direction after Chris’ death, work went on as normal. It was safe and predictable and unchanged. I am good at caring for mothers. I could still lose myself in meeting their needs, could saturate myself in being exactly who those families needed for a few hours at a time. It is still an escape. When I struggle with failing as a mother—I can go to work and succeed. When I’m dealing with loneliness, I can go to work and care for women who are thankful for my presence, my care, my time.
It is wonderful to have a part of my life where I know I am good at something consistently. I was really good at being Chris’ wife. I did it for eight years and two weeks, with 35 months as a girlfriend to warm-up. I knew him so well. I could bring a smile to his face without trying and I wanted to please him. His successes and joys were mine; his heartaches were mine as well. I didn’t mind making big sacrifices for him—he was my best friend and we were a great team. I bragged on him to others because he truly was such a good husband and I was so thankful. When you have a husband that volunteers to change the baby’s (cloth!) diapers, scrub the shower, and write out bills, it makes it easy to want to cook, do laundry, or the dishes. I miss the normalcy and ease of that well-defined role.
My life is a story of crushing blows and the Lord’s faithfulness to rescue me each time. I take a pounding and initially I make mistakes. I have moments of doubt, of wondering why life hurts, again… but I come around.
Even in those darkest times I know that the pain is only temporary and that Christ is faithful. I also know that Christ was crucified in my place—that what He endured physically, emotionally, and spiritually is far worse than anything I have ever experienced—and that I can rest in that love. Someone who would take on that suffering for me is worth trusting in. Someone who would take on separation from the Heavenly Father for me? Who would take flogging and crucifixion? Public humiliation? A suffering Christ is one I can trust in, one I can take heart in, one I can know for certain loves and cares for me. A god who never knew pain or heartache would be useless in hard times but this God who knows it so intimately is one I can feel as close as the breath in my lungs.
(“Don’t take my picture! I’m camping & haven’t showered.” photo taken the weekend after my suicide attempt)