“Even our darkest thoughts will never separate us from the love of God. He is with us in the wilderness, and He is with us as we wrestle with our brokenness.” Kayla Stoecklein from Fear Gone Wild: A Story of Mental Illness, Suicide, and Hope Through Loss
When I read about astronaut Charlie Duke speaking at our church for the 50th anniversary of the moon landing, I expected to hear a little about Jesus and a lot about the moon. I never imagined he’d share about his and Dotty’s marriage nearly ending in divorce, her struggle with depression and suicidal thoughts, and their miracle.
Charlie had his book for sale after the church service, but it was Dotty’s 26-page From Sadness to Joy I bought and read in one evening. I could have written it myself minus the astronaut husband.
Dotty told how she dreamed about a fairytale marriage; how she longed for Charlie to pay attention to her and her feelings; how she believed he and their two young sons would be better off with her dead instead of depressed.
Jesus first redeemed her life, then he redeemed her marriage.
I love happy endings. However, I couldn’t help but think about people who didn’t get their happily-ever-after – people who tried hard, but it didn’t work.
Harriet Deison, mother, grandmother, and a wife of a prominent pastor, killed herself four days after Christmas in 2012. I’ve talked about her before. She drove across town in her Lexus, bought a gun, and shot herself in her car, but not before she helped plenty of church people and others who suffered too.
A few days after Harriet’s death, on January 2, 2013, 14-year-old Jenna Saadati killed herself. She was a freshman in her high school’s International Baccalaureate program. She planned to complete and publish her novel and pursue a career as a missionary pediatric doctor.
Andrew Stoecklein, 30, pastored a megachurch in California and had just returned from a sabbatical intended to relieve his depression and panic attacks. That Sunday he preached to a packed church about depression and suicide, the first sermon in a series he titled “A Hot Mess.” Two weeks later, he took his life.
The quote at the beginning is from his wife’s book that she wrote after his death.
Designer Kate Spade, chef Anthony Bourdain, and actor and comedian Robin Williams made “suicide” a household word, albeit a painful one. Williams correlated depression and humor, “I think the saddest people always try their hardest to make people happy. Because they know what it’s like to feel absolutely worthless and they don’t want anybody else to feel like that.”
Sadly, each one of these beautiful people had pain that clouded the truth about who they were and how much they were loved. Because of that, they couldn’t stay.
And because of them, we have to stay so we can help each other.
In This Together,
Parts of this story are excerpts from a blog post I wrote in 2019.
FYI: I’m blogging my book titled On The Other Side of Trying Hard: Healing, Happiness, and Holiness. Because these blog posts are a manuscript instead of stand-alone stories, some posts may leave you hanging. I hope you’ll hang in here with us anyway ‘cause a happy ending is coming. My blog post title includes the chapter title first. The phrase in parentheses is the subheading. I’m over-the-top grateful to have you here. I’d love to hear your reflections, questions, and comments.