Forgiveness Healed My Heart

Trigger warning: This post is about suicidal thoughts and hopelessness. If you are currently struggling with suicidal thoughts, please reach out to someone at one of the hotlines we have posted here.

I had all but given up. I mentally catalogued the various prescription and over-the-counter pills in my medicine cabinet. There were enough to end my hopelessness forever. I truly believed my one-and-a-half-year-old son and my longsuffering husband would be better off without me.

I saw no other way to escape this deep depression that had engulfed me for what seemed like forever. I had tried everything—academic accolades, career, marriage, counseling, antidepressants, alcohol, exercise, motherhood, even religion—but nothing pulled me from my pit of misery. Near-constant tears were destined to drown me if I didn’t kill myself first.

I credit God with stopping me from following through that day. His Word says, “The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them.” Psalm 34:7. His word did not fail me when an angel stopped my hand from a dreadful mistake. “For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:37.

When a friend learned of the depths of my despair, she invited me to a women’s Bible study. It had been a long time since I had engaged in any formal study of the Scriptures. I was nervous because I felt certain they would see me for the fraud I felt I was.

But those ladies didn’t judge me or tell me I just needed more faith. Instead, they loved me and lifted to God my simple prayer: “I just don’t want to be depressed anymore.” It took me over a month to whisper that prayer request, but it didn’t take Jesus long to answer it.

The answer came in a most unlikely way—through a dream.

I had been harboring bitterness toward a number of people who had harmed me, but the worst offender was the boy who had raped me when I was only 14. I had often said that he ruined my life. One night I dreamed I was going about my ordinary life, buying groceries, taking bills to the Post Office, and depositing a check at the bank. As I completed each errand I turned to find my attacker, down on his knees, asking me to forgive him. Each time I brushed past him, refusing to accept his apology.

I awoke from that dream with the certain knowledge that forgiveness would set me free. Yet I knew I could not do it alone. I sat on the edge of my bed and prayed for God’s help to forgive all those grudges I had recorded in my heart. Cleansing tears streamed down my face as I poured out my prayer to Jesus.

That very hour I felt something was different. The darkness had been lifted and the light of hope streamed in. That was over twenty years ago and although I can still be a bit melancholy, I have never again felt the deep and abiding hopelessness that tried to lure me to the medicine cabinet.

Your sister in Christ, Linda

AnotherFearlessYear.net

Losing Everything

My own studies have immersed me in the awful book of Job. This man lost everything–there is much we can learn from him. But it may be a definite challenge to plow through these “dark” issues. But we need to do this, sooner or later.

First of all, Job is a mysterious book. There’s no reference to the Temple or the Temple services. No connection with other biblical writings or persons. Most students believe that the book of Job is the first one written in the Old Testament.

It’s not Jewish, but it’s not pagan either. In a real sense, it speaks about suffering and pain. Job lost everything. The book tries to explain what brokenbelievers face every day. We all struggle. We all will experience suffering and loss.

Job connects us with those with illnesses–mental or physical.

We are people who must try to navigate through dark things. Most will never really understand this, but we are those who must face adversity and conflict. Like Job we ask why. We may even end up accusing God of attacking us.

We have to sort things out and believe me, it’s never easy. As we try we’ll often ask “why me?” We often accuse God. But I’m thoroughly convinced that the Almighty isn’t fazed by our questions and we should never think we’re wrong when we so challenge his goodness. He’s big enough to handle these.

In Job we’ll hear God speak to us through “the whirlwind.”

I want to encourage you (the reader) to find place in your heart for this book. Job isn’t easy to read–but I’ve gained a lot by reading it in the Message translation, but any other modern Bible works.

We’ll realize all of our questions will probably not be answered, but that’s okay. The problem of our suffering will most likely remain. There are no pat answers. I’m sorry.

“Anyone who has suffered knows that there is no such thing as “getting a grip on oneself” or “pulling oneself up by the bootstraps. The only bootstrap in the Christian life is the Cross, sometimes laying hold of the cross can be comforting, but other times it is like picking up a snake.””

“Job knew this firsthand. From him we learn that there are no easy answers to suffering. That the mark of true faith is not happiness, but rather, having one’s deepest passions be engaged by the enormity of God. And through Job we learn the secret of the gospel: that “mercy is the permission to be human.” The Lord never gave Job an explanation for all he had been through. His only answer was Himself. But as Job discovered, that was enough.”

Mike Mason

Grief Sucks but God Restores Hope

It’s been 15 days since I got the news. My sister Suz passed away at 4:00 a.m. on a Thursday morning.

I hate that phrase, “passed away.” It makes it sound like she floated off in a gondola across the sea.

She died. Why do we shroud death in such wishy-washy language?

I never went to visit her before she died. I had plans to visit Memorial Day weekend. But that was a week too late. I really need to stop planning to visit loved ones who are sick and just do it.

The cards and condolences all give me permission to grieve this terrible loss. But I’m scared to let myself grieve. I can’t think about this loss of my oldest sister without remembering the loss of our sister Peggy (who also died on a Thursday), and Daddy before her, and Mom before him. The grief seems too much to bear.

Grieving is doubly difficult when every impulse to let tears fall feels like teetering on the rim of the pit of depression. What if I let the grief run free and it drags me into that hell I haven’t really known in over 20 years? I remember that place of desperation all too well and I refuse to go back there.

It’s not that I haven’t cried about her being gone. I definitely have, but it terrifies me when I do. And why do the tears keep coming back once they’ve been cried? How do I grieve but continue to live? 

I know this deep sadness is different from major clinical depression. I know the reason for these tears. When my depression was at its worst I had no idea why I couldn’t stop crying. The incessant tears served no discernible purpose. But the head knowledge that my tears of late do have a purpose—the loss of someone I dearly love—doesn’t alleviate the fear that they may drag me into another bout of depression.

The other day I queued up a few Chris Stapleton songs on YouTube while I worked on a relatively mindless project. I fondly reminisced about when she bought us tickets to see him at a small venue in Portland. Then a song came on that I hadn’t heard him sing before called “Drink a Beer.” The next thing I know I’m bawling and my heart feels like it’s breaking into a million little pieces and being compressed in a vise all at once.

Today, as every day for the last two weeks, the hard cider in the fridge calls to me. I usually wait until after work to have one. But I’m on vacation this week and today 3:00 p.m. seemed like a good time to have one. It’s 5:00 p.m. somewhere, right? And at least I’m not drinking tequila in her honor.

Maybe it’s the compound grief that is making it harder for me to cope with this loss. I don’t remember it being quite so unbearable when Peggy died, but then Suz was there with me for that loss. We began the grieving together. Now all my family support it on the other end of a telephone line.

When Mom and then Dad died, I was already depressed. My grief was fused with the vague despair of my mental illness. I suppose it could be that fusion that makes grieving so difficult now. I can’t seem to separate the two states of sorrow.

And yet this spiritual discipline of writing my thoughts and fears on paper helps me to gain a clearer perspective. I’m reminded as I write of a favorite Bible verse. John 11:35 says, “Jesus wept.” The occasion was the death of his dear friend Lazarus. Even though Jesus knew he was about to raise Lazarus to life again, Jesus modeled grief over the loss of a loved one. He declared in that shortest verse that tears are a normal part of this broken life we live in a world of sorrow upon sorrow.

The same apostle who recorded this verse penned the book of Revelation where we are told God “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” Revelation 21:4 NIV.

These tears I cry for my sister are normal. This grief is okay. Today won’t be the last time I grieve this loss. This will likely not be the last loss I will know in this broken world.

“We will never be the same as we were before this loss, but are ever so much the better for having had someone so great to lose.”

Hope in My Pocket


It was a long cold winter that year. I felt sure it would never end. The sun finally emerged one day, but it was still a bit cool so I pulled out my favorite yellow spring jacket. I reached into the pocket and to my surprise I found a $20 bill. I must have known it was there at one time because I most likely put it there. But it had been a long winter, a long time since it was warm enough to wear that jacket. Even though I didn’t know it, that $20 bill was there all along just waiting for me to find it again.

Sometimes hope is like that $20 bill. We have it and we know it, but in the long hard winters of life we forget about it. The winter can be so long and so cold that we lose all memory of hope. But even though we forget, hope is there all along just waiting for us to find it again.

I struggled a long time with the pain of fibromyalgia. I had no hope that I would feel well. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

I despaired for five years because of underemployment. I had little hope of securing and being able to keep a full-time job. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

I felt despondent for what seemed like forever over the loss of my mother. And later my father. I had no hope of feeling joy again. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

I traveled the long road of despair and depression, stemming from trauma to bitter to forget. For over a decade I was certain I would be broken forever. God reminded me to fear not for hope was still there.

Recently, I have been in anguish over the state of our world, the corruption and greed, the violence and sickness, that seem to rule the day. Is there any hope for a better world? God reminds us to fear not for hope is still here.

“We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”

Romans 5:3-5 NLT.

We may forget our hope in the long cold winters of life, but our hope—our God—is still here with us. Some of what we hope for we will not see until we reach heaven. But some of what we hope for is sitting in the pocket of our yellow spring jacket waiting for us to find it again.

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