A couple days ago in a nice neighborhood in midtown Manhattan, a man and his wife jumped to their deaths. The suicides are being blamed on financial problems that were ‘spiraling’ out of control. Both bodies carried ID and suicide notes in baggies in their pants pockets. The two were a mom and dad of a son and daughter, 19 and 20. By all means, pray for those kids. The news hit me especially hard because of my own familiarity with suicide.
When I left college in the early ‘70s I was momentarily involved with a really insidious, pseudo-Christian cult. I was no Bible scholar at that time. But when I discovered the group was demanding that its college-age followers become thieves and prostitutes in order to support the group’s bigamist leader in his lavishly decadent lifestyle, I decided that wasn’t for me. I told them I doubted that God was involved in any of that. At which point I was told I had irreversibly offended God in my so judging - and for that I was lost and guaranteed eternal hell..
If that sounds stupid, it’s only because it was. But as we are experiencing today, even college-educated kids can be made to believe most anything. And their deceivers rely greatly upon their passion in order to animate and profit from the lies they are telling. In my sincere ignorance I was convinced that I was doomed. So I hung out my thumb and I headed to the Colorado mountains. I was intent on committing suicide. And since I didn’t want to die in the hellish summertime heat in Austin, Texas. I headed for the highest mountain (Mount Elbert) in Colorado where I could at least in some respect feel closer to God.
The trip there and everything that happened was nothing less than miraculous and amounted to material that I intend to someday include in a book. Nevertheless, suffice it to say that God sat me down in those mountains, and convinced me to learn more about Him before I went through with killing myself. He headed me back toward Denver, and began the years of healing work that would repair the unbelievable damage left in my heart and soul by the lie I had swallowed. Like what apparently happened to the poor couple in New York City, a lie had convinced me to end my life. And all the best lies are invariably, powerfully laced with a lot of truth.
Nevertheless, the suicidal feelings didn’t go away immediately. I daily thought of killing myself, and carefully tried a couple of times. That kept up for nearly four years after I’d found a job and settled down in that beautiful state. The good Lord (and He is good) there got me together with a world-class Bible expositor who freely helped me understand the perfect and life-giving balance of the Bible that today most of the world looks upon as a giant boring mystery. My scholarly, dear friend who spent so many years opening the Bible to me and thousands of others, showed me that the ability to properly understand Scripture is not at all reserved for an elite few. Neither is it found only in some select church or organization. To make a long story short, the Bible is its own best commentator. And the one who dictated it, specifically His Spirit, is its best teacher.
Since I found closure on all that mess that had started out as an unbearable nightmare, I married and raised a wonderful family. I have since lived what many people have told me amounts to an off-the-charts, unbelievable life. And the places I have gone and the people I have known - I could not have imagined a more incredibly wonderful life for myself. And it’s all God’s fault. He had plans for me that my impulsive suicidal tendencies could have at any moment canceled out. But every time I was at my lowest (and I have been there countless times) I elected to give Him the opportunity to put me straight and fulfill the promises in my life that He has for anyone who will determine to trust Him and leave their problems at His feet.
One at a time, as each of my children were old enough to comprehend such concepts, I asked them how they would feel if mommy or daddy hurt themselves. Immediately their lower lips pushed out, their little heads would bow, and they would look up at me with sad eyes and just shake their heads. And just as immediately I would respond, “Well, that’s how mommy and daddy would feel if you hurt you! And there is a devil who wants to convince you to do just that!” And I made a pact with each of my children that we would never - EVER hurt ourselves. And, finally, when each of my children was about high school age, I shared with them something that I want to share with all of you, my readers, today…
During my time in college I was writing a paper on a topic that had incidentally carried me into a bunch of surveys that had been conducted by a life insurance company. One of the surveys, which ultimately had nothing to do with my project, was a risk factor questionnaire that had been presented to a bunch of people who had tried to kill themselves. The insurance company had discovered that they could only get a reliable, uniform model result from the folks who had jumped off of things in attempting suicide. That was because the people who survived shooting themselves or doing chemical or drug overdoses were very regularly left incoherent. The jumpers, however, most of them anyway, were consistently lucid.
And the results of that study, coupled with the horror I experienced in my own struggle, is what I have made sure to relay to my children, most all my family, as many of my friends and acquaintances as possible, and now you, my dear readers. And if I could, I would plaster the following fact upon billboards ....
Every single one of those surveyed, to the man, all said that the MOMENT they left the ledge, cliff, bridge, roof, tower, airplane, whatever, they felt an extreme sense of regret - sorrow that they had made such a move! And they unanimously went on to express that, as they were falling, they were massively aware of the feeling that there had been NOTHING in their lives that was so bad that it warranted doing what they had done!
When I was on my way to Colorado to kill myself, I had completely mislaid that piece of information. In the place where I was emotionally - thoroughly convinced that I was unredeemably lost forever - it would have, I’m sure, made no difference to me anyway. But when I had little children of my own and I thereby tasted just a tiny bit of the love God has for me, knowing that little known fact has proven invaluable. If you are a parent, you know that your little one doesn’t have to do anything in order to qualify for your love.
In fact, if my children ever felt it was necessary to earn my affection I would be heartbroken. And they all carry in their hearts the knowledge that the very real God, their earthly father and mother, and a bunch of friends would be crushed if they ever chose to hurt themselves.
If you never read anything else that I write, I will be overjoyed in knowing that I have passed this information on to you. Just as I told my kids, it only makes sense that the people who succeed in killing themselves - all of them, for a moment, experience the intense desire to have gone back and given life another chance. But they will never again, in this life, have that chance or even the opportunity to express that.
For any of you out there who are hurting to the point of considering hurting yourself, reach out and get some help. Trust me when I tell you that you can start that reaching out with just a simple prayer in childlike faith.
There is NOTHING that can happen in this short life - not a failed relationship, not massive indebtedness, not even excruciating pain (and I have experienced a lot of that) - that can justify taking your own life. Trust me when I tell you that the true God, whose Son voluntarily allowed a lot of really hateful people to take His life, and forgave them, really loves you - even enough to allow you to paint yourself into a corner that will force you to call out to Him.
He loves you enough to let you choose. And he loves you enough to absolutely catch you before you fall. JUST, PLEASE, LET HIM!
Dave Merrick, Davemerrick.us is an internationally known and published artist whose works reach into the greatest diversity of audiences. Known primarily for his astoundingly lifelike portraiture, Merrick’s drawings and paintings grace the walls of an impressive array of well-known corporate and private clientele. Many of his published wildlife pieces have become some of America’s most popular animal imagery.
He has more original work in the Pro-Rodeo Hall of Fame than any other artist. His wildlife and Southwestern-theme work is distributed internationally through Joan Cawley Galleries of Scottsdale AZ.Commenting Policy
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