Saturday, July 8, 2017

Let Him Stay

Sometimes.... there is a darker story lurking and churning behind what others can see from the outside.
This has been true of me.

I was born into a home brimming with love, security and endless laughter.
I've been a follower of Christ ever since I was even remotely able to understand what a follower of Christ was. He had my heart.
I was gloriously voted in as class clown in eighth grade. A high honor for someone who loves to make people laugh.
I went to college and majored in Christian Education and Missions.
I've been a pastor's wife for twenty-five years in a church that has been nothing but generous and good to me.
I co-founded a non-profit that rescues and empowers children and their families from the grip of extreme poverty and hopelessness in Uganda, Africa and have traveled there to love on those kids and be equally loved by them, six times.
I am surrounded by exceptional family and friends who invite me into joy and crazy kinds of fun, who will stop to listen to my heart and who are never as far away as a text or a phone call, lunch or a movie.
I've been in counseling for at least seven years with some of the best Christian therapists in the field and have experienced deep and lasting healing from childhood trauma.

Hear me say this.
My life is GOOD.
My faith is STRONG.
My family is BEAUTIFUL.
But on June 28th at six o'clock in the morning, I tried to shut down my one beating heart by cutting off my air supply with the ties and material of two hospital gowns.

I'm not looking for pity. And I'm not wallowing in shame or regret.
Instead, I am asking for awareness and understanding.
And at the same time, I'm offering Hope.

I was in great anguish and despair on that early morning in June because I somehow believed I was all alone. Alone in the sense that Jesus had given up on me and walked away. And if I wasn't fit for my beloved relationship with Him, then there was no reason that made any sense to keep me tethered to this life.

How did I get to this place?

A few people have shamed me and turned away in disgust because I fell for and believed a lie. Because I chose to be utterly selfish in trying to end my life and leave everyone I love, hurting and broken.
But I'm joining the ranks of believers who don't carelessly judge someone who attempts or commits suicide. The ones who have been there or understand the reality and torment of mental illness.
One can have a beautiful life and have their medications cease doing their job. Add to that chronic pain with no relief, a serious and prolonged sleep deficit, added financial strain because you cant work your regular job, stressors that are beyond your control and anxiety that pulls you into the need to hide which ultimately keeps you from the very people who you need to reach out to for help. That tormented feeling like you are permanently alone and then circumstances that utterly convince you that your God has also abandoned you for good.

That last one broke me. It broke my heart and it broke my mind.

"I found out that Jesus didn't want to be alone, either. In a garden in Gethsemane, He asked, "Is there any other way?"
Jesus could have chosen to pray by himself and hide this inner struggle. Jesus often prayed alone. Yet on the worst night of his life, Jesus tells us he needed someone to hold on to the hard moment with him.
Jesus needed someone to stay.
And you know what? The hardness of the journey doesn't mean you are on the wrong path." ~Bonnie Gray ~ Whispers of Rest.

Jesus knelt quietly beside me as I pulled those ties tighter and tighter around my desperately pulsating neck, tying knots as I went.
 And He whispered, "I'm here with you. And I'm going to stay. Do not fear, for I have redeemed you. I call you by name. You are mine."
The Holy Spirit seemed to engulf me and loosen my grip.
He came in three, swirling colors that I recognized as the Trinity.
And I gave in to Love.

I put words to this incredibly personal and painful experience because we all need people who are real. And to help you understand that this does indeed happen to people of faith.
Don't look down on them. Look up to Jesus. The One who rescued me from my own destructive mind and helped me to uncurl my fingers and let go.

He's just as much for you as He is for me.
Let him stay with you.


Sally Wall said...

My darling Julie Anne:thank you for this astonishing love letter to us all. How very courageous.
Oh, Jesus, teach us Your love, Your ways, Your compassion.
Come and stay, sweet girl, if you'd like. 💛💛💛

KarenP said...

Thank you, Julie, for finding the courage to write this. You have made yourself vulnerable and, at the same time, relatable. I have to admit, I have not read every post you have written because there were times when I thought, "She can't relate to how I feel and to what I am going through. To how much of a failure I feel in my faith and in my life in general." Four years ago, I went through an episode of major depression and suicide ideation. I too, had spent years in counseling for childhood trauma and abuse. This was a huge indication to me that there was more healing needed and was there ever. After reading this post, I am so encouraged to continue to tell my story, to not be ashamed and to be ok with others not understanding. To let go of the ones who judge me for not having enough faith and to focus on Jesus and those around me who love me right where I am at and for who I am. Thank you, Julie and I pray you continue to walk your path of healing and share that journey so that others will find hope too.

Julie Anne said...

Your comment, Karen, is beautiful. I'm so many ways. Thank you for responding to my story. It's the realest and most transparent I've ever been. I didn't stop to second guess myself. It was in me so I wrote it and published it and never looked back.
And yes! Tell your story. God uses that kind of action to meet other people where they are.

Much love,

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