Over the last year, I have found myself feeling like I really know who I am. And also whose I am. It is humbling and empowering to know the God of our universe had me in mind, created me on purpose, and has a plan for me.
I have come to a point where I am comfortable and able to kindly say I like this, I don’t like that, I want this, I need this. Instead of reflecting on time spent with friends feeling like I mirrored their sentiments, I am true to my own thoughts, opinions, and feelings.
Last October one of my sons tried to take his own life. While my heart broke and the pain I feel over all of it is deep, I have reflected often on the fact that I didn’t feel overwhelmingly distraught or desolate in the scariest moments of the ordeal, or the days that followed.
I did not feel as desperate as I thought I should. I found myself thinking a few times that I should be more distraught, more something. At one point I remember thinking, I should feel like the walls are crashing in on me right now. And then I wondered exactly who says I should feel that way and what good it would do? And then the clear picture of Jesus beside me, surrounding my son, and I was able to be thankful for so many hard things in my life that taught me that Jesus is the rock on which to build my life. Guilt likes to wiggle in and tell me I’m messing up or missing something by not being properly devastated. But the Word tells us that God will give us peace that surpasses understanding. I have dwelt in that peace more in the last 8 months than ever before in my life.
This peace comes as an answer to prayer – but not always my own prayer. Sometimes I don’t have the words to speak. But I have people standing boldly in the gap, praying for my son and for our family. We talk about community in church a lot, and it’s said that life is better together. Those first days, and the following weeks, really showed me how necessary it is to have people who love Jesus loving on our family in hard times.
I also realized that while I believe we were created for community and God didn’t intend for us to do life alone, He also didn’t intend for us to find our identity anywhere other than through Him. I think oftentimes we get the “we should feel/think/say/do” thoughts from finding our identity in our friend group, social media, parents, spouses, kids, work, you name it. Something other than identity in Jesus will leave our footing on shifting sand, “they said I should”, and being blown about with every shift in the wind.
Now for the hardest line to admit aloud – and I think this is hard to admit aloud because I don’t want it to be taken wrong. I don’t want to be judged. Here it goes…
While my son is absolutely important to me and I know he is a blessing from God Himself, my children don’t define who I am. Jesus does. My son’s choices are his own. I hurt when he hurts, from a place of empathy. I want his anguish to be relieved and I will do absolutely everything in my power to be sure he is getting the help he needs and that we as a family are also getting the help we need.
This isn’t about abandoning someone I love in the midst of their pain, or even boundaries, or rising above energy that doesn’t serve me. This is about wrapping my arms around him, praying for him, seeking the necessary therapy, and resting in the love and peace of Jesus as I do what is wise and necessary for my boy.
I’m doing my part. Not perfectly. Not without a learning curve and mistakes. I’ve had to ask for forgiveness. I’ve had to give forgiveness. And I’ll have to keep learning, every single moment of every day. And I’m going to keep resting in Jesus. It’s not that I’m confident about what the future holds on earth, but I have hope because of Christ, and for that, I am humbled and deeply grateful.
Until next time,
If you or a loved one are struggling with depression or suicidal thoughts and need help, please reach out the the Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 – they are available 24/7 to help you and have been a help to our family several times.