Was My Life Even Worth Taking?

Roughly 9 years ago, I was struggling with severe depression. Like a dark cloud hovering over me and no means of escape, so dark that suicide seemed like the only solution. I hated myself more than I hated living and couldn’t care less about how my depression was affecting others. In a very superficial manner, I claimed Christianity. I was raised in a “Christian” atmosphere, brought up attending church service on Sundays and religiously attending Youth Group on Wednesdays. So in my upbringing and head knowledge God was real but that’s all that it was, head knowledge. My lifestyle testified against everything that I claimed to stand for. I was the model of Christian hypocrisy. I would tell others how important God was, yet completely neglected Him in everything I did. During this time I was binge drinking, I was smoking marijuana, cussing profusely and struggling with an addiction to pornography. I judged others with disgust while pretending that my own issues were somehow not as bad. I completely contradicted every teaching of Christ but claimed to be His follower while degrading His very name.

The depression I experienced was overwhelming but oddly gratifying in a perverse way. There was a certain enjoyment I experienced in self-hate. I know it sounds crazy but I felt as though I owed it to myself to continually think destructive thoughts, it was addicting. Over this 2 year experience of what I now understand to be clinical depression, I lost all self-worth and identity. Each month grew more and more dark. I would use alcohol and entertainment as a temporary escape and it would work for a short time until I was back to facing my own thoughts. I also at this time experienced what I now understand to be demonic oppression. I experienced thoughts in my head that I know were not my own, “voices” that attempted to further persuade me to do detriment by hurting myself or other people. At every job I had previously worked at there would be at least one coworker who would say something along the lines of “maybe we should give him a break, otherwise he’ll come in and shoot up the place.” It was as though Satan, through my coworkers, had an agenda or directive for my life and the more I think about it, the more I realize that it was true. Not only was I experiencing external voices persuading me to act violently, the disgustingly vivid and evil things I fantasized about absolutely horrified me. I absolutely hated people poking fun at my small stature and the people I worked with enjoyed ridiculing me and each other. My depression magnified my rage and when I would smoke marijuana it was as if I had opened a portal to the spiritual realm. I seriously contemplated meeting my coworkers’ expectations; I played with the thought of mass murder and contrived plans of how I was going to perpetrate the crime.

Inverted Pride

Eventually, my struggle against the spiritual forces of wickedness[1] overcame me and I committed myself to suicide instead of mass murder as I hated myself more than others. I took a rope and a knife with me to a secluded and dark space of my apartment and decided that if I could not strangulate myself, I would use the knife to complete the job as my previous suicide attempt through strangulation had been hugely unsuccessful. As I prepped it all, I focused my mind specifically on self-loathing to get myself ready mentally. It was in that moment that God spoke to me. The still small voice I experienced was much different from the demonic oppression I was well acquainted with. Instead of a command or instigation, a question resounded in my mind clear as day: “Instead of sacrificing yourself for this foolishness, why don’t you sacrifice your life for Me?” God’s Spirit then enlightened me to how selfish I was being. Even though all of my thoughts had been negative and degrading, they were still obsessively fixated on me. I had never once considered that my depression and self-loathing was in actuality a self-centered mentality. As I was at the end of my rope and had come to the breaking point, desiring any escape from this hopeless darkness, I took God up on His gracious offer and dedicated myself to Him in repentance with a contrite spirit.[2] Paul’s words to the church of Corinth really resonate with my conversion experience:

I now rejoice, not that you were made sorrowful, but that you were made sorrowful to the point of repentance; for you were made sorrowful according to the will of God, so that you might not suffer loss in anything through us. For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces a repentance without regret, leading to salvation, but the sorrow of the world produces death.[3]

Certainly death was waiting to claim me and would’ve had God not intervened as He did. According to Emery University’s statistics on suicide, a person is 20 times more likely to risk suicide if they are experiencing major depression.[4] Irrespective to age, suicide is the 11th leading cause of death in America with more people dying by suicide than by homicide and with two-thirds of those people being depressed at the time of their death.[5] Although my depression was so severe that it brought me to my breaking point, looking back I realize now that it was necessary.  My circumstances forced me to genuinely confront the reality of where I was headed and decide whether I was going to provide my own way out or rely upon God for deliverance. Scripture says that the fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom[6] and leads to life[7]. Had I taken my life by my own hands, I would have solidified the hopelessness of my circumstances permanently and would’ve known Christ as Judge rather than Savior. Thank you Jesus that Your fierce and jealous love produced in me godly sorrow and conviction! The Psalmist’s words in Psalm 116 reflect my sentiment:

The cords of death encompassed me
And the terrors of Sheol came upon me;
I found distress and sorrow.
Then I called upon the name of the LORD:
“O LORD, I beseech You, save my life!”
Gracious is the LORD, and righteous;
Yes, our God is compassionate.
The LORD preserves the simple;
I was brought low, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, O my soul,
For the LORD has dealt bountifully with you.
For You have rescued my soul from death,
My eyes from tears,
My feet from stumbling.

Identity in Christ

After dedicating myself to God and finding new life in Jesus Christ I noticed quite a few changes. The first and most profound was a complete deliverance from my depression. I had found my true identity in Christ and learned of my true value and importance as a creature of His handiwork. I no longer experienced those same destructive thoughts and I was also no longer obsessed with myself. Instead, God had become the focus of my obsession and I remember thinking to myself, “This is odd, I can’t stop thinking about God.” My abuse of alcohol stopped and though I was not psychologically addicted to marijuana, I had absolutely no desire to partake of it. I also realize now that what I was experiencing during my THC highs was not just natural chemical reactions of a drug; I had also been making myself vulnerable to the supernatural realm. By far though, the hardest habit I had to quit was cussing. It took dedication and practice to intentionally break it. I think of cussing today as unnecessary prayers to Satan. My newfound fervor for the word of God revealed to me just how important a tool, and dangerous a weapon, our tongues can be. Paul in his letter to the Ephesians says, “Let no unwholesome word proceed from your mouth, but only such a word as is good for edification according to the need of the moment, so that it will give grace to those who hear.”[8] The Spirit helped me finally break the habit and God also restored the relationships in my life that were broken due to my own unforgiveness. He delivered me from my enslavement to the lusts of sin and opened me to the truth of His word. I spent considerable time objectively reading Scripture. I started with the New Testament and then read through the Old Testament. I didn’t resort to commentaries or sermons but instead relied upon the Spirit to enlighten me to the truth as He had been doing from the moment of my conversion. I asked God for wisdom and dedicated my time to prayer and meditation on His word.

As identity was the thing I struggled with the most and had become something I attempted to place in temporal things. It is now the crux of my confidence in Christ. All of us experience self-doubt and insecurity to some extent. We are born into an existence disconnected from the source of our true identity, so it is only natural that we find ourselves craving things. We desire acceptance, approval, love, security, comfort, etc. But like the experience of my own testimony, we search for our true identity in things that don’t satisfy; in places that neither meet our expectations nor provide us with an absolute and stable foundation. A foundation that is neither a thing nor a place, but a person: Jesus Christ.

References

[1] Ephesians 6:12 (NASB)

[2] Isaiah 66:2

[3] 2 Corinthians 7:9-10

[4] http://www.emorycaresforyou.emory.edu/resources/suicidestatistics.html

[5] Ibid …

[6] Proverbs 1:7; 9:10

[7] Proverbs 19:23

[8] Ephesians 4:29 (NASB)

By |2017-10-25T08:20:07+00:00April 20th, 2017|blog|0 Comments

About the Author:

Husband, father, and contributing author to Bereans Aflame (among other blogs), Terence is an astute student of theology. He received his B.S. in Psychology and Bible from Dallas Christian College in 2015. He is interested in philosophy, world religions, and Ancient Christianity; considers himself nondenominational, and is ardent for apologetics and evangelism.