I had the opportunity to attend a Women’s Virtual meet yesterday. I’m not usually the kind of person who does that and going in I had my own speculations about the entire setup.
The questions started off light and funny – they were playing ‘Never have I ever’. And the stories that backed up their assertions were funny, sometimes unbelievable but wholly entertaining. I quickly came to the conclusion that this was simply fun.
Ooh, was I wrong!!
Once it seemed we were all comfortable they threw a curve ball.
‘Never have I ever…thought of taking my own life’.
Coming from the laughter and the jokes, the mood immediately went sombre. And I sat there with my own thoughts because I have had the thought.
I was skeptical over how they would answer it because my interaction with Christians on the topic has mostly left me heartbroken. There’s this unspoken assumption that Christians have got to have it all together and any sign of imperfection is a direct reflection of your faith. We are so scared of being human, we gloss over real issues.
I also didn’t expect them to be so honest especially when those personal details would go off to about 100 strangers.
I think to answer this and to better help people on this topic you have to have walked through it personally or as personally as it gets so that your comments are not seen as unfeeling.
September last year, I think I was in that category. It was all just theory and textbook answers, even when it came from a place of love and an intention to help. It was those statements that you find on the other side don’t mean much. Stuff like ‘Get it together.’ or ‘Don’t quit early’ or ‘You are dearly loved’. Which may be all be valid thoughts – that you already know in the moment – but you can’t exactly translate to something understandable in that time.
So one of the panelists shared her story, as much as she could to a camera and the internet. A few things stood out to me that I believe are noteworthy.
Sometimes you can’t explain it. She spoke of what her life was like on the outside and as someone who also made assumptions about what I saw, it seemed like there was no reason to be feeling low. Maybe the people around you want a reason and also point out that because of this and that, you shouldn’t be feeling the way you do. If you feel like that, you feel like that.
Speak life. I can not stress this enough – you never have any idea what valley someone is walking through. People, I have learnt, are very good at hiding the things they don’t want you to see. It doesn’t mean it’s not there.
And even though, to you, it may seem small and negligible to them it’s a mountain. Don’t make light of their situation and as often as you can – speak life. Affirm something about them. Help people fight their insecurities rather than adding to them. If you wouldn’t want to hear it in that situation, do NOT say it to someone else.
I also liked the reminder that the best life has already been written in the Word. Read that over yourself. Believe that you are who God says you are. Some of the ending notes included the phrase ‘There’s life on this side’ – with Jesus that is – and there is. It doesn’t mean you won’t have low moments but you’ve got your personal person to walk them through with.
My personal addition…it takes time! It takes a whole lot of time that sometimes no one foresaw. I thought the low feeling would pass. I wrote down my ‘Reinvention’ and expected that I would feel better in a month. A month turned into a year and some. Some days I still find myself walking through it.
If you find that it’s taking longer than expected, that’s okay too. Stay with the process. This will look like an undoing of lies you have believed about yourself. It will look like allowing yourself to be vulnerable and letting some people in (which can be a process in itself as you sort out the right ones).
I understand that the easiest thing is to read all this and the test comes in living it out.
Go out and speak life. And I would like it if we could use this comment section to spread the love around – if you feel like it. Just drop a positive comment or lovely quote or joke that could brighten up the next reader.
Here’s my recycled attempt.
‘The past, the present and the future all walked into a school… It was tense.’