When my dad discovered that I was self-harming, when he pulled up my sleeves and noticed the fresh-that-morning cuts on my arm, he pulled me into a giant bear hug—the kind only dads can give—and refused to let go.
I imagine God is the same way, especially when it comes to those who have walked away, those who have doubted, those who have lamented and struggled.
I doubted for a long time, but I’ve had faith for longer.
Doubting is easy, having faith is hard.
When you’re being raped, it’s hard to have faith that one day God will use this for good.
When you’re cutting yourself open and starving yourself, it’s hard to have faith that God made you, and will continue to make you, beautiful.
But there I was, having faith I was starting to outgrow. When I was little, it fit like one of my dad’s t-shirts: large and floppy. Now that I had struggled, it fit like one of those old t-shirts it’s time to get rid of: too tight in the middle, with holes in the armpits.
It’s hard when your faith is shaken. You begin to wonder if it was strong enough to begin with, if you were a good-enough Christian to begin with. Doubt begins to creep in when your faith doesn’t seem big enough.
I never stopped having faith, but I let doubt take control. I was like one of those tight rope walkers who tense up and fall when they look down and realize how far away the ground is.
The night I attempted suicide was a night much like this one. I remember it vividly: the house was quiet; snow, sparkling under the light of the moon, was falling outside my window. The roads were covered in snow, and tree branches were dancing in the wind. It was beautiful and magical, serene and tranquil, but it wasn’t enough to save me.
My doubt was.
As I lay in the darkness of my room, waiting for the pills to do their job, I could see the light of the moon shining bright.
The doubt I had been feeling for years had eroded a place for hope and faith. And I know that doesn’t make sense, but believe me when I tell you that one the night I tried to kill myself, I was angry at the beauty I saw outside. I was angry at the way God had created nature and man, called both good, but he had seemingly abandoned me.
I was angry, but I still held on to a little bit of hope.
So as time slowed down and the earth began to slip away, I made a last ditch “I don’t know if God exists, but if He does, I hope He hears this because I’m all out of answers, and I can’t do this alone” cry.
And He did. And He answered, not with a shout, but with the gentlest of whispers.
“You’ll be ok.”
He answered with a whisper, but I’m sure He was like: “Finally! I told you that you couldn’t do this alone, and I was here cheering on the sidelines like an idiot screaming, ‘Come on, you can do this!’ But you weren’t paying any attention to what mattered. You were too focused on your past to think about your future or your present.”
And He’d be right. I was.
When my dad discovered I was self-harming, he pulled me into a bear hug.
When he discovered I tried to kill myself, he pulled me into his lap and threw his arms around me, as if to say, I’m never letting you go.
I imagine God did the same when I finally surrendered my pain, my past, my failures, and returned to him.
I imagine him saying, “Come on, Child. We can get through this together.”