When Asking a Question Can Save a Life
I spent yesterday evening in a Behavioral Health unit. I had 60 minutes to visit a friend who had survived a suicide attempt. At first, I had been afraid of what that hour of conversation would be like. When I was notified it was time to leave, I was surprised at how quickly the time had gone and how natural the conversation had been.
I re-learned some important lessons from our conversation. It woke me from sleep sometime after midnight and now needs to be put down on digital "paper."
1. It's OK to ask questions
Is this normal? Do you ever feel that way? What should I do in this situation? Have you experienced this? Can you help me? Ask the questions! Sometimes the knowledge that your experience or circumstance is not unique to you can be a breath of fresh air. It's easy to feel that only you have walked through a particular trial or situation. Allowing that moment of vulnerability to ask someone else to share their insight may be enough to interrupt the thought of "no one understands."
2. It's not good to stay isolated
We are made for relationships. That doesn't mean that everyone is guaranteed a "significant other." Even those who are married run the risk of isolation when the relationship isn't a healthy one. Learn to be a friend. Even if you find yourself happy and content, look for those who are lonely and pour into them. Friendships can be challenging and take time and effort. They too require vulnerability to expose our weaknesses, allowing someone to come alongside and offer strength and support.
3. God answers prayers, but it is rarely instant
This may be the biggest frustration that we humans face. Placing our faith in an unseen God is in and of itself a calculated decision. Praying for something, whether relationships, finances, health or freedom from addiction, all require patience that we are rarely willing to have. When time goes by, especially when it's been years, it's easy to say "God doesn't answer prayer" or even more self damaging, "I'm not sure why I ever believed at all." God does hear. He does care. He will answer. While this seems an overly simplistic conclusion, it is true.
When we view God as a genie in a bottle, it's easy to give up when after a few moments of vigorous rubbing, things don't go our way. God's time table is certainly not our own. The best understanding I can give of the nature of God comes from C.S. Lewis and the allegorical character of Aslan in The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe: “Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he-quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion"..."Safe?" said Mr Beaver ..."Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.”
4. Lives are intricately and beautifully woven together
If you go to a store where they sell rugs, they are always displayed so that you see the top. The colors make sense as they form shapes. The image is clearly visible and you can determine just what the artist had in mind. Had the shop owner turned the rugs over so that the bottom was on display, you would see a seemingly disorganized mess. A color scheme may carry on for a few inches only to be abruptly interrupted by another.
Each one of us is a thread in the master tapestry. We stand behind, looking up at the finished product, unable to see the work of art that is displayed on the other side. It becomes easy to look at your tread as unimportant. The reality is, your thread is a vital part of the finished work. If you were to try to pull it out of the rug, you'd cause a great deal of damage and leave a visible hole.
By no means am I intending this to be a suicide prevention article. This is simply to serve as my observation of areas of life where I need to be purposeful and aware. If you find yourself in deep, dark thoughts, please get help. There is a number to call to talk to someone who has been properly trained in this field: 1-800-273-8255.
For those who have stumbled upon this, thinking it doesn't apply, think again. Because our lives are all woven together, you too have an opportunity to consider where you need to be purposeful and aware. There are those around you who need you to be that safe person, for them to ask questions and be vulnerable with.
My friends, I leave you with a simple question that I hope will both minister to, and challenge you: Do you really know how much you are valued?