I love people, deeply. There are few things on this earth that I love more than making people laugh. I have been told over and over again that I am good at it. I can remember about a month ago, sitting around a fire with some of my best friends. We were all telling stories and laughing. I eventually told a story, or said something that made everyone laugh. We had someone who didn’t know me very well, after we were wiping tears away from our eyes, ask me, “What movie are you quoting?” The answer didn’t come from me, but from one of my very best friends. He said, “He isn’t quoting any movie. This is just Tim.”
When I graduated high school 12 years ago, I had a very clear cut plan in my life. I loved Jesus with my whole heart, and wanted to serve him vocationally for the rest of my life. I had my eye on a girl who loved Jesus with her whole heart. My plan was to move away to Pennsylvania for 4 years to go to college to be a youth pastor. Twelve years later, I went to school to be a youth pastor. I have dated 2 or 3 incredible girls, had 2 or 3 broken hearts, had 4 different jobs. Needless to say, the plan I had for my life didn’t happen.
In my years after college, I was in a pretty dark place. I was frustrated by my stage in life. My job, or lack of job, was frustrating. My living situation was depressing. My relationships were scarce. I lacked, outside of a couple, meaningful relationships.
During this time, I was able to hone a skill, an incredibly dangerous skill. I got really good, and I mean really good, at making everyone think I was happy. I was living in a deep depression but could turn it off when I needed to. I would be the life of the party, I would make everyone laugh, and when the party was over, I’d go right back to that dark place.
Ashamedly there were only two things that would alleviate this pain–sleep and baseball. With baseball, for those 3 hours I could forget about life. For those 3 hours, I was lost in the game. I also slept a ton. I slept because I didn’t feel when I slept. I didn’t feel alone. I didn’t feel like a failure. I didn’t feel the weight of how my life turned out and what I thought was the disappointment from those who loved me.
I remember laying in bed at one point thinking about the things I had to live for. I’m ashamed to say that list wasn’t very long that day. That day, I thought of taking my life. For the first time I had an incredibly selfish thought of making myself feel no more pain. I felt like I couldn’t take it any longer. I felt like I could no longer pull up the covers and shut out the world. The lies that my heart was telling me were deafening.
Depression was something that I have dealt with my entire life. When I tell people this, it usually surprises them. My depression wasn’t always as bad as I have described it above, but it has been a part of my life for as long as I can remember. People have asked me in the past what depression feels like. I don’t know what all depression feels like, but mine feels like nothing. There are times when I feel nothing at all. My day would be filled with going through motions only to get up and do them again the next day. No joy, no excitement, no laughter, nothing significant happening.
What does the Bible say about depression? Anything?
As the deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God, for the living God. My tears have been my food day and night, while they say to me all day long, “Where is your God?” [Psalm 42:1-3]
The psalmist here many believe, as I do, is dealing with a state of depression. “My tears have been my food day and night (verse 3) is something I can relate to. Psalm 42 is something we are all very familiar with. In fact it is printed on many shirts, mugs, bookmarks, and pictures. When we take time to read what the psalmist is trying to say, he is in a very grave state. His soul is panting for God because the lies he is hearing are deafening. But…
Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God. [Psalm 42:5-6]
There is a shift in verses 5 and 6. The psalmist is no longer telling us how he feels in verses 1-3. He is now talking to himself. But he’s not just talking to himself, he is preaching truth to himself. Instead of listening to the lies that he was listening to or feeling – lies that tell him he isn’t good enough, doesn’t make enough money, doesn’t have a relationship like he wants, doesn’t have the car or house he should have – he stops listening and starts speaking truth. He speaks the truth that He does have value. If he didn’t have value, God would not have sent his son Jesus to die on the cross. And not just die, but raise from the dead to make a way that we could have a relationship with a God that we couldn’t do on our own. That glorious Gospel shows us that we are worth it.
One of my favorite authors, Tullian Tchividjian, wrote the following in his book Jesus + Nothing = Everything:
The Gospel doesn’t simply rescue us from the past and rescue us for the the future; it also rescues us in the present from being enslaved to things like fear, insecurity, anger, self-reliance, bitterness, entitlement and insignificance. The power of the Gospel is just as necessary and relevant after you become a Christian as it is before.
Because Jesus was strong for me, I am free to be weak.
Because Jesus won for me, I am free to lose.
Because Jesus was someone, I am free to be no one.
Because Jesus was extraordinary, I am free to be ordinary.
Because Jesus succeeded for me, I am free to fail.
All of the implications of the gospel are something that I will never grasp in this life. It seems like weekly I am finding out how the gospel wasn’t just a call to action and in turn a decision I made when I was younger. Because of what Christ did on the cross, you and I can have victory because of Christ’s atoning sacrifice. The gospel affects our daily decisions. This wasn’t something I grasped that day while I laid in my bed.
I can’t really give you an answer to why I didn’t commit suicide that day. I can say, however, that I praise God that I didn’t. With a clearer head I can think through the ramifications of what my selfish act would have done to family and friends. But more importantly I was placed on this earth to bring God glory through telling what a difference he has made in my life. For me to take my own life would have been sinful. Would Jesus’ precious blood have covered it? Yes, most definitely.
I have had two friends in the past four years take their life. Depression is something that people don’t love talking about, so maybe I could have had more conversations with them about this. I wish that I could have told them these things more clearly. I can play woulda, coulda, shoulda all day long. I’m not sure at this point that is helpful or prudent.
If you struggle with these kinds of thoughts, get help. Help for me looked like pouring over Gods word and speaking truth into my life, but it also looked like going to the doctor and getting some medicine to help the chemical imbalance that my body wasn’t producing. Tell someone. Email me. Find someone you trust and talk to them about it. But most importantly, please hear this:
You are worth it. You are loved.
If you have a relationship with Christ, start speaking the truth you know into your heart. And get help. If you have yet to have a relationship with Christ, again email me. But please know that God sent his son Jesus we could have a relationship with Him.
Get help. What you are feeling is legitimate, you are worth it, and you are loved.
[Editors Note: This post was originally published here.]