“How do you know you’re suicidal?” a doctor asked me in 2009.
“Because,” I replied, “if someone were to come in here right now and point a gun to my head, I’d feel relieved. I’d welcome that.”
“It sounds like you want someone to end your suffering for you. It sounds like you want someone to save you.”
For the next four years, I was in therapy, where I was basically taught that no one would save me. I learned to save myself (which, more or less, meant coping with this). In 2013 I wrote, “I need to know that people can get through this alone.” It was difficult. Every day felt like going to battle for mere survival. Despair permeated my existence. Several times I did try to kill myself.
By 2016 I had already done everything in my power to make my life better, or even just bearable, but nothing was working well enough. And I had become so utterly exhausted. I told a couple of good friends that I wasn’t sure how much longer I could go on living the way I did. One of those friends, K, suggested that I go to church. I told her that I’d already tried that. She urged me to try again, to look for a good church near me. I live in Vancouver, and she lives in Manila. A friend of hers in Singapore put her in touch with someone in Toronto, who then put her in touch with a pastor in my area. Pastor B and his wife invited me to their Dec. 18 worship service.
I was hesitant to attend, because I had doubts about Christianity and religion in general. I had plenty of questions. Even though I desperately wanted to be saved out of my situation somehow, I thought it was selfish and therefore wrong to turn to Jesus while I still had those questions. K and I went to the same Catholic school in Manila (though I was a nominal Catholic who later settled into agnosticism), so we were both exposed to the same church songs from the 1990s. There’s one that goes, “Cast your burdens upon me, those who are heavily laden. … Come to me, and I will give you rest.” I told K, “Don’t you know how tempting it is to take Him up on that offer? But it would be selfish. It would be wrong.” She explained to me that just as doctors heal those who need healing, Jesus saves those who need saving.
I went to the service. On that beautiful snow-covered day of Dec. 18, 2016, the voices in my head were absent. Completely. The silence, the new-found peace, felt like mercy.
“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30)
In the two months following my first encounter with Christ, I went on a couple of out-of-town trips, so I missed a few Sunday worship services and Wednesday discipleship group meetings. I still had many questions. Of course, I asked myself whether I was experiencing a placebo effect, etc. Unfortunately, the voices soon began to creep back into my head. They intermittently inhabited it again (though they were more manageable than they could have been). In early February, I was wrestling with a particularly bothersome and emotionally charged question involving Christian doctrine. I didn’t know what to think. My mind was beginning to feel the way it had always felt — chaotic, beleaguered. On the evening of Feb. 7, I figured that my “church experiment” had failed, just like all my other life-improvement attempts had failed. I shrugged and thought, “Oh well, what’s new.” I was well aware of what was coming, what sort of life I’d return to. True enough, the next day was terrible and annoyingly familiar. It felt like one of my bad days from 2014 (a horrendous year for me). That night, on Feb. 8, I cried out to God for mercy. I swore I’d do anything to receive His peace again. I said I didn’t want to go back to the life I had been living for the past eight or nine years; that kind of life was not worth living. I asked Jesus to tell me what to do. I asked Him to be not only my Saviour but also the Lord of my life.
My head was quiet on Feb. 9, and for that I was grateful. K recommended a book that might answer my troubling question. It was written by an American pastor’s wife. I immediately bought the e-book and started reading. It didn’t actually answer my question, but God used it to teach me this: Obedience comes before understanding. I embraced the lesson. I let my question go. I reaffirmed what I professed the previous night — that Jesus is my Lord now. I committed to obeying Him, even before or without understanding.
That was six months ago. Since then, I haven’t heard any voices in my head at all. And as a bonus, God answered my bothersome question in April. I honestly thought it would take years to get that issue straightened out for me. Then in May, He answered my other paradigm-shifting question, which I also thought would take years and years to settle. It’s true, what He said: “Seek and you will find.” With my heart and my mind unencumbered, I was happy to be baptized on June 10.
I don’t mean that my theology is perfectly sorted, not at all. I’m only at the beginning. I’m not even done reading the Old Testament yet. But at this point, I no longer have any make-or-break objections. I’m just looking forward to getting to know God more. I hope that you’d get to know Him, too. Approximately two millennia ago, someone who knew Him wrote these words:
And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” (Revelation 21:3-4)
Come home to Him. He wants you to rest.