It is the voice of love that is soft but timely. It’s a voice that we often ignore because it isn’t as forceful as a voice that tells you you are worthless, but it is still unrelenting.
In the last few days there has been a lot about the young pastor that took his own life. He was a man that suffered from anxiety and depression. He had a family, a church, a life. This story has been difficult to read because one of the traits that makes me who I am is that I put myself in the shoes of those I talk to and read about. I feel their emotions, I experience along with them. So when I read about a pastor that committed suicide in the midst of struggling with anxiety and depression I very nearly fall apart.
I am a pastor. I struggle with anxiety and depression. I feel the effects and see the changes in who I am. In the midst of the times of the worst bouts with these disorders I feel like I am trapped within my own body and can only watch as someone else interacts and responds with the rest of the world. I don’t feel like myself but it’s not as easy as simply snapping out of it.
I am a pastor. I struggle with anxiety and depression.
So when I read about a pastor that has committed suicide in the middle of this pain I mourn for him, I mourn for his family, I mourn for his friends, and I mourn for his church. Then I do something I probably shouldn’t, I see myself in that story, I see my wife, my friends, my church. I’ve never attempted suicide, but I have thought about what an existence without me would be like. I’ve created all those scenarios…that’s when I reached out for help. I realized something was wrong when I started creating an imaginary world that was better without me in it. I started being able to tell myself that everyone around me would be better off without Kyle. I had myself convinced that these thoughts were true and that’s when I got scared. It didn’t look like an escape from problems, it looked like solving all the problems of others by getting rid of me…
I had myself convinced that these thoughts were true and that’s when I got scared. It didn’t look like an escape from problems, it looked like solving all the problems of others by getting rid of me…
One of my main outlets to battle my own depression and anxiety is this: my blog. It’s my way of trying to Encourage and Inspire others. At times it is through entertainment while at others it’s through my own experience. This blog post has been on my mind since I read about this young pastor’s death and I can just now bring myself to write about what I have learned.
Zach Williams has a song titled “Fear is a Liar”. It’s great song with a great message, but I think the music video brings the whole message to it’s peak. The video that takes place over the 3+ minute song shows the lives of 3 people that are driven to the brink of suicide because of the circumstances in their life. As the music builds and the video begins to reach it’s apex each person encounters a person who isn’t speaking out of selfishness or anger or fear and simply responds in love. There are tears for the actors in the video, but their those aren’t the only tears that were shed. I sat at my computer watching a YouTube music video and I was crying.
I was crying because the voice of fear sounds so loud. It resonates and speaks to you where you are weakest. It knows your sore spots, it knows the place in your armor that can’t resist, and it is merciless. It is the voice of love that is soft but timely. It’s a voice that we often ignore because it isn’t as forceful as a voice that tells you you are worthless, but it is still unrelenting. I have found a friend that is willing to express that love as loud and as often as the voice of fear and I hope you can find that too. If you can’t, please let this be that voice.
To close I want to share something I’ve learned. My own personal voice of fear tends to tell me 4 things. These 4 lies are awful, dreadful lies that try to tear down who I am. If I’ve learned one thing it’s that you may not battle all 4 of these, but I’ll bet you battle at least 1.
Lie #1: You aren’t worth the love you are shown. What a compelling and pervasive argument. We continue to put ourselves down because we see value in seeing ourselves as less that what we are. We downplay our talents and our abilities because we think that will somehow make us better. We can point out all the positives in everyone else and yet see only negatives in ourself. The fact that we can only see negatives leads us to believing that we are failures. That we are unworthy of anything that looks like love or admiration or even true friendship.
This is an incredible lie. The simple fact that you can find the positives in other people is a positive trait of yourself. Don’t take your own word for it. Go find a friend and tell them how you are feeling and listen to what they have to say about you. BELIEVE THEM WHEN THEY SAY IT. You may be an expert on your own mind, but we spend far too much time with ourselves to not be biased when it comes to who we truly are.
Lie #2: Your impact on this world is negative and it would be better without you in it. Just don’t go here. This is the most awful lie of all that doesn’t have any sliver of truth. Anger, fear, and failure are a part of life. Both on the part of you and those around you, but it doesn’t mean that anyone is better off without you. Just like you are who you are because of your interaction with the people around you, the same is true for them. They are who they are because of their interaction with you. You do bring people happiness and joy. You’ve made people laugh, you’ve given people butterflies when they think about you, you have people that admire you and people have grown because of you. I don’t even know you but I can tell you that you do because I told myself the same thing. Then I had my kids, my wife, and my friends step into life in various ways and prove me wrong. They showed me how their lives not only wouldn’t be the same without me, but how it’s been made better because of my presence in their lives. Yes, you’ll upset people. Yes, there may be problems that you have caused…but we all have. That’s called life and that’s ok. You keep living, keep loving, and give it another go tomorrow.
Lie #3: You are all alone. In anxiety and depression we create our own isolation that prevents us from realizing how many people are there to help. How many people would reach into your life and speak truth and love if you simply reached out? Don’t let some self imposed stigma around what you are going through stop you from asking for help. No, not everyone will understand what you are talking about. Some may tell you to cheer up, some may give you a quote from a book or from the Bible that is intended to help but only makes you feel worse. Know that they are trying to help but they don’t know how. That’s ok, now move on to find people that do this for a living or go through the same thing you do. People want to help, sometimes they just don’t know how.
Lie #4: This will never end and tomorrow will be no better. It was 11 months ago that I realized I was at the lowest point of what I felt my existence was. My depression and anxiety had a hold on me so tight that it was choking the life from me. I felt that my life was a downward spiral that, no matter what I did, only got worse with action. I was living in quicksand when any motion brought me closer to death and only stillness and isolation kept it from getting worse but never made it better. I thought I was destined to a life where I looked happy on the outside, told jokes, got laughs, and make others happy but would never feel that way myself. And now I sit here typing this to tell you that it will get better. It won’t be easy, it’ll be the most difficult battle you’ve ever faced, but it will get better. You have face what’s going on in your mind, admit that the depression and anxiety are more than you can handle alone because you’re trying to fight fire with fire and that only sets your whole world on fire. Fight fire with water, fear with love, isolation with help.
Allow the unrelenting voice of love to speak truth into your life. This world is not better without you. This world isn’t the same without you.