Monday, April 08, 2013

Hunkering Down and the Siren of Suicide Revisited

I've said before that when I go on radio silence, both here and in my "real" life, it's because I'm battling demons.  So it is with the past weeks that I've been away, hunkered down, steeling myself against the anxiety that wraps its tendrils around my soul, choking out the smallest shoots of joy that try to emerge.

Things had gotten better for me, but then I heard about the suicide of Rick Warren's son. Rick is the author of The Purpose-Driven Life and the pastor Saddleback Community Church in California.

I understand all too well about the siren of suicide. 
Days before my mother's death, I wrote about her and her temptations.
That's when the siren of suicide sits on the rock and bats her beguiling eyes: "Come see me," she whispers.  "I have a solution.  A real solution. No more struggling with finances.  No more waiting at hospice bedsides.  No more trying to figure out how to get through one more day.  Just come see me and I will take care of it all for you." (Click here for rest of post.)
Several bloggers have written about Matt Warren and mental illness, none better than Thomas McDonald of God and the Machine. He articulates the experience of the "clammy parasite that attaches to your soul and sucks out your life day by agonizing day, until annihilation appears to be the only relief" as only one who has been inside the pain can.

While the siren of suicide has visited me, the one thing that has kept me able to function, albeit sometimes in hunker-down mode, has been the line from this Sunday's Gospel:

A large number of people from the towns
in the vicinity of Jerusalem also gathered,
bringing the sick and those disturbed by unclean spirits,
and they were all cured.--Acts 5
Notice, it doesn't say that some were cured.  It says ALL.  All were cured.  All those disturbed by unclean spirits, and certainly anxiety, depression and suicide are unclean spirits, were cured. When the cold foggy darkness seeps into my soul, I remind God--and myself--that ALL were cured.

I know from what his father said that Matt Warren had been prayed for and probably prayed himself for healing and it didn't happen. He remained caught in the claws of his depression until he no longer believed he could stand it.

I understand. Believing that healing is possible and believing that healing for you is possible are two very different things. I suspect that Matt Warren believed that God could heal his illness. However, at some point, he stopped believing that God would heal his illness. I understand that, too. After years of praying with no tangible result, the temptation to stop believing can be overwhelming.

And yet, I keep coming back to that verse:  "they were all cured."  Not some, but all.

Over and over in the gospels, we read that it was the faith of those who came to Jesus that resulted in their cures. They believed that Jesus would cure them. They didn't hope. They didn't wish. They believed.

And so, on this spring day, as the squirrel runs along the limbs of my cherry tree, causing the blossoms to fall like pink-tinged snow, I say the words of the father in Mark 9: Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”

I don't know when, but I believe that my prayers that the demon of anxiety that has haunted me since my mother was placed on hospice nearly two years ago will be banished. Perhaps it may even be today.

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