Tag: suicide

I Could’ve Quit Too Soon

It’s been 26 years since I almost quit too soon. I thought about that today while driving to an out of town ministry opportunity. It’s been 26 years since I contemplated driving my van into a telephone pole at 70 miles an hour.

Really, you say? Why would someone like me ever think of taking your life?

Because I thought my life was ruined. And it was all my fault.

You see, due to my sins, my addictions, my secret life, I had thrown away my marriage of 21 years, my son who was 14 at the time and long time friends. I’d also been removed from the church my wife and I had pioneered and pastored for 10 years.

I almost quit too soon.

Since that day my marriage, family, friends and ministry have been restored. It wasn’t easy, and it wasn’t something that took place overnight; but it happened. And I’ve lived to see some incredible things take place; things I would have missed if I had quit too soon.

I remember talking with my counselor during this terrible time. I had told him what I had been thinking while driving in the country on old highway 6. He got right in my face (something he did quite often those days) and reminded me that even though I had lost my “ministry”, and probably was going to lose my wife, I still had a responsibility to be a dad to our son, and a person God could depend on.

At that point I couldn’t see how anyone, including God, would want anything to do with a jerk like myself.

But I didn’t quit because God and others wouldn’t let me quit.

They kept reminding me of God’s truth.

Truth such as, “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” (Jeremiah 29:11 ESV) 

And, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” (Romans 11:29 ESV)

Eventually I began to see a glimmer of hope. God was doing miracles in my life. He was restoring my life and bringing His glory into view. Beyond my wildest dreams, He was showing Himself as more than enough for every part of my life.

Including all my failures.

Like I said before, I almost quit too soon.

Too soon to see my marriage restored. Too soon to see my son graduate from high school, eventually marry a wonderful woman, and just 11 months ago have a beautiful son. 

Wow. I could’ve quit before all of that.

But thank God I didn’t.

How about you? Has life become such a burden you feel you can’t take any more? Is your life out of control and you think you’ve hurt too many people? Do you see suicide as the best solution?

Don’t quit too soon.

There is more to living than what you’re experiencing at this moment. There is help available, though you may not see it yet.

And some day, like me, you will look back on this tough thing you’re engulfed in, give a sigh of relief and say…

“I could’ve quit too soon.”

Subtle Suicide Suggestions

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Depression. Have you ever felt depressed? Of course, a lot of people are thinking about it since the news of Robin Williams.

Many people have sad moments in their lives, but that’s not the same thing as depression.

I know. I’ve felt depression’s cold, steely fingers around my throat. And yes, as a Christian.

I know what it’s like to have thoughts of suicide come at me from out of nowhere, walk right into my mind and unpack. In no time, the thoughts began to take over my mind and I found myself planning the time I’d leave.

No, I wasn’t sad. I didn’t cry every night. Things weren’t going bad. I had a great wife, son and daughter in law. I pastored a church and worked a full time job, which wasn’t easy, but I didn’t consider it a problem.

But a problem was growing.

I hadn’t told a soul about my struggle. I had even started to believe everyone around me would be better off if I just checked out.

I was losing my mind.

Praying didn’t seem to break the mental torture I was experiencing. Studying and preaching the word of God didn’t diminish the damning thoughts in the least. I was headed for destruction.

What a precarious position I was in. I felt like a stranger to myself. I knew I needed help, but I felt I couldn’t speak a word of it to anyone. What would they think of me?

One day, I had a doctor’s appointment. Just a normal physical; a checkup. Everything was fine, at least that was my answer I had planned on giving the doctor.

However, as the doctor was finishing her poking and prodding, listening to my heart and lungs, in a routine manner she asked me, “So, how are you feeling?”

The dam inside broke. All my pent up emotions that had been holding me captive burst out of me, and into the examination room. She looked at me as if she were the Angel of the Lord, who had arrived to deliver me. At least that’s how I remember it.

I told her of my thoughts, and plans, and all I’d been going through mentally. Then she asked one question that broke the hold on my mind.

“Does your wife know? You must tell her.” And she promised SHE’D tell her if I didn’t.

Was it easy? No. Was she thrilled to hear of my struggles? Of course not.

But it was no longer my little secret. It was out in the open where I could receive some help.

Help from people who loved me.

God used that moment in the doctor’s office to jump into my struggles and point me to freedom and wholeness. My wife joined in, along with a dear counselor friend. God used them to open up my life to a new understanding of my strengths and weaknesses; especially my weaknesses. I learned it’s okay; it’s natural to have limitations and weaknesses. It’s acceptable. I’m not a freak if I’m not an emotional, and yes, even a spiritual superman.

My life opened up to healing, as I opened my mouth and asked for help. The presence of God became more than a doctrine as I asked for help.

Yes, it was risky; and the doctor could have ignored the little voice inside her prompting the question, “So, how are you feeling?”

If you’re feeling confused, emotionally spent, worried sick about what’s happening in your mind; strange thoughts of suicide are feeling like they belong, then call a friend, talk to your doctor, or spouse, family member. Someone.

You need not walk alone.

You dare NOT walk alone.

Joel Doesn’t Always Smile

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People who see me out and about, wearing my ministry face, shouting hallelujahs, may not believe there’s another side of me.

I’m not always full of pep. I don’t always have my pastor cloak draped over my shoulders. Actually, there are times I simply want to be left alone so I can brood my life away.

Sometimes I have a hard time with my circumstances. They seem to run me over when I least expect it.

And yes, there are times when I beat myself up with self-condemnation. It’s like I take the sword of the Lord, God’s word, and stab myself over and over until I run out of energy.

It’s not something I’d ever advise someone doing, yet I find myself doing it. Every so often.

Too often.

Like today, for example. My stomach started bothering me yesterday, cramping and acting all goofy. The same thing it’s done for a number of years. No doctor has really been able to help me, so I quit going. I just ride them out when they happen. Until today. The pain and duration was more than I could handle, so my wife drove me to the emergency room.

Four and a half hours later…medicine to help with the symptoms. And a bill due for several hundred dollars.

Why am I telling you all this? Because you need to understand that pastors, people in ministry, DO NOT live a perfect life! They can be attacked spiritually, physically, emotionally, financially, and socially…just out of the blue.

I’m sure you’ll never hear any of the big name televangelists tell of their woes on national television. However, you will receive mail asking for donations to help them pay for this or that ministry or problem.

Joel Osteen doesn’t flash that million dollar smile 24/7. TD Jakes will have days, or moments anyway, when he simply doesn’t know what to do. Kenneth Copeland can’t always be above only, and not beneath.

I’ll just bet they don’t always preach a perfect sermon. And if they don’t, they trash it. It won’t be put on the air.

No, I’m not blasting them. Great men of God, I’m sure. But they’re only men.

The men of God who’ve recently committed suicide were people well respected and admired in their cities and churches. Probably seen by all, wearing their church smiles, and ministry hallelujahs. But somewhere along the line the enemy got in and took control.

It’s not necessarily just one thing that shoves them over the edge. Many times it is a combination of events, and one proverbial last straw.

I cannot over stress the need for people like you and I to look after our pastor. We need to cover them, support them, and release them to do God’s bidding. It’s not only for their benefit but for ours as well.

Please check this book out for more ideas about how to help your pastor. “How To Get The Most Out Of Your Pastor.” Available @ amazon. Also, if you’ll notice the page on this blog titled “Kindle eBooks by J.Grace”, click on the page and it will open up with links to amazon.com.

Don’t let a flashy smile or an expensive suit fool you. Pastors need our help.

Now more than ever.

Superman Is Not A Pastor

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Superman isn’t real.

Neither is Batman, Robin, the Hulk, Aquaman, Spiderman, or any other “Super-Hero”. There IS such a person as Bat Boy, but no one’s ever called him a hero.

Fantasy! Pure, unadulterated fantasy.

I’m not condemning such activity as falderal. I’m only using America’s obsession with superheroes to make a point or two.

Point #1. People who spend most of their time living in a make believe world do not function well in the real world.

A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty. (Proverbs 28:19 NLT)

Fantasyland is a great place in which to escape, once in a while. Entertainment can be a great way to relax and recharge one’s batteries. Temporarily. Not permanently.

Point #2. It seems to me, maybe you haven’t recognized it, the superhero phenomenon has found its way into the church.

Pastors, evangelists, and teachers are looked upon by many as supermen and women, able to tackle any and every problem that comes their way.

Oh, and let’s not forget the worship leaders. Many have been elevated to the superstar status (even though they have not sought such a position or status). Whenever Lex Luthor or the Riddler begin causing havoc in the church, all our superhero needs to do is don their cape and the enemy flees.

Of course people need to esteem their spiritual leaders highly, for their work’s sake. But leaders aren’t heroes. God never intended for them to fight our battles FOR us, but WITH us. Leaders lead as people walk and work with them.

When is the last time you ever saw Superman ask someone for help? “Relax, Lois, I can handle this.” “Jimmy, put the phone down. I don’t need the national guard.”

I’m concerned for our spiritual leaders. Especially our pastors. With a nation obsessed with fantasy movies, fantasy games, fantasy football, fantasy, fantasy, fantasy; is there any wonder people expect their pastors to be perfect? And that only adds pressure to the lives of those who don’t, and can’t, measure up.

I don’t believe I have ever read a DC comic book that has a pastor as the super dude.

I’ve lost track of how many pastors have committed suicide within the last year, but there have been many. “Successful” pastors with large ministries have finished their lives before their course was completed. I am NOT speaking of them in a disparaging manner at all. I AM trying to speak of the pressure and deep spiritual warfare they have to endure.

And treating them like a superhero doesn’t help.

Superheroes have to live in fantasyland. They could not survive in this real, nasty, ugly world. Yes, they knock the snot out the villains in Metropolis and Gotham City. But bring them into the world you and I live in and they fall apart.

Fantasies limit what can be accomplished in the real world. “They who chase fantasies end up flat busted and broke.”

It’s time to help our pastors.

I have written a book called “How to get the most out of your pastor”. It’s available @ amazon.com, as a Kindle eBook. One of the main reasons I wrote the book is this: if we will support our pastor as the scriptures instruct us to, God can minister to and through the leader as he said he would.

As I said, it’s time to help our pastors.

Help them to understand we don’t expect them to be our hero. We don’t look to them as our deliverer. We already have one. His Name is Jesus!

When we want a hero, we’ll go check out a movie or read the comics.

Otherwise, we’ll live in the same world as our pastor, upholding them in prayer and supporting them in every way possible.

Like allowing them to burn their Superman suit, and be real.

Unlike Superman.

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