I love going to the beach. I love the sand, the salt, the birds, the wind and the waves. I love the beauty and power of land meeting water. I enjoy the absence of manmade things. I consider all of the energy and life contained in the area that my eyes can span. It is both simple and profound.
Whenever I return to that point where the waves begin, it is a celebration of being alive to enjoy it. You see, in between many of my life’s visits to the ocean, there were battles with suicidal thoughts.
This struggle with suicidal thoughts began when I was in elementary school, not surprisingly around the time that I experienced sexual assault. I will not write all of the details in a letter, but there were moments of terror as a little girl. There was loneliness as a middle school girl. There was depression as a high school girl. There was a need to avoid stairwells and balconies in college.
Just as with the sexual assault, I voiced this struggle to no one. And again, it was not because I was not loved. I had wonderful, loving parents. I had a happy and healthy home. I had the community of an extended family. I had wonderful teachers. I had the love of my church family.
Still, I had this battle. Had I taken my life as a young girl, there would have been no warning signs. I did not get into trouble at school. I kept my curfew. I did not drink, smoke, or do drugs. I did not cut myself. I maintained high grades, participated in school clubs, and volunteered at the hospital. I gave a speech at my high school graduation as valedictorian and class president.
I rarely ever mention that last part to anyone, as I never want to seem prideful. I choose to mention it now, however, because I want you and other people to truly understand that some people are battling for their life even though you never get an indication of it from outward appearances. That’s why Grandma always taught me, and I taught you, to be nice to people. You do not know what storm someone may be passing through. And even if a person gives you some indication of the storm, you usually never get to know all of the dreadful details.
My storm would subside for months and then rage again. I did not want to hurt anyone by ending my life. There were just times when I felt hopeless and worthless. I truly considered that the people I love might be better off if I were not living. In the place of logic, there were lies.
I won’t try to explain it all here, but let me tell you this: Satan is a liar. He is the Deceiver who tells people they are worthless, hopeless, helpless, and better off dead. It is a lie every single time.
I can remember one year at youth camp when Preacher McLeroy preached for several nights from the verse “Wherefore I say unto you, All manner of sin and blasphemy shall be forgiven unto men: (Matthew 12:31a).” He declared that all types of sin could be forgiven. Admittedly, I thought it a strange topic for young people who were just starting out in life. On that Thursday, several teenagers opened up about how they had already been convinced that they could not be forgiven for things they had done. Satan is a liar.
Of course, God knew what those teenagers needed to hear. In your life, there will be many people around you who need to hear the truth. Those whose bodies have been violated and broken need to hear that healing and love are still possible. Those who have hurt others need to hear that forgiveness is still possible. Those who have lost so much need to hear that God can restore what was lost. Those who survived when fellow soldiers did not need to hear that it is not their fault. Those who think they have nothing need to hear that God can be Everything.
You will face your own battles in life, so let me state this clearly: There is no version of life on this Earth in which my life would be better without you. God has a plan for you, just as He has given an immeasurable value to each life and its potential. When you face your darkest moments and your greatest doubts, hide in the Rock. Remember that your value is not contingent upon how you feel or how you view yourself. As is true for every human, it just IS. I am proud of your accomplishments, but your value and my love for you just IS… no matter what you do or do not do in life. You are my beloved son. Do not ever remove yourself, in any way, from my life.
I love these words of a hymn writer who attempted suicide even as a Christian:
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning Providence, He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast, unfolding every hour; the bud may have a bitter taste, but sweet will be the flower.
Blind unbelief is sure to err, and scan His work in vain; God is His own Interpreter and He will make it plain.” William Cowper
I am so thankful to God for preserving my life. Until God chooses for me, I have absolutely no desire to leave you, Brandon, and the twins. I have the hope of many more trips to the beach. I want to tell God “thank you” as I watch your children play in the waves.
The Lord will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O Lord, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands. Psalm 138:8
I love you forever,
Your beach-loving mama