This afternoon I found out that Pastor Rick Warren’s youngest son committed suicide and my heart just broke. (Rick Warren is one of the founders of Celebrate Recovery, a Christ-centered 12-step group I mentioned in my last post.) I was struck by the contrast between the joy I felt earlier in the day and the despair that young man must have felt in his last moments.
I’d just gotten home from the gym, where I was on the treadmill listening to one of my favorite worship songs, when I found out. I was overcome with emotion as I exercised and listened to the song. I texted a friend while I was cooling down to tell her how strongly I felt God’s grace. “I’m so glad God didn’t let me self-destruct,” I texted. “Me too,” she replied.
When I heard about Rick Warren’s son, I felt sort of…guilty. After all, it’s not ever God’s plan for someone to end their own life. At the same time, I credit God with my stability.
Did God let Matthew Warren self-destruct? No, I don’t believe that. Mental illness is so hard to navigate and make sense of. If there’s one thing I want to shout from the rooftops, it’s that mental illness is treatable, and yet sometimes people die. I don’t know anything about Matthew Warren’s battle. I don’t know if he faithfully followed the doctor’s orders, or what his relationship with God was like. Just like I don’t understand why I am doing well, while so many others are dying of depression and bipolar disorder. Let’s not forget that depression is a disease, and people die from diseases all the time. I’ve always heard that “suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem.” When you’re constantly haunted by despair, depression hardly seems temporary. A lifetime doesn’t feel temporary.
The one thing that is not temporary is God. He is bigger than our pain, even in those moments where it feels like our hearts are being squeezed of all life and hope. I realize that not everyone reading this blog believes in God or Jesus, but I do, and I believe that God put us here for a reason. It may not be the easiest path, but we are not alone on the journey. We are always loved and valued. Our trouble does not go unnoticed by God.
We are never alone. If you feel like you’ve reached the end, reach out and reach up. Don’t give up.
I know that the day may come when I’m not this stable. It could happen tomorrow. Bipolar disorder always leaves me guessing. Maybe there is a little part of me that is writing this and imploring all of you to hang on when it would be easiest to let go because I know that day – and I’ve had so many in the past – might come around again and I don’t want to be a hypocrite. Sometimes it’s easier to dig your heels in when you’ve challenged others to do the same.
I hope – no, I trust – that God is going to use this story for good, and to pull others away from the razor’s edge before it’s too late. If you’re the praying type, join me in praying for Rick and his family. I can’t imagine going through a tragedy like this at all, and I suspect it will be even harder having to do it in such a public way.
Hold tight, friends, no matter what.
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Last reviewed: 6 Apr 2013