“I have found that the process of discovering who I really am, begins with knowing who I really don’t want to be.”―
“I have come to believe that hard times are not just meaningless suffering and that something good might turn up at any moment. That’s a big change for someone who used to come to in the morning feeling sentenced to another day of life. When I wake up today, there are lots of possibilities. I can hardly wait to see what’s going to happen next.”
Two years ago this evening, I was admitted to the hospital for overdrinking and alcohol poisoning. Clocking in at 0.35 on the BAC chart and slumped over the steering wheel of my car, I had attempted to take my own life, unsuccessfully. Selfish ambition had brought me to a place of utter hopelessness and selfishness would lead me to a place where I thought it was better if I wasn’t existing.
As I think through the past 730 days, there is much to be thankful for. There is much to celebrate. I am in a very different place than I was two years ago, today. And along the way, I have experienced some of the most difficult moments of my life. I know that life won’t get any easier or become more palatable. Life on life’s terms is a bitch, but today, I can manage without coping inappropriately. This is a good thing.
I was reminded today of that moment nearly a year and a half ago when a Pastor that I admired from afar was successful at taking his own life. At the time, I was still dealing with significant fallout from my own poor choices in life and in near-death and was confronted with the fact that I wasn’t the only Pastor (at that point ex-pastor) who dealt with these issues. I know now that many Pastors deal with these issues on a day to day basis. I know that Pastors around the U.S. regularly have thoughts of suicide, leaving their roles as Pastors, or just giving up. It’s not abnormal, it’s just not normal to talk about. Being strong, showing strong, and showing that God is strong, even when none of that is true is often the downfall of a man or woman that is leading in ministry. So, many Pastors remain silent. They don’t reach out for help. I didn’t. And even if they do reach out for help, as Jarrid seemed to do, sometimes, it just isn’t enough to withstand the intense pressures that those Pastors feel.
Suicide is not relegated to the Pastorate. Nor is alcoholism. In fact, in nearly all professions, the statistics remain similar to the number of people affected by both of these plagues. Neither are selective in who they affect. Sure, the choices that one makes to bring themselves to the point of identifying with either monster play a significant part in the statistics, but across each and every vocation, these statistics of ‘affect’ are similar.
I pray regularly for those that are still suffering from alcoholism. Each time I go to a meeting, each time I listen to a meeting on a podcast, each time I go to church and the pastor prays for those that are suffering, I pray for those that are wrapped up in the darkness of depression and trying to cope with a depressant. I also pray that God will sustain me, one day at a time from the allures of coping. I know that I am only one decision away from relapse and that I can only control myself. I cannot control anyone else, or decisions that others might make. I have to live in this space, a space of both freedom and captivity. But today, I live. And I am incredibly grateful for the past two years of life. My family, my kids, my friends, my job, and my life are so very different but it’s been an incredible ride. I look forward to the next two years of grateful living, full of bumps and turns.
But today, I’ll just be grateful for today. One day at a time, I’ll make it. And tomorrow is a new day.