This week we received word that a former colleague took his own life. He leaves behind a wife, two college-aged sons, a sixth grade daughter, and a ten year old son. Their lives will never be the same.
Suddenly all that seems mundane and ordinary is viewed through a clearer lens. Yesterday a moment in which we might have seen as little more than boredom's resting place has a serene and infinite beauty. Knowledge is powerful and one thing I know:
But for the grace of God, there go I.
Both my husband and I have seen some pretty dark times. We know what it feels like to have the flicker of a floundering faith be the only dim light of hope in our hearts. Depression. Anxiety. Worry. Defeat. Illness. Loss. They have touched us both at one time or another and we've let the darkness sink its claws into our hearts. We've wondered if our family would be better off without us, gladder for a life insurance settlement than having to deal with our depression for one day more. And we've been weak enough to admit (later) that our thoughts took that road.
But that flicker, as dim as it seems, has always been bright enough to let in just enough hope to get up and turn our face toward whatever warmth there may be.
I've found myself able to achieve a certain sort power in depression--in settling into the mud of my own wallow. The energy found there is entirely negative and self-propagating. When I am depressed I am selfish. Focused inward. Seeing every interaction through a lens of personal pronouns. My loss. My defeat. My illness. My anxiety. Nobody could possibly understand what I am going through. No one really knows me.
When I eventually come up for air--usually because somehow I've noticed and been called to attend the immediate need of someone else--there is a series of moments in which my spirit vacillates between cowering in shame... and lifting my countenance to praise the God of light and peace. I've entertained the darkness, but never have I reached a moment of finality in which it blocked out every discernible pinprick of light.
And, but for the grace of God, there go I.
I know only a little of the situation which may have precipitated this man's descent into the realms of hopelessness. It seems that many layers, over several months... years, even... piled up around the windows of his soul to the point that he no longer had a mechanism available to let in that thin sliver of light.
It is sobering to be reminded through another's tragedy that there is so much to be thankful for. I have my life. I have my husband. My children. My hope. My raggedy faith. Only when we cling to gratitude can we sustain our finger hold on the thickest curtains--and pull back the dim edge to reveal the sun.
If you are moved so today, please lift the Haught family in your prayers.