God and Sexual Assault

Suicide and Invalidation

Other people's reaction are not always about you.

I had a somewhat invalidating experience today that I have been pondering since I got home from church. At church in a group for discipleship we were discussing sin and its effect on our life.

The guy who gave the talk before we split into small group is a certified counselor and he had made a comment about suicide, and I didn’t quite understand it. It sounded like if you just believed in Jesus, and if people just believed in Jesus, there would not be suicide.

My first reaction was to be slightly offended, and then through prayer and pondering I have come to a different realization. When we divided out into our small group this morning, I mentioned that I did not understand his reasoning and my group said it’s because people choosing to live lifestyles that are not of God and then they don’t feel hope, so they want to kill themselves.

I said, “Well, as a suicide survivor from three different times, I can say that that was not my experience. I just could not handle what was coming up in my mind and in my body and the people that were surrounding me with toxicity reminding me of what I endured.”

Our minds are amazing and powerful and they were created by God. The whole definition of abuse is taking something that was meant for good and using it as it was not intended. So people took what God meant for good and used it as He did not intend when they abused me and you. That is sin. Was it my sin? No.

Have I sinned in the years since it happened as I was trying to deal with it? Yes.

Was me trying to take my life a sin? Yes, I believe it was, but I also know that God understands my feelings and emotions more than me and He knew how much my heart hurt and how hopeless I felt. I was not fully depending on Him at the time because I had not learned how to do that, but I also had not processed enough trauma.

When your days are filled with flashbacks and constant memories of the worst trauma you’ve endured repeatedly playing over and over in your mind and your body, it is very hard to focus on a loving God.

I believe that’s what Satan wants. He wants to take that sin from someone else and cause us to not see the goodness of a loving God. But I also feel the church oversimplifies Jesus being the fix for everything. Do we need to depend on Him for everything and our strength? Yes.

However, there can be chemical imbalances in the brain and the body and logical reasons why your brain is severely depressed and you want to end your life. Because when things are used not as God intended it will activate things in our body that God placed there to protect us-like the amygdala-which holds trauma.

So, as I was thinking about how to explain this to people and how you can feel like life is no longer worth living, this is what I came up with.

Imagine the worst thing you have ever endured-whether that be a car wreck, the death of a loved one, obviously any kind of abuse, whatever it may be. Multiply the worst trauma you have been through times 100 repeating in your mind and feeling the trauma over and over again in your body, day after day after day. It leaves you hopeless believing that it will be there forever.

Why is it there? Because someone sinned. Do we need to depend on Jesus to help us have the strength to work through it? Absolutely.

Is that incredibly hard to see when you’ve endured significant trauma? Yes, absolutely.

Do I feel that Jesus will solve everything as the church tends to say? Yes, BUT we live in a sinful world where we have to overcome things, and God never intended us to have to overcome sin. God never intended for our emotions to be so down we felt life was no longer worth living.

AND God uses many others in the healing process including counselors, physicians etc.

As I think about how people react when I share that I have attempted suicide and survived more than once, I feel they are judging me, but now I know it’s more about them and what they don’t understand than it is about me. (Other people’s reactions are more about them and not always about you.)

I will always be a voice and advocate for good mental health, but as long as we live in a sinful world there will be suicide, there will be death, and there will be hurt.

I truly pray you know that life is worth living and God can change your circumstances and redeem everything about your life far beyond what you could ever imagine. I can promise you it’s true, because He says it in His Word and He has shown me in my own life.

Hang in there and do the hard work to get better and trust God to be your strength even when you can’t feel it.

So, during this month, which is suicide awareness month, know that the valley you are in will not last forever, and hold onto truth and God.

Surround yourself with people to support you and if you need to please each out to the national suicide hotline (988) or your local ER if you are considering hurting yourself in anyway.

© 2022 Susan M. Clabaugh. All Rights Reserved.

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