As a student you can sit by other kids in class, be their partner in gym, or maybe even hangout with them after school, and not really know what’s going on in their lives. Such was the case with Ken. We didn’t know that his childhood had been so rough. We didn’t know that his dad had an anger problem and that Ken would go to sleep at night listening to his Dad yell at his Mom. We didn’t know that he lived in constant fear, sleeping with a bat near his bed in order to feel safe. And we didn’t know that he felt he was never good enough for his Dad—that he really never felt accepted. If he had tried to tell us about his pain, we didn’t hear him. But we were sure listening then:
“Good morning everybody,” Ken spoke into the microphone. “Today I would like to talk to you about something that has been an uphill battle for me all throughout my life: putting things in God’s hands. I find myself in situations where I could use God’s help, but I am fairly independent and sometimes that gets in the way of things. The biggest struggle for me was when my Dad died last summer.”
Ken went on to tell us that his Dad’s death was made harder by the fact that their relationship hadn’t been the best. In his grief, he stopped talking to God. He spent the summer moping around the house all day or keeping busy with his friends and going to parties—anything to push away the pain.
And then came that night. The night we almost lost him.
“One night I was so fed up with life, people, and the pain that I took off on my motorcycle at one o’clock in the morning. While I was riding on a country road, Satan started putting thoughts into my head: ‘Your Dad was never proud of you, otherwise he would have told you…Nobody cares about you…No one would miss you…It’s not like you have something to live for…Why don’t you just kill yourself? You wouldn’t feel any more pain…It would solve everything….’
“So I sped up. I don’t know how fast I was going but I was hauling. I saw a car coming toward me and started moving closer and closer toward the centerline. Seconds before I was to turn into the oncoming car, I felt my cell phone vibrating in my pocket. In that moment, I looked down. When I looked up, the car had passed. I instantly realized that I was letting Satan fill my heart with bitterness toward God for taking my father away from me—and at myself because I thought I should have had a better relationship with my dad.”
Ken immediately pulled off to the side of the road and jumped off his bike. Throwing off his helmet he collapsed on the gravel and started crying. “It was like Someone was finally there,” he said. “I asked God to forgive me for abandoning Him. Especially when I really needed Him the most.”
Ken ended his talk by telling us, “One thing I really admire about God is that you can be a wretch like me and push God away, but when you see how much you need Him, you realize He has been there for you all along.”
You Have a Future
Ken’s story teaches that you can’t rely on feelings in the middle of your pain. When you’re facing a heart-wrenching breakup, the divorce of your parents, having your best friend shun you, feeling unpopular or being bullied at school—that’s not the time to make the irreversible decision to end your life. The pain may be so severe that at that moment that you don’t feel like living. But that’s only that particular moment. Ken’s feelings changed just as soon as the car passed him.
I have a cousin who works the night shift in the ER at a large hospital. She’s seen many suicide attempts on her shift. I once asked her, “When you have patients whose suicide attempt has failed, are they glad when they wake up the next morning?” She answered, “Almost always.”
When your pain is that intense, don’t make the permanent decision to end it all. Instead, RUN. Run from Satan and run to God. Run to a parent, friend, pastor, school counselor, teacher, doctor, or call one of the numbers listed below.* Run to anyone who can help you realize that your life can get better, and who can show you how. Don’t give up. Choose life. Don’t say an early goodbye.
You have a future.
It’s been a year since we heard Ken’s story. I had the chance to visit with him recently. He’s doing great now. He has a wonderful girlfriend and exciting plans for his future. When I asked him what advice he’d give a teenager who’s contemplating suicide, he said, “I’d tell them DON’T– because what doesn’t break you makes you. Whatever you overcome makes you stronger.”
If you feel that life’s not worth living, there is help for you. Jesus didn’t plan for you to live out your teen years in depression, wishing you were dead. The Bible says in John 10:10 that He came so you could live life to its fullest! When you think no one understands, He’s there. When you think no one cares, He’s there. When you feel all alone, know that Someone is there. In fact, He’s been there all along.
National Suicide Hotline – 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255)
Childhelp National Child Abuse Hotline — 1-800-422-4453
25 Reasons to Live
Recently I had a group of teenagers hanging out at our house. We got on the topic of suicide and I asked them, “What do you feel a teenager would miss out on if they chose to not live anymore?” Here are 25 reasons to live:
1. Getting your diploma
2. Your next birthday
3. Hanging out with friends
4. Your first kiss
5. The smell of the ocean
6. Building a snowman
7. Talking to God
8. Knowing what your face looks like without acne
9. Going to college
10. Being proposed to
11. Having her say, “YES!”
12. Watching a sunset
13. Getting your drivers license
14. Being too old to be grounded
15. Becoming a parent
16. Getting your first full-time job
17. Having facial hair
18. Watching the autumn leaves turn color
19. Riding your long board
20. Getting your first car
21. Your wedding day
23. Hearing “I love you” for the first time
25. The day after tomorrow….
Kenny Margart writes from the Pacific Northwest.