When our son walked in and said, “I don’t want to live anymore,” we were stunned and frozen. The world went dark, and we found ourselves in a horrifying place we had never seen or even imagined. It was like an instant flood of fear, panic, shock, hopelessness, and confusion. Not only did we have our own sudden fear and darkness to deal with, but we could also sense our son’s deep pain and darkness as well. Every time he would walk in the room, I could actually FEEL the energy and life leave the room, and the dark cloud would creep in. I just wanted it ALL to go away, but so did he. I felt trapped and lost in this new place, but so did he. I was overwhelmed with dread and fear, but so was he. I realized a few things in that place, and I’d love to share those with anyone reading this who might be there now.
What am I even looking at??
It is VERY EASY to ride the wave of emotions and let it take you into your own dark place when your child is struggling so greatly. I was being flooded with all the worst-case-scenario bunny trails in my head. I was bombarded with terrifying thoughts of guilt and confusion. But the reality was, he was sitting in SO MUCH darkness of his own, and the last thing I wanted to do was add more to the scene. I just wanted to lift all the darkness. I just wanted to help.
His depression and pain was so deep that trying to say things like, “It’ll be okay” and “You should go do something that makes you happy” were more hilarious than helpful. This was real and raw. My efforts weren’t helping. I was in over my head, and so was he. I could tell this wasn’t going to go away any time soon, so I had no choice but to sit in that darkness and look at my options, as calmly as possible.
What can I do??
Sitting in that cold, cruel, shocking place, I started to look around and ask questions. How can I keep these terrible thoughts and feelings away? Is there any possible way to bring some relief and light into this awful place? What options do I have against something that makes me feel like I’m an inch tall and am about to be crushed? Is there ANYTHING available to us? Are there any tools? Anything at all? I’m the mom, isn’t there ANYTHING I can do here?
Of course we sought the help of professionals, which was HUGE. It is so important to get help and start talking and bringing it into the open. It is way too much for a parent to deal with and manage without trained help and support. The counselors began the healing process for us, and helped us unpack it all. Please get help. Find a professional Counselor or LCSW who works with kids in their age group.
Even with the amazing help, it takes time, and the darkness doesn’t lift overnight. Between counseling sessions, we had HOURS every day and night to spend in the dark. It became clear to me that this was WAY bigger than I was. But thankfully, I believe in a BIG God. I knew that God created my son and loved him more than I ever could. I realized that any of my efforts to run, or avoid, or fix were not going to make a dent and would only end up causing more pain. I knew that if any light was to come into the space, it would have to be from God, because I had none to bring. I knew if anyone could truly save me and my son from being crushed, it would have to be God.
But Is God really enough??
Don’t get me wrong, I had some PRETTY BIG questions to wrestle out with God first. Why our son? If you are really good, then how can you let this kind of stuff happen? We believe in you, so how could this happen to us? (news flash for me, being Christian doesn’t make you immune to hard times-Christians are still humans). I exhausted all of the “why’s” and finally went to the “who.” I begged God to meet me in that dark, yucky place and He did. He doesn’t promise us a life of no troubles, but he promises to MEET US in the troubles. He was waiting for me to invite Him in. I prayed REPEATEDLY, God if you are here, and you say you are, then please help. Please bring peace. Please bring even a ray of light. And he did. The more time I spent talking to Him and reminding myself that He would never leave me, the more peace began to come in. I was able to breathe a little better, think a little more clearly, see a little more hope. We can’t force peace and hope on someone else, but we can find it for ourselves and bring light into dark situations in that way. My son didn’t suddenly get better right away, but the entire situation was lighter because I chose to see and believe that God is good, even in the utter darkness. Even when I could not see anything good, I knew I trusted God to be good. His love and light are infectious, and He penetrates darkness. He spills over and flows into our deepest messes if we let Him.
There is a God who made you and loves you and has treasures in darkness waiting for you, if you are willing to pause in the pain and look for Him.
Isaiah 45:3 “And I will give you treasures hidden in the darkness—secret riches. I will do this so you may know that I am the LORD,the God of Israel, the one who calls you by name.”
I heard my pastor say that what we do in the face of pain and fear really comes down to what we believe about God. Do we believe that God is bigger than it all, and that He truly IS good, and that he really does love us and wants what is best for us and our children? If we believe that, then we stay in the place of pain, and reach out for his hand in the darkness. We don’t run, we let Him protect us and love us and walk us through it, picking up treasures along the way. What are some of those treasures? Unshakeable faith, not-of-this-world joy, and a peace that passes understanding. If we don’t believe that, then the options are pretty sad. Running, fixing, and avoiding might temporarily work to dull the pain, but we forfeit the chance to see God work a miracle.
My prayer is that you will read this and will LEAN into God. Cry to Him. Read what the Bible says about who He is, and His promises, and how He loves you and your family. BELIEVE Him. When the panic thoughts come in, slap them down and say MY GOD IS BIGGER. I pray that you don’t run, but that you let God meet you right where you are. I pray that your hurting loved one will see the presence of God residing in you, and will be healed and made even stronger. I don’t even know you, but we share this common ground. I have felt all the ugly feelings, and I have thought all of the ugly thoughts that you are thinking. But I have also seen God step in and make that same ground holy.
One more thing. God can step into our darkness with total sympathy and mercy because He lost His only son. He is well acquainted with the pain of a suffering child. He watched His son die an unspeakable death….for us. Jesus died to make a way for you to be set free. He offers you a future with no pain and death for eternity with God. I pray that you will receive this GIFT, and you will trust Him now in this dark place, and with the life of your loved one. Talk to the D2L team!! They can answer any questions you have about this. I love you. Jesus loves you. BE HIS! BE LOVED!!!
Written by Ben’s mom, Haley
***If you want to read about how this story turned out, read what Haley’s son wrote here