Today’s post is a little more serious than my normal ones. One of my big reasons for starting this blog was to create a place where those who feel pain can come for comfort…and also for smiles and laughter. Life is for joy…I truly believe that; but one can’t know joy unless he experiences pain.
In 2003 a tragic event touched my family’s life. Remember my willow tree post? Well, this about cut us to the ground. My brother-in-law committed suicide. I’d lost loved ones before, but suicide was like a knife to the heart—gouging out all happiness. We were sucked into a cave of doom and gloom and couldn’t reach the light.
With suicide there are so many unanswered questions…and so much guilt and feelings of regret. It’s an ugly word, and an even uglier thing to experience when someone you love resorts to it. How much pain and darkness must they have felt to have taken their own life? Could you have helped them if you’d done just a little more—written them an upbeat letter in prison? Or a million other things you think of after they’re gone?
What I’ve learned from my experience is that joy is still available—even when you are drowning in pain. I don’t think JOY is a constant. If it was, we as human beings would become desensitized to it and start taking it for granted (like we do most good things). Life can be hard…but it is these HARD times that we stagger through—hopefully on our knees—that help us be dazzled by the light when we finally emerge from the darkness. C.S. Lewis says:
“Pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains. It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
Like I said before, I don’t think JOY is a constant; but I do believe it can be consistent in our lives. It’s been years since my brother-in-law took his life…yet still I’ll find myself driving down the road and suddenly think of him and get all choked up and emotional. I miss him—greatly! But do I still feel joy? You bet.
Sometimes joy and pain have their shining solo performance on the stage of our lives to the exclusion of the other…but I think there are more times when they act together. You can miss a loved one and feel deep pain…and yet find joy from a higher power to help you get on with life and enjoy all that you still have. God is the source of all joy! He is just. He is loving. He is merciful. He is our Redeemer, who can make it possible for JOY to be constant someday.
So even when we don’t have all the answers when pain hits us (or sometimes knocks us off our feet)…we have the most important one. Again, I give the floor to C.S. Lewis:
“I know now, Lord, why you utter no answer. You are yourself the answer. Before your face questions die away. What other answer would suffice?”
If you have lost a loved one or been touched in any way by suicide, I would love to get your insights into how you dealt with it and emerged to see the light again (or if you have yet!). I’ve put together a few questions to help me get a more wide range of thoughts, experiences, and questions from others to draw from as I address this issue in the future. If you’re willing to share your thoughts, email me at Char@joyinthemoments.com and I’ll send you this list.
I’ve found that for myself, it has helped to talk to others about this tragedy, instead of keeping the pain locked inside. I hope that as you read this and any future posts on this subject (whether you’ve dealt with suicide or not), you’ll gain from it—and feel the joy God wants you to have. Thanks for letting me share my thoughts.