Walking those last ten steps into my dad’s office was like trying to swim through quicksand. I felt close… so close… to crying out for help… and yet I was completely suffocated.
What if he couldn’t hear me?What if I couldn’t bring myself to utter those words… the ones I knew would break his heart? The ones I knew would take away his trust?The ones I knew I would almost have to gasp to get out of my mouth…
“We need to talk.”
How do you tell your pastor-father–the one already burdened by the pain of so many–that you have thought about only one thing for the past two months: killing yourself? How does a man even process those words?
“I need help.”
My words were few, but dad saw it in my eyes. We cried awhile, then he set up an appointment for me to talk with a counselor. It would be years before we knew the reason behind my depression (my autoimmune disease and seizures putting me at 3x the risk for suicide), but suddenly I was not alone.
I was in my dad’s arms.
I never saw that counselor. I didn’t need to.
Opening up to my parents and allowing them to love me through those horrific feelings helped me start to heal. The fact that they didn’t try to hide my sickness from those around us–the fact that they let me ask the awful, dark questions–meant everything to me.
My parents could have been ashamed. They could have been worried more about what others thought. Instead they chose to care more about me than their reputations. People weren’t always nice. Or patient. They didn’t understand when my parents put everything on hold and let me rest until my body… and my heart… started to heal.
I cringed recently when my dear friend, the head of an international ministry, told a large crowd of people how embarrassed she was of the decisions her teenage son was making.
I understood her need to vent, but I also remembered that 16-year-old girl wrapped in her daddy’s arms–the safest place she’d ever known.
And I longed for my friend’s son to feel that safe place– the one that allows you to ask tough questions…. figure out who you are… who God is… and why there are dark places in this world.
Because in the end, our kids are our greatest gift. If we forsake them now, what do we have left?