Love, unlike anything else in the entire universe, is capable of being an anchor – the very anchor that does so much more than keeps us in place. It goes further. It keeps us safe. It keeps us stable. Put plainly, it keeps us alive. Love is an unrelenting anchor. It does it’s job, whether we want it to or not.
Let me get up close and personal with this train of thought. What you are about to read won’t be comfortable, and will (hopefully) make you pause and think. And, it should. Here we go…
It is no secret (nor should it be) that I struggle. With a wide variety of things. Hope, or often times – the seeming lack thereof. Brokenness. Shattered hearts and broken dreams. Pain that intensifies as time goes on. My health (physical and mental) needs help sometimes. Help I sometimes wonder if actually exists.
When grief, depression and a variety of pain conspire together – the results are nearly impossible to put into words. Together, the result is blinding. It renders me unable to see or believe in hope. I won’t lie. There are more times than I want to think about – let alone admit – that I wish I weren’t still breathing, with a heart that beats. I sometimes wish I weren’t alive. This doesn’t mean I am actively going to seek a way out of this pain in the way that ends my beating heart – it just means that I so, so very wish that I felt something more than pain.
In reality, suicide is an option many people turn to. I don’t condemn them. I don’t even say I can’t understand how they could do that. The sad truth is, I do get it. I may not be at that place right now, but I can absolutely understand what can take a person to that depth. I have empathy, and I have compassion.
In those moments where the darkness threatens to encapsulate every aspect of life, for me – let me explain a little of my own experience walking through these moments in time. Though they are only moments in time, they can seem like an eternity when moments turn to hours that turn to days, weeks and months…but, I digress. I want you to hear about the anchor that sustains me.
That anchor is love. When I feel weak, pain, and like I couldn’t possibly continue to even figure out how to keep putting one foot in front of the other – love holds me. Sometimes this actually makes me mad. I even said to a trusted friend that I wished they didn’t care – didn’t show love, cause it would make exiting this earth an easier option. However, it is so much more.
Love doesn’t stop there.
I look around, through the lens of my own shattered heart. I feel the pain of losing people I love. My own daughter. My brother. My cousin. My friend. A previous colleague. And, the list goes on. Most recently, my heart hurt as I walked through the crowd at a visitation – talking and sharing LIFE with friends and family. Talking about life amongst the newly departed. The pain was intense. But, the love – it was more intense.
What I realized was this. And a thousand other things. Love is the anchor that grounds us. When all we see is pain, love holds us. Love keeps the grieving mother’s heart beating. Love keeps us sharing the stories of more than just that person laying in a coffin. Love shares LIFE…even in the shadow of death.
I will take it even deeper and share something pretty personal. I love my family. The family I was born into, the family I married into, the family I’ve given birth to, and the family I’ve chosen as family over the course of time. All family. All love. I look at my parents. They’ve had to bury one child. I know that pain. I look at my grandmother. She’s had to watch two of her grandchildren die, and even a great grandchild. That’s pain I can’t comprehend, and I hope never to. I watch my own children as they grieve – as their sister breathed her last breath here on earth. Losing a sibling is a pain I wish I didn’t understand. Watching and holding my child as she took her final breaths this side of Heaven – not a pain I wish anyone else could relate to.
I see the pain on the faces of those at any number of the recent history’s visitations and funerals – the pain of those grieving those who they love, and have departed earth before they or we were ready. Pain lines the faces of those who hurt.
The flip side of that pain, is love. The pain wouldn’t be as intense as it is, if not for having love as an anchor. Put plainly, we wouldn’t hurt deeply if we didn’t love deeply.
With that as my train of thought, I will circle back to suicide. More specifically, why suicide is an option I’ve taken off the table in my own life. Yes, prematurely leaving the earth would mean an escape of the pain for me. It doesn’t, however, erase the pain. It transfers it to all those who know me, love me, or otherwise would be affected by my death. It is because of love that I couldn’t do that to my family, and to those I welcome alongside me in this journey of life AS family. I know it isn’t and won’t always be easy – but I’ll pray to always be able to hold onto this love in such a life-giving way. I’ll pray you can do the same.
There are days that I really don’t want to take another footstep, to walk another mile, to breath another breath – because, some days, I just feel entirely too much. However, love – it is and forever will be the most powerful force on the planet. More powerful than pain. More powerful than racism and hatred. It acts as a healing balm shattered hearts and broken dreams. More powerful than all that seeks to destroy us. I’m learning that I don’t have all the answers, and maybe that’s okay.
If you can relate or if you feel connected at all to any of my words here, I want to encourage you to hold on. It won’t always be easy. It certainly won’t be pain free. I ask you to remember the love. I ask you to allow love to be your anchor – even during the times that hope seems elusive. I can’t and won’t promise that it won’t hurt, and that the pain won’t be intense at times. I will, however, promise this – that I will try alongside you – I will continue to hold onto that love, and allow it to breed hope. When hope seems to be on an extended vacation, I’ll allow the anchor that love is keep me stable – as stable as anyone can be in a broken world. Will you join me in that?
I gently ask you to take my hand, and to do the same. Extend your hand of friendship. You are needed here. Allow me to sit with you in your pain. Together, we can traverse the ups and downs, and ride the roller coaster ride that is life. Together being the operative word. People need other people, and we do not walk these paths alone. Not you. Not me. Not that unassuming soul you’ve yet to meet. They need our smiles. They need our love. We need each other. Instead of focusing on all of our collective differences, let’s focus on one thing that unites us unlike any other anchor possibly could – love. Let’s learn to operate with empathy and compassion, backed by love. Let’s let love lead the way.
If you are in immediate danger to yourself or another, please dial 911. It is NEVER too late. You can anonymously call the National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-873-8255. If your voice is shaky and you would rather text, you can send a text to the @crisistextline 747-747 and you will be connected with a person who cares about you. Where you are. How you got there, and want to help you see that hope is still real. Love is still the most powerful force on the planet. You can find a host of local resources from @TWLOHA as well.