Testimony

My Deliverance from Suicidal Thoughts and Lostness

I remember lying on the floor of my apartment, face down in the carpet, sobbing uncontrollably at the mess I'd made of my life.  I wanted to die - I'd actually wanted to die for several years - but now more than ever. 

My Deliverance from Suicidal Thoughts and Lostness

Joshua Crawford

I remember lying on the floor of my apartment, face down in the carpet, sobbing uncontrollably at the mess I’d made of my life.  I wanted to die – I’d actually wanted to die for several years – but now more than ever.  A few weeks earlier, I had walked out on my wife of 4 years.  While she was away to see her parents one weekend, I just loaded my car with whatever it would hold and left.  Our marriage struggles began before we were married and continued all the way through.  We had countless fights and screaming matches where I called her things I’m mortified to even think about right now.  We separated once and had counseling for over a year, but nothing seemed to help, so I left.  She called that night and asked where I was.  In a 20-minute phone call that ended with me hanging up on her as she cried, I told her I was gone.  I never spoke to her again.

She made mistakes in our relationship, but she didn’t deserve all that.  I left her with the house, all the stuff in it, and shattered her dream of having kids in the next year.  We survived building a house, planning a wedding, me going back for an undergraduate and graduate degree, crazy financial problems, and a separation, but I left anyway.  I didn’t care the state it left her in, I wanted to leave.

That’s why, a few weeks later, on December 31, 2015, my face was buried in the floor of the little apartment I’d rented.  Everything came on me that night.  I’d spent the previous weeks justifying my walking out to my parents, my grandparents, and a couple close friends.  I told them how awful she was and casually admitted, “I wasn’t perfect, either,”  and even told them a few things I’d done, just to garner some extra sympathy.  I was telling everyone she was the problem, but the more I argued that point, the less I believed it.  That night, the story I told others, and myself, came apart and I wanted to die.

For the past few years, I’d been thinking a lot about killing myself.  It began as a fleeting thought here and there.  I’d wake up early in the morning, and before getting out of bed, I’d have a little thought like, “Does it really even matter?”  I would also think, “Would anyone notice if you just stayed in bed all day?”  Little thoughts like that grew into driving along the road and wondering, “If I drove off that bridge, would that be high enough to kill me?  What about that one?”  I usually just dismissed the thoughts quickly, played an encouraging song, and moved on with my day.

Time passed, my business failed, I went back to school, and my marriage problems worsened – and so did my suicidal thoughts.  Fleeting thoughts turned into serious contemplation about how to kill myself and all the aftermath that would ensue.  I had plans of driving in the middle of the night and driving off a bridge, hopefully looking like I just fell asleep, not wanting my family to deal with the shame of suicide.  I even thought of getting a gun and driving to some remote area, hundreds of miles away and killing myself there.  Perhaps no one would ever be able to identify me and my family could just move on, as if I’d never existed.

I can’t even say what kept me from doing this.  I remember being scared and confused, after all, I grew up in a good, loving Christian home with two parents and two grandparents that were always there.  I wasn’t supposed to have these thoughts, was I?  These thoughts were for really messed up people, right?  To be honest, each time I would have a thought to end my life and would come up with a reason not to, it would depress me that I didn’t have the courage to do it.  “Wow, you can’t even kill yourself.  Can’t you accomplish anything?”  I often said these words to myself.

That New Year’s Eve, on that floor, I was really out of reasons not to kill myself.  I always hated New Year’s Eve, anyway.  It was supposed to be the time of new beginnings, but it was never new for me.  I always woke up on January 1, still hating my life and how everything was going.  Perhaps I kept pressing on because I was in my 20’s and had time to turn things around.  Now, I was 33.  I thought I would be much happier, much more accomplished at 33.  That night, I really, really didn’t want to live anymore, but knew I didn’t have the courage kill myself.  As I cried into the carpet, I told God, who I didn’t really believe in, “I don’t want to live anymore.”  I wanted to just stop existing without having to end my own life.

After crying and shaking so hard I literally wore myself out, I got to my knees and stared at nothing, maybe the wall in my apartment.  While exhausted, too tired to even cry and staring at nothing, and I tell you this in complete honesty, I felt Jesus reaching towards me.  No, I didn’t see some image on the wall.  I didn’t hear anything audibly.  I felt him.  I felt his presence more than I had ever felt anything in my life.  His hand just reached for me and I felt him say, “I need you to come with me.  Do this my way.”  Yes, I felt him say that and it was real.

I had no interest in God, Jesus, or anything like that.  I grew up in church and wasn’t the least bit interested.  In fact, I was opposed to it.  As a life of being a fitness trainer and owning gyms, I believed Jesus was for weak people.  Religion was for people who couldn’t do it on their own.  I hadn’t prayed or opened my Bible in years, and even then it was an empty, meaningless thing.  I always thought, “Savior?  I don’t need some man, Jesus or not, to save me.”  I figured I was smart, motivated, and bench pressed nearly 400 pounds – why would I need saving?  That’s why these feelings of Jesus moving over me was so foreign, so out of left field.

Yet, I wasn’t about to resist.  Looking back, I doubt very seriously that I could’ve resisted.  It was very much like I was drowning, exhausted from trying to swim, and help came.  Who would turn it down?  Before, I saw no need for a Savior, but now, I was very aware I needed saving.  On my knees, as his presence overtook that room, after a night of sobbing, being so convicted of my sin – yes, sin – I audibly said, “If that’s what it takes.  I’ll trust you.  If this is what it takes, I’ll do it.”  I remember just going to bed that night, not thinking much, but thinking, “It’s going to be okay.”  I hadn’t felt like that in a long, long time.  I had no idea at that moment, but my life forever changed on that night.

I woke up the next morning and didn’t have to talk myself into getting out of bed.  I got out of bed with hope for the first in probably 10 years.  I was hopeful that Jesus knew things I didn’t.  I got up and read my Bible.  I watched a YouTube sermon by a pastor my grandmother told me about.  I actually liked it.  The next day, I did the same.  And the next.

At first, I was suspect of the hope I had.  I had a pattern of getting into things, like certain motivational speakers or philosophers, and when they lost their excitement, I’d move on.  However, as I studied Jesus and prayed, and the weeks and months went by, the hope within me actually increased.  The difference?  I had met someone that could change me.  All along, I thought my situation and the people around me needed to change.  It was my wife – she was the problem.  No, I needed to change and Jesus was doing that for me on a daily basis.  Things I watched, I didn’t want to watch anymore.  Things I said, I didn’t want to say anymore.  Things I used to think, I didn’t want to think anymore.

My life around me wasn’t exactly sunshine and rainbows.  My wife still wouldn’t talk to me, which is completely understandable.  She simply had to shut down in order to survive.  I was alone quite often.  I even lost my grandmother a few months into my life with Jesus.   Through all that, this hope remained.  I understood life better and the things that were happening to me – even the bad things.  I understood about the sins I’d committed and how I’d sinned against God and that was why Jesus was so important.  It was the lack of forgiveness, the not being right with God that was making my life such a mess.  Jesus makes all that right.

I’ve got to tell you about the incredible peace, as well.  For years and years, this battle raged inside me.  There was a part of me that wanted to be a good person, that wanted to do good things for people, and be a good husband.  There was also this other part, a bigger part, like a beast that waged war against that good part, that wanted things to be my way, that wanted to rule over people, that was never happy with anything, that wanted to accomplish things just to look down on others.  This bigger part, this beast, was also the part of me that wanted to kill myself.  These two sides of me battled on a daily, even hourly basis.

I can say with complete honesty the night Jesus came to me, that war almost completely stopped.  I still had my moments, and still do, but wow, so much of it stopped.  I had peace, finally.  The thoughts of taking my life stopped; no more was my own heart and mind trying to devise ways to kill me.  My mind and heart began to be a place of the peaceful, powerful presence of God through his Son, Jesus.  Instead of hatred for my wife and being consumed with bitterness through the separation, I prayed for her.  Jesus helped me feel more love for her in that dark time than I ever did during our marriage.  Other things became more peaceful, too.   For instance, I was never happy with my job, ever, and I was doing a lot of job searching at the time.  Once Jesus stepped in, I started to love my job and had such peace that God placed me there for a purpose.  I began looking for opportunities at my job to act like Jesus.  This 33 year-old restless soul finally could settle in and just be where I was and enjoy life.

Again, life around me continued.  I strived to make amends with my wife, but it never happened.  We never spoke again.  The divorce happened.  I don’t blame her and understand why she went ahead with it.  I ruined that marriage by putting myself first and never seeking her best.  More than that, I never acknowledged our heavenly Father within the marriage.  As I studied the Bible, I learned how marriage is designed to be a reflection of how Jesus loves his people, the church.  I learned all about how much Jesus sacrificed to make his people clean and acceptable in the sight of God.  I learned that Jesus literally laid his life down for his people.  I read Ephesians 5:25, which says,  “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”  and understood that marriage isn’t about making yourself happy, but about displaying a Christlike love to your mate.  It was hard to read, knowing how much I’d failed, and I had to pray that I wouldn’t just feel condemned all the time, but it changed my entire outlook on marriage.

In fact, my outlook on life changed.  I used to see life as “If you want it, go after it,” but Jesus taught all about sacrifice and service.  Now, I long to lift others up, set my own desires aside, and see others happy.  The Bible teaches it’s the Holy Spirit within me giving me strength to not be selfish, to not be motivated by my own self-interests.  I still have my selfish moments, believe me, but I recognize them and strive to leave them behind.  Actually, if I think about it, I had always put myself first.  Now, I just want to be last.

Can I tell you something else, too?  Jesus Christ is a Savior and a Redeemer, according to the Bible.  He redeems.  Do you know what that means?  I didn’t.  Jesus redeems you.  He redeems your soul, so you’re right with God.  He redeems your mind from nasty, selfish thoughts that you’d never share with anyone.  He redeems your heart from desires that are just mean, that you wouldn’t share with anyone.  He redeems your life situations.  He shows you how to live right, in a way that cuts down on all the needless pain we put ourselves through.  Of course, we still have pain because we live in a fallen world, but so much pain is self-inflicted.  Jesus puts an end to that.

It’s because of Jesus that I now have a wonderful relationship with the most God-fearing, patient, loving girl I could ever imagine.  Jesus has done the same things in her life and we share that all the time.   He’s redeemed this relationship part of my life.  I’ve had to learn so much about being in a relationship, about treating her like a daughter of God, but Jesus patiently teaches me and corrects me, every day.  I still mess up, pretty bad sometimes, but she forgives me because God forgave her in Jesus, as well.  Jesus lives and moves in our relationship every single day and it’s just amazing.

Some people would say I don’t deserve another relationship, and you know, they’re right.  God hates divorce, the Bible teaches that.  After everything I’ve done, I deserve to be alone and miserable, but God did not send his Son into the world to condemn me, but in order that I might be saved through him. (see John 3:17)  God loves to give his children good gifts and a Redeemer is the best one of all.  If you ever think you’re too far gone for Jesus to save or you’re in too big of a mess for Jesus, let me tell you, you’re wrong.  Jesus reached into the deepest, darkest mud to save me and pulled me right out with one pull.  When you come up against Jesus, you realize real quick that he’s the strongest thing you’ll ever encounter and nothing is too big for him.  Your problems literally bow before him.

People everywhere these days will tell you the idea of Jesus is nice and may make you feel better.  Some people will just flat out tell you it’s a stupid fantasy.  I don’t know why you’ve read all this, but since you have, let me tell you this:  Jesus is not an idea or a fantasy.  Jesus is real.  What else do you think changed my life?  I was on the brink of killing myself and had suicidal thoughts literally everyday for probably a good 5-7 years.  What changed me, if it wasn’t being born again in Jesus Christ?  No medications, drugs, or alcohol were involved and the situation around me sure didn’t change.

You may say, “I can’t believe something I can’t see.”  I was that way, trust me, but I learned I didn’t need some external person, friend, or thing to fix me.  Even if Jesus literally walked with me every day, in human flesh, it wouldn’t be the best thing.  Do you know why?  If Jesus was just a person I could go to, I could avoid him or walk away from him or leave him behind.  The Bible teaches that when we’re born again, Jesus lives within us!  We can’t get away from him, ever!  I was so messed up, I needed something inside me, to fix me from the inside out.  I needed a new heart, a new spirit.  For all that, read Ezekiel 36 in the Bible.

It’s said that what you think about Jesus Christ is the most important thing you’ll ever think.  Nothing matters more than what you think about Jesus.  After reading this, what do you think about Jesus?  Do you still think he’s just some legend or cute idea?  He changed my life, no, he saved my life.  There’s no way I would’ve made it another year without him – I would’ve eventually worked up the nerve to commit suicide.  Friend, what do you do with that?  I’m a real person, you may even know me, and my life has been changed completely by Jesus.  That night, on the floor of my apartment, a fire was lit within me that burns hotter and hotter all the time.  Can you just dismiss that?  Can you ignore that?

If you need to change, if you can’t bear the weight of your mistakes anymore, if you hate yourself, ask Jesus for help.  Ask him to reveal himself to you.  Read the book of John in the Bible and ask God to help you understand it.  The Bible says, if you cry out for him with all your heart, Jesus won’t turn you down.  He’ll come to you.  You may not want to do this and I understand that.  But, let me ask you something:  how much longer can you do this on your own?  Do you really believe you can pull yourself out of this mess?

If I can help at all, I don’t mind if you contact me.  I would welcome it.  We’re all hurting in some way and I’d be glad to help and point you to this Jesus Christ.  I have a blog at Romans829.com.  Message me there or on Facebook.    

 

 

 

 

 

2 comments on “My Deliverance from Suicidal Thoughts and Lostness

  1. I understand your pain. I’ve been battling depression since I was 7. So yeah, I totally understand. Everyone makes mistakes. the important thing is that we accept it and try to redeem them. And God certainly helps a lot. he’s always there for who truly need his help.

    Loved the honesty in your post.

    Like

  2. Thanks for sharing! I appreciate your story, and the work you’ve seen happen in your life because you’ve been pursued by an incredible God of Redemption…

    Liked by 1 person

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