• Jenny Landon

Suicide is Not a Reflection of a Lack of Faith

This morning I started my day with my regular circuit workout followed by what I like to refer to as my God time, which usually involves reading a daily devotional along with a few scripture versus followed by prayer, then a ten minute standing meditation and ending with a Tai Chi routine.  I don’t typically share this part of my day with others, but this morning I read a Bible verse which struck a chord with me.

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind stayed on You, because he trusts in You. –Isaiah 26:3

I must have read it to myself three times before reading it once more out loud.  My thoughts immediately fixated on my dad and the pain he was in before he passed away.  I remembered how much he struggled to teach his class at church during the years he was battling his depression.  Before he got sick he had loved teaching the adult seminary class – I would even say that he took great pride in the research he did to prepare for his lessons each week.

My dad wasn’t a perfect man but his love for the teachings of our church was infectious.  When I was in high school I loved listening to him talk about how he discovered his faith and how much it meant to him to have a relationship with God.  After months of dealing with his depression with no sign of relief, my dad asked to be released from his teaching position.  He was overwhelmed with every aspect of life and he didn’t feel he could adequately teach anymore.  My dad felt guilty for not being able to offer the same level of dedication in his preparation and enthusiasm in his delivery as he once had.

The request was denied by the church leaders who felt that if my dad would put his trust in the Lord, he would be relieved from his depression.  I will never forget listening to my dad as he recounted this series of events.  I understood how an outsider might have perceived my dad as having lost his faith because he wanted to quit teaching, but I knew how much he valued teaching and how important his faith was to him.  As he spoke to me, I could hear his disappointment in himself.

Each week he would attempt to put together a lesson and each week he would feel as though he was a failure because he couldn’t focus on the material.  Between the depression and the antidepressants, he lacked the ability to maintain any sort of concentration.  Ultimately, he would request a substitute teacher and make an excuse for why he couldn’t attend church that week.

I can’t say with certainty if my dad lost his faith, but I know I lost mine after he died by suicide.  I was so angry at the leaders of his church for adding to his stress and his sense of shame for not being strong enough to get better.  I was angry at God – so angry that I shut Him out.  I didn’t even bother telling God I was angry – I simply stopped believing that He even existed.  How could I believe in a God who would allow my dad to suffer through such pain and not do anything to help him?

It was exactly eleven years from the time of my dad’s death until I once again opened my heart to God.  I had been fortunate to have a few special people come into my life who helped me to realize luck wasn’t the reason I had been exposed to various methods of healing – I had been blessed.  As I looked back on memories of myself alone in my grief I began to view these moments in time with a new perspective.  I no longer saw myself alone – I saw myself being held up by or wrapped up in God’s love.

In 2010, eleven years after losing my dad, I suddenly knew without a doubt that while I had given up on God, He had never given up on me.  His presence had always been with me even when I refused to acknowledge Him.  I began to realize that He had also never left my dad.  He saved my dad from his earthly pain and allowed my dad to be at perfect peace in Heaven.

So why did this Bible verse hit me so hard this morning?

You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind stayed on You, because he trusts in You. –Isaiah 26:3

My dad was not in perfect peace before he died.  And there are so many others who live every day and are not in perfect peace due to mental illness.  All of these thoughts and memories flooded my mind this morning; so much so that when I tried to say my prayer, it began with,

“Is not being at a peace a reflection of a lack of faith?  How can one be expected to stay focused on You and trust You when they are suffering from an illness?  How will they achieve perfect peace if they cannot think clearly?”

Tears began to roll down my cheeks as I sat on my knees trying to continue my prayer.  It was during this quiet moment that I was rushed with a sense of relief and a message that was clear to me.

God understands when we are unable to stay focused on Him and He understands the impact mental illness has on one’s ability to think clearly.  Our sense of peace is not a reflection of our faith.  It is during our greatest struggles, when it is God who puts His faith into us by continuing to love and support us even when we are unable or unwilling to do the same for Him.

God is LOVE and I truly believe he wants nothing more than for us to feel His love at all times.  We are not abandoned or punished by God for not having faith.  Our individual faith can help us to be successful and feel at peace, but only when we are healthy in mind, body, and spirit.  The perfect peace God offers to us is not one we will receive while here on Earth, but later when we’re in Heaven.

As someone who lost all faith after losing my dad to suicide, but now almost eighteen years after his death I feel closer to God than I ever have in my life; I'm wondering how other people have been affected.  If you’re comfortable sharing, please comment on how your faith has been impacted by the struggles you’ve faced.

Jenny Landon

Blessed │ Wife │ Mom │ Friend │ Founder of GOOD │ Author │ Public Speaker │ Golf Fanatic

It took me years to find my voice and even longer to learn how to use it so that I’m creating GOOD rather than just fighting the bad. Now I use my voice to heal myself and hopefully others along the way.

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Sending love to all those who struggle with mental health and/or have lost a loved one to suicide. 

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