I used to consider myself blessed. I thought myself to have a strong faith in and relationship with God. I enjoyed quiet, sweet and restful fellowship with the Lord; but deep within my heart, there was a dissonance of discontent, caused by asking what-if’s in my unguarded moments.
Married to a man who spoke the love language of service and treated me like a queen that did not have to lift a finger at home, I became overconfident that we had overcome the so-called 7-year itch. On the surface, we looked happy; yet deep within, we were scarred from two miscarriages, and battled years of mutual silent frustration over little things that snuffed out the flicker of love in our marriage…at least for me. As my eyes focused more on his imperfections, I began to ask, “what if I hadn’t married him?”
In my career, despite recognition and promotions for most of my professional life, I was not at rest. I found myself searching for something unknown, causing me to hop from one job to another. In 7 years, I had 7 employers, the longest of which was 2.5 years in an international law firm – one that perhaps, I shouldn’t have given up on. I also began to ask, “what if I weren’t an in-house tax lawyer?”
Covert yet failed attempts to change my husband as well as the perennial chase after some lofty ideal in some calling, built years of pent-up frustration. Hope was a concept that I struggled with, after surviving two miscarriages. I thought I was fine, and that I was good at brushing off my struggle; but God, who searches the hearts of men, saw what competed with Him in my heart. By His grace, He sought to cure the dissonance. It required a major upheaval though, one necessary to replace a shaky foundation with a stable one.
On Valentines Day of 2016, following several failed attempts to rekindle romance, my heart was stirred to ask God to bring back into my heart, love for my husband. After praying by myself for a week, I sought support in prayer at a midweek service that I regularly attended. Through that unforgettable prayer, before the Lord set the shaking into motion, He warned me of impending strong wind and rains. The warning was coupled with a promise of healing, love and forgiveness, and of unshackled marriage rings, which remain fastened tightly to one another shining brighter as God causes my career to soar. Apparently, it was a promise that I was to hold on to in the months ahead.
I. Suicide Attempted
Behind the heels of my second miscarriage, the perfect storm broke out when I discovered text messages that shouldn’t have been exchanged. As trust broke down, my marriage began to disintegrate. Hurtful words were exchanged, causing walls so thick and seemingly impenetrable to rise up in an instant.
My career also took an unexpected downturn. I was then undergoing regularization in a multinational company. Recovering from my second miscarriage, by itself, caused me to go on autopilot in my job. While on auto-pilot, the proverbial plane crashed when most of my time and attention were consumed with stalking my husband’s and a few other persons’ social media accounts. Noting a decline in my performance, I opened up to my bosses about my predicament in the hope that I would be given due consideration, but doing so backfired and painted me as unprofessional.
My husband and I talked about separating; but neither of us had the nerve to truly say goodbye. For some reason, an unseen, unspoken force bound us together. Perhaps it was our sporadic joint prayers. After all, we still went to church together amidst the turmoil. Other than that though, I knew nothing about him anymore. He treated me like a stranger, and he became a stranger to me, as well.
The emotional strain took its toll. Decades of latent emotional wounds soon resurfaced: my childhood, teen-age, collegiate and work-related traumas as well as deeper layers of supposedly healed emotional wounds came to fore. The storms caused the foundations of my faith and identity to be shaken.
I fought the temptation to blame most of the turmoil on my husband and my multinational employer, and wanted to punish them for how I viewed their rejection of me. In the intensity of the storm, when I felt like I had nothing to live for, came moments of weakness.
One evening, after a fight with my husband, I succumbed to weakness and uttered, “I wanna die”. As soon as I said those words, it felt like a dark cloud that had been hovering over my head for some time eclipsed my rational thought processes. I literally felt darkness enter my mind.
All night long, I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t even pray, even if I wanted to. I was simply consumed with thoughts of wanting to jump from the veranda of our 5th floor condominium unit or getting a kitchen knife that I can use to slash my wrists. The war in my mind was too strong, and I didn’t know who to reach out to. Contrary to whispers of suicide, there was a prompting that reminded me not to harm myself and that suicide was painful and would mar my decades of Christian testimony. In response, surreptitiously, another idea entered my mind: death by carbon monoxide poisoning…It will not be as painful, and would not make me an ugly corpse. Plus, if I succeeded, people would not readily determine for certain if I did commit suicide. And if I did, my husband and my employer will definitely be put to blame….or so I thought. In my weakness, I was quickly convinced that it was the perfect plan.
The following morning, I was still in some trance – decided do the deed. I was able to go to the office earlier than my usual time, with the intent of sleeping inside my car after parking it in the office’s enclosed parking area, with the car engine and airconditioning running while windows were tightly shut. As I drove to work, I gave my husband a goodbye call, but accidentally dialed the number of a Pastor friend by mistake. As it was too early, he did not pick up, and I proceeded to give my husband a goodbye phonecall. Because my husband was confident that I wouldn’t really push through with the deed, or that if I did, it would not succeed, he merely texted me, “I love you, ha. Please don’t do it.” But I was looking for a sense of alarm from him that would prompt him to exhaust all means (say call, go to my office or call the cops to intervene) to thwart my plans. From my perception of his response (or lack thereof) to my disclosure, my then sick mind gathered more resolve to execute the plan.
It was all going as planned. Just as I was about to drift into deeper sleep 30 minutes or so later, I was awakened by my ringing phone. On the other line, I heard the voice of my Pastor friend, who called to return the missed call. He asked how I was and what I was doing. The only reply I could muster was, “Nothing, I’m okay.” But I wasn’t…I was dazed and he was able to discern it, prompting him to pray for me. His prayer was unforgettable, “Lord, I speak hope to Lorybeth and life to the dead areas of her heart.”
His prayer woke me up from the dark stupor that overcame me. I found myself crying, overcome with grief over what I planned to do, yet extremely thankful that he called at the right moment, that I apparently forgot to put my phone on silent mode and that I didn’t turn it off. It was a close call though…what if I succeeded?
But God saw to it that I wouldn’t succeed. His eye was unmistakably on me at that moment, and His mighty hand directed my plan to fail. Quickly, I repented from the desire to snuff out the precious life He had given me. I asked Him for forgiveness, as I realized anew that my life was not mine to take away. With my Pastor friend as witness, I renounced the spirit of death and suicide. After closing the prayer in the name of Jesus, I received fresh assurance of hope, pardon and purpose.
The failed attempt was without consequences, though. A few minutes after the suicide attempt, I set foot in a meeting with my indirect manager. Still whoozy from the carbon monoxide I ingested, I failed mindlessly and miserably in a presentation. My dismal performance helped solidify my employer’s decision against my regularization for employment.
No job meant no pay. Not long after, I was constrained to tap into my savings. Financial uncertainty loomed in the horizon, coupled with the impending end of my husband’s employment contract.
II. Suicide Consummated
I spent the next month without a job. The time-off, as well as my husband’s disinterest in household affairs, gave me an opportunity to finally learn how to run my household after 8.5 years of marriage. As I lifted up to the Lord the pain of unappreciated efforts, I got convicted that it could’ve been how my husband also felt before all of this: taken for granted. It led me to repent for not honoring him unconditionally as a Godly wife should.
Not long after, to sustain dwindling resources, I accepted an offer in a small law and accounting firm as a Junior Partner. It was a gloomy place, but it was my hallway of transition, where I received God’s provisions coupled with the option to work from home and maneuver my schedule.
In the months that followed, day after day, I withstood the storm. Holding on to God, His word and whoever He sent to bring it to me helped me battle increasing depression and anxiety. God knew I needed reinforcement and simply surrounded me with it: 3 bible study and fellowship groups, a lady pastor whom I SOS-texted in desperate moments, my mom and my bestfriend who imparted strength and learnings from their own experiences, to a long-time friend and sister in the faith whom He strategically ordained to be my neighbor, and a cousin who messaged me round the clock from another continent. They all bore witness to times when I was fine, as well as moments when I was barely able to hold on. In moments of weakness, I learned to speak stillness to my soul, encouraging it to rest in the Lord. Yet God knew that my heart was becoming weary from standing in the battle. Soon, He threw me another lifebouy.
In my law firm of transition, I handled a stressful engagement with a high-maintenance client. Thanks to that engagement though, I grew close to a sorority sister who served as the counsel for my client’s counter-party to transaction. Upon learning of my situation, my sorority sister introduced me to a Psychologist and Marriage Counselor.
A former nun, the Psychologist was open to psycho-spiritual approaches of treatment individually, for my husband and me, and jointly, for our marriage. She came into our lives at the right time, just when my husband and I were at the brink of giving up on each other. She also made me undergo a battery of tests that diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress disorder (“PTSD”), as well as depression and anxiety which seemed to date as far back as childhood. If left untreated, I was told that such would lead to neurosis.
The results exposed my brokenness, but God supplied the cure for the clinical prognosis. My flexible schedule allowed time for individual and joint therapy sessions with my husband. In the sessions, God’s guidance was evident as He caused the Psychologist to be quick in discerning my knee-jerk responses in the flesh. In moments when my husband or I were close to giving up on our lives and our marriage, she would ask us to pray and discern what the Holy Spirit was saying. The take-aways from each session were affirmed by the Lord in my daily quiet moments with Him, podcast upon podcast, hours of prayer and worship and prophetic articles. God also sustained me through friends who caught up with me, and by spending time with my mother in a foreign trip, which healed the root of many of my wounds: rejection from the womb. God was simply my anchor in the difficult process.
Yet, as the sessions progressed, the dark sides of my and my husband’s personalities, manipulation, control, anger, anxieties and insecurities, were exposed. Even strengths, which I prided myself on, such as tact, a strategic mind and a gift of gab, all backfired. All that used to work for me just stopped working. Though at a seeming loss, I knew that I had promises to hold on to. Holding on was difficult, though, when there was a raging storm in the domestic front and even within me.
One night, when I felt I couldn’t take it anymore, in tears, I cried out to God, “Lord, why does holding on to Your word and Your promises concerning my marriage and my entire life make me feel like I’m dying? Like I need to die? Like I couldn’t be myself anymore? Like I’m losing myself…my mind. Lord, I could no longer hold on…Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” Not knowing what to pray for anymore, I just kept on calling out His name. A barely audible still small voice stopped my wailing, “My child, it is because you do need to die…to self.”
A sterling moment of clarity followed: I needed to die, alright…at least my flesh did…through a new level of surrender to God. And so, I yielded to Him my self-esteem or what was left of it; hopes and fears; plans, back-up plans and uncertainties; heartbreaks, traumas and wounds; lack, needs, and desires; my pedigree, crowns, accolades and failures; as well as my strengths and weaknesses; thought processes and learned emotional responses to curved balls that life threw. I gave Him the pen to continue writing my story. In contrast to decades of past piecemeal surrender, this time I gave Him all of me. I released full control unto Him. God was right…I needed to die…and so that night, I killed myself anew, not via carbon monoxide poisoning, but by putting my flesh to death, even visualizing myself as crucified with Jesus on the Cross. It was suicide, alright, but the right kind. Paul in Galatians describes such suicide experience so perfectly:
Another Paul, a preacher named Paul Washer, explained precisely why I needed to die and let go of self, all selfishness, for the power of God to take over.
And so I put my unrenewed self to death. I laid down at the foot of the Cross my ego, and made the choice to increasingly adhere to and rely on Jesus, in complete trust that He was holding me, even when I felt that I could no longer hold on. I let go and released all control to Him.
The morning after, I woke up to the sound of birds chirping at sunrise. I felt something shift. It gave me a knowing in my heart that a new season had come. God did not only hold on to me in that dark night of my soul, but He renewed and sharpened my focus on Him.
In the weeks that followed, I was able to learn the art of living one day at a time, acknowledging Jesus as my ultimate source of love – the Lover of my soul and my Bridegroom. I was still clueless as what to I had to do to fix my situations, but my eyes were on Him. The battles were His.
Having died to self, I became more pliable in the hands of the Lord. Uprooting and burning the draws in my heart, His resurrection power began to manifest in my life.
In a 2-day weekend retreat, I was substantially healed of the PTSD, depression and anxiety, that would have taken years of Psychotherapy to heal. Over that weekend, women from a group called Women of Wonder ministered to me, imparting God’s spirit of joy and trust. I emerged from the retreat as a brand new woman. Eventually, I was asked to join them in ministering to other women in need of healing. As I joined them in praying, preaching and prophesying, the Lord also polished my heart causing blemishes of intellectual pride, insecurity, people pleasing, reluctance, as well as rejection from my childhood, teen-age, collegiate and professional years to fade.
With a healed heart, I was able to see the changes that God brought to my husband and our marriage. His resurrection power was made manifest most evidently in the healing of my marriage at a supernatural speed. He sent circumstances our way that bound my husband and I as one anew. As we cared for a sick pet that we both loved, our communication lines were restored. God allowed us to rediscover our love for one another in a three-week exploration of a foreign land that He seems to be leading us to, a trip which we managed to pull off despite limited funds. Even when my husband underwent a shockwave procedure then suffered an injury, we learned to care for and rely on one another anew. As he was in between jobs and I was able to work from home most of the time, we were also able to spend more time getting to know each other all over again
As each of our hearts and our relationship received more healing, we both experienced God’s supernatural ability to infuse love, trust and grace back into a marriage. Not that we were able to hold on to God’s promise perfectly; but God held on to us and held us together when our capacity to do so was drained. His love bound us together, when our human hearts failed. Indeed, God alone can resurrect a marriage from a dying state and make it thrive. God also gave me new lens to see my husband. With absolute certainty, I can now declare that he is the one God ordained for me, by no mistake. Every morning waking up in my husband’s embrace is a blessing and a reminder of God’s faithful grace. And while he may be a work in progress (as I am too), he is God’s work in progress, not mine. It is a joy to witness him brought from glory to glory by God’s mighty hand.
Soon, a new season with pioneering assignments in career and ministry beckoned as my identity was restored. I rediscovered who I am in Christ as well as my role in His Kingdom. Now, I treat that perfect storm as a gift from the Lord, where my biggest ministry will spring forth. God transformed my valley of death into a valley of blessing. Indeed, He has worked things out for my good!
Even the rejection from my last multinational employer, turned out to be a redirection from being an in-house corporate counsel to external legal advisor. The Lord used my failed regularization to cause me to reconnect with a former senior colleague in the international firm that I used to work for. A year later, he eventually put up his own firm with regional affiliation, and I was to join him as the pioneer associate. From my dark hallway of transition, I was ushered into a Board Room. Now, I work on commercial engagements that impact millions, in a relaxed firm culture of our own and with my own time in my hands. I couldn’t have maneuvered it thusly; only the Lord’s hand can.
God’s plans of redirection manifested when my heart finally imbibed the Kingdom perspective: that my job and successes do not define me; they are but undercover assignments, that allow me to interact with and pray for people of various races who don’t know Him and their need of Him yet – ground for fertile harvest!
Unlike my past seasons, now, I am no longer eager to jump ahead to the next. Having been given a frontrow view of how His mighty hand works, I know He will pave the way of transition to the next season, which I need not concern myself with at the moment. I have learned to focus on the present until He (not I) opens the door to the next season. Through it all, my heart has gained contentment, having learned that my greatest calling is to bow and kneel before God’s throne, a posture of humility, submission and bondservanthood.
My soul used to have this unspoken secret posture of pining for something I didn’t have at the moment, hence my what-if’s before the perfect storm broke out. Now the dissonance of discontent has been replaced with Godly contentment. Though the awaited breakthrough of motherhood has yet to manifest, my heart is sick of waiting no more. In the storm, my heart was taught to trust that God is listening, and that He knows the appointed time for the manifestation to come to pass. My eyes and ears have learned to see my needs and wants from a Heavenly perspective: they are in the hands of the Father, my Provider, from whose hands a steady stream of provision and moments of refreshing flow. And so, my heart is at rest while waiting for motherhood, the next door of employment to open for my husband and even for migration plans to progress. Though it may tarry, the vision will come to pass; but even if it doesn’t, my soul shall continue praising God!
For the first time in my life, I can say that I feel truly alive – fulfilled, content and happy. He has brought me to the other side, safely through the storm. He is with me, I have Him and that is more than enough. He is simply full of wonders!
From this story of mine as well as those of a few others, I realized a common theme in people’s journeys with God: However which way one’s story unravels, the plot will always involve dying to self or being crucified with Christ in the journey. The vessel of our souls must first be emptied and broken. From that state of brokenness, and emptiness God will reconstruct the vessel and fill it anew, with more of Him and His new wine.
As for me, God made me whole again – spirit, soul and body. With His mighty hand, He reordered my life and my steps. Now, with a new story unraveling. I trust that with a renewed mind and a healed heart, God will give me the grace to steward the new season and its accompanying assignments well. I trust that the good work He has begun, He will be faithful to complete.
All praise be to God! He remained faithful, despite my times of faithlessness. In His love and goodness, He transformed my faithlessness into deeper faith and trust in Him, His word and His ways. He has given this story a redemptive end. Only by His grace am I able to write it down as well, so that whoever may be contemplating suicide can think twice, and choose the type of suicide that I eventually chose – the one that leads to life abundant, life to the full.