It took me a long time to discover that my purpose in life was not centered on what I can do for myself, but what I can do for others. Years of judgment and ridicule as a child convinced me that I didn’t fit the “perfect” mold. I constantly critiqued and compared myself to what others viewed to be important, which lead me down a spiral of depression – a depression that I still struggle with today.
At the worst of my depression, I considered suicide. I was so dissatisfied with who I was and what I wasn’t accomplishing or fulfilling that I felt the only answer was to end my life. I shared this desperate plea in my journal, as I contemplated how and when this would happen. Soon after, those words were discovered by my husband. I’m grateful that he read that journal and chose to confront me so many years ago. It was the first time that I noticed my life had meaning to others.
Up to that point, I believed that my existence was only good to the extent that I could satisfy myself. I didn’t realize the interactions I had with others had an impact on them. If I were to end my life, what would happen to them?
I’m deeply saddened by the volume of suicides that occur each year. Many of these are young people whose lives are cut too early. One of them might have been a noble peace winner, a scientist who discovered a cure for cancer, a mother, a father…We will never know what our lives would have been like had they chosen life, and equally, they will never know the reach of all whom they were meant to serve.
Driving home a few days ago I heard two radio DJs talk about the recent suicide attempts of Mya DeRyan in Canada. This woman believed she had a terminal illness, so she chose to end her life by jumping off a ferry that was travelling in the frigid water of Vancouver. Her plan was to leap in the waters without being noticed, but that didn’t happen. Concerned travelers alerted the captain for help. The coast guard was contacted, who then began an exhaustive search for her in the waters. Instead of allowing herself to sink in the waters, Mya watched the intense search and guilt began to set in. She recognized how concerned these strangers were for her. So, when given the opportunity, she grabbed hold of a life preserver and was pulled into safety. And, after examination by a medical team, they told her she did not have a terminal illness.
After the radio DJs told this story to their listeners, they shared if they would kill themselves had they been diagnosed a terminal illness. All I could think about was how self-centered they were. Their reasoning was about how suicide would help them ease the pain and suffering. Neither one discussed the impact the decision would have on their friends, family or society.
It made me reflect on my journey with depression and those years I considered suicide. I was blessed to have someone help me realize that I was created for others, not myself. God didn’t mold me and think “she will serve herself.” No! He molded me knowing that he would create me with a special gift to serve others. It is up to us to figure out what that gift is, and how we are to use it to bring others closer to Him. Do you know what your gift is? Do you know that your purpose is greater than yourself? Take time to tell others over this next week how much you appreciate them, and compliment them in the ways they have impacted the lives of others.
“To each individual manifestation of the Spirit is given for some benefit…But one and the same Spirit produces all of these, distributing them individually to each person as he wishes…Some people God has designated in the church to be, first, apostles; second, prophets; third, teachers; then, mighty deeds; then, gifts of healing, assistance, administration, and varieties of tongues (1 Corinthians 12:7-11, 28-29).”