It’s a funny thing, but when I was getting my hair dyed at a salon today my mind wandered to a very uncommon place. I was suddenly motionless. A sense of heat encapsulated me as if warm honey was dripping down my head and slid in heavy drops down my arms, back and chest. My eyes ceased to blink and I transitioned into an unnamed person’s perspective. Whoever this person was, whether she was real or not, she turned her head and looked around the world, but could not find a place to settle her attention. She was standing in a jungle. Green trees and mossy ground was all she could see. In a moment she saw the sky and the shining sun before she appeared in a congested city.
She was highly aware of eternity. The world was placid and felt warm as if it was inside of a glass house. The girl found it hard to breathe. In the city, she was looking up as everyone else looked down at their feet, passing by each other in silence. Her eyes became wide with the question in her heart.
What are we doing?
When I finally blinked and returned to the salon, I felt bewildered as if I had touched the spiritual realm and come back to reality. All without moving. The hair dresser kept right on smearing the orange dye onto my head, scraping it back and forth with a brush. Meanwhile I must have had a mesmerized expression on my face. I was so thankful this woman treating my hair was not inclined to small talk.
Now that I’m sitting here and reflecting on that moment, I realize it was a more outlandish daydream as compared to the typical flying ships and steampunk things I think about. It honestly left a bad feeling in my body like I was a bug that had been soaring through the air and then crashed into a wall, fell, and was left sputtering.
It is a peculiar thing to wonder about eternity. Something amazing and immense is floating just below our consciousness. Yet we keep on moving and staying busy and refusing to connect with each other. Everyone is a stranger. Everyone is walking steadily toward the edge. To the end.
It’ll all be over so quickly. The things we distract ourselves with will suddenly crumble into dust.
“O Lord, what is man that you care for him, the son of man that you think of him? Man is like a breath; his days are like a fleeting shadow.” Psalm 144:3-4
Now I’m pondering this and I’ve been to this part of my mind before. It’s a plain door with a swinging light in front of it. When you enter, it is cold and damp and there is no light inside. I know this place and though I am willingly here, I know how bitter it is to be forced into this room and to hear that door locked behind me.
What am I thinking about?
That still moment when your foundation cracks so suddenly and all of your experience, intelligence, humor and hope suddenly evaporate as if the heat of the sun rose unbearably and cauterized your mind.
What do you call that? Suicide, probably, is its common name.
I’ve been there before. In fact it was recently. I was at a music festival and departed from my sister and friend to go and watch a band by myself. It was Vampire Weekend, a strange little band that I had come to adore.
I was walking through the field to go and see the band and then I stopped walking. It was paralysis. Satan had been chewing on my head for a good deal of the weekend and now he had broken the skin and his teeth sunk in deeply. My soul was wide-eyed like a deer listening for the footsteps of the hunter. But the hunter was already there, behind me, whispering little lies.
I made a friend this year at college. One day we sat under the shade of a tree and we watched the other students on campus around us. In a moment, my friend turned to me and said abruptly that everyone has a voice in their heads. It’s a bad voice. It’s Satan. It continuously offers negative comments. Anything pertaining to a person’s dreams, mistakes, fears. Anything. The voice takes it and keeps repeating the same lies.
You are an accident and you should be snubbed out of existence.
You are annoying and everyone hates you.
You are useless and you will never be better.
You should be afraid.
You should worry.
You should hurt yourself.
You should end it all right now.
You’ll never be valuable.
No one would notice you’re gone.
Empty funeral. Blank headstone.
Nothing special. Nothing memorable.
An awful voice. All humans share this and yet no one mentions it. Such a busy voice, busy ruining our lives, but we don’t think to bring it up.
That’s the voice that paralyzed me on the way to Vampire Weekend. It all came rushing out like the floodgates of Hell had been torn open. My dream of filmmaking was thrown to the wolves which tore and ripped it to pieces. My dream of writing was forced to the ground and had its throat cut. My dream of working for Pixar was shoved underwater until the bubbles stopped coming up. My dream of travelling was gunned down and bled out on the sidewalk. My dream of living a bold life for God had been strangled and left motionless with a blue face. The peace that God promised me through his son, Jesus, had been carried away by thieves.
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27
Do not be afraid? I was terrified.
The devil danced and watched as the web he had woven caught all of my dreams. He tore that web down and ate my future. Without our dreams the future gets foggy real fast.
Other people at the music festival disregarded me. I appeared to be waiting for a friend or maybe I was waiting around for Foster the People who would be playing at the stage behind me in about an hour. But no. I was having a major life crisis and I was perfectly silent. My body was incapable of movement and an eerie feeling told me there was nowhere to go to anyway. There would never be.
The tears didn’t take long. The salty drops flooded down my face and I tried to calm down. The anxiety was running rampant through my body as the devil danced around me. If I was able to, I bet I could have seen demons scratching at my legs.
All the hope and love in my soul was gone. What was the point of anything? It had taken just a moment for me to get like this. I was at ease and enjoying Passion Pit with my sister and friend. I went from there to standing in a field knowing that death would give me rest from the intolerable fear crawling through my body like sharp blades of ice.
I wept and told God that I wanted help, but I couldn’t ask him. I wanted his help, but it was for selfish reasons. I just wanted to calm down. That was all about me and had nothing to do with God’s will. I only cared for myself.
“When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” James 4:3
“For everyone looks out for their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 2:21
The depression was getting heavier in my chest and life seemed very small. I continued to cry and finally said to God that whatever he wants, let it be done. ‘Let my heart be with yours,’ I said in my thoughts, ‘let the things I ask for be what you want, God, not what I want.’ I continued to pray this way, begging God to fulfill his will and not my self-centered requests. I told God what was worrying me, as he commands.
“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:7
Jesus himself spent all of Matthew 6:25-34 commanding people to trust God and not to worry.
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.” Matthew 6:34
The Lord gave his peace to me. I exhaled, opened my eyes, and the depression was lifting. The anxiety, which made me feel like my blood was boiling, was draining from my flesh. My mind stopped whirring and the world began to lift from my back.
I walked to Vampire Weekend and danced during their performance. I kept praying and thanking God for help. I was amazed that my loneliness was gone. The devil had told me that I was alone and no one could help me. He was right that no person could help me, but God could help me.
My joy was bounding and my soul sang from behind my rib cage. My silent prayers praised God for his mercy and love.
“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ.” Ephesians 3:16-18
That fear that Satan had sent and the attacks he had berated me with were gone.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 8:37-39
How grateful I am. I have no words that I can bring forth to adequately thank God for his peace and his love. I only hope that when you are locked in that room that is cold and damp with no light that you will ask Jesus for help. Whether you believe or not, God is bound by his word to answer and he is bound by his word to fulfill any righteous request.
“He will call on me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.” Psalm 91:15
“’Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.’” Jeremiah 33:3
If you lack the strength to speak, even then you do not need to fear.
“Before they call I will answer; while they are still speaking I will hear.” Isaiah 65:24
You know what depression feels like and you know what hopelessness feels like. You may have never been suicidal, but I’m sure you’ve wished to be dead because your pain and your problems were too much to bear. That is how you know Satan. He’s always ready to hurt me or you or anyone. Look how fast my world ended. Look how quickly the evil one drug his nails down my back when I had been feeling fine a moment ago at that music festival. No antidepressants or therapy or addiction or distraction or person can protect you when Satan breaks your knees and bites down into your neck.
“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8
I am so glad my God was there to help me.
Otherwise I’d still be standing in that field.