By Liz Cowen Furman:
We own a little family-run motel by Yellowstone. One day a very nice gentleman was staying with us. He stayed until all the other guests had gone in the morning and then said to me, “I wanted to ask you some questions because I looked at your website last night.” We had a long conversation as he shared why to him, life is so hard.
Seems he was at the age where one starts looking at what’s behind, what’s left to come and feeling like the past hasn’t been too great, while the future isn’t so bright either. I asked lots of questions and discovered that he didn’t like the job he had for decades. He had recently retired, wasn’t involved in a church, was pretty new to the area and didn’t have friends. He had been thinking about suicide and had been on antidepressents for years.
I shared with him four things he could do to start to turn his hopelessness and depression around. After I told him, his response was, “Why, those are the exact things my doctor told me I should do.”
We laughed. I told him that whenever I hear the same message from different unrelated sources I take a closer look. We exchanged email addresses and last I heard he had taken me up on at least some of the big four.
So what four things did I suggest to help curb his suicidal thoughts and depression?
#1 Get in a fellowship of believers. Join a church and don’t just show up on Sundays. Join a Bible Study, small group fellowship, or volunteer to help out in some area. Make sure it is a Bible believing, Bible preaching church. Here’s a great link for that: How to Find a Bible-believing Church.
#2 Do some kind of exercise every day. Maybe just walk around the block at first, but get off the couch into the fresh air and move. There was a study at Harvard some years ago that found exercise did more for the subjects’ moods than every other anti depressant. (Read: Exercise and Depression.)
#3 Get into God’s Word. I suggested he try an approach our pastor recommended awhile back that transformed my time spent there. Get a lined journal and each morning open your Bible and start reading, looking for a nugget for you that day. Start in the Psalms. When you read something that really speaks to you, copy the verse and site into your journal and write what you are thinking about it or write a prayer asking God to help you get it or apply it or whatever fits. (See: Spiritual Discipline: Bible Reading/Journaling – Four Tips for Bible Reading and Journaling.)
#4 Pray. This may sound like a basic thing, but praying takes concentration on God and just like praying the Psalms can take our eyes off the problem and put them on the One who can solve it. Praying opens lines of communication with the One who loves you more than any other. I once had a good friend say, “I want Liz to pray for me, she has a straight line up.” My response was, “So do you, I just use mine.” He had just admitted that weeks go by sometimes and he hasn’t cracked his Bible or prayed once. God loves us more than we can imagine and He doesn’t want us walking around depressed and defeated. He wants us to be ambassadors for Him, full of joy He inspired. Try this book by Linda Evans-Shepherd for tips: When You Don’t Know What to Pray.
These four things have many times in my life changed my entire perspective. Why not vow to try them, before you try to end it all. And know that there is a whole host of folks praying for everyone who reads these Thinking About Suicide posts. Check out this song by Allen Asbury and know that someone is.
Somebody’s Praying Me Through – Mark Helton. Video by Andrew Pollard:
Don’t know if someone is praying for you? Tell someone who you know is a Christian that you feel that life is so hard you need prayer. It will be a privilege for them to pray for you. Don’t know any Christians? Ask God to bring one into your life. No matter what, know that God is always there for you. You can talk right to Him yourself. Bring him all your worries, fears and depression. He hears you and loves you.