On suicide and Jesus and not wanting to be a Christian

The first time I tried to kill myself, I was 13. I came home from school and opened a brand new bottle of extra strength Tylenol, and swallowed every pill. I don't even know exactly why I did it. Home was awful and I think kids at school had been teasing me that day and I came home and I...

...I just don't think I wanted to feel anything anymore.

After taking the pills, I sat at the kitchen table and I waited. And when I felt myself starting to die, I got really, really scared. I wanted to die...but I didn't want to die.  I called my mother and told her what I had done. She raced home and picked me up and then she raced me to the hospital.

They gave me whatever it is that they give you to make you throw up. They stuck a tube down my throat. They kept telling me to stay awake. And then they finally let me sleep.

They kept me in the hospital for 3 weeks after that, and then sent me right back home, where everything was awful.  I left shortly after, and spent the next 4 years homeless.

Any thoughts of suicide since then have been sporadic, peppered by half hearted razor slashes on my feet (no one ever looks at my feet), and just a couple of shallow attempts on my wrist. And about 11 years ago, that all stopped completely. I tattooed my wrist with hope so that I would see something besides death when I looked at it.

And shortly after, I met my husband, and my husband helped me find my way past all of that. It's been a beautiful journey, this marriage. It's changed my life.

And then 2015...

2015 is one of the hardest years I have ever experienced. My faith in humanity was completely destroyed. The friendships that I thought were real, were nothing more than casual acquaintances, and gone as soon as everything got ugly. The lies that were being told about me were constant and I had no defense against them. There was so much ugly, and it brought so much of the ugliness of my past back to the surface.

I wanted to die. I really and truly wanted to die.

I thought about suicide every single day this summer, and every single day I fought to talk myself out of it, even if it meant sleeping all day just to protect myself from my own thoughts.

I slept with a razorblade carefully hidden next to my bed.

I imagined how I could do it so that James wouldn't have to find me.

I never stopped thinking about killing myself over the summer...and I never stopped talking myself out of it. I kept going to my therapist. I kept taking supplements to elevate my mood. I kept hiking and staring at the sun. I kept putting up walls to keep those who had hurt me as far away as possible.

I reached out to my friend Mandy and asked if she would take me to church. She asked why, and I told her that I was tired. Tired of having to fight for good things. I wanted to be around people who wanted good things for their neighbors and their community, and who wanted to take care of each other and lift each other up.

I wanted to be around love, and I felt very little love at that time. Church was kind of like a last resort.

So Mandy took me to church. And she made sure that I felt safe while I was there, and when the service was over, I sat there, surrounded by people who I had known outside of church, but never been close to. People who told me that they loved me and that I mattered, and they held my hand and rubbed my back and I cried for an hour and... I felt loved. I felt like I was in the right place.
So I keep going back, and I still feel like it's the right place for me. I've found comfort in the Bible and in reading about the life of Jesus. I've found comfort in the sermons and in the arms and words of the people I see there every Sunday.
But...I don't know if I can comfortably call myself a Christian. I know so many really wonderful people who proudly declare their Christianity and live it every single day. And then I see others who also proudly declare their Christianity and use it to pass hurt and judgement onto those that don't subscribe to their version of faith.

I also have a fear that declaring myself a Christian would possibly lead to people believing that I am someone who would use my faith to hurt them. It's not an unreasonable fear. It happens every day. I grew up in a household with such toxic Christianity that I spent most of my life as an atheist. I thought ...there can be no God if he has made life this painful, and people so horrible and willing to hurt each other in his name. Christians are awful.

And we are.
I don't want to die anymore. And while I will always be bewildered...and the actions of those who came after me this year, I'm not angry. I want to live by the example that Jesus set - I want to feed those who are hungry and I want to replace judgement with mercy and I want people to feel loved in my presence and I want to use my life and whatever gifts that I have been given to shine a light and lend comfort and joy to anyone I might meet. I want to always strive to be better. Not to get to heaven, but because when I try to be better, it betters the lives of people around me, and I believe that that is what I'm here for.
My friend Seth and I were talking about the phrase " He/she thinks she's God's gift" online one day, and he made the point that we should think that we are God's gift to the world, and we should act in accordance. And he's absolutely right.
I strive to live my life as though I am a gift, so that your life might be better for having me in it. I strive to show love, and refrain from actions that would hurt those around me. I strive to forgive those whose actions I don't understand. I strive to love myself enough to know when to put distance between myself and those who might want to hurt me, even if their actions are unintentional.
I strive to be God's gift, both to the world and to myself. I don't know if that makes me a Christian...I don't know if I should care? Christianity feels a little bit like a club. I don't want to be in a club. I just want to follow my heart.
I think I should have a point here...and I'm really not sure what that point is. I guess I feel transformed. And writing here has been so cathartic and you have been so accepting of these really vulnerable moments that I keep tossing out here. And this is another one.
I feel God. I feel loved. And I feel joy. And I cry ALL.OF.THE.TIME.NOW.
But it's because I'm happy. And I get really emotional about the fact that I feel safe loving people again, and not being scared that someone else is going to try and hurt me.

Let them come. Let them say what they will.
I am loved. I have a purpose here. I have this beautiful faith that is strange and unusual and new and right for me. I have come through the fire of this year even stronger, and I will be a gift to those around me. I will continue to love people. I will continue to be grateful.
As always, thank you so much for being here. Thank you for being supportive, and thank you for sharing your life with me. I am grateful and I appreciate you so very much.