Brisbane, December 2003, and broken. I was a state health, safety, security and environment coordinator for Shell oil company, and, having just arrived, on the way to the hotel, there was for about five minutes such a strong temptation to disappear. I was there for a conference with others, but I had never felt more alone.
My first marriage had crumbled ten weeks earlier, and the pain was more or less constantly unbearable. I had lost 45lbs in six weeks, the depression was so severe. And now, for a few fleeting moments, I seriously considered bailing on my entire life.
It wasn’t that I couldn’t see any point; I just couldn’t live it any longer the way it was.
Not that I could have gone through with fleeing, but everything of what my life had become felt worse than death. Conflict consumed me within me and within my most important relationship at that time. I couldn’t reconcile it and felt I had nowhere to turn.
There are times in life like that, aren’t there? Situations of life where all options appear abysmal or to lead to an impending disaster. Times when panic attacks become the unprecedented reality. When the pain is so real and incomprehensibly agonising you hate the fact that such pain is even possible.
For me at the time, I was desperately trying to get out of a job that had me in Melbourne one week, Kununurra the next, and the week before that, in two other disparate regional areas. By plane, by train, or by car I was anywhere and everywhere. I’d flown 80 flights in a year. I desperately needed to be home with my three daughters. They were all I had left and all I had to live for.
And yet for those fleeting moments in the taxi at dusk, lonelier than I could have previously comprehended, I found myself planning an escape.
You might find yourself in a place like this. Maybe it brings back traumatic memories — I hope not, but I would understand if it did. Perhaps it’s now. Maybe you’re facing what is termed an avoidance-avoidance conflict — in this case, where both or all perceived outcomes are unfathomable and unconscionable.
It’s in these situations that we feel that our mere existence is excruciating. We can feel tormented, and it’s from this place we understand finally how people do desperate and regretful things.
There is such a thing as a burden too heavy to bear, notwithstanding those who would beat us over the head with 1 Corinthians 10:13 or other scriptures.
There is such a thing as being pushed too far, and if any Christian were to come to us and say we’re not relying on God enough, we could fairly call them abusive!
Far too many people who have never been pushed too far sneer at those who are being pushed too far and call them weak.
If you’re in that place, or if you find yourself in that place in the future sometime, from the voice of experience I say this: it feels hellish because it is hellish.
You can get through, but only a moment at a time. You will get through if you meet the moment as it is, without feeling like you need to overcome the entire situation that you cannot change.
Just being in such a situation is courage and strength and the truest, purest form of faith.
Life includes the reality of desperation when we want to run away when we can’t escape.
Perhaps the ONLY blessing in enduring such an experience is it opens the eyes of our heart.
I don’t believe God sanctions such a crushing, but I do believe our Lord compensates us for what he would never ordain. Somehow that compensation is a compassion — the very compassion of Jesus.