"Daddy was driving home a few hours ago... he died in a car wreck..." My sister's words had awakened me out of a deep sleep. They pierced into a place in my heart I never knew existed. I remember going outside and looking up at all the stars. I was so afraid. Where is he now? How can it be that I will never see him again? Guilt began to mount up in my heart. It was too late to tell him how sorry I was for all the ways I had hurt him over and over. If only I had one more chance to hug him and tell him how much I loved him. How could I live with myself for the rest of my life?
Why don't I just kill myself and get it over with? We're all going to die anyway!" She slammed her bandaged arm down on the table, jarring me out of my own hopeless thoughts. "No! No!" I said, "You can't do that. I don't know why or how, but you can't do that." She looked at me, her pretty blue eyes full of tears. I knew she had no reason to listen. She saw no reason for her young life. She was hopeless. Worthless. At least in her own eyes. And I didn't have any answers. Two weeks later, I lay in my bed staring at my burning candle. Julie was dead. She collapsed right in the street. Darvon and alcohol. She wasn't even twenty years old. I couldn't deal with my thoughts.
People loved being around my friend Tom. He was kind and friendly. He and his girlfriend were together all the time. Hippies. Enjoying life the best way they knew how. Well, a drunk driver ran into her car and she died instantly of a broken neck. I still remember him telling me how he went to the morgue to identify her body. There was just a faint line around her neck. That's all. He came to my house again and again, but I had no answers. I could only suffer with him and wonder why. He cried for weeks. Then he put a gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger.
Ellen and John were psychologists. I paid them twenty dollars a week to come and talk to me and sort out my life. They kept trying to figure out why I was so unhappy. There had to be a way to get me off Valium. Wasn't I ever going to forget about that abortion I had? Somehow they were determined to get me out of the house, get a job -- just be happy! Why had I turned my house willingly into a prison? Why was I so afraid of people? Of going anywhere? Without warning, John went in his back yard early one morning and shot himself in the belly with a shotgun. Everyone was stunned, but they accepted it. Wasn't it an act of courage? After all, he didn't have any answers. Maybe there weren't any answers.
Each day it seemed death had a tighter grip on my life. Things were more and more out of control. My husband was drowning in his memories of the Vietnam War. When he drank, he would explode. I was afraid and so alone. My children were being raised on television and day-care centers. We were on and off welfare. There was no faithfulness in our marriage. In desperation, my husband and I tried going to a church. We even got happy for a little while. My brother had told me about the Jesus Movement and that He was my answer. I had believed him ... for a while. Finally, my fellowship suggested that I go into the hospital. I had gone without sleep for months and weighed only ninety pounds. It was my pastor who drove me to the "retreat." Almost immediately, they gave me Thorazine and a room in a locked ward. I was all alone except for my terror. Even in the hospital I tried to find Jesus. Maybe there was a believer who could help me, bring me healing. Sometimes I would beg my psychiatrist to give me shock treatments. I wanted to forget the children I had borne. I didn't want to remember anything -- I just wanted to disappear into nothingness and not exist. Several months later, they sent me home with a daily dose of Thorazine and anti-depressants. I was facing a life-long struggle with depression. I could be kept near normal as long as I was on drugs.
With as much determination as I could muster up, I went home and did everything I could to push through my madness. That's when I met them -- "the walkers" -- pairs of men and women hitch-hiking through my town. They had all been sent out from a small town in Vermont where they lived together in a community. I was struck by their interest in me. As worthless as my life had become, they wanted to hear all about me. They were friendly and warm. I invited them home for supper. I gave them a place to sleep. They weren't shocked by the condition of my life. Their interest in me gave me the freedom to unload all that was torturing me.
They told me they were Yahshua's disciples, living a common life together, raising their children to follow their God. I was starving for what freely flowed from them, and I desired to come to know them more. When I visited their homes, I saw something I never knew existed -- a people living their whole lives for one another, married couples devoted to the raising of their children, men loving their wives and women trusting their husbands. I saw a security I thought impossible, surely something beyond mere human effort. I saw more than I could have ever hoped for, a way out of my lonely prison. I saw that I could be forgiven. All I had to do was believe in the one they spoke of, Yahshua. I never knew what I was looking for, but now I did. He was my answer. His forgiveness reached deep into my soul and to this day continues to bring miraculous healing to me. I have nothing better to do than follow him the rest of my life. I am so thankful to be alive and to have answers for you.
~ Susan Elizabeth