THE POWERLESSNESS PODCAST: The Suicide Thoughts

Good morning, I’m Chaplain Michael Jaques, a chaplain with the US Army Reserve and at the VA. Today I am talking with Chaplain Smith about his experience with feelings of powerlessness.

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In my opinion, Chaplain Smith has found a way to keep powerless somewhat under control. I asked him to share his experiences with powerlessness. His honesty is moving and helpful.

Chaplain Smith:

Thank you, Chaplain Jaques. I don’t know if I would say I have a handle on it or not but I will say there have been two incidents or events in my life that stand out to me where I felt powerlessness. One was at the demise of my first marriage and it was during that time, one of the lowest points of my life in fact, I acknowledge ashamedly that there was a time during that whole sequence of events surrounding the divorce that I thought of taking my own life and, fortunately, and I know this is obviously a God thing, God put people in my life that helped intercept me from making that decision that you can’t come back from.

In fact, a good co-worker now, called my brother from another mother, talked to me one night and said suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem and I denied having any suicidal thoughts but I was lying because I was ashamed that I had those thoughts and I did feel powerless. But I do know, in the midst of that powerlessness, I discovered that God is not powerless and the biggest mistake I made and allowed myself to get to the point where I was suicidal.

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So, instead of leaning on the Lord more than ever, I was running from the Lord more than ever. But God convicted me and opened my eyes to the fact that, even in the midst to my powerlessness, he is not powerless and the scripture tells us that in our weakness, his strength is made perfect and I found that out. So, he pulled me from the brink, so to speak, and I began to lean on him as opposed to run from him because the people he put in my path to keep me from making that decision and showing me that it was a permanent solution to a temporary problem and that I would not only be hurting my family, I’d be hurting everybody that had been in a relationship with me. I prayed to the Lord that he opened my eyes in the nick of time.

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The other situation was, I don’t know, 10 or so years later, I was doing work in ministry. My ministry was flourishing and things seemed to be, all cylinders seem to be firing, so to speak, in ministry and the devil started working on me. I started feeling lonely. I ended up pursing a relationship that I shouldn’t and allowed that relationship to undermine my ministry and, not only my relations with God, but my relations with all of my family and many others that I hold dear and that was one situation where I went from being a pastor that my church thought very highly of because I was providing good ministry to the exact opposite extreme. I was very literally neglecting them and, when the Lord opened my eyes to that, that was painful. I discovered that any time you neglect the work God has for you and you neglect your relationship with God, you know, you’re heading down a slippery slope.

Fortunately, even though I was and it cost me the ministry that I had, I had to start from scratch again, but in God’s infinite grace, love, and mercy, he picked me back up and dusted me off and dried my tears and set me back on the path that I’m on now and I have a good ministry again. So, once again, I discovered, even in my powerlessness, God is all powerful. I’m the one that moved, he didn’t. God is the eternal gentleman. He doesn’t force himself on us but he also doesn’t give up on us.

Chaplain Jaques:

All right, thank you so much for sharing that. I’m wondering what happened in your life, in your ministry, that you did finally crack the code to resolve the feelings of powerlessness and what would you share to those who are still struggling.

Chaplain Smith:

One thing I would say is don’t give up, don’t throw in the towel, learn from your mistakes, and trust that God will use those mistakes to help somebody else. I’ve always said that God makes good out of bad. He does. I’ve seen it many times. Put that on my tombstone: God makes good out of bad. I was ready to throw in the towel on a couple of different occasions and God wouldn’t allow it to happen. I know he doesn’t love me any more than he loves anybody else. He could have very easily gave up on me. He did not do that. I would say always keep working on that relationship, look to put him first and trust that, even when you fall down and you do or say or fail to do or say things that are within God’s will and purpose for you, keep plugging away.

I think of King David. King David was a good example for somebody who went from a strong, close relationship with God to a point where he committed adultery and basically committed murder and his life fell apart in some respects but God didn’t give up on him. Once his eyes were open and he was convicted of his failing, his sin against God, he confessed it and God put away his sin.

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It doesn’t mean there’s not going to be consequences to our sins. There’s always going to be consequences but God doesn’t give up on us when we fall back into old patterns of behavior and we make those wrong choices. Sometimes we make choices, there’s a part of us clearly that knows this is not the path you want to go down, this is not the path God has for you, and yet the flesh is contradictory to the spirit or the spirit should be one and the flesh is weak and I think we need to be forgiving of ourselves. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t feel bad for the times and the ways we let God down. It amazes me that God didn’t kick me to the curb. I certainly couldn’t blame him if he had. I do think sometimes, you know, God is going to let us go down that slippery slope and, once you get to the end and we’re going to crash, he somehow softens the blow and doesn’t pull the call from us, doesn’t cast us aside. He just helps us get back on track.

Chaplain Jaques:

Thank you very much. Putting God first, serving him, and putting it in his hands, those are the takeaways for this episode of the Powerlessness Podcast. Thanks again. I really appreciate you sharing your experiences with me.

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