the woman she was

feature image from Mr Bum Bum’s Instagram

E was a great friend. she knew how to be there for a friend in need. I’ll never forget the time she came over to my apartment to “help” me with my laundry. I had loads and loads of laundry to do. I had no energy or motivation. she came over for moral support but it was me who offered her company as she did my laundry. this was during a time when I was having a difficult time getting anything done. she was there for me. I’ll never forget her presence that comforted me. E, I miss you and will remember you for the joy and laughter we shared. God give E rest that she deserves and let her know her friends remaining in this world love her so much.

prayer for the living, the broken hearted – Psalm 34:18

photo by Wendy K-O

“The LORD is near to the brokenhearted, and saves the crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18)

This is the verse that my friend E’s sister put on her e-mails to announce death of my friend E who took her own life. I found out on 12/18/14 but she was found dead on 12/17/14. Many of my friends from church were born on that date. E died on the birthday of many of her friends…

Is there ever a good time to take your own life?  I don’t think so. But perhaps before the holidays when you have to go home may be a good time as any.

Today, in a couple of hours, church service near me will start. I want to say that I am looking forward to going, to be comforted by God. But truth is, I am so brokenhearted. I am crushed in spirit. I look fine on the outside as my friend E did more than ever especially during the last few months of her life. I barely cry now, maybe only a tear or two filling up my eyes every now and then. But my heart, my heart aches. why? is it because I loved E so much? But if I loved her so much, I should have been there. I should have driven up the few hours to be with her. If I love her so much, would I not have felt her pain? Would I not have heard the pain in her texts and in her voice on the phone?

Love can be blinding. It wants you to think that those you love are safe and sound. That they are not in so much pain after all.  that they want to live. Love can be so misleading. Because E was not safe and sound. She was in so much pain. And she did not want to live in so much pain. I think it’s true that no one wants to die for dying sake. It’s the pain of life that is so excruciating, so crushing to the spirit. And that’s what E didn’t want, I believe. She didn’t want the crushing pain of life. And if life could only come with crushing pain, well, then she wasn’t going to have that.

I know that crushing, excruciating pain too.  E knew I knew that kind of pain. But I cleared out of the woods, and recovering without relapses. Why could E and I have talked and reminisced about this? that things could seem so bad and it seems that the pain would linger and over power every good thing on earth.  But it doesn’t. The pain can subside. The pain can be replaced by joy. Pain free life is not a phantom of the imagination.  It is possible. Why didn’t E believe this?  Because she couldn’t. Because her life in the present was contradicting that belief.

This encounter with a close friend’s suicide is my second time with such an unfortunate event.  First time when I was 17, my closest friend would run away from home and kill her self.  And now in my forties, when I think I am much more aware of myself and others, it happened to a close friend again. About 6 months ago, a colleague of mine who was barely thirty years old died of cancer. She wanted to live, but couldn’t. And so soon after, in the same year, I have lost a friend to mental illness that takes your life. E wanted to live too, a pain free life, but she couldn’t.

It’s a strange feeling to be on the “receiving end” of suicide. for many years my friends and family, especially my roommate were all afraid that I would take my own life. During those times, all I could think about was how to make the pain go away. And I think that’s what E was thinking all the time too.  And now that I am on the receiving end once again, I can only say surviving a suicide of a loved one is painful. Remaining in this life when your loved one takes his/her life, it throws your life upside down. Meaning is lost. What seemed urgent becomes questionable. And even though I try not to be in denial, I keep wishing E was still here. I miss you.

God, you are near to the brokenhearted. That means you are near to me. And if you save those who are crushed in spirit, God save me and others who loved E so much. We are all in need of saving from this pain of loss. This loss, this pain, this empty space occupied by E, it’s bigger than I thought and it’s more paralyzing than I thought. God, be near to us and save us. We are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit.

no one

it’s a cliche. a woman gives all of herself to friends, family, and even to strangers, with none left to give to herself. no one, not even her sister, boyfriend or many close friends even know what’s going on because they weren’t available. I am that woman who is alone, disconnected, feeling lonely even while in the presence of others. funny others don’t get it. did she reach out at all? surely if she had reached out the family and friends, core group of support would have made their best effort to be there for her. so what, now the burden falls on the woman feeling alienated that she didn’t cry out in the way others would respond? but she did. she texted, she left messages, sent out emails. everyone has a lot going on their lives. absolutely true. but I was there when others needed me. where are others now that I need them?

You are my God

“You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God, I will extol you” (Psalm 118:28)

Dear God, you are my God.  You have created me, you have sustained me, you have brought me out of darkness, you gave me life that I could live, testifying to your goodness.  You have healed me, God, from an unrelenting depression.  I am now working as a chaplain helping others who need to be comforted.

In a thousand years, I did not imagine I would ever recover.  I thought every moment being crushed in pain was the life I would know until my death.  You are my God and I give thanks to you.  You have shown me mercy I did not deserve but desperately needed.  God, help me to remain helpful, not to lose heart at the first sign of difficult or discouraging emotions.  Let my life be an encouragement to others who need you.

God, you know my thoughts and my desires even before I can clearly articulate them myself.  God help me to be a faithful servant, good steward of the resources you have given me.  Thank you, God.  I praise you, for you are my God.

you have become my salvation

“I thank you that you have answered me and have become my salvation” (Psalm 118:21)

I thank you, God, for today.  I have the day off from work.  And I am able to relax, drink coffee, read the Bible and to pray.  I am so thankful this morning for my life.  Lately, I have been feeling sad and unmotivated on weekends, which at times cause me to think life is but a misery.  God, give me strength and hope that I can live through such moments/days of sadness and hopelessness.  Let me live in reality that you are my salvation!

PTL for getting through another year

Birthdays no longer feel as special as they used to feel.  Nonetheless, having a day to remember that I have made it through another year is a true blessing.  In the past year, I started my first job as a chaplain, took two courses at a local seminary, stayed healthy and stable.  What more could I have done?  I don’t know, I feel like the past year was pretty full and fulfilling.  Thank you, God!  Thank you, Jesus!  I’m a happy and lucky camper.  Also, I’m thankful to my boyfriend.  We’re a good match even if we don’t know how the future will turn out.  Thanks everyone for the support!

good for the soul

what does it mean to be chaplain to patients who are well?  at the last place i worked, everyone had a serious illness.  the place i’m working now, patients are pretty well.  what does it mean to provide chaplain care in such a place?  it is true that many patients say they are well, they don’t need a chaplain.  some patients, however, are dealing with life issues that call out for additional support whether in hospital or any where else!  how can i best identify patients who need chaplain support so that those who want and need emotional and spiritual support can get help they need?  that’s what’s on my mind this morning.