(A)theist: The Journey of 2003

Suicidal college students should not have to sit in waiting rooms with nothing but pulp entertainment. Perhaps the hope is that the airbrushed images, out-of-reach vacation destinations, and political attack pieces scattered throughout the worn magazines will provide joy beneath taupe walls.

I’ll just tell you. They don’t.

Whatever the justification for the cornucopia of Time and Condé Nast, my first visit to the university’s mental health clinic had only one bright spot: it was free. Seated in the midst of chairs packed into the room—I overcame the Lexus ads and remained.

Two or three other students kept their faces resolutely down. You have to love the unspoken communication in such places. We pretended to be obsessed with novels and cell phones and crinkling pages because we knew why each was there. After all, you didn’t wait there because the seats were comfortable. You waited because something had gone wrong.

My wrong had reached a climax at the tip of a knife the day before while standing in the kitchen of a two-bedroom apartment. With no premeditation, I decided I’d put an end to what I saw as nothing more than the motion of electrons—that is, me. In my deluded mind, the difference between my skin and the food I’d just cut was only a matter of texture and shape, and certainly not the chasm I now know exists between matter and my God-breathed life.

What stopped me had nothing to do with remorse or a desire to live. I had neither. Instead, it was curiosity—aching curiosity. Right then I heard—though I have no idea if it was audible—a single phrase: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” The words reminded me of something—something I was sure I should remember—and that was enough. Purpose.

As you can see, I had two reasons to go see a psychologist: 1) I wanted to end my own life and 2) I heard a voice in the kitchen. Although the psychologist meant well, he could only deal with the symptoms: some techniques to think positively, some ways to refocus.

I’d love to tell you that during that time, I immediately looked up what I’d heard, surrendered to Christ, and retired at 25. But considering myself “healed enough,” I forgot about the event for several months—as well as one can forget nearly ending his own life. And perhaps that was best, since God used my lowest point to chip away the whitewashed walls I’d put up that declared “I don’t need God to be okay.”

Without God, I’d ended up staring at taupe walls and considering life of no more worth than carrots. I continued to stumble through depression until I did finally look up that phrase. Conviction and repentance and acceptance came upon discovering that “In Him was life, and that light was the light of men.”

It’s funny what God’s Word (in all senses) can do.

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