Loving Jesus Isn't Always Enough
Content Warning: this post contains the mention of s*icide.
This post was written by Ariana Diaz.
As I’m writing this, it’s Tuesday evening, September 10, 2019. This casual Tuesday in September began to hold an incredible amount of meaning to me around 2015. I was so invested in this day, September 10th, that I, the girl who only went to high school to avoid truancy and would make up lies to her mom so she could use an extra 45 minutes to convince herself to get out of bed, stepped out in the hope of helping others. I bought a kit from To Write Love on Her Arms (TWLOHA) that included small cards encouraging people to keep going, posters, and wristbands. That year the slogan was “We’ll See You Tomorrow” - I even wore a shirt to school that day that encouraged people to stay alive to see the next day. This was wildly out of character, anyone who knew me at that time in my life would have been baffled by my initiative to go out and talk to strangers about World Suicide Prevention Day. I couldn’t even ask for directions in a store at that time, how would I ever talk about such a serious topic?
Included in the packet from TWLOHA was a blank piece of paper that said, “You’ll see me tomorrow because” to which I wrote “God kept me on this Earth for a reason. He wanted me to continue seeing the beautiful world He created and the wonderful people too. I now have hope that tomorrow is a new day with new opportunities. And a chance to continue fighting for my hope for better days. You’ll see me tomorrow because I want to impact others with my story.”
This wildly out-of-character courage to post on social media and to speak to my peers was because a certain prominent Christian leader. Jarrid Wilson. Jarrid was someone I had been closely following on social media. He created an entire organization around mental illness within Christian communities. Before him I had not heard of someone speaking so openly about their struggle. I continued to follow his life closely because maybe if he could do it, I could too. I watched him and his wife get married, have two kids, move states to pursue their call, and more. Through social media, I saw their family live a life. Yes, I also watched him in his struggles and the real parts of life. How even though he was living his call, his passions, he struggled. Struggled with suicidal thoughts, with anxiety, with severe depression – all that of which I myself was experiencing. I knew of no one within the Christian community before Jarrid who spoke about this topic with such boldness and openness.
In 2012 I became a Christian. I saw (and continually see) how evangelicalism paints Christianity to be a joyride, exclusively. Simply pray more, and God will give you what you want. Pray more, and God will heal you. Just have a little more faith and the pain will be gone. Yet, imagine how I felt when months after I came to know Jesus, I also came to know depression, anxiety, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts. It felt as if I was doing something wrong - I loved Jesus—shouldn’t that be enough? Isn’t that what they told me? I struggled. And I struggled.
This is where the voice of Jarrid Wilson, which would become many more voices, told me differently. He said that I was not any less Christian because I struggled. God didn’t love me any less because of my depression. God did not love me any less because of my anxiety. And the hardest to believe, even though I thought about leaving this life that God gave me, was that He didn’t love me any less for it. That voice, the one that spoke the rawest truth to me in my most difficult moments, lost his own battle to depression this past evening.
His wife is now a single, widowed woman with two children. The strongest people that we look to can struggle, they can crumble, they can fall. I heard of this news while sitting in the Anderson Chapel during Gospel Choir, among fifty of my peers. I could not help but think, “Who else in this room puts a smile on their face, sings praises to God, but goes home and feels hopeless and alone?” I pause and wonder this, and I know, because I have been that person, far too many times at North Park and within other spaces and contexts.
I am not sure what (if there even is a goal) this article is. If it has a purpose, or not. Or if that even matters. However, I do know that I can no longer stay quiet about this epidemic. We need to do more for our students, all of them. But we need more for those who have medically tested and proven chemical imbalances in their brains. For those who struggle daily. This epidemic has rocked our campus far too many times. This is not something we should be battling alone. Nobody is less of a Christian, or person, or friend, or husband, or wife, or student, or whatever you want to say because of their struggles.
Jarrid Wilson. My breath was taken away from the news about his suicide, and I remain here. I barely have the words but let us consider who else in our community is struggling. Is it you, the one reading this? If so, I see you. Is it someone you know? If it is, it’s time to let them know that they are no less a member of our community, Christian or otherwise, because of their struggles. I could plug the resources that we have on this campus but, truthfully, I just want people to know they are seen, they are loved, and that they are wanted.
I’m reminded of one of Jarrid’s last tweets:
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure suicidal thoughts.
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure depression.
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure PTSD.
Loving Jesus doesn’t always cure anxiety.
But that doesn’t mean Jesus doesn’t offer us companionship and comfort.
He ALWAYS does that.
If you need help, please contact The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.