by Thomas Ives
There are a lot of people that share their opinions on how to fix the problems of the world. Some say it begins with parenting or maybe even better laws. I say it all begins with showing grace towards everyone. I don’t care what your race, sex, religion, etc… is, we all desire love, compassion, and acceptance. Grace covers all of these and more. Think about it: how much better would everyone’s life be if we all started showing a little more grace to one another? I am always sharing the grace given to me, which I don’t deserve, and passing it along to others. Are you?
As someone that battles with depression and has had suicidal thoughts in the past, this is very important to me. Too many times I have heard at church or on videos that if you are depressed, you need to give it to Jesus / God and that it will go away. I have done this many times in my life and it’s the wrong message to send towards the ones battling with a mental illness. This is because when it doesn’t happen, it fuels the mental illness more towards the darkness. Then this causes that person to feel like they are truly broken and hopeless and that is farthest from the truth.
The truth is that you are loved more than you could possibly know. I know that at times this is very hard to accept but trust me when I say that YOU ARE LOVED! It took me some time researching internally and externally to learn this fact of my life. I have read about 2/3 of the bible so far and yes it tells us to give our worries to him but it also states a lot that you are loved by him unconditionally. So if we are all loved unconditionally by him, then why can’t we show that same love to others? Of all the things I desire during my darkest times, grace from others is the most important.
I have had my struggles of prejudice from family and friends at times. I have been criticized at times from the ones close to me, whether it be about how I am wrong in my faith or that I am making up my battle with depression. It’s very frustrating and hurtful when they would rather quote the bible and condemn my faith instead of approaching it with grace and humility. It has taken a while but I have been able to get quite few them to understand what I am battling with.
I wish other Christians would understand this one thing about suicide: As someone that has fought off the suicidal thoughts, in those moments life here on this planet is hell and we are not that concerned about the possibility of really going there. All the thoughts, emotions, and internal lies that I battle daily truly make this life a so to speak living hell. This is why no matter what your belief is about suicide, its more important to give compassion and not judgment. It’s more effective if you tell me whats great about me instead of why suicide is bad because I already worry about not wanting to hurt my loved ones.
You may be wondering why I am calling out Christians and not any other religion. It’s because Christians are the ones spreading more hate and judgment than anyone else. It just seems that everyone besides Christians are becoming more and more accepting of others. While we are over here holding our bibles, spewing hate and judgment like the Westboro Baptist Church. We seem afraid that they are going to take something away from us, when it reality they just want to be accepted like everyone else is. To give acceptance and compassion towards others like Jesus / God has given to us many, many times. Is it really that hard for us to do?
I want to share with you two examples of when others have shown grace towards me. The first was when I was working at McDonald’s about 7 or 8 years ago. Cassie had died in her car accident just days before, you can read more about her in my blog post “The wish that never happened”. I was a total wreck. Wishing that my life would just end already. Contemplating ways to commit suicide that would look more like an accident. It was very difficult to work. Then one day, an employee of mine asked if he could have a few minutes of my time after his shift was done. He was an older gentleman and always nice to others. So I told him “Yes”. We sat down together at a booth and he began to open his bible. At this point of my life, I hated God for what happened to Cassie. I was in no mood to listen to him reading scripture to me but I was polite and let him anyways.
He spent no more than a minute reading from the bible and then he closed it. As soon as he did, I explained to him about the hatred I was feeling cause of what happened. He explained to me that he understood and that he wanted this time with me to answer any questions. He also wanted to make sure that I knew there was someone I could talk to about anything and that there are a lot of people who love and care about me. We sat there for at least 45 minutes just talking about everything. He never passed any kind of judgment or hate during the whole conservation. He didn’t tell me that this happened in my life because of the mistakes I had made in my life. He could have gotten up from the booth and left after I had told him about the hatred I had for God. Nope, he stayed there with me and would it have been longer if I didn’t need to get back to work. After that day, he would always offer his time when he could tell I was struggling.
The second time was last year. I work at a hospital fixing the copiers and printers. I don’t quite remember what caused it but I was furious about something that was going on in my life. So furious that I could feel my heart rate increasing and I was clenching my fists so tight. All kinds of thoughts were swirling in my mind causing my depression and anxiety to get kicked into high gear. I could not think straight if my life had been depended on it. I had to sit down. I saw a couch up ahead in the hallway I was walking. I immediately sat down and buried my face into my hands. I was trying to take slow deep breaths to bring me back to the present and out of the darkness that I was in currently. Then out of nowhere I hear this sweet voice. She asked me if I was ok. She was an older woman and I have no idea where she came from since there was no one in the hallway before I sat down. I promptly told her “Yes I am” as I tried to hide the truth from her. She then said “Ok. Just making sure cause it looked like something was troubling you. I would be happy to sit with you and talk about it”. I smiled and told “Thank you. I am better now.” She replied “Ok, have a good day” and continued towards her destination. Its amazing how a 30 second conservation can turn someone’s day around.
The message I want you to leave with is: No matter who they are, please take the time to show love and compassion to them. You have no idea what they are struggling with and your positive actions will have a huge impact on them. Depression is a real issue that needs acceptance and not rejection. Suicide is a very serious issue that needs compassion and not judgment. I challenge you to show your grace upon a different person each day. Together we can improve the lives of many.
Thomas Ives is a motivational blogger who runs #ShareInspireConquer, a viral positivity hashtag on Twitter and Facebook for a world in need. Find more from Thomas at his site, Bestowing Fire.