Tonight I am grieving deeply for a woman I barely knew, but a woman I knew only too well. I only knew her in passing, in social events, in day-to-day life on occasion, but a few days ago, I saw in her the reflection of myself many years ago.
Her story? She made some life-altering mistakes—ones that completely turned her life up-side-down in a matter of moments. When she contemplated the choices, she only thought about the immediate relief for some little-understood longing in her heart—one that seemed justifiable at the moment. When Satan offered her the bait, he never told her about the consequences. He never told her there was long-term poison mixed in with the momentary delight. He only told her that if she listened to him, her pain would go away and she would find fulfillment.
The exact opposite was true. She lost everything. Her home, her husband, her kids, her life, and worst of all her hope. In seemingly a moment, all was lost in exchange for a lie.
When I found out about her situation recently, I offered her grace. I had been in her shoes before, and I knew what a lonely dark road it is back to wholeness and peace. No matter how sorry you are, many people don't forgive. People don't forget. People throw stones. Only God, and those He has redeemed from deep brokenness, can offer the grace and redemption to such a person. And I hoped to help her find that truth for her broken heart through my testimony.
I was afraid she wouldn't trust me. She didn't know me well enough to open up with the magnitude of what was happening in her delicate heart because of her shameful secrets. Would I be just another person to give her a stab wound? How could she know? Timidly I called, offering to talk to her without judgment, letting her know that I had been in the same dark place, and that hope was only a prayer away. I assured her that I had been there—alone, desperate, and completely ruined. But by the grace of God, my life had been made new.
She finally called me two nights ago, sobbing. I asked her to come over and talk to me. She said it wasn't a good night and promised to call again. I knew she was scared. I knew she didn't believe any good could ever come into her life again. I didn't push her because I didn't want her to feel crowded or distrustful. I told her to call me as soon as she could get together and I would share the hope with her that I had found. I made that promise to God once. If He brought me out alive, I would give hope to others in the same horrible and sad situation.
Today, less than 48 hours later, she gave in to sadness and despair. She took her life. How I wish now that I had pushed. How I wish I had been more bold and maybe even crowded her a bit. Now she leaves behind more despair and sadness for her children, who will never understand why mommy was so sad she had to leave this world.
Some people are critical at her selfish act. But if you've never been there, in that black and lonely nightmare of despair created by your own doing, then you wouldn't understand the guilt. The guilt tells you that no one could forgive you, and that you will never be able to come back. The guilt (and sometimes the people) tells you that the innocent bystanders would be better off without you—you are ruined and no good to them anymore. The guilt tells you that to stay in their lives causes them more pain than if you leave. That kind of sorrow is very dark and confusing.
As I think about this woman who was so much like myself many years ago—sorry, lonely, barren, desperate, deeply regretful—I wish I had done more to lavish the grace of Jesus on her heavy shoulders. I urge you to be bold as you bring the grace and light of Jesus into dark lives marred and devastated by sin. Don't throw stones, extend hands. And don't wait—you might not have until tomorrow.