Part Two, in a series on Bi-polar disease: My Soul Shall Yet Praise Him
Overheard at Starbuck’s recently: “I don’t think we even need a word like ‘atheist’. The word presupposes an opposite. Belief in God or anything other than me is so outmoded, unnecessary. Of course, without an outside source, our ethical responsibilities are ours alone. It’s completely up to us to decide what’s correct for ourselves.”
The young man’s companions nodding in agreement as they sagely rubbed their chins and sipped their lattes.
The afternoon sun was stunningly bright, yet the atmosphere around that outdoor table where the conversation was taking place seemed so dark, even despairing that I wanted to jump up and interrupt (uninvited) and pull up a chair and ask if I could tell them my story. I didn’t. I regret this. I pray for another opportunity. I pray for each of them.
This is the story I would have told them…
Let’s say you’re in your mid-twenties and you’ve got four adorable and rambunctious little kids. And let’s say you have pine Frazier fur needles from the now dead Christmas tree all over your very red, very old carpet. And your vacuum cleaner is clogged with the needles. Your brain is clogged with a dull pervasive fear, and you’re not sure why.
And let’s say… the day after Christmas your good-looking, strong, supportive husband attempts to take his own life. Thankfully, he fails.
What’s the first desperate call you make? 911? It’s 1973, we don’t yet have 911. There is only a small nick in one wrist, a few drops of blood, and panicked pleas not to tell anyone. Reassurances. Pleading. Four children sound asleep in their beds.
It’s all a bad dream; it’s just that I’m awake. I pray. I pray for help, for wisdom, for God’s Presence to fill our home. My husband, exhausted, sleeps. I don’t.
We make it through five more days. I am vigilant. Ray goes to his office and comes home, just as he does every normal day.
“We’re going to be fine.” I believe my own lies.
“Listen, daughter. Ray isn’t talking to you or the children.. Look at your husband. He isn’t eating.” My Heavenly Father’s counsel is repetitious, disturbing. I chose for the time being to behave like a practical atheist and make my own decisions. I have prayed for wisdom and counsel, but I’m ignoring what the Holy Spirit whispers
And now it’s New Year’s Eve. And Ray is telling me that he’s not really working. He tells me he has no work, that he sits at his desk for hours and stares at nothing. He repeats and repeats the same phrase; “you and the kids will be better off…”
I begin to listen, really listen. I realize that I must call our friend Allan and enlist his help to get Ray help. Tonight. New Year’s Eve. I quickly call my neighbor, Wylene and ask if I can leave my children with her. Allan arrives and together, we convince Ray to ride with me to the hospital ER. I pray. And pray. And pray.
“Lord, please help me. Help me now. I want my husband to live. He’s here in this car with me, and I need him to get out of the car and go into the hospital when we get there. I can’t do this alone.
And I am not alone. All the way my Savior leads me. Ray opens the passenger door and looks at me as if I’ve been both his betrayer and his deliverer. “We’re just going to get you some help”, I plead, willing the help to be there for him.
I sign papers. The nurse gently leads him towards a door that to me looks ominous. (How must it have looked to him?) “I’ll see you tomorrow”, I say with what I hope sounds like optimism.
I pick up my sleepy children from Wylene. She hugs me. I hold back tears. Mustn’t cry in front of children. Home again; I tuck the four into their beds. I note the time—10:30pm, almost midnight, almost a new year. I am terrified. I find the Bible that they funeral director gave me after my mother’s funeral. It’s big, gray and I pray there will be answers somewhere in there. I let the pages open ‘wherever’.
To the chief Musician, Maschil, for the sons of Korah
As the hart panteth after the water brooks, so panteth my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God? My tears have been my meat day and night, while they continually say unto me, Where [is] thy God? When I remember these [things], I pour out my soul in me: for I had gone with the multitude, I went with them to the house of God, with the voice of joy and praise, with a multitude that kept holyday. Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and [why] art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him [for] the help of his countenance. O my God, my soul is cast down within me: therefore will I remember thee from the land of Jordan, and of the Hermonites, from the hill Mizar. Deep calleth unto deep at the noise of thy waterspouts: all thy waves and thy billows are gone over me. [Yet] the Lord will command his lovingkindness in the daytime, and in the night his song [shall be] with me, [and] my prayer unto the God of my life. I will say unto God my rock, Why hast thou forgotten me? why go I mourning because of the oppression of the enemy [As] with a sword in my bones, mine enemies reproach me; while they say daily unto me, Where [is] thy God? Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted within me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him, [who is] the health of my countenance, and my God.
My soul shall yet praise Him…My soul shall YET praise Him!
New Year’s Eve. A suicidal husband in the psychiatric unit. Four little children asleep in their beds. And the Bible on my lap opens here, here to these words.
Belief in God, unnessesary, outmoded? Up to us, all these decisions? How grateful I am to know the truth. God is so very necessary. So with us. So in control.
That New Year’s Eve I began to know how very necessary and in control God really is. I will hope IN GOD!