Updated: May 15
I grew up Catholic. My parent were members of a local Catholic church. I did all of the things that Catholics were supposed to do while I was growing up. I was baptized, I went to CCD classes, I
was confirmed, I went to confession and I attended church on some Sundays but mainly on Easter and Christmas. Randy grew up in the Baptist Church. He wasn't a huge church goer when we met but his family were very involved Christians.
It was his family that introduced me to their Baptist church. When Randy asked if I would attend one of their services I hesitated. I was a much different person back than. Very very angry. To this day I think the only reason I was angry was because of my chemical depression. I had a wonderful childhood with loving parents. I did have a number of events that were hurtful when I got older but nothing really to bring on that amount of anger that was deep inside of me.
I was nervous walking into his parent's church. I didn't know what to expect. As I listened to the preacher speak all I kept thinking as I looked at the people in the auditorium was "Wow, These people are such hypocrites! Look at them saying their Amen's and praying while they probably go and beat their wives at home." Yeah I was a very angry and bitter person. God had other plans for me.
Fast forward. I came to Christ about a year after that first visit to Marquette Manor Baptist Church. Not through the pastor or any of the people, but through the Bible. I wanted to read this book as much as possible. As I read it my heart turned and I became a full fledged Christian.
As Randy and I started our family it was important to us to raise our kids in church. After we moved to Indiana we started attending the local Baptist Church that my brother in law was pastor. It was great. We made friends, had our kids immersed in the youth programs and our kids started to go to their Christian school. I was an active Christian for 22 years before Randy died. and I was in prayer daily. I am mentioning about daily prayer because it is an important part of the coming story.
10 days before Randy died he was very depressed. I had never seen him like this before. So I prayed for my husband. Not only did I pray, I begged for God to help him.
I prayed hard and I prayed often. And then he took his life. I truly didn't understand why God didn't answer my prayer. I was so confused on why God would turn his back on our family. I had heard stories in the past on how God intervenes and saved a suicidal person's life and my brain couldn't comprehend why God didn't stop the gun from going off. Honestly to this day I still struggle with it at times. To say I was angry is an understatement. I was furious. I screamed "WHY!!!" at the top of my lungs trying to get an answer. No answers came. Actually I felt absolutely nothing. Then the two churches that I had been a part of for years turned their backs on us. Christians that I thought were friends abandoned us and I felt so alone.
This next part is so ironic. I already told you that before I found Christ I was a much different person. Well I lived a very different lifestyle as well, filled with drugs, alcohol and men. Now Randy died and I was getting no support from my churches. I was being pulled back to my old way of life. I started craving the men and the alcohol just to numb the pain. But remembering the way I felt before I became a Christian stopped me from going to that first bar. I didn't want a life filled with anger and destructive habits. I wanted the joy that I felt when I felt the love of God. I wanted happiness again.
The unfortunate part of struggling with your faith is that it doesn't come back on like a light switch, or at least with me it didn't. It took me years and as I mentioned before I still struggle on some days. But let me back up a little bit on when I tried finding God again and what happened.
Ok, I made the decision to fight for my faith, family and myself. So I needed to find a new church that I felt comfortable being a member of. The wounds of being hurt by God loving people and my precious churches were still very fresh so that was tough. Also when you are a widow it's very hard going into an auditorium filled with happy and complete families. Very hard. There were a lot of tears shed during services. and it's hard to connect and learn about God when you are weeping silently hoping no one notices. I tried listening to K-Love again. K-Love was my jam. Before Randy died that was the only station that I played with my kids in the car. When I decided to turn it back on , the very first day of listening a story came on the radio to give a praise. His praise was that he was going to kill himself and God jammed the gun and now he is alive. I literally stopped the car in disbelieve and started screaming. So Christian radio was out. But my heart was still desiring to be fixed and I knew that I couldn't do this by myself and I knew that if I didn't do something my life would be destroyed.
So I cracked open the Bible. The book that brought me to full fledged Christianity to begin with. I read on my own and in time my own time searching for answers.
Than it happened. The day that changed everything. You see when a loved one takes their own life you never get over the layer of confusion, abandonment and guilt. It is the most unbearable grief you will ever go through. So even the strongest of people fumble and I was at "one of those days."
Before I went to bed, I was praying for clarity on why my prayers were not answered before Randy died. Yes close to 4 years after my husband's death I still needed to know why God did not help him. Then I received a text from a brand new gym client. I had just met her and her husband two weeks prior. This was her text to me. "Good morning Rachel. I am in Worship and Prayer with the Lord. And God put on my mind. God loves you and your children. God is thinking about you and your children. He hears you through your tears, frustrations, disappointments, anger; your questions of why? He has not forgotten about you. You are not alone. I'm sending you this song. I hope you enjoy listening to this song and let God minister to you. God knows that you are strong; but God is much stronger than you." I woke up to this text and was shocked. This was a person that I barely knew and she was telling me things that she couldn't have guess that I was praying about the night before.
At that point I started looking past the anger, past the grief and really started thinking about those days before Randy died. And then it hit me hard. God wasn't the one that took Randy away. I believe that God tried to work through Randy's heart for days. God even tried to communicate with me through a song that kept coming on K-Love over and over again. Every time I was in the car this song came on repeatedly. I didn't understand it at the time or what I needed to do with this information. It was a song about God forgiving an unforgivable heart. God tried to get me to understand the struggles that Randy was going through. Randy never talked to me about his struggles but I found out in his suicide letter to me that although he loved me and the kids he couldn't live with his "un-forgiven heart". That is no coincidence. I believe that God tried to get me to save my husband. I also believe that God tried to get through to Randy but Satan's voice was louder and Randy made his choice.
Now, yes I still falter on days but I am back on my K-Love fix and I decided to listen to church online. There will be a time in the future where I can be in a church auditorium around happy families again without crying. In the meantime I made a choice that fits me and my family. I pray often and I love the love that God gives me. Without Him I could not have made it to this point. Without Him I would either have either followed in my husband's footsteps or be living a destructive life without being a loving mother and have lost my business.
Suicide is always the wrong choice. Love and finding a relationship with God is always the right choice. Never give up on finding help. Finding help is always the right choice. Unfortunately when you have been hurt by church people churches it is very hard to keep believing in the power of God. Don't give up. God loves us despite his falling children and will always forgive an un-forgiven heart. God has a clear path for us that is filled with good. Life is uncertain and difficult at times. It can be hard to see the good when your brain is wired to focus on the bad and eventually it can wear you down. Trusting in God's plan for your life and his unending love for you can bring back the beauty of this world and all of the people that are in it.