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Filling the Empty Spot in My Heart
Suicide was on her mind. Could a Christmas candlelight service give her the peace her heart desired?

Depressed and alone during the holidays, where would I find the peace I so desperately sought?

Tranquillizers would be so easy, I thought to myself. All I needed to do was steal them from a relative’s medicine cabinet. Or maybe ending it all behind the wheel. I loved fast cars so there’d be some irony in that. One way or another, the misery that had become my life had to stop.

Suicide was the furthest thing from my mind growing up in Peterborough, Ontario. We were an ordinary family and I had a normal childhood, attending elementary school and enjoying friendships with the many kids in my neighbourhood.

But as I grew up and finished high school, changes began taking place. Little-girl friendships, once pledged to last forever, ended. The worlds of my classmates now revolved around marriage and children.

After years of living a settled life, I started moving into a different lifestyle. That scene included bars, drinking and unhealthy relationships. I had “arrived.” Good paying jobs, fast cars and the attention of the opposite sex.

But after several years of convincing myself that I was happy, I finally woke up to the fact it was all just so much sand running through my fingers.

For the next six years or so, I slid further down into despondency. Years of drive-by friends had left nothing but emptiness where my heart used to be. I withdrew from my circle of acquaintances. They’d be better off without me, I reasoned.

When I wasn’t working, partying or drinking, I’d sit on the floor in my bedroom in a cocoon of blackness trying to determine the best way to end my life. I hated the holiday season most of all. The gaiety of the season, the fact that it was a time of family and togetherness, was a stark and dismal contrast to what my life had become. I just wanted to end the charade. It came down to two choices: I could either drive my car into a canal or overdose on tranquillizers.

I was involved in a battle for my life. I couldn’t go on but I didn’t know if I had the guts to end it all.

Just before Christmas, a thought occurred to me: Would going to church do any good? It had been over a decade since I had been inside one.

On Christmas Eve, I ventured out to a candlelight service, hoping that at least singing the carols would cheer me up. Can I find the peace I’m so desperately looking for? I mused as I entered. Is there anything here that can fill the empty spot in my heart?

I felt a warm welcome from the congregation and began the New Year by attending every Sunday morning. At someone’s suggestion, I attended an evening Bible Study group. And without knowing why, I remained behind after everyone else had left.

“I have so many questions,” I stammered to the group leader. Then I broke down sobbing. With patience and sensitivity, he prayed for me and encouraged me to do the same.

My words were simple, short and desperate. The room was bathed in stillness.

Inwardly, it felt like someone letting the air out of a tire. The darkness began to seep away. I kept repeating: “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe it.” At that moment, God took away my desire for alcohol, my foul language and my dependence on bad relationships.

In John 10:28, Jesus says, “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.” Now trusting in God’s promises, I finally feel secure. The journey has been rocky. I still struggle with depression, but over the past year, thoughts of suicide have abated. By His grace, I was lifted out of the pit I was in for so long.

Looking back, I am amazed at the incredible difference God has made in my life. I am a regular churchgoer now and prayer is the key to my life. I am involved in a prayer chain and I counsel those who are depressed, especially over the holiday season. I can be open about who I am and what I have been through, for I know what it is like to be alone and in despair.

When I think about that lonely winter’s night, the words of the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem come to mind:

How silently, how silently
The wondrous gift is given!
So God imparts to human hearts
The blessings of His heaven.
No ear may hear His coming,
But in this world of sin,
Where meek souls will receive him still,
The dear Christ enters in.

These words are a reminder that God has not forgotten me, and that He still whispers words of hope in the midst of darkness.

Originally published in Faith & Friends, December, 2006.




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