The Church Next Door Gave Her Something to Live For
A despondent woman, dealing with depression and a failing marriage, is saved by faith and friendship.
Sunday morning, eleven o’clock. I slipped into the church just before the doors closed. Perfect. I won’t have to talk to anyone. Bellevue United Methodist was right behind our house, but the only time my husband, Michael, and I usually set foot inside was to vote since it doubled as our polling place.
I’d told him I was coming here today. What I didn’t tell him was that this was my last stop before I ended my life. I was done—with our unhappy marriage, with my misery, with the pain of living. I sank into an empty pew and stared at the floor. How had things gotten this bad?
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Michael and I had wanted to see what life was like outside our home state of Mississippi. So three years earlier, we’d moved here to Nashville. Things started off great. We landed jobs at a local TV station—me as a copywriter, Michael as a cameraman—and settled into our new house.
Living next to the church brought me an inexplicable sense of peace—inexplicable because I wasn’t a churchgoer. And the God I knew didn’t evoke feelings of peace and comfort. No, the God I learned about growing up was vengeful and angry, waiting for me to mess up so he could punish me.
“If you sin,” my Sunday school teacher warned us, “God will send you to hell.” I wanted to hide from a God like that! As soon as I was old enough to have a choice, I quit going to church. Luckily, Michael never had any interest in going either.
From the outside it looked like we had it all—a nice home, great jobs, the perfect life. Not exactly. Once the newlywed euphoria wore off, reality set in. A reality neither of us wanted to admit: We were better off as friends than as husband and wife.
Our differences, which hadn’t seemed like a big deal when we were dating (“opposites attract,” we used to say with a laugh), drove such a wedge between us that I couldn’t remember what we had in common besides not going to church.
The more I tried to talk to Michael, the more he withdrew. We’d blow up at each other over superficial things, masking the real issues in our relationship. “It’s always messy in here!” Michael would bark. “Can’t you clean up for once?”
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“Deal with it!” I’d snap. “Not everything can be perfect all the time.”
Depression, which I’d battled on and off since I was a teen, came back like a tidal wave, knocking me lower than I’d ever been. I couldn’t find joy in anything. Not my marriage, obviously. Not my work. Not even a sunny day. Snap out of it, I’d tell myself. But I couldn’t.
Michael and I fell into the habit of coming home from work and tiptoeing around each other. Guilt consumed me. I’d seen so many other couples go through problems and come out stronger. What was wrong with us? With me?
We hadn’t made any friends in the area. I had no one to turn to except a God I had convinced myself was a cruel tyrant.
Lord, are you listening? I asked desperately one night maybe three years into our marriage. Do you care about me at all? I can’t keep it together anymore. I’m exhausted. Please help. What was the use? I’d fallen so far off God’s radar he probably thought I was a lost cause.
I was sick and tired of feeling sick and tired. There was only one way out: I would take a whole bottle of painkillers and slowly drift away. Like falling asleep, closing my eyes and never opening them again. My plan filled me with relief. But Michael...how would he handle things without me around?