Desperate Hope

Desperate Hope

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories of Faith

Desperate Hope

A bend in the road is not the end of the road...
unless you fail to make the turn.

~Author Unknown

As the train rumbled past the East Coast countryside, taking my daughter and me to New York City for a mother/daughter vacation, my thoughts were as piercing as the screeching wheels of the train. Why did he do it? Why did Greg take his own life? He was a distant relative whom I rarely saw, yet the news that Greg had committed suicide made tears spring into my eyes and a deep sadness fill my heart. Relatives asked, “How could anyone be that hopeless and helpless?”

But I knew.

As I glanced over at my twenty-eight-year-old daughter napping next to me on the double seat, I realized with a force I hadn’t felt for a long time that if I’d taken my life, I would not have the fabulous mother-daughter relationship I now enjoyed with my daughter.

Twenty-six years ago, I couldn’t imagine that would ever happen. The hopelessness and helplessness had been building for months. Larry and I had celebrated our seventh anniversary, but it wasn’t a happy occasion. Unwisely, I’d asked again, “Larry, why do you work so many hours? Having a two-year-old and a newborn is such hard work; I need you to help me.”

He frowned. “Kathy, I’ve tried to help you see that I’m working all these hours to secure our financial future. That’s not easy on a cop’s wages.” Silence surrounded us like a dense fog.

The next day, tensions escalated. Would we get a divorce? Why couldn’t we talk? We used to be so in love. Just as quickly, I prayed, “Lord, what’s wrong?”

That question was a prayer I repeated many times, both about my marriage and my reactions to our two-year-old daughter, Darcy. My anger toward her seemed to explode more often when I felt rejected by Larry. Her strong-willed nature, which resisted my toilet training plan and resulted in constant temper tantrums, wore me down. My reactions had deteriorated into angry spankings.

One desperate day my rage was out of control. I ran into my bedroom and slammed the door behind me. I’m no kind of mother! I can’t believe I did that!

Then I suddenly remembered where Larry stored his off-duty service revolver.

The gun! That’s the answer! The gun! A tiny, sinister voice in my head whispered, “Take your life. It’s hopeless. Nothing has changed for months even though I’ve prayed over and over again; it’s only gotten worse. God doesn’t care. Otherwise He would instantaneously deliver me from my anger and heal our marriage. Larry hates me. I hate him and my life.”

With trembling hands, I opened the locked drawer and almost gasped when the gleam from the shiny barrel of the gun glinted at me so invitingly. Darcy is better off without a mother like me. I’m ruining her for life.

Seconds clicked off and then I reached for the cold revolver. But then a new thought suddenly popped into my mind. What will people think of Jesus if they hear that Kathy Miller took her life?

My hand stopped. The faces of the women in the neighborhood Bible study I led flitted before me. My family members who didn’t know Christ came to mind. I thought of my neighbors I had witnessed to. Oh, Lord, I don’t care about my reputation, but I do care about Yours!

I slammed the drawer shut and fell to my knees.

The concern about Jesus’ reputation saved my life that day, and I knew it was prompted by the Holy Spirit.

I didn’t have any hope at that point, but in the following months God proved Himself faithful by revealing the underlying causes of my anger, giving me patience to be a loving mom and then healing my relationship with Larry. I read in Ephesians 4:26, “Be angry, and yet do not sin....” I realized that it wasn’t sinful to feel angry, but it was sinful to respond in a rage or in bitterness. So I stopped trying to bury my anger and learned to express it constructively. I quit using it as a disciplinary tool and began consistently giving consequences for Darcy’s misbehavior. I released Larry from holding the key to my joy and contentment and counted on God for that. As a result, Larry wanted to spend more time with me.

My reverie snapped back to the present as the train began slowing for the next stop. I looked over at my daughter, who had awakened and was gazing out the window. I smiled as I thought of her beautiful wedding we’d all enjoyed four years earlier. I wouldn’t have been there if I’d committed suicide! The thought struck me so forcefully, like never before. Then I recalled all the happy family events I would have missed if I’d taken my life, including our son’s graduation from college—despite his learning disabilities. I thought of the opportunities I’d had to speak in thirty states and five foreign countries and the forty-eight books I’d authored. I smiled thinking of Larry, my best friend, and our glorious love affair; we’d recently celebrated our thirty-second anniversary. The list went on and on. If I’d used that gun that day, I wouldn’t have been at all those family events, but Larry’s second wife may have been. And how my daughter and son would have grieved over a missing mother who seemed to be more absorbed in her own pain than them.

Yes, I understood how Greg could have felt so little hope—in fact, no hope at all. How I wish I could have shared with him that there is always hope, and God is faithful if we will hold on to His promises.

My daughter faced me on the train. “Mom, I’m so excited we’re going to New York City together. I wouldn’t have missed this for anything.”

“Me neither, honey. Me neither.”

~Kathy Collard Miller

Chicken Soup for the Christian Soul 2

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