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There have been two suicides that I have had to deal with in my life. One was a family member, and the other was a friend. In both situation, the stresses of life were just too much for them, and they clearly felt like there was no other way out.
All of us have had difficult events in our lives. But have you ever felt like your life was completely falling apart? Have you ever been in a situation where you felt like there was no way out?
I’ve been there. Let me give you a little background information about me. I danced for over twenty years. I started dancing at the age of four when my mom put me in ballet classes. In my teenage years, I became the captain of my high school flag team and began to take jazz classes. Eventually I moved onto modern, pointe, and even ballroom dancing while I was in college. After college, I tried ice skating and tap. Needless to say, I absolutely loved to dance!
In high school, I really became interested in science and performed quite well in science fairs. This interest propelled me into getting a bachelor’s degree in Microbiology, and eventually I ended up working in the field of genetics for about twenty years. I loved this work even though most people don’t understand why…lol…as I sat behind a microscope for eight hours of the day. The passion for this work was just something I was born with, I guess!
I met my husband when I was 25, and we married a year later. I thought I had found the love of my life. We lived in three different states – South Carolina, Virginia, and Texas – and I worked in the laboratory in all three states, sometimes teaching aerobic classes after work. We had a beautiful home and plenty of great friends. I thought my life was perfect…until…
It all began when I woke up one morning and my right leg gave out. I had a herniated disc in my lower back, and a few months later, I had my first spinal fusion. During the surgery, the doctor discovered that my back was actually broken. About five months later, we learned that two of the screws broke, and the fusion had failed. A few months later, a second spinal fusion was performed. This second surgery also failed. I began to worry that I would never be able to dance again. Also, I had to leave my job due to these ongoing issues with my back. So, at this point, I had lost my favorite hobby, and I had lost the ability to work.
Around this same time, my dad was diagnosed with lymphoma. He began chemotherapy about a month later but had a very bad reaction to it and ended up in the hospital for about 9 weeks. During that time, he almost went into respiratory arrest due to an infection in his lungs. Fortunately, he was able to recover and eventually went into remission.
While preparing for my third surgery, an imaging test revealed that I had a brain aneurysm. I was shocked and frustrated at that point. Two days later, I woke up and realized that the right side of my face was paralyzed. Terrified that I had a stroke as a result of the aneurysm, I rushed to the hospital along with my husband and parents. Luckily, I only had Bell’s Palsy, and it cleared up within a couple of months. But the experience was awful!
About a month later, I underwent surgery for the brain aneurysm. The doctor placed a coil and stent in the affected blood vessel, and thankfully, it has remained stable to this day. However, I had to take a blood thinner for several months to make sure a deadly blood clot didn’t form near the aneurysm. This meant that I couldn’t have back surgery until I was taken off the blood thinner. Eventually, I was able to plan for the third back surgery.
One month before the surgery, I found out that my husband had been having an affair. We separated almost immediately. The next few weeks were the worst of my life as I had to obtain an attorney, fill out mounds of paperwork, make sure evidence of the affair was secured, have pre-surgery testing while crying and venting to the nurse (who was incredibly supportive, btw), and make sure I was prepared for surgery (food, transportation, etc). During this month, I endured many phone calls from my husband who wanted to sell the house prior to my surgery, believe it or not! Thankfully, I had an excellent attorney who squashed that idea rather quickly.
This was definitely the lowest point of my life. I had lost my favorite hobby, my career, and my husband. I felt like there was no way out and that my life was over. I can’t even describe the feelings of anger and desperation that I felt. But, I chose to turn to God.
After recovering from my third spinal fusion, I made plans to move from my house into a smaller home. The day of the move was long and tedious, and I was exhausted when the movers left at around 11 p.m. The next morning, I woke up to a house full of boxes, but before I could start the unpacking process, I had to return to my former home for its final cleaning. On my way there, I received a phone call from my mom saying that my dad was in bad shape. He passed away later that day. Thankfully, a close friend stepped up and offered to help me. She and her family cleaned my old home and began to unpack boxes for me while I was with my mom planning my dad’s funeral. Two weeks later, my divorce was finalized. So…in a period of about three weeks, I had a major move, a death, and the finalization of my divorce.
In my previous blogs, I describe numerous times when God sent me signs during this deep valley in my life…from dreams to rainbows. I hung onto Him and His Word for dear life, and He pulled me through. Through prayer and counseling, I have recovered and am living a peaceful life. I now write books as much as my back will allow me to do so, and I have the most incredibly supportive friends and family around me. I enjoy watching dance shows and listening to old music as it brings back so many great memories. My life has definitely changed, but I’ve never been happier. I not only survived, but I am a much better and incredibly stronger person than I ever was before. I am here to tell others that suicide and/or giving up should never be an option. God can pull you through anything…and I mean anything!
I thought about writing this blog after I read a passage in Psalms yesterday. This particular passage really touched my heart, and I want to share it with you today 🙂 When times are tough, really tough, reach out to God. Cry out to Him and NEVER GIVE UP!
“In my distress I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help. From his temple He heard my voice, and my cry to Him reached His ears…He reached down from on high, He took me; He drew me out of mighty waters. He delivered me from my strong enemy, and from those who hated me; for they were too mighty for me. They confronted me in the day of my calamity; but the Lord was my support. He brought me out into a broad place; He delivered me, because He delighted in me.” Psalms 6, 16-19
Footprints In The Sand
One night a man had a dream. He dreamed
he was walking along the beach with the LORD. Across the sky flashed scenes from his life. For each scene he noticed two sets of footprints in the sand: one belonging to him, and the other to the LORD.
When the last scene of his life flashed before him,
he looked back at the footprints in the sand. He noticed that many times along the path of his life there was only one set of footprints. He also noticed that it happened at the very lowest and saddest times in his life. This really bothered him and he questioned the LORD about it.
“LORD, you said that once I decided to follow
you, you’d walk with me all the way.
But I have noticed that during the most
troublesome times in my life,
there is only one set of footprints.
I don’t understand why when
I needed you most you would leave me.”
The LORD replied:
“My son, my precious child,
I love you and I would never leave you.
During your times of trial and suffering,
when you see only one set of footprints,
it was then that I carried you.”
Author: Mary Stevenson Zangare
The first few months of 2012 were probably the worst in my life. First of all, I was facing my third back surgery. My first two spinal fusions had failed and resulted in several broken screws. My third surgery was going to be performed by a different surgeon – one that came highly recommended for complex spinal cases. I was trying to remain optimistic, but just thinking about it created tremendous stress for me.
Secondly, I was still recovering from a coil and stent procedure for a brain aneurysm that was found just by chance during the treatment for my back condition. When the aneurysm was found, my back problems had to be put on hold as the aneurysm took priority. After that surgery, I was put on Plavix (blood thinner) for three months, and I was unable to have surgery of any kind until I was off that medication.
Finally, I found out about a month before my back surgery that my husband wanted a divorce. Also, I had been struggling with some of the behavior of my husband’s family. We clearly had differing moral values, and I struggled with this tremendously. I tried to make a difference, but everything I said fell on deaf ears. Divorce was never an option for me as I made an oath before God, but I was finally set free when my husband decided to become involved with another woman.
As you can imagine, I was a complete mess. However, my faith in God remained, and I prayed more during these few months than I had ever prayed in my life.
One night as I was crying myself to sleep, I had a dream that Jesus picked me up and was carrying me. When I woke up, I remembered that beautiful poem, “Footprints”, and I knew deep in my heart that He was carrying me through this deep valley in my life. I hung on to my faith for dear life and constantly asked God for His strength to get me through this terrible time. I knew I couldn’t do it by myself.
Several weeks before my third surgery, I went to a Catholic church near my house and asked to receive the sacrament of “Anointing of the Sick”. The priest talked to me a bit, and then stood up next to me, anointed my head with oil and prayed for my healing, both emotional and physical. I felt a sense of peace come over me, and I knew that God had heard the prayer.
That night, I opened my Bible and read this verse in Psalms:
For surely your enemies, O Lord, surely your enemies will perish; all evildoers will be scattered. You have exalted my strength like that of a wild ox; fine oils have been poured upon me. My eyes have seen the defeat of my adversaries; my ears have heard the rout of my wicked foes. Psalm 92:9-11
A few weeks later, I was having a particularly bad day. I prayed fervently to God and asked him to speak specifically to me through His word. I opened the Bible and read this passage from Mark:
“Daughter, your faith has healed you. Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34
The doctors were very optimistic that the third back surgery would result in fusion……and it did! Eight months after the spinal fusion, an x-ray of my back confirmed that the fusion did in fact take place, and my back was now stable! A few weeks after learning that the fusion had taken place, I opened my Bible and read the following passage…..a well-known one from Psalms, but it now has a special meaning to me after having that dream and being anointed with oil.
The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he restores my soul. He guides me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies. You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows. Surely goodness and love will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever. Psalm 23
The very next day, I opened the Bible again to this verse, also in Psalms:
I will exalt you, O Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. O Lord my God, I called to you for help and you healed me. O Lord, you brought me up from the grave; you spared me from going down into the pit. Psalm 30:1-3
Clearly, God was directly involved in my healing, both emotionally and physically. He removed the damaging people from my life and brought new and wonderful people to me that have helped tremendously in my healing process. This truly was a miraculous healing! Put all your faith and trust in Him and He will always bring you through the deepest valleys of your life!