Talking Me Off the Ledge

I hesitate to use the title, Talking Me Off the Ledge, out of concern for those with suicidal loved ones or suicidal thoughts themselves. But I decided to keep it, because it is an accurate description of the emotional and spiritual role godly friends have played in my life over the last year in particular. I haven’t stood physically on the ledge, ready to end my life. But I have felt many times of late that I was emotionally and spiritually on the ledge, that if I could have figured out a way to quit a life of faith, I would have. But the words of the disciples in John 6 have been true for me.

“Where else would we go? You have the words of life.” John 6:68

I haven’t left the faith because God hasn’t let me. I haven’t quit because God won’t accept my resignation. I have been kept in the faith by the God who promises He will not lose any of His own.

In those moments of despair, God has repeatedly sent me friends and family who have talked me off the emotional ledge. They have been God’s hands and feet, the body to Jesus’ head, that have held me and talked to me until I walked back into the safety of the room, feeling like I could face the overwhelming struggle around me. I have had enough of these conversations over the last year to notice some common elements.

1. Their faith is strong enough not to feel threatened by my fear and unbelief in the moment.

2. They are safe. They don’t minimize my struggle, but listen and then talk me through it without shame or condemnation that I am in that place (or in that place yet again after talking to them about the exact same struggle last week).

3. Most have gone through their own crisis of belief in the midst of suffering and can truly empathize with me.

4. They understand the point of the angry psalms, God’s gift of grace to us who struggle through pain that does not reconcile easily.

5. They believe and hope for me until I can do it again for myself. They pray for me in hope and confidence in God, and through their prayers, God ministers His grace to me.

Like the paralytic man lowered by his friends through the roof to meet Jesus, such friends point us to Christ when we feel too weak to seek Him out by ourselves.  They bear our burdens with us when we feel overwhelmed carrying them alone.  And they do it as Christ’s hands and feet.

We all need friends who will talk us off the ledge, who aren’t threatened or horrified by the depths of our deep emotions when we are in crisis. We all need people who will calmly respond to us and help us fact check when we are overcome with emotion. We need these people in our lives, and we need to BE these people in the life of our friends.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!

12 Responses to Talking Me Off the Ledge

  1. Laurie May 21, 2015 at 6:02 pm #

    This is a wonderful post! #2…I remember a time when I just could not seem to get over that hump into belief in a certain area and a very dear person just kept listening compassionately and then repeating the same truths over a period of several weeks when, suddenly, it finally clicked. I'm so grateful that she did not grow weary in well-doing and was patient with me!

  2. Bailey May 21, 2015 at 9:48 pm #

    I'm so glad I'm not the only one who feels this way! I too am so thankful for the body of Christ who listen to my problems again and again.

  3. Anonymous May 22, 2015 at 9:08 am #

    Wendy, thank you for sharing this. David Chalkley

    I change. He changes not. The Christ can never die.
    His love, not mine, the resting place. His truth, not mine, the tie. a verse from a hymn by Horatius Bonar

  4. Momofkings May 22, 2015 at 12:21 pm #

    I feel like this so often and I have wonderful friends who hold my arms up when I can't.

  5. Wendy May 22, 2015 at 2:43 pm #

    That's beautiful. Thanks for sharing, David.

  6. Michele Morin May 23, 2015 at 12:10 pm #

    I think that what you are saying is the reason that so many of the psalms use plural pronouns. For example, Psalm 124: Then they would have swallowed US alive, when their wrath was kindled against US . . .” We experience trials in company with fellow believers, and this is what it means to “do church,” i.e. if we're doing it biblically. Thank you for this post. It seems to come from a more vulnerable place, and I appreciate it.

  7. Pia May 23, 2015 at 12:45 pm #

    I am thankful for those who have “taken me from the ledge.” I hope that in a few instances I have done the same for others. The word that comes to mind is faithful. Faithful friends point us to a faithful God.

  8. Anita May 23, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    Yes! I have been learning this truth lately. Most of my life as a Christian has been just me & God. Or me & one close friend & God. It's been strange to learn to live in a whole body of believers and what that looks like.

  9. Anonymous May 24, 2015 at 8:26 am #

    I am also thankful for the timing of this article. God is faithful and know just what we need, when we need it. I am blessed to know such people in my life, in seasons of dryness, who take the time to just listen, being there when I call and walking with me, “down from that ledge” and into the arms of Jesus' love.

  10. April May 30, 2015 at 3:10 pm #

    This is beautiful. I really wish I had friends like this in my life.

  11. Sarah Beals June 1, 2015 at 10:13 pm #

    Wendy, I am praying for you. You have been a steady source of encouragement to me. I am so sorry you have to go through this.

  12. Wendy June 1, 2015 at 11:01 pm #

    Thank you, Sarah!