It was my 27th birthday. I was having breakfast at my favorite cafe on the island of Kauai, Cafe Art Hemingway’s. I was having a wonderful time eating with a good friend of mine and sharing smiles and laughter about the fact that I was getting old and such. The waitstaff found out it was my birthday and wished me a happy birthday on several occasions. It was a wonderful morning.
After the meal was over I went to pay. It was then, as i was about to check out, that the owners found out it was my birthday. Now Marcus and Jana have been more than kind to me over the 6 months i’ve been on island. I make it a point to stop in at least once a week and see them, and they make it a point to know my drink and my regular order.
Marcus said, “Why didn’t you say it was your birthday? People come in here all the time trying to get free stuff saying its their birthday, but for you, we would have made you something.”
He paused. “Go sit down. You can’t leave.”
How could I say no to the owner of my favorite cafe? I went back to my seat and continued to talk with Ashlin. All of a sudden I was greeted with my regular drink, an Iced Americano. The server told me that there was more on its way so I had to stay put. I did as I was told.
A few minutes later there came the servers once again this time with a homemade Tiramisu. They started to sing Happy Birthday at their top of their lungs and it seemed like most of the cafe had joined in as well. It was such a surreal moment for me. They placed the dessert on the table in front of me and I thanked them for their wonderful rendition of Happy Birthday.
As I picked up my spoon and looked at the dessert in front of me I became overwhelmed. “I shouldn’t be here right now,” I thought to myself. “I should be dead. I can’t believe all the things I would have missed if I had followed through with my plans when I was a young, depressed, high school kid.”
A little bit of back story to this emotional moment. When I was in Jr High School and the first couple years of High school I was very depressed. I had several things happening in my life, everything from being bullied, to losing 4 people very close to me within 4 months of each other and not being able to attain closure by attending all their funerals, to being very busy with music, theatre and sports.
I just wanted to be loved, but everywhere and everyone that I focused on getting love from seemed to push me away. Not to say that there wasn’t love around me, from friends and family alike, but I was so blinded by my own pain that I shut out all the good that was around me and only focused on the things that weren’t going the way I wanted them too.
I focused on the fact that the girls I wanted to date rejected me. The cool crowd wouldn’t accept me at their gatherings or at the lunch hang outs. I just felt so out of place.
The pressure just got to be to much. My heart felt like there was a weight so heavy on it that God himself wouldn’t be able to lift it. I felt the only way people would notice me was if I wasn’t there anymore. So I tried to take my own life.
“People would notice me then. They would feel sorry for me. They’ll show how much they care only after I’m gone. I’ll make them pay for not caring.”
These thoughts would run through my head constantly. But for some reason I wouldn’t push the blade hard enough. I would bleed, but not enough. I never crossed that line for some reason. I attribute it to God giving me a pansy complex to avoid self inflicted pain at all costs, which I thank Him for to this day.
This is the background that brought me to this moment. My 27th birthday. Crying into a homemade tiramisu with my friend by my side.
By now my eyes had Niagara Falls pouring out of them, realizing all the blessings that I’ve been given in these 27 years of life.
I thought about my friend, who had passed away last year by committing suicide. I realized that this could have been me. Having all the lasting impact on my friends and family. I thought about all the people I wouldn’t have met. All the smiles I wouldn’t have witnessed. The songs I wouldn’t have sung or wrote. How many more lives would have been lost if I hadn’t been there to talk to certain people when they were in their darkest hours. Or shared my story of depression with groups of young people going through the same thing.
I wondered if things would have been different with Nora if I shared my story with my own church, my own family. It’s a question that could haunt me for the rest of my life. Or it could have the power to jump-start my desire to share my story again about my struggle with depression and suicide.
Why am I afraid of ridicule when even the dark parts of my life have the power to help save lives? I have to remember it’s not my problem if people judge me, they have to deal with that in their hearts. My job is to keep pressing forward. To live through the darkness and come out on the other side with a story to share about God’s faithfulness and love.
My journey out of depression wasn’t one grand moment when it all went away. It was a slow journey that took me realizing i couldn’t get out on my own, to realize that there was a way I could get out of it at all. It was a journey back to God that got me out of depression. A journey that took me places that I never thought I would go. To see smiles from people of cultures I never thought I would ever see. To see that indeed there was a place for me here on earth, but just not the place I thought it was when I was a young boy.
I’ve come to realize that my place is wherever I can serve others, help them find their voice and realize their God given potential.
This is my encouragement to you.
Your story has its chapters for a reason and if God can take my mistakes and faults and turn them into something beautiful then I know He can do even greater things with your story. Never willingly surrender the pen. Don’t stop writing. There will be plot twists, suspense, Lord willing even romance, but in the end let your story be one worth reading.
CARPE DIEM to you all!
From The Wandering Heart.