Standing on the Promises

She promised me she would come and say goodbye before she took her life.  Only because I made her promise me, it was all that I could think to do when I ran out of ideas.  Weeks before, I had tried to cheer her up but I was in way over my head.  She agreed to talk to a professional but after a few sessions she was underwhelmed by his approach and stopped.

The second time she came to say goodbye she brought back some books she borrowed.  I knew that was a very bad sign, so I tried to drain her poison.  I asked her to tell me everything she hated.  She started slowly with some life frustrations, but soon I didn’t recognize her.  Her voice changed, her face changed, as a deep hatred from her childhood took over.  I sat in silence as she finished, praying for help. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know He hears us – whatever we ask – we know that we have what we ask of Him.” 1 John 5:14,15.  That is about as straight forward as a promise gets.  I knew that God did not want her to take her own life, so my prayer was clearly “according to Your will.” Amen.

Then, I asked her to tell me everything she loved.  The wonderful person whom I knew, returned.  Her smile came back and her eyes filled with tears as she expressed her love for her husband and the joy she found in her children.  “Why then?” I asked bluntly. 

“I’m afraid I’m going to turn into my parents. I can feel it.” She confessed. 

“But you’ve broken that cycle,” I pleaded,  “You are the very opposite.” 

She was.  But none of what I said mattered.  Nothing moved her from her plan.

“I came to say goodbye because I promised you I would,” she repeated firmly.

I panicked.  “Why not just leave this life, not life altogether,” I offered. I tried to convince her to fly that evening to a retreat I’d heard of in Europe.  I think the offer shocked her and maybe touched her because she promised to wait and think about it and let me know.

A few weeks later I said goodbye to her in the intensive care unit, but she wasn’t conscious to hear it.  Her broken promise, I forgave that very day.  The other promise I was counting on, has changed me some from that day on.