My first experience at Crossings was like inhaling a favorite dessert! It just happened to be a Sunday when Marty told his story. He was so transparent and honest about his own personal struggles, and he also told about being invited to observe at a 12-Step Program and how that impacted him and his vision for the church.
Finding a Church Home
I specifically remember his statement, “That’s what the church should be like!” —a group of open, honest, and supportive people dealing with real life. I knew I wanted to be part of this transparent type of church, where hopefully people don’t feel like they have to walk in the doors and “fake it.”
The true test would be whether or not my husband Steve would be comfortable here. Our faith backgrounds were different; I was raised in the Baptist Church, and he was raised in the Catholic Church.
I asked him to come with me, and after my first experience, he agreed. For him, being at Crossings was also very comfortable. He had his thoughts and questions at first, like, “You Protestants just go to church for entertainment!” or “Why do you Protestants shop around for a church?”
Oh yes, we had some lively conversations.
After all, I had grown up doing sword drills with my Bible on Sunday Nights in Training Union! Nonetheless, we continued to attend and decided to become involved by joining a Community Group that met during the week.
Learning to Trust
The group we joined was in the home of Steve and Chris Ayers and was the first time my husband became comfortable with this new environment and knew he could be himself and trust the ones around him in the group. In this small group environment, we were able to share concerns and everyday issues that are hard to get into on Sunday morning.
That was several years ago, and we still feel especially thankful for each one that participated with us in this gathering. It was a great experience, and although we did not know what the future held, I can see now how God was preparing a loving and supportive connection with the church to be there for us during some of the darkest days of our lives.
This is where the story gets hard.
On October 24, 2009, I lost my son, Cody, to suicide on his 31st birthday.
I thought I could not survive it. I really didn’t want to. He was an active Christian and had everything going for him. He had a wife he adored, and she loved him like crazy. He had a two-month-old precious baby boy, and he had always wanted a house full of kids. He was the one who played with all the kids at all the family get-togethers. He was musical, artistic, and athletic. He knew his Bible.
Things like this didn’t happen in my family. I thought, as a Christian, God would not let this happen; I was standing on His promises and praying on my face for my son, claiming His Word. Then it happened. My faith was shattered, and I didn’t think I could go on. I felt isolated and I was left with so many questions.
Friends surrounded me; pastors from Crossings called, sent cards and flowers, and talked to my husband to make sure we were okay. I can’t imagine going through this without that support.
I don’t remember a lot of the immediate events surrounding this horrible day, but I do remember I was screaming out to God, and He was so gracious to hold me close and let me scream and cry. Somehow, down deep, I knew, God was in charge and He was holding me. I ended up in GriefShare, part of the CareSeries Ministry on Monday nights. The leaders were there for me each week. I cried through every Monday night gathering and held onto the weekly verses GriefShare provided.
Holding Onto Faith
That’s all I truly remember from the class. Most importantly, I knew I was loved and knew that they were encouraging me and telling me I could make it. Somehow I knew they believed it, even if I didn’t.
The path of grief has been a hard one, but God has been faithful to me even in my darkest times. After going through GriefShare, I felt there was a need for a group for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. I talked to some of the leaders of the church and found out I wasn’t the only one. Others had the same burden, so we got together and formed a support group called Survivors of Suicide that is a part of CareSeries on Monday nights.
I have trusted God to use my situation any way He can to help someone else. My heart breaks for anybody who is dealing with such loss, with such emotional chaos and devastation. Through my own journey, I have learned that we don’t have to have all the answers and that it is important to talk about the tough issues and hard questions. The transparency I found here at Crossings has allowed me to gain healing and grow in my faith in ways I never thought possible.
2 Corinthians 1:3-8 is a passage that has brought great comfort to me. I believe verses 8-10 describe my story and how God has worked in me:
“We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely on God, who raises the dead. And He did rescue us from mortal danger, and He will rescue us again. We have placed our confidence in Him, and He will continue to rescue us (NLT).”
I love this Wonderful One who rescues us!
[blockquote]“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; He rescues those who are crushed in spirit.”
–Psalm 34:18 (NLT)
Survivors of Suicide meets on Monday nights as a part of CareSeries. For more information about this group or other support groups, go to crossingsok.wpengine.com/careseries.
“Finding God in My Darkest Hour” originally published by Cindy Rose, Crossings Member, in the Fall 2012 edition of Crossings Magazine.