by Tova Joy | June 24 2021
Living in Vermont in my early 20s, I often found myself driving on mountain roads with many twists and turns. Some of them were easy to navigate, but others called for the drivers to heed the warning signs because the road ahead was dangerous. Going too fast into a turn or not turning your steering wheel in the right direction could mean going over a cliff to a most certain death.
Most of the time, I enjoyed driving those roads, seeing the beautiful mountain vistas and feeling skilled at the wheel. But I look back with tremendous sadness on the young woman I once was, and remember the desperate moments when I thought that I could just turn slightly toward the edge, speed up a bit, and it would all be over in an instant. I wouldn’t have had to face another 50 years of a life that I didn’t want, a life with no hope for a different future. I resonated with the words of Kohelet 1:2–3: “Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, vanity of vanities! All is vanity. What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?”
It seemed so far out of reach that I could become a competent adult with a meaningful life. Managing an apartment and maintaining a regular job to pay for it, owning a car, paying my bills, getting a college education, having friends, and just enjoying life seemed like hopeless dreams. Today I am forever grateful that even through those difficult years, Hashem protected me, rescued me, and preserved my life.
Now in my 60s, I look back in amazement at all the ways the Aibishter has blessed me beyond my dreams. I have an amazing career doing work that I love, a beautiful home overflowing with shalom bais, a sporty car just perfect for mountain driving, healthy relationships with friends and family, and a life that I thank Hashem for every single day!
I recently shared my distant memories with one of my closest friends who has known me for over 30 years. After listening to me, she responded, “I can’t even imagine that this could have ever been you.” Most people who know me see me as a smart, independent, fearless (I was once fearful of everything!), and highly competent person. Sometimes, I too can hardly believe this is who I have become!
I know this transformation wasn’t achieved simply through self-will and sheer determination, as I didn’t have very much of either one. Many like to believe in the idea of “pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps,” but I found that to be a lie; we cannot do it alone. The truth is that I needed help, first and foremost from the Aibishter and my Messiah (Jesus), who still gives me power to do what I can’t do myself. He has given me the wisdom to choose counselors and friends who are willing to walk with me, support me, encourage me, and most importantly, pray for me.
Perhaps my story of hopelessness and thoughts of suicide is your story, too. If so, may my story encourage you in knowing that there is hope and help available. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available 24 hours: 800-273-8255 or suicidepreventionlifeline.org.