Always Real, Faith, Papa Ed

A Decision

I am fascinated by stories of people who manage to survive in the most extreme and unimaginable conditions.  When I hear those stories, I wonder what it is in them that keep them hanging on and I wonder if I have it in me.


Sometimes, when I imagine that I’ve accidentally fallen off a cruise ship, I don’t really see myself treading water for days at a time.  If faced with bobbing up and down in freezing waters, I would probably take the easy way out and allow myself to slip away.  I would be happy to move along to the next life sooner rather than later as opposed to suffering for any extended period of time.  I am not afraid of what lies beyond.  I know where I am going when this life is over.


On the other hand, I really like my life and am in no hurry to leave it all behind.


About 14 years ago, I was in danger of drowning, not in an ocean but in my own sorrow.  Like a person lost at sea, I felt hopeless – without hope, not one ray of sunshine could I find.  I couldn’t see that life would ever be good again.  I started thinking that maybe it would just be easier to slip under the waters, to yield to the darkness.  All the while everyone was saying, “You are amazing!  You are so strong!”  I didn’t understand that.  How could they not see how desperate I was?


During that time, my dad came out to Texas to hang out with me.  Unlike everyone else, maybe he sensed that I wasn’t holding it together as well as it appeared from the outside because one day he sat me down and told me about a story he had read about a girl who was lost in a great forest.  He said that every day she would climb the tallest tree she could find and she would shout at the top of her lungs, “I am a survivor! I will survive!”  And then she would listen for her own voice echoing back, “I will survive I will survive I will survive…”   Eventually she was rescued or found her way out of the forest, I don’t recall.


I don’t know if my dad really read that story or if he just made it up on the spot, but on that day, I became the girl who climbed a tree every day, shook her fist at the world and shouted, “I will survive!”  On that day and in that moment, I made a decision to carry on, to go on and live and to live well.


A decision — the difference between life and death. That is the certain something that survivors have in common. 

43 thoughts on “A Decision

  1. Thank you for this post. I have a special friend that wasn’t able to get to that point of wanting to hang on. My hope and prayer from that tragic situation is that more people (ESPECIALLY in the Christian community) will open the discussion about depression and find better ways to offer help.

  2. My dad died from lung cancer ten days ago. Part of the words I wrote for his funeral were about my choice to learn from his dignity as he faced death and to carry that with me as I walk through the fog of grief. Yes, life is about choices, decisions. Right now I can choose to hide under my covers or get up and face my day with strength and dignity as he did to the very end. So far I am choosing the latter. Thank you for this post.

  3. Yes, yes we do, survivors have allot in common. This post hit close to home. I won’t go into the details but lets just say depression is debilitating and unfortunately I went way to far in mine and very fortunate to be here today. I am so grateful God had other plans. As I look back over that period it is totally amazing at how extremely far God has brought me and I am ever so grateful.
    Thanks for your honesty in this post. Unfortunately the depression is curable, people not understanding and judging it is not.

  4. It is truly sad and frustrating how many people go through depression without being able to discuss it with someone. “You’re okay, I’m okay…WE’RE ALL STINKIN’ OKAY!”

  5. This really resonated with me because I’ve been there, too. I spent years in that place, actually. And now I often reflect that if I hadn’t made it, the world would be a much sadder, smaller place, because my Peanut would never have been born! Thanks so much for sharing your story.

  6. Thanks for this post. I’ve been lurking for months and this was particularly well-written and insightful. It made a big enough impression on me that I felt compelled to delurk to thank you. 🙂

  7. You’ll probably never know how many people you encourage, or how many you make laugh, but do know that your voice shouting out into cyberspace is blessing MANY!

    What a great dad, too!

  8. I only hope that I will choose to climb the tree if it should come down to it. I know I’m glad that you made that choice.

  9. I’ve treaded water in those depths too. I’m glad you chose to survive and glad your dad was there for you when you needed him.

  10. In talking with other adoptive parents, I’m struck by how many of us struggle through a period of adjustment that is often characterized by depressive symptoms. They even have a name for it: PADS (Post-Adoptive Depression Syndrome). I wrote about it here:

    I went through a period of about two years on anti-depressants, and it gave me the perspective I needed. I’d like to encourage anyone reading this who is struggle to regain equilibrium to talk to your doctor if your moods become unmanagable. There is help — and hope — available for you. Being a Christian doesn’t mean we aren’t susceptible to the same kinds of illnesses — including mental illnesses — that strike everyone else. God bless!

  11. That was an excellent post. I think there will be a time I going to need to reread it or pass it along to a friend, so I marked it it as “keep new” in my bloglines =)

  12. I’m too afraid of dying not to fight. Is that a good thing or a bad thing? I blessing or a curse? I honestly don’t know. But I too am fascinated by survivor stories. I wonder what that means.

  13. I think this is one of my favorite posts of yours. Beautifully written. A little more than 4 years ago I was faced with a trying battle with postpartum depression. I never struggled with any type of depression or mental instability before then…and then a year ago, I had round two with PPD. I honestly did not think I was going to make it and began to fear survival. Yet, somewhere in that helpless fearful state is when I was able to call out for rescue.

  14. Well, I, for one (of many), am really glad that you’re here. When I get to meet your dad, whether it’s on this side of the cross or the other, I’m going to give him a big hug along with my thanks for giving you the words you needed when you needed them.

  15. This post is an answer to a prayer, thank you for sharing your story of survival. My beloved husband died six months ago. I am 41 years old and we had been together for 18 years. Your post provides hope on a day that I have been reminding myself, “fear not, for I am with you.” Today you helped a total stranger, and I am grateful.

  16. I didn’t want to get out of bed today. It doesn’t hurt when I’m asleep. Life is too hard sometimes. Too overwhelming. Thank you for letting me know I’m not alone. Please, Lord, help me not yield to the darkness.

  17. I am so glad your Dad was in the center of that storm with you.Parents sometimes know their sons and daughters better than sons and daughters know themselves.I know my boys rough times just by the way they carry themselves or hold their head or sit so still or they eat differently or the sound of their voice or even sometimes just because they smell different.The power of a story or a song never ceases to amaze me.I always go to John Denvers “Somedays are Diamonds, Somedays are Stone.” Now you are here for Sean. God Bless

  18. Its not just will-power but alot of courage…its what you choose that really matter. But how often do we really make the wiser choice. Its always easier to let go…than to cling on…cos’ more strength is required…*sigh*

  19. Yes, I have known depression with an unfaithful husband (now my ex) – I contemplated suicide, but I’m glad I got past that. It was a horrible time in my life. At the time, I thought I wanted to die.

    However, the good Lord provided a faithful husband for the past 22 years and 13 wonderful grandchildren now. Thank God I am here!!

    Betty in Oklahoma

  20. Once again, I love it.

    I can remember the very distinct feeling of drowning in the storm around me.
    I just kept thinking about Peter and how I needed to fix my eyes on my Savior or I would sink. But then I would avert my attention to the wind and waves once again, and my Savior would reach down and pull me back up.

    Years later, I’m thankful for that storm. It changed me, and I needed changing. (Still do…)

  21. Oh AM, to answer your rhetorical question, YES, you obviously have it in you to survive. And now you’ve helped us to want to survive, too.

  22. I am a survivor too. Believe me, it was harder to do it my way than to succumb to the dark side. Now my SIL is going through the same deal (we have both lost children), but she seems to prefer the other way. I wish I could help her see that she needs to get on with things.

  23. I’m glad you included the link about your dad and goofing off. I cried when I read that. I came back here to leave a comment, and when I read the other comments, I realized how many people were touched thru your post about surviving. The “goofing off” part was what had touched me– probably because I wish I had spent more time w/ my children doing that.
    Sean is proof you made the right decision about surviving.
    I ended up in the hospital w/ depression when my children were young. I had not even gone to a Dr. for an antidepressant; I just kept trying to get over it. I had a medical problem and different Dr.’s would say different things. One would say, “You need surgery.” Another would say, “There’s nothing wrong.” I began to doubt myself. My husband was saying things like, “You’re a nothing; you’re a zero.” I don’t blame him because I could have handled it differently. God healed me– the prayers of my family and church family lifted me up when I couldn’t do it by myself.
    I now have a young relative who is going thru depression– please pray for her. I don’t want to go into detail in case I pass this on to her. Thank you, AM, for sharing your faith again. The book idea is great. Your posts could be combined into one. Please pray for me to have strong faith, too. I believe, but I lack assurance for me, not for other people who are Christians. Thank you.

  24. Oh, I have been there, in that forest. I thank God for my husband who gave me (more than once) the boost up into that tree. I pray I am able to be the one giving the “leg up” now.

  25. I loved this post, and after reading the comments I realized all of us in a sense are survivors of this thing called life.

    lv2 mommy I am praying for you. There is hope.

    AM as always, your gift with words is beautiful.

  26. I’ve been facing some of this the last several months. It’s hard when you feel all alone and you’re surronded by tons of people who love you. Thanks for the reminder to hold my head up high and say “I will survive!”

  27. One of my youngest son’s friends took his own life a few weeks ago. He was 14. I would say that his faith in God was strong, however misplaced. By misplaced I mean that some of his family (and friends) have come to the conclusion that his yearning for God, coupled with his frail grasp of adolescent depression is what gave him “permission” to kill himself. Permission because this world didn’t appear (in his view) to hold as much for him as he thought the next world most surely would, though he didn’t really confide those feelings to anyone until the end. And his “certainty” (and who can be certain of just how everything unfolds in the next world?) is what seemed to beckon him to that threshold and then push him through.

    Of course, that’s not the way it works. He merely allowed himself, or maybe willed himself to believe what he needed to in order to make the pain stop. Had he known more about how common depression is, perhaps he wouldn’t so easily have abandoned this place for one where he has been promised that elusive happy ending. Hanging on: it’s what it’s all about. Purposeful survival. I’m all for it.

  28. Thank you, thank you, thank you for this post. My depression has returned and I am fighting every day to hold my head above water. Your story reminded me of a time when I needed my Dad and he got on a plane and was there for me within hours. I have read your blog for a while now and look forward every day to reading what you have to say. Thougt I would finally say hi and let you know how much your words mean to those of us out there. Bless you.

  29. WOW. What an incredible post. Your father sounds like an amazing man. The bond is incredible. Thank you for sharing this blog.
    And I have to say… I have been a lurker for so long now… I just truly love your blog. It’s so real. It’s so open.

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