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Famed megachurch pastor Tullian Tchividjian, the grandson of Billy Graham, contemplated suicide when his world came crashing down.
In a new post for expastors.com, Tchividjian shared just how close he came to killing himself, including research and an apparent suicide note.
Words cannot express the pain I feel for the hurt I've caused. It has become too much to bear. Based on what I've done and the pain I've caused, I have concluded that it is safer for all those I love that I just disappear.
Life without hope is death.
At the end, I tried. I really, really tried. God knows that my apologies and my expressions of love were real. So real. But what does that matter when the people you want so bad to believe you don't? I understand why they didn't. Given my recent track record, why would they? So when it became clear that those I love most wanted nothing to do with me, the choice I needed to make became clear.
Initially, I got angry and defensive when I was told that I'm a monster, evil, disgustingly dangerous, etc. But it has sunk in and I finally believe it. I am all those things. Lord have mercy.
One final word to the church: When people screw up bad, try to help them. Do your best to sacrifice anything and everything to help them. More than likely, they screwed up bad because they need help. Don't turn your back on them. Pursue them. Something isn't right with them and they need help. Even if they have hurt you bad, do everything you can to help them.
"It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest that I go to than I have ever known."
The note came after Tchividjian resigned from Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and admitted to having an inappropriate relationship last year.
"I could never really fully understand why people would take their own lives and while I have not been, thankfully by God's grace, tempted to do so, I for the first time understand why," Tchividjian said at the time. "I get the desperation, I get the despair in a way that I never have."
Tchividjian says having an affair really forces a pastor, a person, to look at themselves and ask, "What kind of person did I become for me to do what I did, my wife to do what she did, where did I fail? Did I become something, someone I didn't see I was becoming?"
But God was not done with Tchividjian yet.
The former pastor admits he strayed from biblical promises made in Ephesians 1:5 and John 1:12, that once a believer puts their identity in God, they are adopted into His family.
"Because I had existentially located my significance in things smaller than God, my loss did not simply usher in grief and pain and shame and regret. It ushered in a severe identity crisis. Without these things and people that I had come to depend on to make me feel like I mattered, I no longer knew who I was. I felt dead. Therefore, I might as well be dead," Tchividjian writes.
But now, Tchividjian says, he's learned this:
Our identity is firmly anchored in Christ's accomplishment, not yours; His strength, not yours; His performance, not yours; His victory, not yours. The gospel doesn't just free you from what other people think about you; it frees you from what you think about yourself.
This means that He is the light at the end of your dark tunnel. And He's not going anywhere. Others may leave, but He will stay. As Winston Churchill famously said, "When you're going through hell, keep walking."
Your life is far from over. In fact, it may be just beginning.
Jessilyn Justice is the director of online news for Charisma. Born and raised in a pastor's family in Alabama, she attended Lee University and the Washington Journalism Center. She's passionate about sharing God's goodness through storytelling. Tell her what you think of this story on Twitter @jessilynjustice.
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