HOPE. That word can seem so far from someone’s sight when they feel hopeless and helpless, especially as a teenager. When you feel your world is crumbling, well-meaning adults minimize your feelings and say, “You’re just a kid. Those feelings will pass.” Looking back to my 15-year-old self, I couldn’t see the light, the hope. I only saw darkness and despair.
When I was 15 years old, I made the decision, after years of feeling lost to take my life. My life at the time seemed so complicated and I couldn’t handle the pain I was feeling. I felt alone. No one to talk to. In those days you didn’t talk about depression. That was a taboo. I put my happy face mask on and portrayed the happy girl. My life seemed like a Merry Go Round … and not in a fun way. I am sure most of us have been on one. The up and down, in a circle motion. I felt like the ride would not stop. I couldn’t get off … it kept going around, the pain. Every day I woke up telling myself, “OK, Lara! One more day. If it doesn’t get better that’s it!” Then I started telling God. “OK, God. If it doesn’t get better tomorrow, that’s it! I’m DONE!”
It got to the point, one cold day in February, that I’d had enough. I was sitting in health class. Our teacher gave us an assignment. Write your own obituary. I can’t remember what I wrote. I know it was short and to the point. I guess I thought that it was my goodbye letter. I felt such a sense of relief to know that I had finally decided.
A Peace from God
I won’t go into details. I remember being at the hospital. I remember having this conversation with God. I cried. A lot. I remember this one moment where I just fell to my knees. I cried out to God, “HELP ME! I’ll do whatever! I’ll do whatever you want if you just help me!” I felt these arms just wrap around me. I asked God to forgive me. It was that day that I ask Jesus into my heart. Probably not the most appropriate way. I’m sure God didn’t care how I asked. All I knew was that I felt a peace, I wasn’t sure what the future held, but I knew God had me.
A Second Chance
After returning to school the following week I was walking down the hall. My friend stopped me and asked if I had heard about Sara. She was a classmate who had been fighting Leukemia. They let me know that she had lost her fight. All I could think about was that a few days ago I was fighting to die, and she was fighting to live. It was at that moment I knew I was given a second chance. I felt so guilty and ashamed. I knew I had to not waste this time. I wasn’t sure what my journey would look like but knew I had to figure it out.
I will be that person to walk alongside, lean on, and in some cases, I will carry. Until my last breath I will use this life to shine the light of HOPE.
Fast forward to the present. My journey has been a rollercoaster. I’ve had a lot of therapy that provided me tools to navigate life. I ended up going into the mental health field for a little while to help others. I hope that I’ve provided a lighted path for people. I gave my clients my heart and soul. As I write, I think of the word HOPE and the focus I want to strive for as I continue this opportunity God has given me…(H) Helping, (O) Others, (P) Plan, (E) Existence. We are here for a reason, to walk beside our brothers and sisters. I want to share the HOPE, that there is HOPE in the darkness. One of the things I remember that day in the hospital is the “Footprints” poem. God carried me that day and the days that followed. I will be that person to walk alongside, lean on, and in some cases, I will carry. Until my last breath I will use this life to shine the light of HOPE.
Philippians 3:14 NIV
“I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus is calling us.”
Take a Step...
For every 1 young person who takes their life, 25 will attempt and fail. This means they are able to get help.
Need hope right now? Click here.
Leslie's Hope also recommends and implements suicide prevention programs for middle schools, high schools and colleges.
We even offer an annual scholarship.