Editor’s Note: This article is excerpted from Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice by Kristen Jane Anderson with Trisha Goyer. This book tells Kristen’s real-life story of a failed suicide attempt and the life-changing hope she found in Christ.
I let out a deep sigh. It had been nearly three years since I attempted suicide, and I sat in my apartment, looking at the hospital bed that had confined me for almost eight months as I recovered from another surgery.
I hope it was worth it.
The doctors had told me that this latest surgery would lengthen my femur, which would help me walk better with prosthetics. The surgeon broke my bone and then attached it to bars that penetrated through my leg and stuck out of my skin. Connected to the bars was a small key that had to be turned a quarter of a turn four times a day. As the key was turned, the bars pulled the pieces of bone farther apart, separating them so the femur could heal longer than it had been before. A longer bone was supposed to mean more stability and control for my prosthetic legs.
I chose to do the surgery, but I had underestimated the amount of pain I would face, and the doctors had underestimated the amount of time it would take to heal.
Hopefully my bone grew enough to help me walk better.
Since I wasn’t walking yet, I couldn’t be sure. The best thing that came out of those eight months was the way my dependence on God increased.
God, I need you, I would pray as my fists clenched with pain. Please help
me … help me deal with this pain. My words were few, but I was confident that God could hear my heart. Minute by minute I could feel him answering my prayers and helping me through each day. I knew that I was never alone and that I would never have made it through such a difficult time without him.
In the end doctors remained undecided about whether the surgery would help me, but deep in my heart I knew that those months hadn’t been wasted. If anything, the time helped me turn to God more. When I needed him, he was there. I learned that even through the pain I was not alone.
The next time I met with Ruth Ann, we talked about how things were going — how I was healing from my latest surgery and some of the challenges I was having.
“So how are you dealing with all of this emotionally?”
“What’s the hardest part?” Ruth Ann’s face displayed concern.
“It’s just, sometimes, I feel like less of a person without my legs. I don’t feel whole.”
“Do you think Jesus sees you as any less of a person, Kristen?”
What? I didn’t expect that question. It took me a minute to think
“Well, no. I guess not, but I still feel that way.”
“Kristen, as long as you have Jesus in your life, you’re not missing anything. You are a whole person in Christ. Try to follow him instead of your feelings.”
“Remember how we’ve been talking about how you need to take responsibility for what you did. You realize there’s no one else you can blame, right?”
“Yes, I know that…”
“But you have to forgive yourself too.”
“Forgive myself — how?”
“Well, the day that you asked Jesus to be Lord of your life and forgive you of your sins, all of your sin — past, present, and future — was forgiven, right?”
I hesitated. “Yeah…”
“Well, if you continue to punish or condemn yourself, it’s like saying that Jesus’ payment for your sin wasn’t good enough. I want you to memorize Romans 8:1.” Ruth Ann jotted it down on a note card and handed it to me.
I read it out loud, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
I placed the note card on the dash in my car so I could read it as I drove home. I repeated it over and over again, wishing I could believe those words deep down where it mattered most.
Excerpted from Life, In Spite of Me by Kristen Jane Anderson with Tricia Goyer Copyright © 2010 by Kristen Jane Anderson with Tricia Goyer. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House, Inc. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.