Home/Encounter/Article

Mar 21, 2024 264 Ellen Wilson
Encounter

Return to the Embrace

Would my life ever return to normal? How can I possibly continue my work? Brooding over these, a terrible solution popped into my head…

I was finding life extremely stressful. In my fifth year at college, the onset of bipolar disorder was hindering my efforts to complete my teaching degree. I had no diagnosis yet, but I was plagued with insomnia, and I looked frazzled and unkempt, which impeded my prospects of employment as a teacher. Since I had strong natural tendencies toward perfectionism, I felt so ashamed and feared that I was letting everyone down. I spiraled into anger, despondency, and depression. People were concerned about my decline and tried to help. I was even sent to the hospital by ambulance from the school, but doctors could find nothing wrong except elevated blood pressure. I prayed but found no consolation. Even Easter Mass—my favorite time—didn’t break the vicious cycle. Why wouldn’t Jesus help me? I felt so angry with Him. Finally, I just stopped praying.

As this continued, day after day, month after month, I didn’t know what to do. Would my life ever return to normal? It seemed unlikely. As graduation approached, my fear increased. Teaching is a tough job with few breaks, and the students would need me to remain level-headed while dealing with their many needs and providing a good learning environment. How could I possibly do this in my current state? A terrible solution popped into my head: “You should just kill yourself.” Instead of casting off that thought and sending it straight back to hell where it belonged, I let it sit. It seemed like a simple, logical answer to my dilemma. I just wanted to be numb instead of under constant attack.

To my utter regret, I chose despair. But, in what I expected to be my last moments, I thought of my family and the type of person I had once been. In genuine remorse, I raised my head to the heavens and said: “I’m so sorry, Jesus. Sorry for everything. Just give me what I deserve.” I thought those would be the last words I would utter in this life. But God had other plans.

Listening to the Divine

My mother was, by providence, praying the Divine Mercy Chaplet at that very moment. Suddenly, she heard the words loud and clear in her heart “Go find Ellen.” She obediently set aside her rosary beads and found me on the floor of the garage. She caught on quickly, exclaiming in horror: “What are you doing?!” while she pulled me into the house.

My parents were heartbroken. There’s no rulebook for times such as these, but they decided to take me to Mass. I was totally broken, and I needed a Savior more than ever before. I longed for a come-to-Jesus moment, but I was convinced that I was the last person in the world He would ever want to see. I wanted to believe that Jesus is my Shepherd and would come after His lost sheep, but it was hard because nothing had changed. I was still consumed by intense self-hatred, oppressed by darkness. It was almost physically painful.

During the preparation of the gifts, I broke down in tears. I had not cried for a really long time, but once I started, I couldn’t stop. I was at the end of my own strength, with no idea where to go next. But as I wept, the weight slowly lifted, and I felt myself enfolded in His Divine Mercy. I didn’t deserve it, but He gave me the gift of Himself, and I knew that He loved me the same at my lowest point as much as He loved me at my highest point.

In Pursuit of Love

In the days to come, I could barely face God, but He kept showing up and pursuing me in the little things. I re-established communication with Jesus with the aid of a Divine Mercy picture in our living room. I tried to talk, mostly complaining about the struggle and then feeling bad about it in light of the recent rescue.

Weirdly, I thought I could hear a tender voice whispering: “Did you really think I would leave you to die? I love you. I will never forsake you. I promise to never leave you. All is forgiven. Trust in my mercy.” I wanted to believe this, but I couldn’t trust that it was true. I was growing discouraged at the walls I was erecting, but I kept chatting with Jesus: “How do I learn to trust You?”

The answer surprised me. Where do you go when you feel no hope but have to go on living? When you feel totally unlovable, too proud to accept anything yet desperately wanting to be humble? In other words, where do you want to go when you want a full reconciliation with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit but are too scared and disbelieving of a loving reception to find your way home? The answer is the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of God, and Queen of Heaven.

While I was learning to trust, my awkward attempts did not displease Jesus. He was calling me closer, closer to His Sacred Heart, through His Blessed Mother. I fell in love with Him and His faithfulness.

I could admit everything to Mary. Although I feared that I could not keep my promise to my earthly mother because, on my own, I was still barely mustering the will to live, my mother inspired me to consecrate my life to Mary, trusting that she would help me get through this. I didn’t know much about what that meant, but 33 Days to Morning Glory and Consoling the Heart of Jesus by Father Michael E. Gaitley, MIC, helped me understand. The Blessed Mother is always willing to be our intercessor, and she will never turn down a request from a child wanting to return to Jesus. As I went through the consecration, I resolved never to attempt suicide again with the words: “No matter what happens, I will not quit.”

Meanwhile, I started taking long walks on the beach while I talked with God the Father and meditated on the parable of the prodigal son. I tried to put myself in the shoes of the prodigal son, but it took me some time to get close to God the Father. First, I imagined Him at a distance, then walking toward me. Another day, I pictured Him running towards me even though it made Him look ridiculous to His friends and neighbors.

Finally, the day came when I could picture myself in the arms of the Father, then being welcomed not just to His home but to my seat at the family table. As I envisaged Him pulling out a chair for me, I was no longer a headstrong young woman but a 10-year-old girl with ridiculous glasses and a bob haircut. When I accepted the Father’s love for me, I became like a little child again, living in the present moment and trusting Him completely. I fell in love with God and His faithfulness. My Good Shepherd has saved me from the prison of fear and anger, continuing to lead me along the safe path and carrying me when I falter.

Now, I want to share my story so that everyone can know God’s goodness and love. His Sacred Heart is welling up with tender love and mercy just for you. He wants to love you lavishly, and I encourage you to welcome Him without fear. He will never abandon you or let you down. Step into His light and come home.

Share:

Ellen Wilson

Ellen Wilson is a Third Order Carmelite who loves to write. Coming from a large close-knit family in Pittsburgh, she is working in customer service, enjoying hobbies like scrapbooking, reading, and decorating.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Latest Articles