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July 6, 2023: Stand In The Gap

On July 6th, 2019 I woke up with full intention of taking my own life. As the last four years have passed, the details of the events leading up to it have admittedly gotten fuzzier. I don't remember the walk from my bunk at the camp I was working at to the main camp area, but I remember the plan. I remember how, the timing of everything, and how it all made sense in my mind. I remember pulling out my notebook to write a letter.

Four years ago I was burnt out. I had quit my coaching job, which after working 60+ hours per week for a mere $1,200 a month with commissions which never came, I realized I had nothing left to give. I had poured my life into a job, and into achieving any form of status I could have as a weightlifter. I had achieved my weightlifting goals, but the work environment was unhealthy, and I was crumbling. I quit my coaching job and went to work at Christian Wilderness Boys Camp, disappearing off the grid entirely. I felt God calling me there, but I was still mentally unhealthy. I was volatile, and any small inconvenience sent me reeling.

I'll admit, each year which has passed has lead me to feeling less and less like all of this went down. Sometimes I feel like I'm gaslighting myself. By any means, there are no hard evidences of the day. Though only inkling was my journal entry on July 5th, but I did not recount anything of the morning of July 6th on its day. Why is there no hard evidence?

There is no hard evidence of July 6th, because as I started to enact my plan someone stood in the gap.
"Today sucked...I have never felt a wanting for death and aggression as I have today. I don't know if I want to live anymore." - Journal Entry, July 5th, 2019: Photo - July 5th, 2019, 8:05pm

I heard the tires squeal as my pen almost hit the paper. I looked up, frustrated, as a face emerged through the doorway, asking what I was doing. I responded how I wasn't doing anything, and asked the question in return to them. Their response? "God convicted me I didn't read my Bible enough, so I've decided I'm going to get up and read it every morning at this time." And so they did. Every morning, including their days off, the person who stopped pulled up a chair and sat it between myself and my chosen means. They stood, or sat, in the gap between me and what I thought was my fate.

Each year, I try to draw a lesson from this experience, and this year has proven to be a reminder of how we all need someone to stand in the gap for us.

It is no secret there is a mental health crisis which has spiked and continues to rise over the last three years. The Pandemic did a number to many a man or woman's mental health, and the number of people who have hurt deeply has increased. In the last year, I have known of several either personally or via acquaintance who have deeply contemplated or have followed through with taking their own lives. All of whom needed someone to stand in the gap for them.

I remember talking to a friend who was going through it this year, and echoing this sentiment I reminded them I would stand in the gap if it came to it, as someone once had for me. For the acquaintances I knew from secondhand, some of their friends were too late in standing in this gap, or didn't know there was a gap to stand in when it existed. But just like I did on this day four years ago, they needed someone to stand in the way.

We all have a gap needed to be filled, or the opportunity to stand in the gap for someone else.

Four years ago, I needed someone to stand in the gap for me. My friends and acquaintances needed someone to stand in the gap for them. Sometimes, this gap is not as evident as we like it to be. I don't think anyone knew what I was going through. I don't think anyone knew how I was hurting inside (at least until after I opened up about it later). The reality is, especially for those who are doing mentally better, we have the opportunity to stand in the gap for someone else. We have the ability to stand when someone else cannot. People often forget the resources available to help those who are hurting. Most local municipalities have crisis response teams now, and you can call on behalf of someone struggling. And while the process is gut-wrenching, you can have people committed into professional care against their will if needed to get them the help they cannot get for themselves. You may not have the opportunity to stand in the gap physically, but you have the ability to do so mentally in these ways.

"God convicted me I didn't read my Bible enough, so I am just going to get up every morning to do it."

I would be remiss if I didn't mention the deeper gap we all have to fill. Some will stop reading at this point, as they do not like the deeper unknowns of lives, or to discuss the mysteries of the universe. Some do not like the idea of a higher power or an eternity on the other side of death. It would be foolish of me to not acknowledge how much discomfort or sometimes pain discussing the greater reality of life can be for some people, but it would be unwise to not share my own anecdotes of experience. None of us are perfect, and we all indeed will die at some point. We have no say in the matter or can know the time at which this will occur. I've experienced too many things "of coincidence" which have happened in the name of Jesus to ignore them, nor can I rationalize them out of my head. When prayers whispered, or sometimes even shouted, in tiny amounts of faith are met with undeniably large answers I sometimes have to stop looking for explanations and start trusting I can't know them all.

We all have a gap. A spiritual gap, which needs someone to step in. Personally, I believe Jesus filled this gap a long time before I was even a whisper in existence. I'll never be perfect. I'll always have some form of struggle, whether it's the kind of one I faced four years ago or some which is currently brewing. If there's a heaven, I sure enough will never be a good enough person to get in. Which is why Jesus stood in the gap for me, and has sent people to stand in there for me physically when my time has yet to come. We all have a gap. And someone hung there in it ages ago to give a way out. And continues to influence people in our lives to stand in our gaps for us, or influences us to stand in the gap for others when they need it.


If you'd like to read previous year's recounts of this day, you can find them here:

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Beautiful beautiful. Let us all strive to be gap-standers in honor of the ultimate Gap Stander. God open our eyes to those we can bless. Nathanael you’re amazing. I’m proud to know you.

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