“How did I get to this point of total desperation? How did I arrive at that dark place where I actually wanted to kill myself?”
Those are the words of Tullian Tchividjian, a former Christian pastor and the grandson of Billy Graham.
Writing on the website Expastors.com, Tchividjian explores the actions that led him to contemplate suicide.
In 2015, Tchividjian resigned as senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church after admitting to an adulterous affair. On August 11, he was deposed as a minister of the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church by the South Florida Presbytery. On August 20 2015 he filed for divorce.
In 2016, after being hired as Director of Ministry Development at Willow Creek Church in Winter Springs, Florida, Tchvidjian was fired from his position following the disclosure of a second affair which had occurred during his time at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.
“Two things I had come to believe were secure forever (apart from my relationship to God) were my 21-year marriage and my calling as the senior pastor of the historic Coral Ridge in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida,” Tchividjian writes. “Both came crumbling down during the spring and early summer of 2015.”
He continues, “What I see now that I couldn’t see then is that this explosion had been building for a few years. The shift from locating my identity in the message of the Gospel to locating my identity in my success as a messenger of the Gospel was slow and subtle. It came on like the slow creep of the tide rather than a sudden tidal wave. I painfully learned that the more you anchor your identity and sense of worth in something or someone smaller than God, the more pain you will experience when you lose it all.”
Tchividjian observes that his “confidence was severely misplaced: Confidence in status, reputation, power and position, the way I spoke, the praise I received, financial security and success. In other words, confidence in things that were smaller than God and his grace—confidence in things that were unstable and fleeting and easily taken away. 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.”
The pastor concludes that his difficulties have ultimately been “liberating”:
The journey God has taken me on over the last two years has been one of complete deconstruction…not just externally but internally. The exploration of who I am, who God is, what is real, what matters, and so on, has been one of pure stripping. It has felt like my skin being painfully ripped from my bones. Just when I think I can’t take anymore, God seems to dig deeper. As painful as it has been, however, it has also been very liberating. As my counselor and mentor told me the other day, “The purpose behind the suffering you are going through is to kick you into a new freedom from false definitions of who you are.” So true. Death before resurrection has always been and will always be Gods mode of operation. Dark desperation always precedes deep deliverance. That is my hope. That is my only lifeline.
You can read the entire essay at Expastors.com.