Wife of pastor who committed suicide: ‘Andrew will be in heaven’
Matthias Browning

Matthias Browning

The wife of the pastor who tragically committed suicide recently has written a blog to journal her thoughts.

Californian senior minister, Andrew Stoecklein, who was struggling with depression, took his life on two weeks ago after battling depression and anxiety.

Kayla Stoecklein has blogged on godsgotthis.org her thoughts surrounding suicide. And what better day to do so than on World Suicide Prevention Day.

The Christian world, both within their Californian community and globally, has shown its sympathy and support, as opposed to judgment, on what is a devastating outcome. In fact, the prayers of many are that Christians will instead pray for their pastors, rather than criticize them, in what is a demanding, all-consuming job.

In her blog, Kayla states that she believes that Christians who commit suicide will still go to heaven. She states, “This is a common misbelief about suicide and it breaks my heart. I’ll be the first to admit prior to Andrew’s death I may have actually believed it to be true. I remember leaning over to my mother in law, Carol, in the hospital room as my husband lay there dying, whispering through my tears, “Will he go to heaven?”

“She quickly reassured me, as I am confident now: whether you are accepted into heaven or not has nothing to do with how you die. The only way we are accepted into heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus. I believe with 100% of my soul that Andrew is in heaven. Andrew had a real, raw, authentic, and infectious relationship with Jesus. Thousands of people will be in heaven because of him.”

Her full blog can be read below:

3 Myths about suicide you may have picked up along the way

Today is world suicide prevention day. I strongly believe that suicide prevention is possible and to be honest it’s one of the reasons why I write. I am by no means an expert on mental illness or suicide. I am speaking purely from a raw place of brokenness and pain. The reason I am addressing these myths today is I believe as a follower of Christ, the Church and Christians can do a better job at understanding suicide. All too often it’s “Christians” who say the wrong things and hurt people the most. Let’s break the stigma so that we can truly love and meet people where they are.

Myth #1: It’s the ultimate sin therefore when you die by suicide you do not go to heaven.

This is a common misbelief about suicide and it breaks my heart. I’ll be the first to admit prior to Andrew’s death I may have actually believed it to be true. I remember leaning over to my mother in law, Carol, in the hospital room as my husband lay there dying, whispering through my tears, “Will he go to heaven?” She quickly reassured me, as I am confident now: whether you are accepted into heaven or not has nothing to do with how you die. The only way we are accepted into heaven is through a personal relationship with Jesus. I believe with 100% of my soul that Andrew is in heaven. Andrew had a real, raw, authentic, and infectious relationship with Jesus. Thousands of people will be in heaven because of him. Andrew got sick, he was given a diagnosis, much like any other deadly diagnosis. His illness grew worse over time. This illness caused him to loose his ability to make wise decisions, to think clearly, and to properly articulate his feelings. If Andrew were sitting here today, healthy and strong, I am confident he would want a redo. He did not want to die. I can rest assured that he is no longer in pain, he is completely healed in heaven; a place more beautiful and wonderful than any human mind could ever comprehend.

Myth #2: The person who committed suicide must be a horrible human being.

“How could he do this to his family?” “Didn’t he know the amount of pain this would cause everyone?” “How could a pastor, a Godly man, do something so horrific?” The appropriate answer to all of these questions is: it wasn’t him. The Andrew we all knew and loved; the Andrew we saw on stage every Sunday; the Andrew who would hop on a skateboard and ride up and down the driveway with his boys: he would never do this! Not in his wildest dreams or nightmares! He was sick. His mind was overtaken by mental illness, spiritual warfare, and a series of unfortunate circumstances that caused him to lose control of his own thoughts and actions. I can’t even begin to wrap my mind around what that must have felt like. Imagine the torment and torture he must have been experiencing. Although there are moments where I feel angry at him, I can’t allow myself to stay there. The man that I loved and built a family with, the man that I looked up to in countless ways, the leader of our church and our family: he was an honorable man, and his death is tragic.

Myth #3 When you have faith in God you do not have suicidal thoughts

When sin entered the world we became broken people. No one is exempt from sin. No one is exempt from brokenness. Brokenness slapped me in the face a few weeks ago when suicide took the love of my life. If anyone had a strong relationship with God, it was him. He studied theology and dove deep into scripture week in and week out. He ran to God in his depression. He filled his alone time with worship music. He loved God and I believe that his faith really did help carry him through his darkest moments. However in most cases faith simply isn’t enough to heal depression. Depression is a disorder of the brain that is both biological and physiological. We need to help break this stigma of mental illness. Although prayer and spirituality may help, and God can do miracles, ultimately mental illness deserves to be treated just like every other illness.

I will never forget Andrew’s psychiatrist telling us, “we know a drop in the ocean of the brain.” Who are we to judge one single drop in a vast open sea? I believe God has not called us to judge mental illness or suicide, rather he has called us to love Him and love them, and he meant all of them! I hope the truth behind these three myths can help us to better: embrace, love, and comfort those who are facing the brokenness of depression and suicide and the survivors who were left behind.

If you are reading this today and you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions I am begging you to please tell someone! If you don’t have anyone to call, please call the national suicide prevention lifeline 1-800-273-8255. You were not designed to battle depression and mental illness alone. You need people and people need you! Your life is worth fighting for, your journey is not over, and the deep overwhelming pain you are feeling won’t last forever. Your life has a divine purpose and there are more people cheering you on than you could ever know. The world needs you, your family needs you, and your future needs you!

If you haven’t listened to this song yet, please read these lyrics, and then believe them with every fiber of your being. The song is titled, “Rescue,” by Lauren Daigle and it has been carrying me through my darkest hour and I believe it can help you too. God sees you, God hears you, God knows your darkest thoughts, and God’s Got This too!

You are not hidden

There’s never been a moment

You were forgotten

You are not hopeless

Though you have been broken

Your innocence stolen

I hear you whisper underneath your breath

I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find You

In the middle of the darkest night

It’s true, I will rescue you

There is no distance

That cannot be covered

Over and over

You’re not defenseless

I’ll be your shelter

I’ll be your armor

I hear you whisper underneath Your breath

I hear your SOS, your SOS

I will send out an army to find You

In the middle of the darkest night

It’s true, I will rescue you

I will never stop marching to reach you

In the middle of the hardest fight

It’s true, I will rescue you

I hear the whisper underneath Your breath

I hear you whisper, you have nothing left

I will send out an army to find You

In the middle of the darkest night

It’s true, I will rescue you

I will never stop marching to reach you

In the middle of the hardest fight

It’s true, I will rescue you

Oh, I will rescue you

thanks for joining me on this journey,

Kayla

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