How I Survived the Worst Day of my Life

In 2014, a year after my son took his life, a regional magazine asked me if I would consider writing about that experience.  The online link to that article is no longer available, so I’ve included the text below.

Of note, a gentleman in a local retail store stopped me and asked, “Are you Nick Watts?”  I replied, “Yes.”  He said, “I recognize you from your photo next to your article in the Metro Leader.  Thank you for the hope you’ve given me.”

May it provide you hope in your pain, as well.  nw

It was May 13, 2013, a Monday.

My daughter, Macy, began texting me during the early afternoon that day, asking where Jordan was.  I was certain he was sleeping in.  But repeated texts from Macy caused me a degree of concern.  Jordan lived at home and was extremely responsible, always letting us know where he was.  But no one could seem to find him, including his closest friends.

A little after 3 pm, I hurried home to check on him.  His car was there.  I ran inside.  His bedroom door was locked.  I knocked.  I yelled his name.  When I finally managed to get his door open, life for our family changed forever.

My son had hung himself.

He was 19.

The earth shifted under our feet.  I screamed his name over and over.  I ran into our driveway, collapsed onto the concrete, and wailed.  A stranger stopped and I screamed, “My son is dead!”

The memories of the days that followed are, at the same time, a blur and crystal clear. 

Jordan professed his faith in Christ when he was only 6 years old.  He loved Jesus with all of his heart, committing his life to global missions when he was 14.  However, like myself, Jordan suffered from clinical depression.  And on May 13, 2013, as best as I can explain it, Jordan’s brain broke.

I have been in full-time, vocational ministry for over 30 years.  But, in the early days following my son’s death, my faith in God was fragile, at best.    I was in emotional, psychological and spiritual torment and isolation.  “Where and you, God!? Where were you when my son took his life!?”

The psalmist wrote, “Darkness is my closest friend.”My mind was dark, my soul was lifeless. 

Frank Page wrote a book about the suicide of his daughter titled, ‘Melissa.’  He wrote,

“Among all the emotions associated with the loss of a child by suicide, the one that is most prevalent is ‘aloneness’.”

He’s right. I descended into a place I had never before experienced, feeling absolutely alone, fighting for sanity. I was numb. Isolated and despondent, I created somewhat of a self-imposed “isolation prison cell.”

Then, one day, as I sat alone, in silence, I sensed a presence.  A powerful presence.  A loving presence.  I asked, “Who are you?”  The response (not audibly) was clear: “I am Jesus.”  I angrily replied, “What are you doing here??”  He lovingly said, “I’ve always been here.  I’ve never left you.  I love you more than you can possibly comprehend. I was with Jordan when he breathed his last.  I’ve got him.  Today, he’s with me in Paradise – and he is more alive than he’s ever been, perfectly healed from the depression he suffered, experiencing joy and peace you could never imagine.  And you will see him again.  I love you, Nick.  I’ve got this.  Trust me.”

Jesus reminded me what is true.  He comforted me, “Nick, don’t listen to the devil. He is a pathological liarand has been devastatingly conquered – humiliated – by my blood given for you and my resurrection (cf. Ephesians 2:13-29; Romans 8:37). Nick, I Am Truth.  I have set your soul free.  Let me set your mind free, as well.  Regardless of what cheap shots the devil takes, remember he’s trying to fill your mind with lies en route to eternal torment.  Endure this pain, Nick.  – in my strength, not yours.  You have complete access to all that I Am.  If you’ll let me, I will take your present suffering and transform it into power.  In your weakness, I Am strong.”

When Paul wrote, “I am (my old self has been) crucified with Christ, therefore it’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me,” he was telling us the entire, life-changing, life-saving, power of the Cross is now ours.  Our wounds were imputed to Jesus Christ.  His healing was imputed to us.  My wound left by Jordan’s death is now Christ’s wound.  And we know what God said through the prophet, Isaiah:  “By his wounds we are healed.”

So, every time  your wounds – emotional, psychological, or physical – are under attack, focus on Truth, Jesus Christ, the Almighty.  Because our wounds now belong to him.  And his wounds heal.

What I’ve written here is, according to the Bible, truth.  These biblical truths, along with many others (such as the reality of heaven), have occupied my mind since last May.

Jesus said,

“…and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

Focusing on God’s truth is how I survived – and am surviving – the worst day of my life. nw

In a subsequent blog, I provide further theological context behind this story – how focusing on the truth of God’s Word sets us free.

Soli Deo Gloria, Nick