We’re all reminded from time to time to cherish the ones we love.
And yet, whilst those we care about never stray far from our thoughts, it’s an error of complacency to forget that they can be gone in the blink of an eye. Life’s ruthlessness is part of the reason why each passing moment is so beautiful, so unique. Of course, that doesn’t make it any easier when we lose someone close.
On Friday, August 25, 2018, Andrew Stoecklein, pastor of Inland Hills Church in California, took his own life.
He left behind his wife Kayla and their three boys, all of whom have fallen victim to the inevitable wave of grief that follows such a passing.
Kayla, however, has rallied to pen a powerful letter concerning mental health and suicide awareness. Her heartbreaking message, written during the darkest period of her life, is going viral, and it’s one we think everyone should read …
In spite of combatting intense grief, Kayla took to Instagram in the hours after Andrew’s passing. There, she explained the reasons behind Andrew’s decision to take his own life in the following post:
“Last night, the love of my life, the father of my children and the pastor of our incredible church took his last breath and went to be with Jesus. It wasn’t the miracle I was hoping for but he is now in Heaven with his dad, free of pain, free of depression and anxiety.
He was an amazing husband, he truly made me better, made me feel like the most beautiful girl in the world, and he loved me so deeply. We fit so well together, we were one. He was an amazing daddy, his three boys are going to miss him so much. He had such a unique and special relationship with each of them. He was an incredibly gifted teacher, communicator, and pastor. He was special, one of a kind and will be missed by thousands of people all around the world.
Please pray for me and the boys. I don’t know how I am going to face this, I am completely heartbroken, lost, and empty. Never in a million years would I have imagined this would be the end of his story.
If you are struggling with suicidal thoughts or actions, please tell someone. Please make sure you’re not alone, and please call a friend or family member before you make that irreversible decision. You are loved and valued more than you know! #godsgotthis”
Though her Instagram post was enough to bring a tear to the eye, it was her letter, penned on the couple’s blog “God’s Got This” a few days later, that has garnered attention online for its candid take on the struggles faced by those battling depression and anxiety.
“To My Andrew,
It’s only been 3 days. Nothing can take away the suffocating pain I feel now you are gone. I miss every part of you, I see you everywhere. I replay the events of that fateful day over and over again in my mind wishing I could have done things differently. Wishing I could have held your hand one more time and prayed over you and told you how much I love you, how much I believe in you, and how God’s got this too.
You were right all along, I truly didn’t understand the depths of your depression and anxiety. I didn’t understand how real and how relentless the spiritual attacks were. The pain, the fear, and the turmoil you must have been dealing with every single day is unimaginable. The enemy knew what an amazing man you were. The enemy knew God had huge plans for your life. The enemy saw how God was using your gifts, abilities, and unique teaching style to reach thousands of lives for Him. The enemy hated it and he pursued you incessantly. Taunting you and torturing you in ways that you were unable to express to anyone.
Andrew, I want to tell you from the depths of my heart and my pain I am so sorry.
I am so sorry you were so scared,
I am so sorry you felt so alone,
I am so sorry you felt misunderstood,
I am so sorry you felt betrayed and deeply hurt by the words and actions of others,
I am so sorry you were fighting a dark spiritual war virtually alone,
I am so sorry you were unable to fully get the help and support you needed.
I wish I had one more chance to hold you and cry with you and encourage you. I wish you could see the outpouring of love from people all over the world who have been impacted by your story. I wish you could hold your boys one more time and tell them goodbye. I wish we could go on one more trip together, just the two of us. I am not ready to say goodbye. I am so madly and deeply in love with you. Every part of me longs to be with you. I can’t eat, I can’t sleep, I can’t function and I feel so lost without you. You were my life. I was so proud to be your wife Andrew. I was so proud to sit in the front row and watch you in your sweet spot on stage. I was always so amazed by you, every single day. You could do anything you set your mind to! You were handy, you made every home we lived in look beautiful inside and out. You were creative, you were funny, you were thoughtful, you were passionate, you had vision, you had charisma, and you were so special. You are irreplaceable Andrew. There will never be another man like you.
I want to tell you that I am never going to stop fighting for you. I will continue to tell our community and our world what an amazing man you were. Your name will be honored and you will be remembered as a hero. You fought the good fight, and I can only imagine the incredible place God had prepared for you when you walked through the gates of Heaven. I can only imagine what it must have felt like to see your dad again, healthy and strong. I can only imagine how much joy you must feel now that you are truly free. I wish I could be there with you, celebrating on the streets of gold. But for now, I will continue to live for you. I will raise our boys to be men of God, just like you were. Your name will live on in a powerful way. Your story has the power to save lives, change lives, and transform the way the Church supports pastors.
I love you so much and I will miss you every single day for the rest of my life. When I think of you I will smile, knowing that I will see you again one day. Thank you for 10 wonderful years together. Thank you for giving me the gift of three beautiful blue-eyed boys who all resemble you. Thank you for choosing me, for believing in me, and for showing me how to live fearlessly.
Until we meet again I will cling to my Father in Heaven. He will carry me through every second, every minute, every hour of every day. I read a verse this morning and I know God is reminding me that even now, in the midst of my deepest pain that He has got this.
‘Because you are close to me and always available my confidence will never be shaken, for I experience your wrap-around presence every moment.’ Psalm 16:8 (TPT)
With all my heart and all my love,
It should go without saying that Kayla’s message deserves to be spread far and wide. These days, it can be so easy to allow yourself to be caught up with the ongoings of the world and miss the issues right in front of your face.
Everyone should have a shoulder to cry on from time to time; we all need support periodically. It’s part of being human, after all, and when we’re struggling, it’s important that we’re ready to open up and share those troubles with others.
If you’re having a tough time of things due to anxiety or depression, if you feel down, lost or lonely, please reach out to someone, anyone.
Help us spread Kayla’s message in the aftermath of Andrew’s tragic passing. SHARE this article on Facebook to show people that they’re not alone. We must work together to beat suicide, by raising awareness one story at a time.