Hold Your Fire (To Those Who Would Harm Themselves)

This is a message to all the brave, exhausted soldiers out there doing battle.

Those fighting hand to hand, their silent, internal civil war.

As with all wars, the trenches are bloody and brutal and so very wasteful.

And I’m calling out to you; you who stand on those cruel front lines, pressed up hard against the fight.

I’m reaching out because there is urgency in these moments, because so much damage is being done, because I look around and the violence seems to be winning.

I think you understand that, because it’s gotten the best of you before too.

You show the scars.

You bear the bruises.

You wear the wounds.

I know that the battle has streaked you scarlet; that it’s ravaged you and left you terribly broken.

It’s drained the hope from your heart and the joy from your spirit.

I know that your head is spinning right now, trying to find footing in a ground that shifts and slides beneath your feet.

Nothing seems stable. 

And when everything feels like chaos, controlling anything feels like comfort.

Piece by piece, you chase peace.

You are hurt and so you hurt.

You fight with your flesh, in your flesh.

You war with yourself.

But this battle has gone on far too long, my sweet friend.

I’m trying to arrange a cease-fire.

I’m hoping to stop the bleeding.

I’m asking you to cross lines in the fight.

Don’t side with the bullies anymore.

Don’t conspire with your enemies.

Don’t give consent to the terrorists.

Don’t do your demon’s dirty work any longer.

Refuse to agree with the liars who tell you that you are ugly and unloved and worthless and hopeless.

Resist recruitment in your own demise.

I know that you are overwhelmed.

I know you can’t see the way out right now.

I know you don’t know where to start.

Start here.

Start by breathing slowly and standing down.

Step out from the trenches.

Drop your weapons.

Hold your fire.

Lay down your guns.

Surrender peaceably.

Call in those waiting reinforcements.

Let someone else fight alongside you.

Let someone else fight for you.

Let me fight for you.

I promise that I’ll fight like hell, because you are so very worth fighting for.

You are so very loved.

Hold on my brave, exhausted soldier.

Peace is within reach.

Hope is in your hands.

Love is here.

Find help here and here and here now.

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20 thoughts on “Hold Your Fire (To Those Who Would Harm Themselves)

  1. The violence has already won. It is now illegal to support traditional heterosexual lifelong monagamy, doing so will get you fined, your business taken away, and when you can’t afford the fines because of no more income, you will be thrown in jail. Welcome to the homophiliacs United States, where any attempt to preserve a traditional way of life will be punished.

    (Note from John: I originally deleted this comment, but it is so hatefully ignorant, that I thought you all should see it. On a post encouraging those involved in the brutality of self-harm, Theodore chose to make an unprovoked attack on the LGBT community. This is a perfect example of the mean-spirited, unloving, and completely un-Christlike tactics of professed Christians toward gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender individuals. It’s sometimes helpful to allow hateful people’s own words to speak for themselves. Theodore’s do here).

    • I agree, John. Letting them speak for themselves is the best way to bring the light to their hideous mindset and their actions for all to see. The more they speak for themselves, the more people can see how far they are willing to go to suppress, malign or harm the LGBT community. As the old saying goes, it’s always darkest before the dawn. Thank you so much for being such a great advocate for the kinder, gentler side of humanity!

    • What I find most troubling about Mr. Seeber’s comments is not simply the content (which are, of course, very troubling) but that his mind is enveloped in the same kind of hopeless and false narrative of those who contemplate suicide.

      It is not illegal to support heterosexual monogamy.

      Can businesses be fined for refusing to service to a gay person? Yes, in exactly the same way they can be fined if they refuse service to a person because they’re a Christian.

      Can owners find themselves driven out of business? Yes, in exactly the same way as a gay business owner who refuses to offer services to people because they are Christians.

      Can a person be jailed for not paying fines? Unlikely, but again, the sword cuts both ways. If a gay business owner refuses to pay fines for discriminating against a Christian, then they face the same potential penalties as anyone who discriminates based on race, religion, sexuality, etc.

      Public accommodation laws exist to protect Christians, Jews, Muslims, Atheists … to protect people of different ethnicities … to protect the LBGT community … to protect people in inter-faith or inter-racial marriages … from discrimination in public services.

      What Mr. Seeber cannot see is these laws protect him from being fired because of his faith. These laws protect him from being denied housing because he is (presumably) a Christian. As is true for a Christian, my deeply held religious beliefs do not give me license to discriminate against people, if my business is open to the public.

      Most troubling, Mr. Seeber cannot see that under federal law and under many states’ laws, it is perfectly legal to fire gays, deny us housing, and to deny basic rights. Mr. Seeber forgets that until the fairly recent – 2003 – Supreme Court decision invalidating sodomy laws (and 17 states still keep those laws on their books,) gay people could be jailed for no reason other than they were gay.

      Mr. Seeber cannot see that, to this day, gay people have their homes taken away, their lives legally ripped apart, and their own, biological, children taken from them … simply because of their sexuality. Mr. Seeber cannot see that certain American Evangelicals are working in Africa to make homosexuality punishable by death.

      Like so many people contemplating suicide, Mr. Seeber has been made to believe things – by misguided, cynical, ignorant, or just plain evil people – that simply are not true, and he has lost hope.

      Thomas, you are not a victim. If you are straight, then you have more protection under the law than do gay folk. Shake it off, and move on.

    • Brother Theodore, you seem to be full of something … and it’s not Christ’s love. Let’s call it what it is: Mendacity.

  2. Amazing! I remember going to a Good Charlotte concert with my son in 2005… A co-worker of mine had committed suicide and I was about to head to Afghanistan for my “government service” with the USAF… They played the song, “Hold On” and I wept… I have buried too many victims of suicide and it breaks my heart… Thanks, Bro, for an excellent encouragement!

    Here is a link to the video:


  3. John, thank you for your blog. It is so encouraging to read your kind words, spoken with such humility. As a gay man who is a member of a Christian denomination, the pain does seem unending. Like you write here, I am tired. I am worn out. I wonder when things will get better (I also battle severe depression and other emotional disorders.) People like Theodore M. Seeber are part of the reason why I feel as though I don’t really belong in God’s kingdom. So, congratulations Theodore. I’m sure God will be pleased with you for doing some weeding out for him.

    • I just wanted to tell you you do belong in Gods Kindom. Jesus accepted you on the cross long before you were born. I am a transgender woman my self and it took me a while to realize this. Also I feel that if it is safe more LGBTQ Christians should be visible because some people would like to think we don’t exist. I am planing to go into simmanry my self .

  4. I would also like to kindly add some comfort to those too close to the edge. I have suffered from chronic clinical depression since Day 1 of my life in the crib. Here is some comforting advice from my own experience that you can use:

    1) If you feel almost overwhelmed or truly overwhelmed with emotional pain, there is no shame in reaching out for help. It is the wisest thing you can possibly do in the Christian sense or nonChristian sense. Clinical psychologists provide amazing talk therapy that really works, and you will quickly find out that the light at the end of your tunnel IS NOT the light of an oncoming train. Real and lasting help is there. In addition, psychiatrists (medical doctors who prescribe medications specifically to treat emotional difficulties) have a truly amazing array of medications that can be used to treat clinical depression and many other emotional problems. I know from personal experience. The medications are powerful and they really work.

    2) No matter how bad your situation might look, please hold on and do not harm yourself. I have been very low in my time, and it looked as if nothing would get any better—and then it all got better—and then it got great for many years and stayed that way—with a few average ups and downs that most all people experience from time to time along the way. It will get better and you will lead a good and happy life. So just hold on, trust, and have faith that all will be well in time.

    3) The Critical 20 Minutes. Studies have shown that the really-for-real urge to commit suicide comes on and lasts about 20 minutes. I once asked a psychotherapist what a person should do when that 20-minute period initiates and you think you really may harm yourself. Her answer: “GO IMMEDIATELY TO THE EMERGENCY ROOM” at your nearest hospital. When you get there, tell them that you need their help right now because you feel like you want to kill yourself. They will understand and give you the help you need right there. Many people never hear this advice. It could have saved Robin Williams if he had known. A person just needs to know what to do other than kill their self when that urge arrives with great power. Go to the Emergency Room. Do not worry about the money factor. If mom and dad do not have it covered by insurance, indigent patient care money may cover it. Just go. Your life is worth more than any amount of money.

    4) Do not slip into the trap of the Biblical Counseling Movement. My friend April Kelsey at the “Revolutionary Faith” blog had some problems with family members who subjected themselves to Biblical Counseling Movement practitioners. Terrible things happened. This prompted her to do some deep research into the history and methodology of this movement, and she was amazed by what she found. As a result, she wrote a multi-part exposee based on what her deep research turned up. You can read her bottom line summation here:


    Biblical Counseling will—more than likely—make your emotional condition much worse rather than much better because the counseling you are getting is fundamentally incompetent. You would be much better off getting treatment from a state-licensed secular or Christian clinical psychologist or psychiatrist with a good heart—and most of them have good hearts—even the secular ones. The old saying that a psychologist or psychiatrist will tell you to do things that are unChristian and that it will kill your faith in Jesus is a lie. I know that from personal experience. Modern psychotherapy does not work that way and never has worked that way. No secular or Christian clinical psychologist or psychiatrist has ever encouraged me to desert the Christian faith or do evil things.

    5) Know that Jesus loves you and wants you to have a wonderful life—and many loving people that will understand your situation are out there—and they are not as hard to find as you might think. Hang in there—and love yourself too along the way.

  5. so needed this.

    you really have no idea

    theodore i pity you, mouthpiece of death

    john, i hear and strain with all i am to comply…but dropping weapons is so difficult when those weapons are in my dna and no matter how hard i shake my hand they are stuck…

    wrapping myself in your plea, and binding my hands in your concern, may Mama preserve me…May Jesus Pray for me…may Father hear and receive my cry to live and not die.

    i transitioned…from a fire made of tires burning around my neck to a crucible in which everything burnable has been f-ing torched…there is a core emerging, a diamond forming…maybe i can endure the pressure…by Their Grace I shall be sustained and know the love of God in the Land of the Living.

    all i can do is all i can do, but i will add this post to my daily devotion and read it everyday…because you care and are real, so it is the least i can do


  6. thank you so much. We lost someone to suicide this year (a vet, not gay,) and I talked a gay friend down from a suicide attempt. There’s no such thing as being too vocal about the resources available to those in a dark place.

  7. John this is a beautiful post. I love the way you have written this so sensitively in poem. I am going to re-post this on my blog SundayEveryday.me. Are you okay if I change the help lines here, here, here to Australian resources? Well done. clap clap clap

  8. Thank you. You have no idea how I needed these words of encouragement today. You have an amazing gift. Please continue to use your words…writings to touch hearts.

  9. Reblogged this on Sunday Everyday and commented:
    This is beautiful post by John Pavlovitz. I have re-blogged for Friday Arts Day because of the style of Poetry and Prose. Self harming is a huge issue, a silent issue, one hidden and full of shame. I love that John’s message is for us to stand and fight alongside those who are suffering. You are not alone. Ceased fire, lay down your guns, reinforcements are on the way. Don’t suffer in silence. Love Love Love Lisa

  10. When you are born into a world that you don’t fit in, maybe it’s because you were born to help create a new one. — Nicole Daedone

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