On The Road

Let The Journey Begin

When I last wrote, I noted that I was very confused and had a lot to think about. Now, several days, prayers, and calories burned exercising my noodle, I would like to write about what I have processed. I will attempt to be more brief than before, but I am not making any promises!

For those of you offering to help and saying to me, “Is there anything I can do?” then this blog post is your answer. If you meant what you said, then please read what I have to say and respond as you feel led.

A quick recap

If you are reading this for the first time, it is important to know that on Sunday, at midnight on April 22nd, 2012, I made a very weak attempt to end my life. This was followed, twenty-four hours later, by a more carefully planned out attempt that would have easily succeeded had I not been, at the last second, confronted with something very thought provoking and compelling that persuaded me to delay the deed another twenty-four hours. And at that point, I backed down and changed my mind altogether. This entire process was bookended by two blog posts, one in which I announced my intent to kill myself, and the other in which I explained my reasons for not doing it.

April 22, 2012: The Cask of Zachariah

April 24, 2012: Hints, Allegations, and Things That Need to be Said

During this time, I spent about 60 hours wandering the streets of Chicago and sleeping where I could find a safe place to sleep, and eating… well, nothing. Now that I have come back from the edge, had a few good nights sleep, and put some food back in me, I have processed what I have gone through and received a calling, or an action plan, of what to do next.

Please allow me to share with you some of my thoughts.

Why did I want to do it?

Just to be clear, my motivations to kill myself were not what I could consider typical “depression” symptoms or a “lost the girl, life can’t go on” moment. I understand how it could appear that way. Rather, I very calmly and rationally came to the (mis)realization that although I had managed to keep my head above water in the past, despite my very best efforts to do the right thing, I had fallen into an inescapable pattern of hurting people around me.

I had hurt the person whom I loved most in this world while very intentionally trying to do the exact opposite and I didn’t understand why, how to undo it, or how to make it better. I was convinced that my continued “existence” was nothing but torture for this person, a torture that I carried the pain of as well, and that if I was unable to figure out how to unwind that situation, then I was forever doomed to continue in that pattern towards everyone else I came into contact with for the rest of my life.

What changed my mind?

As I explained in my second blog post, I came to a realization that my self awareness of my brokenness as a human being was something that all humans are destined to face. We are all broken. But we are intentionally put on this earth broken to be used as vessels of God’s love, not to be discarded once we outlive our usefulness.

In fact, it is when we reach our most broken state that we are most “useful” as an instrument of God, thus serving as a true testament to God’s ability to heal and a transparent conduit of God’s ability to do good in this world. I say transparent, because when something truly “worthless” and “broken” manages to bring something good into the life of someone else, it is crystal clear that the source of that goodness is not the vessel, but rather God miraculously intervening in this world.

The power of prayer

As best as I can understand, hundreds of people across the country and around the world have been praying for me: For my survival, for a peace of mind, and for God to reveal a path and direction to me. To me, payer is less of a supplication for God to accomplish something and more of a conversation with God that benefits the one praying more than anything. I am certain that at a minimum, all of you praying for me have had a chance to commune with God and hopefully catch a glimpse of the universe through his eyes. And that is good.

I cannot say with certitude whether these supplications on my behalf had a direct influence over my change of heart, my peace of mind, and the quickness with which I have been able to develop a plan (a crazy plan, but a plan nonetheless) to move forward. However, I am willing to accept on faith that this also has played a role, and if it has, then it has played a major role, because the transformation I have experienced in the last few days from “walking dead zombie about to end it all” to where I am now is nothing short of a miracle.

My first request from you

That is why I would like to make one very important request to all of you out there who have felt lead to pray for me. Please pray for Brianna. My life and my happiness is no more or less valuable in God’s eyes than hers. Don’t for a second think of praying for me without also praying for her. For one, I have caused her a tremendous amount of pain if for no other reason than the fact that I announced on Facebook that I was going to kill myself if I did not have a chance to speak with her.

Bri has suffered tremendously in her own life and is very much in her own process of healing. She also needs to reach a place of peace and reconciliation with her pain and the sources of that pain. She is a beautiful child of God and is in as bad of or worse of a place than I am right now thanks in no part to my own actions. Pray for Bri. She deserves no less prayer than I do, and if your prayers for me exacted such a transformation on my heart which was hardened and nearly dead, then I have no doubt that the same can happen for Bri.

My crazy plan: The Journey

On The RoadI have taken stock of where I am and where God is calling me to go. I have realized that I should not be living in Indianapolis, and I am currently incapable of performing satisfactorily at my job at Angie’s List. Therefore, I have resigned my position at Angie’s List, and this weekend I am packing up all my things in Indianapolis and moving back to Chicago. I am leaving for Indy to fetch my things as soon as I post this blog.

I have realized that I am not in a place where I can even commit to a permanent job at all right now. But this leaves me having to figure out how to “earn my keep” so to speak. Furthermore, I am sensing an overwhelming urge to not even sit still, but to travel across the country with a very intentional purpose in mind.

I would like to journey across the country and visit each and every one of you. I want to reconnect in person with all of the wonderful people who have been pouring out love for me. I want to, no matter how briefly, share in your lives and hopefully bring a little of the light God has shined into mine back into yours. I want to see what is happening in various parts of the country where you all reside, and do everything in my power to volunteer to help.

And along the way, I want to document my journey and share your stories as part of the fabric of the large narrative that God is trying to tell by this journey. I want to post videos, pictures, and write first hand accounts of what God is doing in your lives and how God is working in my own.

Making The Journey possible

I usually don’t have confidence about plans that seem to be so based in a fantasy as this one, but there are many very real barriers to my embarking on, much less getting very far on this journey. For one thing, I don’t own the necessary minivan which I would need to take this trip (I’ll explain why a van or minivan later). I don’t have a video camera or even a still camera. I also don’t have a job. I am about $20,000 in debt. I don’t even know how I’m going to pay my cell phone bill next month. I certainly can’t imagine how I’m going to acquire all these things in my current state, much less be able to afford gas and food along the way!

However, I am in possession of a few things. I have many worldly possessions which I no longer want or need which I am attempting to sell (any buyers out there for a 3,500 book comic book collection?). I also have the excellent work ethic my Grandpa Bob instilled in me, and the character my father has helped me develop. I have experience and know-how to design websites, design print/marketing materials, solve small business problems, and perform a variety of short-term business/marketing/operations consulting functions. I have experience as a nanny, doing hard physical labor and even a bit of carpentry.

Here is how you can help

1. First and foremost, keep praying for me.

2. Reach out to me and let me know if I am welcome to visit you so that I can factor your location into my ever evolving map of stops across the country.

3. Subscribe to my newsletter for updates. Feel free to follow my other social media links (in the sidebar) well, but the email newsletters will be the best way to get updates that you can easily ignore when you’re not in the mood.

4. Buy my stuff! I’m putting up a Buy My Stuff page on this blog soon (as soon as I get my stuff organized) that will link to all the things I’m selling.

5. Hire me! I’m primarily focused on making websites, but as you saw in the last big paragraph above, I can do just about anything.

6. Refer me to someone to hire me. Or just share this blog with people you think might be interested.

7. Donate some funds. Any donations received in excess of necessary equipment (I’m trying to buy a van) and basic necessities (food, gas, etc.) will be re-donated to others in need whom I encounter along the way. If I use any donations early on, but find myself earning excess income later, I will still pay all donations forward out of excess income. And of course, this will all be documented and posted on my blog.

There are plenty of other people out there who need financial help more than I do. I am just stuck right now and figuring out how to get started. My entire purpose of this journey is to pay-it-forward and to be a conduit of God’s love and support for others, so please don’t think for one second I am expecting to be subsidized. I’m just in a hole right now and need help crawling out so I can continue to walk on my own.

To donate, go here: http://www.gofundme.com/the-journey – active now

Thank you for the love

Again, I cannot say enough how grateful I am to the outpouring of love and support and prayers from the hundreds of people who have already made the effort to reach me. I am still in the process of digesting everything and returning correspondence. It is quite overwhelming, and it is quite humbling.

I hope you can learn from my mistakes: Be intentional and proactive with your relationships and don’t let the important people in your life drift into the past without a fight. And remember, someone else is still hurting. People matter more than any idea more than any dream and more than any personal sorrow.

  • Nann Flowers

    Be prepared to listen. Much. I especially love what you wrote regarding brokenness. Your grandparents would have loved it, too. My heart is joyful as I thank God for you, Zach. You are and have always have been a mysterious and wonderful treasure, and your willingness to be so transparent and open about your pain gives wings to your ability to help others in theirs. Does that even make sense? :0)   

  • Julia Kim

    Zach, we don’t know each other, but I just wanted to say, a mutual friend of ours sent a prayer request to a group of community to lift up prayers for you. Most of us don’t know you and you don’t know us personally either, but I hope you know that we are praying for you. Don’t listen to those voices that tempt and lead you the wrong way. Seek for God’s voice, listen and follow His voice and His only. Take care of yourself. I promise you, more people care about you than you may think. (:  .. -In Christ’s everlasting Love, JK.

  • V

    You should take down BM’s name from these blog posts, unless she gave you permission.

  • Zach, I briefly met you back in 2007 volunteering for RP. Also, I know your Mom from hanging out in the library. Thank you for hanging in there. I remember your energy and you deserve to have a good long life. I pray for you and for your friend BM. May you live long and enjoy the fruits of your work and play.

    In God we trust,
    Michael Livshutz

  • ZachariahWiedeman

    I have removed Brianna’s last name from all blog posts.

    However, I would like to point out that I subscribe to Adam Smith’s concept of the Theatre of Approval which he outlines in “A Theory of Moral Sentiments.” Smith makes the case that moral behavior can be traced, in part, to a sense of thumos. He argues that the world is ‘structured and governed by theatrical relations’ which is marked by ‘a necessary theatricality that is to be both sought after and avoided.’ It is the positive opinions of others and the fear of public humiliation and ostracism that drive human behavior towards higher morality.

    It is unlikely that Smith ever envisioned a word in which society was so vast and communities were so fractured that one could spend a lifetime hopping from one to the other and the Theatre of Approval would lose its impact on moral behavior. And I certainly cannot imagine that Smith ever dreamed that mediums of engagement such as the internet would provide further anonymity to one’s actions (such as publicly pronouncing a moral judgement against someone and then publicly requesting they behave in a certain way while hiding behind the pseudo-name “V”), thus further eroding the impact and effectiveness of the Theatre of Approval, and rendering the positive effects of thumos inert.

    Therefore, it is unlikely that I will often restrain my free speech about my experiences with others simply because I have not received express permission from someone to talk about them. Permission is neither necessary, nor should it necessarily be sought after at all times (not to mention the only legal basis for the curtailment of free speech about others applies almost exclusively to libel and slander). After all, a ‘bad actor’ in society is likely to never give permission for their misdeeds to be publicly disclosed: And that is motivated by thumos, of course. However the proper role of thumos should be to prevent bad behavior and encourage good behavior in the first place, not to motivate one to engage in all means necessary to cover it up and hide their deeds (something the modern world has made quite easy).

    That all being said, I have removed Brianna’s last name from my blog posts – for other reasons. For one, I do not consider her a ‘bad actor’ in society. I also believe that public humiliation – something I never was intending to thrust upon her, but certainly likely have inadvertently done – would not be a helpful motivation for her to enact positive changes in her life, if such changes are indeed necessary. Finally, my ultimate desire for Brianna is that she be able to achieve forgiveness, reconciliation, and restoration between herself and those whom she has harmed or have harmed her. Disclosure of her full identity to people whom she does know is most likely to serve as a barrier to that goal. Thus, for what little good publicity could do (which I believe there is none), it is likely to do much more harm.

  • p9244

    I feel sorry for you. In addition, I hope your friend Brianna is out there with her head held high without you. This was a disappointingly sad blog to come across. Especially in this day & age with internet bullying as bad as it is. 

  • ZachariahWiedeman

    I feel sorry for people who comment on blogs they have obviously not read. Not one word in this blog even remotely resembles internet bullying (way to slap actual victims of internet bullying in the face). In fact, I what I wrote is the exact opposite of “bullying.” Zero points for competence.

    I also feel sorry for people who are such cowards they find it necessary to pen their comments using fake names “p9244” and fake email addresses. You used butt[at]aol.com – I can only assume this is a reference to where your comment came from. Zero points for courage.

    Ironically, the closest thing to “internet bullying” here is your own comment. Your IP address traces to Des Planes, IL – so it is very possible that you are a friend of Brianna’s, meaning that you didn’t just “come across” this blog, you intentionally came here to harass me – which would explain why you would prefer to remain anonymous. Whether you know Bri or not is besides the point, though – what you wrote (directly to me, I might add) was obviously intended to provoke and belittle. THAT is internet bullying. Zero points for integrity.

    I only approved your comment so that your behavior would serve as an example to those who would consider engaging in similar actions. Perhaps someone else with a sense of honor and propriety will see this example and think twice before they engage in ignorant, cowardly, and hypocritical flaming.

  • Are we reading the same blog? This doesn’t look like internet bullying to me. Zachariah shows remorse for how he hurt her and he is encouraging everyone to pray for her so that she will feel better. 

     Zachariah, I am glad things are looking up for you. God bless you.

         -Paula

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