With the cold barrel of his .22 caliber pressed firmly against his right temple, Jay Lowder put his head between his legs and began to squeeze the trigger, planning to ease his pain once and for all.
Disgusted by his life circumstances, he had shattered his bathroom mirror with his fist just minutes before, not recognizing the man staring back at him through the broken glass. It was in that moment that Lowder made a conscious decision to escape his pain; the solution, he believed, was suicide.
As the distraught 21-year-old sat on his couch with blood running down his arm and his finger placed firmly on the trigger, he inched closer and closer to ending his life.
More than 20 years later, Lowder told TheBlaze in an interview this week that he can still recall the questions that were streaming through his mind: “Is this gun powerful enough to end my life?” and “If there’s a heaven or hell, which will I go to?”
“All I could see was failure, pain — a college dropout, alcohol addiction,” Lowder, now 47, said. “I so hated the man I saw in the mirror so much that I began to scream at my own reflection.”
It was on that fateful afternoon in 1987 that Lowder said he truly found himself “looking through broken glass at a broken life.”
“I could hear in my mind — it was almost as though someone was saying, ‘Go ahead end it … another voice seemed to be saying this is not what to do,” he said. “The voices of darkness seemed to overwhelm the other ones. I pulled back the hammer. I remember being afraid. My right hand was trembling in fear.”
But as he prepared to press just a little harder, something unexpected happened; Lowder heard the sound of gravel crunching under car tires in his driveway just outside the living room window.
He was intrigued enough to put down the gun and look outside, quickly realizing that it was his roommate arriving home early from work — something that he said had never happened at 12 p.m. in the middle of the day.
“[When he walked in, my roommate] said, ‘Man, it’s the weirdest thing. All these years I’ve worked for my dad. My dad’s never done this,’” Lowder recalled. “’My dad told me you’ve been working so hard, you should take the rest of the day off.’”
Lowder, who didn’t tell his roommate until weeks later what almost unfolded in the living room that day, was stunned.
“Either this is the biggest coincidence of my life or there just may be a God keeping me from blowing my brains out,” he thought.
Weeks later when Lowder’s roommate finally found out about the near-suicide, he revealed that he felt like something was off when he entered the home that day — like there was a “presence of evil,” but he didn’t vocalize it, as he said he wasn’t sure how he would have explained it to Lowder.
Lowder, a faith leader and the founder of the Jay Lowder Harvest Ministries Evangelistic Association who now works to help people who suffer through the same depression and desperation he once felt, said that his roommate’s inadvertent thwarting of his suicide was a turning point of sorts.
He also shared his upbringing, noting that he was raised in a Christian home. That said, all of his problems began when he started to fall away from his childhood faith during high school.
“I grew up in a very conservative home … I had really an incredible upbringing — parents most kids would die to have,” he said.
But that didn’t stop Lowder from straying and adopting habits that progressively worsened into his college years.
Before he graduated high school he recounted a series of difficult events in his life, including a sister who revealed she was in a gay relationship and a girl he had dated who got mixed up in the drug scene and attempted suicide. Those incidents created personal and familial problems that truly impacted him.
While Lowder decided to attend a Christian college, he ended up dropping out after landing on academic probation. Forced to leave school, he ran into his old high school friend back home and the two decided to get a rental home together.
“By this time I had really got to a place where I had a real alcohol problem in my life,” he said. “It was a way for me to somehow squelch some of the loud voices that were telling me some of the failures I was experiencing and the failure I had become.”
After moving in with this friend — the same individual who later came home just in time to inadvertently save Lowder’s life — a series of events further plunged him into depression.
“My relationship deteriorated [with another woman] … I lost my car,” he said. “My father told me if I wasn’t going to stay in school, my father took the car from me. And then I had a part time job that I lost.”
He found himself living on unemployment with nothing but time to think about his failures, so Lowder began further intensifying his drinking in an effort to drown out the pain.
“I hated who I had become … I didn’t want to be that person,” he said. “I felt like church and religion was a hoax. There was nothing that was genuine about it.”
At the same time, his roommate had recently announced that he had become a Christian, signaling major and noticeable changes in his life — positive changes that made Lowder feel even more isolated and alone.
“I saw something in him. I had known this guy for years. This guy became a completely different person,” he said. “It helped fuel the depression, because again I saw somebody else who was going places and here I was sinking deeper into the sinkhole.”
Lowder soon felt like he had nowhere to turn. Unable to hold down a job and with strained relations with his parents, the college dropout became desperate.
“It’s an inner quicksand and it just sucks you under,” he said of his feelings at the time.
At first, Lowder simply wanted to shoot himself in a nonlethal location so that he could garner sympathy from loved ones — an attempt, he said, at crying out for help. That eventually escalated though, leading him to that day in 1987 when he fully intended to pull the trigger and end it all.
But after his roommate stopped him, Lowder said he found himself thinking deeply about his life. Despite still struggling, he began making positive advances and ended up reconnecting with God at a local crusade.
While he heard a minister speak about the Christian gospel at the event, he remembers being profoundly changed, as all of the pain and suffering he had felt began to ease; everything began to make sense.
“I saw for the first time the opportunity for hope. My life could have a meaning and I could know forgiveness,” he said. “That God really cared about me.”
It didn’t take long for Lowder, who reconnected with his faith and began walking on a positive path, to transform. Even own mother soon said that she could barely recognize the individual he had become.
“My desire became to help other people, so I enrolled back in college,” he said.
Today, Lowder, author of the book “Midnight In Aisle 7,” is running a ministry to help those who face similar life challenges.
“What I learned is that my biggest tragedy became my biggest triumph,” he told TheBlaze. “Everything meant to destroy me became the platform to help other people. My story could be a catapult to help those people escape the same danger zone that I walked in.”
Find out more about Lowder here.