Karyn was on a mission of death when she entered the bathroom of her home in Michigan with a razor blade in hand. Her intent was to slash her wrists, ending years of wretchedness and suffering. Or so she thought.
One of five siblings in a dysfunctional family, 9-year-old Karen wanted out of a life of family abuse, alcohol, drugs, sex and lies. Enough was enough. She wanted out.
The frightened youngster scratched her arm with the razor. Then she stopped, afraid that if she did cut a vein – and did not die – she would feel the wrath of her mother if she didn’t clean up the blood.
“So you change your mind about taking your life,” Karyn says, adding: “You don’t know what Dad is going to do when he comes home.”
Three more times Karyn attempted suicide with a razor. But backed off each time, she says, rationalizing: “It’s not always going to be like this. Someday I am going to be out of this household; I will be able to make my own decisions and leave this life (I am now living) behind. (Then) I can be me.”
As a teenager, Karyn saw nothing wrong with her lifestyle that included drugs, alcohol and lying.
“I really didn’t think (those things) were wrong,” she says. “I really had no clue what was right or wrong. I never knew I wasn’t supposed to do something, because there was no actual reason not to do something.”
Karyn remembers the time her hot-tempered dad came home and slapped her, as he sometimes did, for something she had said to him. She retaliated by running away.
“I thought to myself, ‘It’s like he doesn’t care (for me), so I took the fire ladder that was in my room, threw it out the window, climbed down and grabbed my brother’s bike and rode it 19 miles to my girlfriend’s house,’” she says. There she stayed a couple of weeks before returning home.
Karyn ran away one more time - to Georgia with a girlfriend - before leaving Michigan for good. Her destination: Independence, Mo., to live with her older sister.
The move to Missouri had life-changing consequences for 18-year-old Karyn, who cheated death as a teenager and found new life in the Lord Jesus Christ. She later married Paul Hunting, the young man who introduced her to Christ the night she was contemplating jumping off the Noland Road bridge spanning Interstate 70 in front of a speeding semi. Death would be instant, she thought.
But I am getting ahead of the story.
After working a year at Hallmark Cards in Kansas City, Karyn found her life a vicious circle: going to work, coming home from work and going to bed, just so she could have a place to live, food and clothes. Nothing more.
“Why would anybody want to do this?” she kept asking herself. “Why am I doing this? Why not end this life now ... and get it over with. ”
She returned to Michigan to say her goodbyes. While there, she spent most of her savings. When she arrived at Kansas City International, she left her suitcases at the airport. She no longer needed them; she was going to crash her car into a speeding semi.
But God had other plans. Her car wouldn’t start. But when her brother came to the airport to retrieve his the car a day or two later, it started right up.
Stranded at KCI with a little over $100 in her purse, Karen barely had enough money for taxi fare to Independence, a night’s lodging at a motel and for two large bottles of pills that she planned to overdose on and then die in her sleep.
Again, God had other plans. As Karyn talked to a friend on the telephone from her Noland Road motel room, she was halfway listening to a TV sermon about God “in a way she had never heard before.”
Wanting to know more, Karyn found a Gideon Bible and began looking through it for answers. Karyn, however, was a surface reader. She could read every word, but she couldn’t understand it.
In frustration, she threw down the Bible and prayed that God would manifest Himself to her life. But when nothing gloriously happened, she went to bed, downing pills, believing she was going to die that night - Sept. 27, 1989.
But God had other plans. Wanting to talk to someone before she died, Karyn called 911 unaware the operator knew where the call was coming from.
“It didn’t work,” Karyn says. She was taken to the hospital for treatment in what she called “the wacko ward.”
Trying to connect with God was just the beginning for Karyn. If she had not planned to jump off the Noland Road bridge she never would have gone to a drive-in restaurant near her motel for one last meal. She would not have met two young men from Kansas City Youth for Christ, whom Karyn believes were God’s agents, who shared the good news of Jesus Christ.
They asked Karyn if she would like to accept Christ as her personal savior. She told them she would just as soon as she got home. She was true to her word.
“When I got home, I went into my bedroom and closed the door behind me. (Then) I leaned back against the wall and cried out to God: ‘Thank you so much for dying on the cross for my sins. Thank you for taking care of that for me and for loving me so much that You came to die for me on the cross. Thank you, God, for doing that for me. I believe in You.’”
“That night God became the Father I never had,” she says.
And on March 27, 1993, the man who led Karyn to the Lord - Paul Hunting - became her husband. Praise the Lord!
Retired community news reporter Frank Haight Jr. writes this column for The Examiner. You can leave a message for him at 816-350-6363.