In Ann Voskamp’s book “One Thousand Gifts” this is her admission, her announcement, her proclamation. Life is loss… when, what, who will you lose? It’s not a matter of will I lose, but solely when will I lose.
*WARNING THIS IS ABOUT SUICIDE AND MIGHT BE CONSIDERED GRAPHIC
“Then the saying will come true: Death swallowed by triumphant Life! Who got the last word, oh, Death?” 1 Corinthians 15:51
In our community we have suffered the loss of 5 teens through suicide in the last 6 months. That’s been almost one a month. So, in an effort to share encouragement and to speak life into broken hearts, we are choosing to make May Suicide Awareness Month and having a huge, free concert this Thursday (June 2) with Building 429, Royal Tailor Band, and Hayley Masters!
I have a vested interest in this venture. Eighteen years and about a couple months ago, I was convinced that I would be better off dead. The heart-wrenching and overwhelming fear of my future, years of bearing the guilt and shame of a past that I couldn’t come to grips with, and the feelings of isolation and “no one will understand”, were all climaxing to a point where suicide seemed like the best choice.
Unlike some might think, one very rarely just wakes up one morning and decides to take his/her life. It’s a very deliberate murder of self. Much thought goes into this – the hows and whens and wheres actually are very well thought out. I wrestled through all of those options, and luckily for me, I lived in a foreign country where handguns were not easily accessible, so a blade or a knife to the wrist seemed to be my best bet. I had thought it through and was well aware of the “failure rate” of that type of suicide so I studied my arms and wrists intensely so that I would know exactly where to drive the blade, what blade would be best, and whether or not a knife was necessary. I chose a weekend where I knew that I would be alone in the dorm, because honestly I didn’t want a peer to walk up on the scene and be traumatized. (Strange. I thought I was being thoughtful.) I chose the community bathroom, because there was a large sink drain in the floor and I would run the water so that it would drain away the blood more quickly so I wouldn’t have to endure the sight of blood for long. I knew it would hurt my parents, and come out of nowhere for them because I had worked so hard to disguise my depression and my anguish, but I also figured that they had two other daughters that would fill that void for them. They would be fine. It was the best plan for everyone.
I remember the walk down the hall. The blade was securely in my hand, and my tears were blinding me. It felt very much like a march to the gallows…even if I was my own executioner. I turned on the light to the bathroom and made my way to the sink. I said my goodbyes in my head, I cried for each of my family members and wished my friends life’s best, then just as I was about to jerk the blade into my flesh, I saw something in the sink faucet. I was crying so I wiped away the tears thinking that I was mistaken, but then I saw that it was a face. I leaned in to take a closer look and noticed it as the precious face of my then toddler niece. Funny, I didn’t think I was going crazy. It was a welcome sight. Then I heard the following words, “For her.” The moment freaked me out. I pulled back and got angry and became once more resolved with the blade when I heard, “NO! You must LIVE for HER!” I know it sounds crazy, but I knew exactly Who was speaking to me in that moment. The Power and Authority in that Voice was so strong. I dropped the blade and fell to the floor, “God, help me! I beg of you, help me!” I heard the door creak at the end of the hall down from the bathroom. I pulled myself up from the floor and wiped my eyes. I was a master pretender. If someone were coming, they would never know what was about to happen. But, no one came. In that moment that I stood and waited for the door of the bathroom to open, all I could hear was my heartbeat, and with every beat of my heart those words echoed, “For her, for her, for her, for her…” I looked at the blade, where it had fallen just about two feet away from me, and I stared at it. I looked at the faucet, where I had seen her face. I looked at my wrists. Then, I remember, squeezing my hands in a fist, dropping them to my side, and walking out of that bathroom.
I felt two things as I made my way down that hall – “I’ve failed”… and “Now what?” I got back to my room, turned off the light, laid on my bed and waited. The next morning, there was a knock at my door. My friend, Joy Conrad, had made something for me. She brought it to my room. She laid it in my hands. It was a picture album. She had hand-stitched the front with the words “Cast all your cares upon Him, for He cares for you.” But, instead of pictures, this book held about 20 3×5 cards, and written in hand on each one of these cards was verse after verse of God’s promises to me, His love for me, His desire for me, and His purpose for me. She had no idea, but that was the beginning of a long climb out of a dark pit.
It began with that book. I found the energy to move one step into life. I acted the part of the perfectly healthy teen while I was at school or with my friends, but when I got back to my room, I would sit on my bed, facing the window, and I would sit in silence…letting my heart speak to it’s Creator. The next week, the silence turned to words. I would read those scripture verses out loud and let their power fill the room. The next week, the words were replaced with songs, simple heart-felt songs that echoed my Father’s heart back to me. We stayed in that place for a long time, singing to one another. It probably sounds crazy that I knew He was singing to me, but I knew that He was…He was singing through me and to me… and as we sang, life began to grow brighter. Slowly but surely, I began to write…my feelings, my fears, my heart, my life song…whatever I was thinking. Never knowing that He had given me my purpose in that.
Last night, as I watched and listened and my heart grieved for those lost and those desperate and those considering, I wept. But mingled in with those tears of sorrow, were profound tears of joy as I nuzzled my husband’s cheek and thanked Daddy God for rescuing my life. It’s no wonder I’m passionate about teen girls…and for the heart of broken women of all ages…it was more than for my niece that He saved me that day. He saved me for every her that He would allow me to meet…and in time He has filled me with a powerful love for them, that refuses to let them believe that they are anything less than worthy! He saved me so wonderfully that year that even the pain that came after that time, and the pain that I recently endured, and the pain that I have yet to endure, in the end, all seem worth it, because with each revelation of frailty, I’m reminded that He is Strong and He is with me, and in those moments of stillness, He is still singing over me.
On September 10, 2010 while everyone else in the country was preparing themselves for the anniversary of 9/11 and arguing whether or not a Muslim Quran should be burned, we woke to an eye opening tragedy. A young man at a local school committed suicide. The belief is that it was due to circumstances involving his pregnant girlfriend. Another young man, from the same school, killed his parents in cold blood and threatened his girlfriend with a text that she was next. After an hour or so of the school and students being in lockdown, the boy was arrested. The girlfriend was spared, school was let out and parents were called. As teen eyes blinked at the shining sky, they began to understand what had happened. The town was in a panic, the rumor mill churning, and lives were forever changed. This was written in response to the tragedy.
Our community has come face to face with the plight of this generation. After three people are dead and families are mourning and teachers are confused and youth leaders are embracing and reassuring and young girls are blaming themselves for what was not at all their fault, we can see for sure that satan is on the warpath for this generation. And for some, the spiritual battle began long before the news got out.
I know that God is with us. I have felt His love and His peace. There are people that know and understand and are impassioned to act out in defense of and in pursuit of this generation. The handwriting has been on the wall, there are signs all around us of a world of young people that are being targeted and greatly destroyed. It’s sad. There are those of us that are burdened for these kids that it takes our breath away. We are overwhelmed and tempted to be overcome but we stand up and we stand out and we beg for them to look our way because we have a message from God. We are trying to communicate the voice that we hear. We are trying to share with them just the tiniest fraction of His consuming love for them. But, we are small in number when you consider the affect that could be had.
WOE to you parents that have ignored your children for the pursuit of your pleasures.
WOE to you parents that have neglected your kids for your jobs and your schedules.
WOE to you parents that refuse to get involved and initiate conversation.
WOE to you parents that choose to blindly turn away from their problems and dismiss it as “hormones”.
WOE to you parents that would rather spend the weekends playing golf or sculpting your bodies instead of spending time with your kids.
WOE to you parents that put everyone else in your lives before your family.
WOE to you parents that think that if you don’t acknowledge it it doesn’t exist.
WOE to you parents that abuse your kids and make them feel worthless.
WOE to you parents that harm and hurt your kids to somehow make yourself look bigger and better and more powerful and strong.
WOE to you parents that wouldn’t think twice about selling your child’s body.
WOE to you parents that speak with such anger in your voices that they are scarred for life.
WOE to you parents who withhold love.
WOE to you parents that could care less.
WOE to you parents that put high expectations on your kids that they can never live up to.
WOE to you parents that are not taking your kids to church, not living like you go to church, not sharing the love of Christ, not protecting your kids.
WOE to you. WOE to me. WOE to us.
We are failing this generation. Collectively we take the blame.
Say what you will: “It’s video games”; “It’s movies”; “Its their peers”; “It’s the music”; “Its the environment.” YOU have the authority to promote, allow, or deny those things.
Satan is on the warpath. And we are the adults. I think some of us have forgotten that. We’re so busy amassing things that we aren’t treasuring our children. What’s wrong with us? We are more interested in what’s on Facebook than what is on our children’s minds. We are more interested in our kids being popular than protecting them from peer pressure. We are more interested in what’s in it for us, than what we are willing to sacrifice for them.
I say we because I too am guilty. But today, again, it became clear that this generation is in deep need of a love revolution.
Real LOVE. Pure LOVE. Christ’s LOVE.
He is the only answer for their longing hearts.
I have a gift. It’s a strange gift and it is a supernatural gift, but I asked for it and so God has given it.
I have the ability to feel what the Father feels…and what I feel, no matter what the situation is LOVE.
When the news of today hit me…His love knocked the wind out of me. He loves everyone of us so deeply. He showed me His heart, and I felt His desire, His passion, His need for us to see and to help minister to a broken and endangered generation.
This young man that killed his parents. God can use him. Has a plan for him. Longs to reach him. Yes, he did the unthinkable, but Father God loves him.
The young boy that killed himself. God loved him. His heart aches for what might have been. His heart is moved for a family that misses him and feels acutely the loss. He hurts for the parents that will bear the guilt no matter how often He tries to tell them it wasn’t their fault. He longs to make something beautiful out of tragedy that seems to have no purpose. He loves them.
The young girls that are even now blaming themselves, separately but the same, for something that they had no control over (despite the taunting of the enemy), who do not deserve this, who are not responsible, who must not believe that they are evil or guilty or unworthy or anything else the enemy haphazardly shoots to the heart. God longs to speak truth to them, His Truth, His Son. He longs to embrace them and tell them over and over they are precious to Him, they are special and they will survive. He loves them.
The educators and leaders that saw these kids, knew these kids, struggled with these kids. You did what you could. Feel no guilt, shame, blame for what has happened. You had no part in the work of satan. God needs you to keep doing what you are doing. One tragedy doesn’t mean a ministry that failed. Two tragedies does not require you to throw in the towel. He loves you and can use this to teach you that some, sadly, will not be reached. It was their choice, free will took its stand.
The students and friends that are left in shock over this. You are not alone. The fear that you feel surfacing, the tears that you cry, the confusion that you can’t shake, He sees, hears, and knows it all. He loves you so much and wants you to see that life is not guaranteed. Eternal life is, in Christ Jesus. His Son that He gave up for you because HE LOVES YOU SO!
Parents, yes, this generation is different. They have to be. It’s a rougher world they are living in. That rebellion that refuses to conform can be a good thing if shepherded. They are creative and inspirational and entertaining and charismatic. Their music is different. They like tattoos. They experiment with hair styles and funky clothes and they find our generations fads worthy of repeating! Let them be who they are, but instruct them in the ways of wisdom and self control. Wait. On second thought. Just lead them to the CROSS. Jesus can handle the rest. I’m pretty sure He likes them being different. It sets them apart, and isn’t that what He desires from all of us?
Community, we are all in a state of shock, I think…but now it is the time for Christ to take center stage. It is time for us to win back this generation for Him, with His power, in His strength, and overwhelmingly share His LOVE.
Youth… Stand up. Stand out. Be counted. Live. I dare you to forget this day ever happened and go about your daily lives as if we are not on the battle field. Your apathy or your defeat will affect more than you…it will fail the next generation that is desperate for help, hope, love and instruction. And that my friends, in the words of your uber cool and anointed generation, is what we would call an EPIC FAIL.
Matthew 19:14 (Amplified)
“But He said, Leave the children alone! Allow them to come to me, and do not forbid them or restrain or hinder them, for of such is the kingdom of heaven composed.”