Left Behind: How the suicide of friends or family affects loved ones

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The death of a friend or family member is never easy, but when that person takes their own life, we may find ourselves asking, “Why? Could I have done something to have prevented this? Is this somehow my fault?” We’re left with the feeling of disbelief and anger. We may think of them as cowards, their actions as selfish, uncaring and hurtful. We try and look for clues to help us understand. We may seek counsel from other friends, family members or clergy. As believers, we want to know if the suicidal victim is in heaven, or to a worse fate than what they were facing here on earth.

This particular subject is a healing wound in my heart. You see, I had a friend of many years call me in January, 2015 to say good-bye. Her slurred speech made it difficult and frustrating to listen to. She had battled alcoholism since high school. Our conversation didn’t last too long. When she casually mentioned she was going to kill herself, I ashamedly  replied, “You’re drunk. You need to go to bed and sleep it off. I’ll give you a call in a few days” (hoping she’d be sober). We hung up. That was the last time I spoke to her. I’m embarrassed to admit I really didn’t want to talk to her if she was drunk, and most of the time, that was her state of being. Time passed. The following Christmas, I sent my usual Christmas card to her and heard nothing back. Terror set into my heart. I guess I just knew. She was big on Christmas cards. I had received one from her for more than thirty years. This year, something didn’t feel right. I called, but the phone only rang. No voice message. Again I was faced with the undeniable fear of the worst possible scenario. With the holiday season fast approaching, I became busy with all the festivities and celebrations. I would think of her from time to time, but continued to put those thoughts in a safe place for another time.  It wasn’t until March when I decided I had to know for sure if my suspicions were correct. She had never been a big computer person. She didn’t email or use face book, so I searched out one of her brother’s in hopes my intuition was wrong. At the end of the email I received from her brother, I felt my stomach turn inside out making my way to the bathroom floor, sobbing and vomiting with uncontrollable force. A flood of emotions erupted. I didn’t know what to do with them. I turned to God for solace. Immediately I felt a warmth around my shoulders and a calming sensation move from my head down to my toes. I knew it was the Lord’s comfort.  The last two months were difficult for me. I didn’t talk too much to anyone about what I was feeling since there was nothing anyone could do. I just held on to my faith and asked the Lord to help me through it all. Bring some closure, some peace. With the help of my Christian counselor, I was able to say good-bye to her this past week. This blog has helped me complete this grievous task.

What is Truth?

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It seems as though America has lost its way in its understanding as to what truth really is. The bible’s definition is that the truth must be consistent with God and with scripture. Truth should never change and never be up for debate or discussion. Truth is the way things are and, truth is who God is.
To deny truth, we in turn, deny God. Americans that claim to be Christians are engaging in pre-marital sex, cohabitation, having multiple children by multiple partners out of wed-lock, defending homosexual lifestyles, the right to abortions, assisted suicide and the list goes on. Most recently, we’ve been asked to accept another person’s definition of their own gender and allow them to use a bathroom of the gender in which they, “identify” rather than with the genitalia they were born with. Secular society shows denial of God by proclaiming, “I was born with the wrong body parts. I’m supposed to be a woman (or a man).” By outwardly denying God as the creator, those who struggle with their sexual identity can now claim a biological mishap, and the rest of the country must accept this as truth. This is an example of how our society’s values and morals have declined over the past six decades. By switching from a biblical to a secular view of truth, we turn to our own human knowledge that can determine truth. Unlike the biblical truth, secular truth is ever changing. What’s true for you may not be true for me. Secular societies or non-Christian people are enamored with human philosophies because philosophy is based on nothing but speculation and theory which can change with the times and those who hold political power or control the media.
From a Christian perspective, truth means nothing apart from God. God is the source. Without God, you have no foundation. Nothing else should be more important to Christians than God’s truth. If you don’t have truth, you have nothing. Churches should not be re-defining truth just to adhere to the politically correct agenda. We should love truth and want it as part of our life. How can we call ourselves disciples if we don’t hold true to the teachings of Jesus? We cannot separate God and truth. People today are repudiating God by redefining our culture. They don’t want rules and regulations to guide their lives. They want the freedom to do what they want, when they want and with whom they want.
Christians need to stand together and hold true to their faith. We have already been told what the future holds according to scripture. Stand for what you believe in. Put on your armor of God and take up the fight to protect yourself from Satan’s power.

The Prodigal Son: Who Do You Identify With?

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At my church, we have trainings for  members who want to serve in different ministries. They call it, Discipleshift (not mis-spelled) Training. Throughout the day we have small break out sessions, activities and exercises to better assist us with complicated issues that we as Christians and the church face. This training also goes deep and we learn a lot about our own personal relationship with our family, friends, co-workers, God and ourselves.  One of the exercises that brought me to tears and a deep pain I had been harboring since childhood was the parable of, “The Prodigal Son” (Luke 15:11-31). Here is my abridged version:

The youngest son tells his father to give him his share of the estate. He wanted to go out into the world and experience life. His father gives him his share. Of course the young man squandered all of his wealth on wild living. Soon, a severe famine his the country and the young man had to resort to hiring himself out to a farmer to feed the pigs and tend the land. He realizes the pigs were eating better than he was and decides that he will return home and humble himself to his father in hopes he could just be a servant.  When the father sees him in the far distance, he runs to his son, embraces and kisses him. He instructs the servants to bring his best robe, ring and sandals to put on his son and then to slaughter the fattened calf. This was to be a celebration that his youngest son has returned home.  

The older brother was still out in the field working. When he came near the house, he could hear the music and laughter. He asks one of the servants what was happening. He learns that his brother had returned home and they were celebrating. The older brother was angry and refused to go inside. His father comes out and pleads with him to come and celebrate. The eldest son then points out the obvious, that it was he who had stayed and worked while his younger brother went off and wasted all the money. The father says to him, “My son, you are always with me and everything I have is yours But we had to celebrate and be glad because this brother of yours was dead and is alive and again; he was lost but now is found.” 

Who do you best relate to in the story, and why? I related to the oldest brother, but not for what might be the obvious reason. Those who chose the older brother related to feeling angry that he was the responsible brother that stayed home and helped his father while his younger brother left the family, took his money and went off on his own. Instead of consequences, the father welcomes him home with open arms and a celebration. As I speak as the eldest son, my resentment was that my father didn’t even consider me at the moment of recognizing my brother. He didn’t run to get me and share with me the good news. Instead, I was left in the field continuing to work.  Forgotten. It wasn’t until I asked about the commotion was I informed of the festivities. It was though I was an after thought.

Once I realized how this story upset me, I identified some of my childhood resentment. Often times, I did feel left out.  I was ten years younger than my sister, coupled with the fact I was too young to participate in the activities they enjoyed.

Our Lord never abandons us. He enjoys the fact that we want to spend time with Him. Because of the Lord, I am able to let go of the anger and resentment I held on to for so many years. I honestly don’t believe my mother nor my sister were intentionally trying to hurt me. The reality is, there were many events with my mother that didn’t include my sister.

I am so grateful that I have a God who loves me unconditionally. Through Him, I am able to forgive those who hurt me in the past. I have grown so much in Christ that all the “little” things that used to eat me alive, really don’t matter at all anymore. Grace be to God!

Who do you identify with and why?  I’d love to hear what you have to say.