To my readership (small though you may be),
I realize I haven’t been keeping up very well this week with the Daily Beautiful, but I will get it taken care of. In light of the events of this past week, I feel like it’s even more important to keep it going. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
I need to let you guys know exactly why I do this blog. I have to warn you, there is going to be some really, uncharacteristically, jarringly emotional material in this post pertaining to death, and specifically suicide.
I don’t do this because my life is all rainbows and sunshine, even if a fair amount of it actually is just that. I have the best family anyone could ever ask for, friends who support me and lift me up, a tight-knit community that surrounds me, and, most importantly, a God who loves me. I may struggle with some self-esteem issues, but nothing a good cry with my mother can’t fix. I live in a comfortable home which never fails to support the excess of joy that flows from it. I get to go to a Christian school where my peers and teachers care about me and support me. Yeah, my life is pretty blessed.
However, that doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its own fair share of pain. I have lost three classmates during my high school career.
The summer after my freshman year, I lost a friend to cancer that had plagued him for seven years. His death was tragic, but we didn’t have a funeral for him. We had a service of celebration for his incredible, faith-filled life. Everyone who met him could see that, even though he was just a kid, he understood God and the concept of love. His death was a time of mourning, but it brought with it immense peace. There was no doubt that he was living with his Lord and Savior for eternity.
In November of 2013, my junior year, another one of my classmates died. Nearly three weeks earlier, he had tried to commit suicide but was discovered in time to get him to the ICU. At first, we believed that, although his situation was tentative, he would pull through it. He would take a very long time to heal, and even then he’d never be the same, but at least he would live. However, there were several times where his condition became dangerously unstable which led to his death. We mourned him a total of I believe three times, thinking he was gone before he miraculously would pull through again. The entire event caused an upheaval at my school. There were so many questions asked and so many pieces to pick up. Somehow, by the grace of God, we made it through.
Six months later, less than a week ago, another of my classmates committed suicide. There was no hanging on, no time to say goodbye. It was during finals week too (not that that matters, but it seemed even more unreal). I can’t even begin to describe the pain that we experienced this school year and I don’t have words to tell you how glad I am that it’s over.
At this point, this whole post seems pretty darn contradictory to my usual happy-go-lucky attitude on this blog. It’s coming.
First of all, I can’t help but revel in the amazing love of my God. There is nothing good about death. However, God brings good things from it. Through all of these experiences, my entire class, actually my whole school and even the communities outside of it have come together so much, especially over the past year. Lots of people have been asking lots of questions about death lately, predominantly why? I have several teachers who have been absolute godsends in answering these questions, or changing them so that we are asking the right questions. There are some answers we’ll never have, but we can still have peace.
I can’t even begin to describe the amount of love I’ve given to and received from my friends this year. I didn’t even know we were capable of giving so much of ourselves away to other people, but they were all filling us right back up. The day after we learned about the most recent death, there were no classes at my school, but the building was open and the teachers were there so that people could come in and talk, but also just be with each other. People who weren’t very close to the boy who had just died but had been extremely close with the one who died in November stayed there all day. Even though they weren’t hurting quite as deeply as his close friends, they knew how much that support had meant to them earlier in the year, so they stayed.
One of my friends, who has really struggled with both of these deaths, is also an intuitively skilled piano player. She sat on the stage of my small school and coaxed healing out of the keys of a banged-up piano. She played for three hours straight, and her music could be heard throughout the school. Without any music to read from, she played every Christian song that she could think of, and so many of them applied to the situation. At one point, there were six or eight of us grouped around her while she played 10,000 Reasons and we sang our hearts out. It was such an amazing experience. Then, at his funeral, another small group of us, about six again, were standing in a circle, arms around each other, praying sporadically and crying on each other. When we finished our prayer, someone suggested singing and we once again started 10,000 Reasons. Being the typical choir kids that we are, we added harmonies and dynamics. The entire time, I was bawling, but I looked around at my precious friends’ faces and I thanked God for each and every one of them. They have helped me to heal. We finished the song and the room seemed to be waking itself up. Other people who had been sitting outside of our group thanked us. I don’t know what words to use to describe how much love and support God was injecting into that room and that song. Specifically: 10,000 Reasons, In Christ Alone, and Lord I Need You have been songs that have carried us through this year. God gave us an indispensable gift when he created music.
Also, just another little story. I work at a childcare center which means that I hear the most astonishing things from children. The first day that I went back to work after this last tragedy, I was playing in a little kitchen play-set with a four-year-old little girl. I was a teensy bit emotional that day, and so I think she could tell, like all children, that something was wrong. She asked me if I’d like anything to drink and I told her I’d love some. She “poured” a drink into a small plastic cup and handed it to me. The following narrative occurred:
me: What am I drinking?
girl: It’s love.
I almost broke down right in front of her. That was a God moment without a doubt. He can use anything, even an innocent comment from a four-year-old girl who is simply trying to serve imaginary dinner to her hurting teacher, to bring healing.
So, back to the original question, why do I do this blog? There are two reasons.
The first: God has soaked my life in blessings and I can’t help but share them. I once heard that humans love to lament about our sorrows, but rarely do we linger in our joy. I want to linger forever in the joy with which God has filled me. He has given me so much joy that I need to share it. The younger brother of my classmate who died last week bravely stood up at his brother’s funeral and read a poem. It was a poem about how he is drinking from the saucer because his cup has overflowed. I don’t know where he found the strength to say those words, but at the same time, I do. He found them in the love of God. And I’ve found them there too.
The second: I can’t let this keep happening. I don’t want any more death in my life, or in the world for that matter. I certainly don’t want any more hurting, pain, or depression. I once had a friend who told me that I try to censor life. Maybe I do, but maybe life could use to be censored. Life doesn’t need to be composed of constantly degrading words or painful relationships. I get it, we’re sinners, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try to do good things. People are fragile, which means they can be cracked, bent, and even broken. There is enough hate out there. By the grace of God and with His help, I want to make this a place where people don’t have to experience the unnecessary pain and heartache that we inflict carelessly on each other. I want people to feel love. I hope you do feel that love.
I guess that’s pretty exhaustive, but thanks for reading. Writing all of this was pretty therapeutic for me too. I know there have been a lot of people asking how I’m doing lately, and I hope this does a better job of explaining my feelings than my little sad-smile-and-nod thing has been doing. Thanks again for reading! You are a magnificent person in my book.