I love Jesus but I want to die

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Are not words I hear here …

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I love Jesus but I want to die:
what you need to know about suicide”

 

Sarah of “beautifulbeyond” writes words every church should hear – that every church should read.  The full post is here please read it – please hear her words.  

and here is why …

“I remember my colleagues’ faces as my words sunk in. They had never heard what it’s like to be suicidal and they started to understand, at least a little. And I’m reminded how little the church knows about depression and suicide.

We are called to be the light of the world, a refuge for the broken and weary. But if we don’t understand the darkness people endure, it’s much less likely we’ll reach them in it. So here are some things every Christian should know about suicide and depression … “

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“In 2013, a Lifeway Research study found that nearly 50% of evangelicals believe that prayer and Bible study alone can conquer serious mental illness. Unfortunately, this mistaken belief prevents people from seeking the help they need.

I know this firsthand. No matter how many times I recited verses, asked for healing, and did all the other things I was supposed to do, I still had an illness. I wasn’t miraculously healed.”

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The disease lies. When healing doesn’t come, it’s easy to believe that God has left. And if we’ve been taught that depression and suicidal thoughts are sinful, selfish, or displeasing to God, we may believe he’s right in abandoning us.”

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“This is why we need to treat depression and suicide with the same compassion we treat other serious health issues. Kindness and encouragement from other believers are rich and powerful; they prove the presence of God and demonstrate his unshakeable love.”

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Sarah writes of hope and healing.  Sarah writes with knowing.  She bares herself with great courage – the courage of love … so that you and I might connect with those who can’t … love better those who desire love and hope … and embrace those the Lord deems us ready to embrace.

Because Sarah’s reality is this …

We pretend.  We avoid those who make us confront our own pretending.

We need Sarah’s words because we have been taught to pretend.

That we cannot let Him (or ourselves) down.  That in our church no one is “that” depressed … In our church no one would ever be that bad because we would know.

We pretend.  We pretend we would know.  And in the pretending we pass by on the other side never realising we have.

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So often, all it takes to save a life is being Jesus to us – being present, being loving, and being light. Christ is “in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). You don’t need answers or to be able to fix it. You just need to be present, perhaps help set the doctor’s appointment or just listen. Just be aware of those hurting. Just be kind.

Depressed and suicidal people just need you to enter the dark and sit there with us, your love unchanged. You could be his arms to hold us, his hands to feed us, his voice to tell us we’re not alone. Your love and kindness are more powerful than you know.”

 

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Sarah shared this post in an email and closed her email with a PS …

“P.S. This may be the most important thing I’ve ever written – it’s certainly the most honest. It would mean the world to me if you would take a few moments to read and share this article.”

The Lord deemed me ready to embrace Sarah’s words.

I know you are as well.  So why not let Sarah know?

Thank you.

Paul

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What is your message?

We all have a message. God has made us each unique and accounted for. We have our own victories and struggles, and we need to be able to own all of it. 

I have tried to write for twenty-four hours and just couldn’t. Sometimes I am just stifled by the world. Many times I just can’t figure out what the heck is wrong with me. If I suffer, I shouldn’t be suffering, I should have joy. I shouldn’t talk about the pain in the world, or the pain I’m feeling. My message should be supplanted by the one you have for me, your ideas of what God has for me. I couldn’t figure out what was wrong with me on the inside. I know what’s wrong on the outside. God wouldn’t let me write, and well for good reason. I was trying to write someone else’s message. 

The Jennifer Fulwiler show as I have mentioned so many times before is a source of light for me.  It’s inspirational as it is funny, eclectic, deep thoughts through a Christian lens. But it’s real, it’s who God called her to be. I appreciate it for introducing me to people I would otherwise have never known about, but also for the subtle messages that God provides through Jen’s microphone. I listened to the on demand episode from yesterday, and in the midst of the two hours of taking my mind to a secluded island, I found a gem. Jen had this to say after an interview with a local Christian rapper:

“The message that God calls you to put out there, just do it.”

It was like a knock to the head. What? It’s o.k. to be me? I can talk about suffering? I can talk about ugly things?

I had to reflect on that a bit. What is my message? What am I trying to get across?

And that led me to a song that someone gave me when I first found Jesus. He had listened to it himself and told me that when he heard the song, he swore it was written about me. When I was first introduced to it, I listened to it on repeat five hundred and one times because every word of it was sacred. It was the story of my life…

You must listen to it yourself to understand its depth, but its theme is unmistakable. Why do people think there’s something wrong with me because I am me? Because I question? Because I wonder if there’s a God who cares about me?  Did anyone ever consider that this is just the way God made me? Here are a portion of the lyrics:

Maybe this was made for me
For lying on my back in the middle of a field
Maybe that’s a selfish thought
Or maybe there’s a loving God

After hearing Jen’s commentary today, I remembered the song. It has been a rough week and I have felt myself spiritually lying in that field, questioning, while others think that I shouldn’t be. And I realized, that’s ok.

My message through my writing, my talks, my ministry, my conversion has never changed. I can’t help that. I can’t help that I’ve experienced trauma or that I hate being a working mom or that my son has ADHD or that the world sucks. I can’t help that I cry every time I see a homeless person or an abused child. I can’t help that I identify with the suffering and pain of Christ and it’s where I feel closest to him. My message will never change- It’s o.k. not to be o.k.

There are people out there who need to hear that. That it’s o.k. to cry or be an atheist because you believe God killed your mother. Why are we always trying to save people? Why can’t we let them go through whatever they are going through, why are we always stifling suffering?

I realize that the reason I wrestle so much is because people are uncomfortable with suffering. They don’t want to talk about the hard stuff. They don’t want to hear about my sexual abuse or how it effected me, or my son’s disability or how the things I see at work everyday in the criminal justice system affect me. I work in suffering. I am in the business of suffering. And when I read the next report and the next report that comes in about another suicide or rape, I silently close my eyes, and pray. I understand…

I urge you to think about your own message, your uniqueness. The person maybe you think you’re helping but really are alienating. How you may be trying to play the role of Jesus.

Listen to the song…

The Grave of the Unknown climber

“Does the master break down doors to enter his own home?” Teilhard de Chardin, Hymn of the Universe

“The Lord remembered her,” (speaking of Hannah, 1 Samuel 1, Old Testament)

The Matterhorn in all of its splendor

Sometimes, all we want to feel is that we matter. Our work goes unnoticed, our family forgets us and our friends sometimes expect more of us than what we are able to give. Next to happiness and satisfaction, what I have found most in my journey is that people are looking to be acknowledged, and loved. That may actually be a part of happiness and/or satisfaction but generally I find it separates itself somewhere between Italy and Switzerland.

Sometimes as Christians, we are guilty of misinterpreting the “I must decrease and he must increase, “it’s all Him and none of me,” or “I must totally empty myself of myself” way of thinking. Yes these things are all true, even for people who are not Christians but subscribe to a servant’s lifestyle of doing things for others, but sometimes we forget about ourselves in the process. There is a fine line between the two, not so much for the desire of accolades but for the desire to be acknowledged and loved for what and who we are.

I pondered this thought as I stared at a picture on the wall of the Matterhorn, a mountain of the Alps bordering Switzerland and Italy. Oftentimes referred to as “The Mountain of Mountains,” many have tried but miserably failed to climb to its summit. There is in fact a cemetery somewhere near the bottom which serves as a constant reminder of those that have tried the climb and lost their lives. The cemetery features memorial plaques and the graves of approximately fifty climbers that have made the attempt. The “Grave of the Unknown Climber” is also located in the Mountaineers’ Cemetery which serves as a memorial  to the more than 500 deaths which have taken place on the Matterhorn since 1865 as well as the missing and dead, who could not be found or completely removed after their fall. 

I don’t know what makes a man feel the need to risk his live to conquer the summit in a physical sense, but I can imagine that many of us understand it in our spiritual beings. We desire the accomplishment, the journey and hope that someone, anyone may be watching.

In our basic humanness is our need to be loved. Without divine love, we search for that in other places. Most of us operate in the temporal, from this to that. But eventually, like most of the climbers of the Matterhorn, we ourselves aren’t able to sustain the journey on our own. 

It’s ok to feel the need to want to be loved and acknowledged. God is present and real in the human beings he created, and He doesn’t make you climb a mountain to find them. For some, yes the mountain is necessary, the ascension is a tool to grab a hold of something bigger.  But as Teilhard de Chardin says in his book Hymn of the Universe,

“I thank you, my God, for having in a thousand different ways led my eyes to discover the immense simplicity of things.”

You may feel like you’re climbing a mountain in order to gain the love that you need. It may not manifest itself in the physical journey, but it certainly does in the emotional one. We are part of the “look at me!” culture and all get swept away by the need for acknowledgment. But when our souls are truly married to the creator of the universe, we are able to find that acknowledgement in Him alone.

If you’re climbing the mountain, it may be time to find a sherpa. 

Click on the Mountaineer’s Cemetery for more information about the Matterhorn

The Baptism of Silence

“John [the] Baptist appeared in the desert proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 1:4

“A happy life is not lived in anger, it is lived in peace and mercy.” 

John

This is definitely a word for someone, I have no idea who, but that is none of my concern. I, like John am simply a messenger, carrying forward words for someone to hear.

John the Baptist, a Jewish prophet, was unpopular amongst the religious elite. He was truthful and  righteous and told it like it was, not how it should be. He wasn’t concerned with people’s reaction to him, he was only concerned with relaying the message that God had given him and fulfilling his role as the one who would prepare the way for the messiah, the one that the Jewish people had been waiting for.

John, like Jesus, was not what the people had expected. He didn’t fit neatly into the culture of the time, actually he didn’t fit in anywhere. He had a clear vision and goal from God, was born for that purpose, and did not concern himself with anything else. We mostly hear about John in the shadows of the Lord, but today I hear his message, renounce your sin and you will be forgiven.

In our culture, we don’t like to talk about the unpopular point of view. You are flat-out wrong if your opinion differs from pop culture’s idea of what is right and what is wrong. If you are not guided by a stable, real truth, what do you rely on? I am not quite sure Vanity Fair, Fox News or twitter qualify as vessels for truth.

In a culture of unforgiveness and pain, people believe it is ok to be angry when you feel like it or not forgive someone when you feel like it or indulge yourself in the next best thing because you feel like it; we are swayed by the world’s promises that you can live your life however you choose. But you were not created by yourself for yourself, and I imagine that indulging yourself in cruelties is not bringing you joy, no not at all. 

The repentance for the forgiveness of sins has a harsh tone to it and is often preached in a harsh and unloving manner. It is associated most times only with Christianity, the religion of hypocrites, and there is no incentive for those that are seeking the truth of happiness and fulfillment to even look to Jesus for an answer. That view is oftentimes troubling to me, as I reflect on my own life and journey as a Jewish person whose ultimate truth-seeking found me in Jesus’s loving arms. He never scolded me for the things I had done wrong. He loved me in the midst of where I was, the last place a saint would be. 

It is a tragedy that so many are looking for ultimate fulfillment in life and cannot find it. It is a tragedy that those who live in truth and peace do not know how to extend a hand to those who are hurting. We are afraid as Christians to offend those who don’t want to hear about Jesus. But I find that it is not so much in the telling then the living that people understand and respond. John made no apologies about the message God placed so deep in his heart. And as believers, we all are aware of our purpose and message that God has placed deep within us.

The humans I encounter day in and day out are in critical condition. I remain silent. I listen and respond when they reach out, and in some cases reach out to them when I know the time is right. I don’t have to preach about Jesus or relate John’s message, I just have to be it by simply reaching out my hand and picking them up off the floor. No words are necessary.

Preach John’s message of repentance by focusing on the forgiveness. In forgiveness there is love and mercy, and repentance is the brother of forgiveness, sure to follow. John preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. For the forgiveness of sins. Read Mark 1:4 again, this time with love in your heart.