Thinking Out Loud

January 20, 2011

Before You Take Your Life

You know who you are.

I don’t know what combination of events over days, months or even years has brought you to this place right now, right this minute, of reading these words; but if the five words at the top of this article arrested you in your tracks somehow, then this is for you.

As I type this, some friends of ours are dealing with a situation for which we had hoped there would be a very different outcome.  There is great sadness, all because someone was going through a tough time, and perhaps, as we do in tough times, was looking for an exit sign.

Not finding one, they created their own exit.

I believe in a lot of things.  I am a person of many strong convictions.  And yes, some of those are spiritual convictions; the kinds of things I am going to wager that you’ve already heard about many times.

But I’m also a believer in legacy.  And I’m not sure that this is the legacy you want to leave.  They might find kind words to say in eulogy and remember good times upon reflection, but anytime your name is mentioned, it would be indelibly marked with the mental notation, “That’s the person who took their own life.”

Don’t do it.

The annals of history are filled with stories of people who reached the point of despair at which you find yourself right now; but people who pushed past that point and now live to tell the story.  When you’ve reached bottom, they will tell you, then you’re at the point where you can only look up.

My friend Ray, a former body-builder once said to me, “Paul, I know exactly what you went through in gym class in high school.  You started running and then as you started huffing and puffing you realized you were tired and decided to just walk.  Everyone else pushed past their tiredness and finished the course.”

Pushed past.

Kept running.

Kept going.

Even when it hurt.

Even when it seemed impossible.

I believe that God specializes in the impossible.  He says, “Call me and I’ll show you an answer that you didn’t think of.” I truly and honestly believe that. There are answers, and solutions, and hope even in the deepest darkness in which you find yourself presently consumed.  Answers you simply haven’t seen yet. Jesus said, “Get away from it all with me and you’ll recover your life.”

God will make a way, where there seems to be no way.  Please watch this video. And then click back here.

I know there’s someone reading this right now, and you’ve never heard that God loves you.  Hear it now.  The God who created the universe loves you.

To all the hearts that have been broken
To all the dreamers with abandoned dreams
To everyone in need of a friend
You are loved!  You are loved!

To all the rebels wounded in battle;
To all the rockers that have lost that beat;
To all the users all used up;
You are loved!  You are loved!

God’s love is real and unconditional and available to you right this minute.  You prayer can be as simple as, “God, have mercy on me.”   Here’s a prayer that I’ve prayed many, many times myself:

God.
I’m broken
I don’t know what do.
Oh, God.
I’m broken
I’m broken before You.

Sometimes I’m thinkin’ that I’m never gonna see the light.
Fear what tomorrow may bring.
But then I remember what you said in your word;
‘There’s a time to laugh, a time to sing.’

God.
I’m aching.
It cannot be denied.
Oh, God.
I’m hurting.
I’m hurting deep inside.

It’s raw, it’s honest and it’s very transparent.  Just a scared person crying out to God.

And I believe he meets me every time I cry out to him.

And I believe he will do the same for you.

Push past.

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May 8, 2010

The Grief Ripple

Filed under: Christianity, Faith — Tags: , , , , , , , , , — paulthinkingoutloud @ 12:56 pm

A year ago at this time I was asking blog readers to join us in praying for Ben Elliott, an 18-year old who was stricken with leukemia.   Ben and my oldest son Chris were briefly in the same Sunday School class together.    Sadly, Ben’s body lost the fight; it would be wrong to say that Ben did, Ben really didn’t lose anything.

But his family definitely felt a loss.   In the time leading up to Ben’s death, his mom, Lisa, kept a Facebook page going titled “Pray for Benjamin Elliott.”   In it she chronicled all of the medical and emotional highs and lows of Ben’s battle with this disease.   Afterward, she kept posting articles and the page was renamed, “The Ben Ripple.”   Like the concentric circles radiating from the a center, there have been many, many ripple effects from all who were involved in or heard about Ben’s life and passing.

My wife forwards these to me, as I’m not on Facebook, and I was struck by something this week that was so trivial that Lisa had placed it in parenthesis.   I want to release it from its parenthesis for your consideration:

…Have you ever given thought to the fact that there’s no word to define a grieving parent? Someone who has lost parents is called “an orphan”. Those who have lost spouses are called “widows” or “widowers”. But there is no word that depicts what it is to be someone who has lost a child. Hmmm

In all of the debate over the doctrine of God in The Shack, many people missed the author’s primary purpose:  Dealing with “the great sadness” that presents itself in many of our lives.    It may be a loss such as Lisa and her family must deal with.   It may be relationship that ended, or one that never happened, or the one you’re in that leaves you totally unfulfilled.   It may be the children you lost in childbirth, or were never able to conceive.   It may be the opportunity that passed you by, the business that failed, the promotion that you didn’t get.    No matter what, many have a “great sadness” in their life, and often find ourselves saying, as Lisa put it so well:

There’s no word to define it.

All we can do is cry out to God:

And the Holy Spirit helps us in our distress. For we don’t even know what we should pray for, nor how we should pray. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words.  And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will.   (Rom 8: 26-27)

If you wish to read some very well-written expressions of a mother’s pain in the loss of a son, I cannot recommend Lisa’s page enough. Unfortunately, there’s nowhere online I can direct you at this point, other than to join the Facebook group and subscribe to future items.   If you live in Ontario, Canada; Lisa is available as a public speaker for events including all-day women’s retreats.

If you got here from WordPress or Google tag-surfing, and you’re going through your own great sadness, let me encourage you not to “write off” Jesus just because of some previous experience with church or organized religion.    Speak to him in prayer, believing he hears our cries, and trust him to meet you in some way.   Leave a comment here and I’ll send you some off-the-blog possible next steps.

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