Reflective Meandering

Thoughts on faith, people, politics, travel, and transition.

Suicide

Yesterday, I learned that a kid died. He didn’t have cancer, or a disease, or die in a car, plane, or train accident, he took his own life. Suicide.

I’ve had a hard time processing his death. I didn’t know him, but I am an acquaintance of his father. I sat under his father’s teaching. If there’s one thing I know, it’s that his dad loved him dearly – he talked about that boy all the time. From an outsider’s view, his family was involved in his life and cared for him deeply. He was a handsome 15 year old. He played football and had a steady girlfriend. The day he took his life he tweeted “So happy rn.”

What causes a person to take his life?

Like a lot of pre-teens, there were times in my childhood when I wondered whether everyone would be better off if I were dead, times when I imagined a world without me and thought my family and friends would be better off in that world. But, I never actually attempted to take my life and thus, I cannot imagine what brings a person to do so.

Over time, I learned to hate the idea of suicide, even advocating against euthanasia. I remember a few years ago talking with a few friends about whether we would want to live with a terminal illness or would prefer death. My friend said he’d drive his truck over a cliff instead of dying without dignity, having a disease claim his mind or body. But, our bodies and our ends are not our own. God has lessons. God has lessons for me and the people around me as I struggle through life, whether with health, pain, diabetes, or some other disease. There is purpose in that struggle. It sucks, but there is a reason for it and those reasons are so much bigger than we can even imagine.

In Isaiah 55:8-9, the Lord says, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways…. As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

It sucks, sometimes it sucks big time, but the struggle is not in vain and the struggle does not define us, our relationship with Christ defines us. In our times of desperation, I know it’s difficult to remember, but, even then, God has not forgotten us. Luke 12:6-7 says, “Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God. Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

YOU ARE WORTH MORE THAN MANY SPARROWS!

You have so much value not because of how you look, or how talented you are, or what other people think of you, but because you are created in the image of God. (Genesis 1:27)

The Lord told the Israelites, “For I know the plans I have for you… plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:11-13. He was referring to a specific promise here, but the same rings true for us. He has great plans for each of His children, He desires an intimate relationship with each of us, a relationship cultivated through prayer. Cry out to Him in your desperation. He wants to direct us through His written Word and the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

If you are considering suicide, I beg you to please reconsider.

One of the reasons I wouldn’t even consider euthanasia is because there’s something especially devastating about a person choosing to leave her loved ones. If death steals me in the night, that’s one thing, but I will fight it. I will fight for life with my loved ones, and not as much for me, for I know that Jesus has gone to prepare a wonderful place for me, but for my family.

People have chosen to leave me, from best friends to boyfriends, and there’s something that affects us deeply when a person chooses to leave. I don’t want suicide to be my legacy. I want to be remembered as a fighter. You can fight too, whatever you’re going through, you can fight until you no longer have fight within you.

Never. Give. Up.

It may feel like rain today, but the sun will shine again. Until then, “run with perseverance the race marked out for [you], fixing [y]our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before Him He endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider Him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.” Hebrews 12:1b-3.

It’s a tragic and difficult world we live in, but we have access to the One who has overcome the world, we have access to His power and goodness.

Choose life; choose Christ; choose to run with perseverance.

But, don’t run alone, talk to someone. It may not feel like it right now, but people love you; lots of people love you – people you’ve never met and people who have known you a lifetime. People want to know your struggles; they have struggles too. It’s okay to share you fears and your thoughts with the people who are investing in you – teachers, preachers, parents, or older siblings. If you are considering suicide, tell someone, anyone. Give someone the chance to love you back to a desire for life, because YOUR LIFE MATTERS!

You matter, and you are loved. Please, choose life.

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The Origin of Hope

Awhile back, my pastor did a series on believing the Lord. He would ask, every week, whether our lives conveyed that we truly believed God’s Word. I really began to struggle with the series. I do believe in God. I do believe that His Word is infallible and inspired by Him. I believe it, but I’m not so sure my life always reflects that I believe it.

I distinguished for myself a difference between trusting the Lord and believing what He says is true.

I believe that what He says is true, but I stink at putting my trust in God, hoping in Him. This became so very clear to me after the hubs and I got back from our honeymoon. See, before our wedding, I quit my job and moved my things to the hubs’ place, now our place. I traded in my litigation attorney card for a stay-at-home wife card.

I expected the transition to be difficult. We discussed my apprehension about this transition during pre-marital counseling, but having that discussion didn’t make it any easier. I’ve been a working girl for a long time. From babysitting and cutting grass to my first real job in 10th grade, I’ve had an income for a very long time. God provided it – the income and the opportunities that brought the income – but, in my heart, I treasured having earned that income, and those jobs. So, what do I treasure now that I have neither?

Right now, I’m just a wife; I don’t even have a child to tend to. I sit at home every day, between runs to the grocery store, and write blogs, look up recipes, look for new jobs, clean, and cook. I consider my wifely duties, serving my husband, my job right now. However, I’ve also burdened the hubs – unbeknownst to either of us – with being my hope and satisfaction.

Don’t get me wrong, husbands have a role in encouraging their wives, and the hubs is fantastic in so doing. Last night we had a couple of friends over dinner. Multiple times the hubs told me how wonderful the house looked and dinner tasted and how great I was at entertaining our company. He has been so encouraging about my work around the house and having dinner ready and I feel so blessed to have married a man who so appreciates me and my contributions to our little family.

The problem is, I don’t value what I’m doing as much as he does, but still, I put the burden on him to make me feel hope and satisfaction in the fulfillment of my duties.

He is so gracious and appreciative, but I find fault in that he’s not satisfying my every desire for communication, or social interaction, or some other need-of-the-moment. I’ve made him my one hope and both, fortunately and unfortunately, he cannot satisfy my every need.

The hubs is an amazing man who is doing an amazing job providing for us while I am out of work, but I have put a burden on him that is not his yolk to bear, and that he is not capable of carrying – I have looked to him to be my hope. However, it is God’s burden to bear – He wants to be my hope.

Romans 5:1-6 says, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly.”

Paul, who wrote Romans, also wrote in II Thessalonians 2:16-17, “May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”

My hope and encouragement can and should be sought in God. He is the one who is faithful to complete every good work HE begins in me. Philippians 1:6. He has written me love letters that I could read time and time again. He wants to hear from me every minute of the day (and He won’t interrupt with kisses!).

My husband is so sweet and a most amazing man, but he can’t lift the loneliness that sets in while he’s at work, or remove the burden of my heart from being a financial drain (no matter how many times he sweetly tells me not to worry about the finances, that’s his job), or otherwise make me feel hope and satisfaction in my every day. Really work and winning cases couldn’t either. I had moments of satisfaction that eased the pain of seeking self for satisfaction, but it wasn’t the kind of true satisfaction and peace that I have experienced during times in my life where I’ve been completely focused on the will of the Lord and on having His eyes and seeking His heart. There’s a hope and satisfaction that only comes from seeking the face of a holy God who sent His only son to die on a cross so that I could be sanctified and could live in a relationship with Him, the Big Guy, God.

The hubs can’t be here 24/7, and getting a job won’t cure the lonely heart I feel during the lull of a slow day with few errands, BUT seeking the face of God will. May we ever be faithful to seek Him fervently.

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Newlyweds

When we were prepping for our wedding, folks would ask me what I wanted or how they could help and I would often joke, “I’m not sure, I’ve never done this before.” I thought I was done saying that after the “I do,” but boy was I wrong.

Not only had I never planned a wedding before, but I’ve never been married before, I’ve never had a male roommate before (I’ve never shared a bed with a female every night, for that matter!), I’ve never been out of work before, I’ve never lived in the big apple before, and I’ve never tried all of that at once before. This whole marriage thing is something that, truth be told, I was a little nervous about, and truth be told, is not easy.

I knew that it was gonna be tough going into it though. It seems like everyone we talked to about marriage told us how great it is and how hard it is, and everyone was right on both accounts.

I knew from the day that the hubs and I started dating (for the second time) that I didn’t want to be married to anyone else, ever. I knew that he was The One. He was made for me: he compliments me in every way, he is patient with me, and loves me like I’ve never been loved before, but there were moments, passing moments, when I thought that maybe I just shouldn’t get married at all.

I knew even before we were engaged that marriage would be hard. After all, I am Type A. I like what I want to be done, done, done my way, and done in my timing. I’m selfish, opinionated, and passionate. I want to be lead, but I also like to run the show. I want to be cared for, but I am also independent. I like to hang out with folks, but I also like to be by myself. I like to be taught, but I question everything and like to learn things for myself, too; and, I’m always right. I joked with a friend the other day that when I first started dating the hubs, I took him on a roller coaster ride that now he gets to ride for the rest of his life.

I was scared to get married because I knew my faults and was unsure that the hubs would want to look over those for the rest of my life, and frankly, I was scared how the Lord would use our marriage to sculpt me into a better person, to glorify himself.

I may be quirky and difficult, but I like me. I am self-aware, but I’m also confident. I was told by more than one person, and read from more than one book, that God uses marriage to sharpen us, to mold us, to change us, and I didn’t want to change; I still don’t. But, you know, God has ways of nudging us to follow Him, even when we don’t want to. (Watch this little girl tell Jonah’s story: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4VrujheblY)

The fact is, only having been married for a month, I’ve seen God work to grow me in His truths. Instead of embracing the opportunities He’s provided me to practice being patient, I’ve chosen to become easily hurt and angered; instead of responding to the hubs in kindness, I seethe and recount his past wrongs; instead of being grateful for his willingness to work long hours to provide for us (remembering that I’m without a job), I am jealous of the time he spends at work and with his co-workers. See I Corinthians 13, this is not love. I am derelict in my duty to him, to protect our relationship and to foster trust, hope, and perseverance… and, I’m only one month in!

I feel like the folks C.S. Lewis discusses in The Screwtape Letters, here’s an excerpt of one in which I identify qualities of myself in the woman the demon is being educated on how to effectively tempt (remember when reading that it’s a letter written from one demon to another, and the Enemy referenced is actually God, or the Holy Spirit):

The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished-one day, I hope, will be-to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sign and a smile “Oh please, please…all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast”. You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, “Oh, that’s far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it”. If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.

The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the “All-I-want” state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things “properly”-because her “properly” conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by her as “the days when you could get good servants” but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. If ever the Enemy introduces into her mind a faint suspicion that she is too interested in food, Glubose counters it by suggesting to her that she doesn’t mind what she eats herself but “does like to have things nice for her boy”. In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years. The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great, achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished-one day, I hope, will be-to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sign and a smile “Oh please, please…all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast”. You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, “Oh, that’s far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it”. If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.

The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the “All-I-want” state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things “properly”-because her “properly” conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by her as “the days when you could get good servants” but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. If ever the Enemy introduces into her mind a faint suspicion that she is too interested in food, Glubose counters it by suggesting to her that she doesn’t mind what she eats herself but “does like to have things nice for her boy”. In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years.

You would think having read letters like the one from which I pulled this exceprt, I’d be aware of the work of the true enemy, and would be on guard to combat his efforts with true love. Perhaps one day, but since I’ve been so ignorant of Satan’s efforts, today, I’ll cook the hubs dinner and when we sit down to eat, I’ll seek his forgiveness for neglecting to love him well. And, knowing that this isn’t the first time I’ve had to do so and probably won’t be the last, in humility, I’ll thank him for loving me so well and for allowing the Lord to work in my heart, instead of working to change me himself.

I am so blessed to be loved by a man who loves Jesus, and we are so blessed to know that we aren’t only accountable to each other, but to our Lord as well. There is so much security in having a marriage with a foundation that doesn’t move, the foundation of Christ.

 

 

If you don’t know Jesus, all you have to do is seek him. Those who seek him find him. After all, he came to make a way for you – God gave His only son that we might live in eternity with Him.

 

 

 

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