Loving isn’t for the faint. It’s for the courageous.
Three years ago, I wrote a blog about a man named Matthew Paquette, the lead singer of Canadian metal band, who had committed suicide at the age of 20.
Because Matthew was an atheist, the responses I got were mostly negative. One anonymous said, “Don’t bring your miserable God into this. God cannot guide, only mislead. He killed himself through free will. Only brain dead, stubborn, ignorant people believe in, and live, their lives according to God.” But, there were also very encouraging comments that outweighed all the negativity. One person said, “I am borderline atheist/Christian and one thing I know, whether God is real or not, is that the work and life of somebody with a Christian mindset will go a lot further and do a lot more good than someone that goes denouncing others’ faith, positivity or love.”
I want to revisit this post, simply because the subject of suicide pulls at my heartstrings and is something I still remain passionate about. Whether someone is an atheist or not, everyone needs a love to save them, because love is the only thing that can.
When I looked at Matthew’s memorial photo that night, a wave of sadness washed over me even though I didn’t know of him or his band. I simply couldn’t shake off a feeling of deep sorrow. All these questions started buzzing around in my head: Why did he do it? What about his friends and family – did he not find any of them worth living for? He was just so young.
All these thoughts then started to get me thinking about the bigger picture. How many young people take their own lives because of depression, because of people who tease them, because they don’t feel pretty enough, smart enough, or not enough at all? I think about all the people I’ve read about and who I have known who have killed themselves because they lose hope, and it pains me. I believe that suicide is one of the most saddest aspects of our world and our country today. Every week, ten Kiwis commit suicide, and as much as I can pray, wish and hope that this number will decrease or that everyone can experience a love that will save them, the truth is, many of the people around us are screaming for a way out, and we don’t even know it.
My life is a story of a redeeming God who has saved me in all the ways a person can be saved. The feeling of being suicidal is an experience I am all too familiar with. When I was going through my deepest depression at 16, I wouldn’t get out of bed for days. I was crushed by my family problems and my past was haunting me. I felt unloved and alone, and I couldn’t find any reason to get out of bed. There have been many times since then that I lost the will to live, and it was in those times that dark and hopeless thoughts of suicide filled my mind.
In all those moments that I felt abandoned, and even though all I could do was cry, I would always sense a strong presence around me that I can’t do justice to explain. It wasn’t faint. It was strong and it was love. Every time I thought about all the ways to end my life, suddenly this presence would remind me of my loved ones and I would shake myself and step away from it all. I’m so glad that I did. Like someone once said, suicide doesn’t take away the pain, it just passes on the pain to others.
I believe that God saved my life, but I also believe that he did this through a close friend of mine. I feel incredibly blessed to have had a friend who was walking beside me the entire time I was walking through that valley. I know I would have been one step further to hurting myself if she wasn’t so. She was the only person I could unload my deepest and darkest thoughts to. I told her I felt suicidal – and she cried with me, she encouraged me and she loved me throughout it all. In all honesty, some days she was the only thing that kept me going on like I did. She told me once, “Don’t lose hope, for it is the anchor of your soul.” And I never have.
In my life, I have experienced abandonment and abuse again and again. But knowing that I have fiercely loyal, encouraging and loving friends like her in my life who will always be there to pull be back from the pits of death is a blessing I feel endlessly grateful for. It was this that made the difference. It is this that makes me choose life over death and hope over despair.
How sad to think of the people in this world who have killed themselves because they have never known this kind of friendship! And maybe people did care for them, but just not enough. I want to be that kind of person that cares a little too much for someone. We can all be that person for someone. That anonymous commenter is right. Our faith is built upon love, and it is love that helps us change lives. The world desperately needs those kinds of souls – real, genuinely loving souls. Let’s be authentically loving friends to those around us who are hurting. To be…
A person who loves without judgement or condition.
A person who takes the time to listen and empathize with people, even the checkout lady.
A person who is willing to help someone in need, whatever the sacrifice.
A person whose words flow with love, hope, grace and healing.
A person who hugs and doesn’t let go unless let go of first, as if to say ‘I’ve been waiting a long time to do this. You are worth it. You are loved.’
A person who will cry, laugh, smile and feel pain, all the times you do.
A person who will take a firm hold of your hand, as if to say ‘I care, I really do.’
A person who welcomes the people they meet with arms open wide, and treat them as though they are precious, beautiful and worth every sacrifice. Because they are, and they have already been ransomed for.
I know God created and purposed us to show all these things, and more. I know every time we do those things, a person’s faith in humanity is restored, hope has a little more meaning, and life is a little more worth living. And oh, if it saved a life!
Everybody can use more love. Do not take offense if people are rude or unkind or seem like they are trying to hurt your feelings. You cannot know what is happening with them. Send them love no matter how they act. It will come back to you many times over as increased love in your life.
I believe we were taught to love to bring people out of a hell of depression, sadness and loneliness where death seems like the only option to escape from it all; to bring them to a place where hope conquers all things; to bring them to a place of freedom in God; and to a place where life has meaning, everyday.
For those who are are thinking of killing themselves,
for those who are questioning what their worth is,
for those who are losing faith in humanity,
for those who are fighting for a line of hope,
we will rise and love with vengeance.
Who’s with me?