Level Places of One

Few chances come anymore to feel as if others are one.

Last week we had to bring in more chairs. People I had not seen in a good while and some who I had spoken to by phone but never met all arrived around the same time.

One person I had never encountered walked in bravely.

Alone, she entered a room full of strangers and found a seat cornered between two others at the corner of the table.

One other arrived a little late and I was happy he made it, told one of the regulars he’ll most likely “saunter” in.

This one elderly man, a father grieving his daughter, seated close to me smiled as if he and I shared an inside joke and whispered that was a good description of him.

I consider us friends.

The sauntering and kind gentleman called later to comment on the meeting, concerned over some of the new people, wondering if he can be available to them.

I told him I appreciate the way he helps guide the discussion and the way he’s both truthful even if hard to hear, his words as well as compassion and concern.

He thanked me.

I told him that the diversity in the stories that night, the circumstances that led to suicides and the contributing factors as well as starkly contrasting personal struggles and family make ups were evident.

But, not evidenced in any of the faces of the listeners, the words offered in comfort, comparison or even explanations possible.

It’s level ground, it’s like a mercy table, one meeting I am a part of that sees past differences and looks at the one thing.

The one thing of suicide.

One of many things I do not fully understand.

One thing I do not know.

And so I’m one with them only in my presence, one only because I am there and I’m one because neither do I understand.

I’m one with this group I lead, this group of solemn yet, steady and supportive encouragers.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The man who sauntered in closed in prayer after asking permission.

In the pause of his, I presume thinking, two ladies added their supplication. I considered being the third and all my heart could come up with was “Thank you, God for bringing these people to my life.”

I knew God would understand what I meant. I was afraid they would not.

I sat silent and I listened as the gentle man closed out his prayer for the others around the table.

Bringing the support group for those bereaved by suicide, “a club no one wants to be a member of” to a close.

Today, I’m linking up with others here, prompted by the word “One”.

One

If you or someone you know has experienced suicide loss, our group meets monthly. You can find other groups in your area by searching afsp.org.

Tomorrow is International Survivors Day. Across the country people will gather to talk, listen, be one with one another.

Info on this can be found here:

International Survivor Day

I am thankful God brought these people to me. They’ve grown me, taught me that silence is good, that I don’t always have to give my insight and that we are all one in God’s eyes, all of us humans down here.

Walks Across the Country

Yesterday, I met two vivacious young women. They were dressed in athletic type shorts revealing tan lines and their T-shirts boasted of their initiative. Its front had a logo of a bicycle and the words “wheels for mental wellness”.

Tomorrow night I’ll host a gathering, a platform for them to share their why.

I’ve heard there’s a reason, it’s because of someone in their family.

Yesterday, I walked with the largest group ever as I participated in our community’s AFSP Out of the Darkness Walk. Some of them I know, they call me Miss Lisa and friend.

I thought of them last night, hoping so badly that the day had not been too draining, that they’d know they’d done their best, always.

The woman in the red shirt’s name is Rose. I’d never have known her if she hadn’t decided to come with another mama to my office, both of them military moms, both of them mothers of sons who died by suicide.

Both of them, there today, walking proudly and purposefully. Mamas who most likely moved heaven and earth for their sons when they were little boys to grown-up men…and still, they are, they’re not letting up, walking, taking up for their boys, moving heaven and earth for them in the only way they can, still. I’m fortunate to know them, moved in lots of ways I can’t describe, my being close, not really knowing; but, close to their grief.

I hope they sleep soundly tonight knowing they gave it all they had today for their boys!

Walks are happening across the country right now if you get a chance you should join in, walk alongside another.

I’m told and I know that being there is not ever enough or maybe close to anything at all. But, it is important; important for others to simply, be there, there with them.

November Like Grace

Yesterday, the tiniest of yellow leaves were dancing down around my friend and I. We were happy to be likeminded over loving the frenzied leaves falling down, likeminded in our acceptance of our imperfections and our wonderings. We didn’t say so, but now

I think we both were thinking likely, of grace.

November, I welcomed you! Hard to say clearly why. Surely it’s not the hustle and bustle of holiday coming that makes holiday so unholy, so hurried and so “un” divine.

October felt so lengthy, intense, its work , its worries and its waiting.

November, for some reason felt like corner turning, drawing nearer to the fruition of a more solid settling.

And then yesterday and later, I heard of death by suicide and I read a sister’s story of her brother’s too soon death due to addiction.

I couldn’t, can’t stop thinking of how haphazard life can be, how some of us get tripped up and fall and get back up and safely carry on.

Sadly, not all.

Some make it, find the resolve to continue, and the continuation of that resolve, in increments assures no more falls.

It’s a precarious world we’re slap dab in the middle of. My friend and I talked, yesterday because we’re aware, we’re not able to avoid or willing to turn blind eyes.

We’ve had people in our midst, their struggles are more than just speculation or someone else’s issue. We are with others and we have seen evidence.

Evidence of hopelessness. Evidence of fear. Evidence of doubt and evidence of destruction slowly through either addictive indulgence or addictive control or addictive forlorn failing feelings.

Either way, it seems hope is in high demand, kindness, persistence, refusal to avoid and if you can, when you can just demonstrate deliberately that you care.

Sometimes, though it’s not that simple. Your kindness is less than a drop in a deep ancient well.

You do what you can, keep dropping your love there.

I’m still happy it’s November despite learning of new deaths.

I’m still happy for November and Saturday and the way the cold caused my toes to curl when I let the dog out.

Happy that I spent time reading my Bible, not scanning, delving deeply in to what Paul told Timothy and what God told him to tell me.

And you.

Today.

We still have this hope. That Christ died for us so that we could live, not so that we could be perfect or withstand all our falls from grace and flat on our faces falls; but, so that we would see His face when we pick ourselves up to rise.

That we’d continue to do our best.

That we come closer to an understanding of our lives here, our lives are meant to be His, to be lived out based on our rescued from the fall, faith.

Maybe through us, others will see grace.

Maybe through others we see it too.

“I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.

I do not nullify the grace of God, for if righteousness were through the law, then Christ died for no purpose.”

‭‭Galatians‬ ‭2:20-21‬ ‭ESV‬‬

There’s an old hymn we used to sing called “People Need the Lord”. When I was a member of the choir, I’d suggest we sing it more. There didn’t seem to be a Sunday someone might need to know and believe that in these days, we need the Lord.

We’re not able on our own.

We live in a world of simply not knowing what may come, whether someone we love might fall.

Remembering now the sister’s heartbreak over her brother and another’s trauma that has her trapped in a deadly self harm cycle, I wonder if my words are unwelcome, if my hope will be a hindrance, hokey.

I understand. Grief is not a quick thing, hope is not on grief’s horizon. If it’s anywhere it’s around the bend of some crazy and unthinkable scary roads.

Hope is rarely on the mind of grief. I imagine hope as a sweet child with little words, only telling grief, I’ll come out Sir or Ma’am, when it’s my turn to join the grown up table.

And then it sits down together with grief and it sweetly adds its beauty and peace to those dining habitually over their mundane plates, changing slowly the place, the setting.

Like a hopeful child it may not be my place to add comment or conclusion at times.

Last week, I realized clearly that my insights, my intelligence and my speaking incessantly about how much I care about heartbreak and tragedy are insignificant to the person in their grief, their trauma, their fear.

I sat with the truth of that for a long time. Depleted from the knowledge of nothing I can do and the acceptance of it, I courted thoughts of giving up, of being a more silent spokesperson, of staying in the background, kind of keeping to myself what help I may know.

There’s value in that, giving what you can when you run across a need, otherwise just waiting and knowing people know you’re there.

November, it’s only day 3 and you’re really schooling me!

You’re refining my understanding of brokenness and you’ve got a steady eye on the fire that’s creating me as valuable, a vessel for pouring out my knowledge my and hope.

You through me.

Made to know you, to worship you.

To reveal my hope.

Hope that is needed.

Hope incomprehensible, hope that others need.

Farther along, we’ll understand vividly, so clearly, the why of everything.

I love so very much, this folksy rendition, this truth and song.

Farther Along

November, I see your reason, my naming you my turning of season.

Grace, November, you are feeling like grace. I’m grateful you found me again

For catching my almost fall back in to what looks like sadness that is actually fear.

Difference Making, Faith, Work and Hope

Yet, it was so kind of you to share my trouble.  Philippians 4:13

 

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Listen

This is work stuff; but, it’s also life stuff. I was asked to have a conversation about the increase in suicides and to comment on how the faith community could be a resource.

WAFJ Difference Maker

On the afternoon of the recording of this interview, I finished up a grant application.

The closing question with the blank text box and word limit…

How will this funding help you to make a difference?

I decided then, trying to recall the exact cliche type expression…” the words will not be lost on me”…something like that.

So, I’m sharing this interview in hopes my responses to questions and elaborations on my thoughts might make a difference.

Disclaimer: I am no clinician. I am a listener and a learner and thus, a sharer.

Sharing to maybe make a difference.

Other resources:

preventingsuicides.org

Prevention Hotline

Hope of Glory

If you google “glory” there’s not a word, synonym, noun or verb that would be close to heaven.

Maybe it’s the mystery, the mystery of it all that we can’t quite grasp.

Even when we believe, heaven is our hope.

It is our glory. For me and I pray, you.

It’s our eternity.

A long time ago, I began a support group for people who lost loved ones to their choice of dying, suicide.

The initiation of the group coincided with a piece I was asked to write, a Community betterment series, my choice of a topic and I called it, “The Tragedy of Speculation”.

I had been changed, many times over now, by those who sat around my table recalling the death of someone close.

My piece essentially said “Let’s stop talking about the suicide in a way that’s not helpful. Let’s stop faking our sympathy when we simply want to point fingers and say who missed the signs, how far the person had swayed off course or how the family, the parents must not have been doing what they should have.”

My commentary was a little softer back then; but, the thing is, people want to dissect something they don’t understand in hopes they can be certain “never me”.

Thus, the tragedy of speculation

Suicide, a tragic mystery.

About the same time, I got a phone call.

An older man with gravel in his voice, assertive and impatient it seemed with this task he was tasked to do.

To call me and give his input.

I answered, confirmed I was the author of the article and he announced:

If you want to prevent suicide you need to start telling people if they do that they will go straight to Hell!

A tad but unsettled; but, prepared because of my childhood exposure to preachers spittin’ orders and threats all over the pews,

I replied, calmly, I would never tell someone that because I don’t believe it.

Silence on the other end, I sensed his surprise by my candor.

Several years later, the numbers in our county and our country keep growing.

Could such a declaration change that? Possibly, no, probably not.

Would you tell someone about a sure place called Hell over Heaven and compromise the character grace and mercy of Jesus to save a life?

I’m thinking this is not what God means by salvation.

No, not I.

I wonder what Bourdain thought of God. Kate Spade, as well.

If momentarily in the deep place of a resignation not to go on they simply could no longer sense the wonder.

Much conversation is occurring now about depression, about suicide.

I’m no licensed professional. I’m just a noticer.

And I suppose if my sometimes seemingly naive approach could add anything to the discussion.

I’d say, let’s think empirically.

Let’s come forth for that person from all perspectives, friend, family, faith, medicine, aspirations, accomplishments, addictions recovery and reminders of possibility.

Let’s do better at coming alongside in whatever our way and staying beside.

It’s a battle they most likely are waging war against and became weary with all the shots coming at them from every imaginable direction, internal and external.

Wounds not fully healed, maybe they’d grown tired of the reoccurring reminders.

And depression, a deep hole, maybe it becomes a safe bunker and maybe the choice to surrender, to finally, finally retreat.

Their decision.

This is why I continue.

I continue to try to understand it, suicide.

Why I say faith in God is not the cure for depression or the saver of those suicidal.

What it is is a certain and steadfast complement to healing, to have a reason to live.

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:13-14‬ ‭NIV‬‬

To believing new things are possible.

A hopeful complement in this crazy, horrible and often hindered world.

Paul and Timothy told the Colossian believers, you’ve come so far, I know it seems mysterious; but, it is what God created you for, the riches of a glorious mystery.

“To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:27‬ ‭ESV‬‬

The hope of glory.

Most everything about God’s word feels mysterious to me at times.

Like, how I pray and because I believe in Jesus, he intercedes for me.

It’s a mystery to me, a glorious mystery I’ve seen to be true in the simplest and grandest of ways.

A chubby freckle faced little girl grows up and begins to believe God is for her and she prays for opportunities every single day and they come and she continues boldly even when afraid.

Because she believes now, finally that her hope is Christ and He sees her settled, finally surrendered and new things, new things keep springin’ up!

“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:18-19‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I’ll not talk so much about glory with one considering suicide or one trying hard to prevent it.

But, hope, oh I’ll surely tell them of hope.

Lord, help me to never hinder, always to remind of hope!

To use all you’ve given me the opportunity to know and to complement my knowledge with your grace and mercy and my strength only through you, my hope.

Because of mercy, Amen

Our county has a Coalition to Prevent Suicide, yours may as well. We are all concerned about the increase in numbers and continuously increase our efforts.

Visit here: Coalition for Suicide Prevention of Aiken County

Or the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

Know the signs, intervene and if Hope is a thing for you, a sure and steady God thing, pray with those who are sad and suicidal.

My Happy Way of Life #2

The Labrador laid across my lap and

waited until I filled the bowl with

more popcorn for tossin’.

Broke my own rule because

it was comfort I needed last

night after sitting in

the seat of the one who supports

never ever feeling adequate

in my sighs over their sorrowful day.

Listening leaves me longing only

to undo what was done and

certain my sadness is minuscule,

only minutiae.

Listen

I looked up from my late day desk yesterday.

Caught off guard, I did not hear her walk in.

I rose to meet her, her neighbor couldn’t accompany her, she’d decided to come on her own.

“Good”, I said. “I’m glad you came.”

Almost a half hour before the others, I told her it’s fine. It’s good. It’s hard to walk into a room and know no one.

Now, you know me, and I, you.

I tried not to keep gazing there, the place where the light seemed so warm, so soft this evening, a day after I still think of their embrace.

I question what it is with me, the way I’m drawn to such sights.

The thin branches reaching out, reminded me of them, open and tenderly brave.

It reminded me of listening.

I sat between them, the three of us, mothers.

The one new to the gathering began to speak about her son’s suicide.

The room fell silent.

Reverent.

She looked past me towards the other and asked, “When did you stop blaming yourself?”

Seconds only passed, the imploring of her words, and I noticed the mother three years into grief over her son’s suicide, move slowly from her seat to stand.

Only for just a small breath of a moment did I think to respond. I should comfort.

Instead, I stood and with my hand on the shoulder of the mother to my left, I helped her over to the mother on my right.

I had missed it, that she was on the edge of sorrow, that there were tears about to overflow.

Somehow, she did, the mother to my left.

And, not a single word spoken. Their arms raised to meet the other, shoulders rhythmic with release of tears.

It seemed quite a while; but, the wait not the least bit unsettling.

The father of the son of the one gone three years, the husband of the one offering embrace.

He began to cry. I looked his way, looked slowly away and I joined with them in my own tears. My not nearly comparable mama tears.

Finally, after such a beautiful long time their arms unfolded.

She said, “Thank you.” to the mama who knew and sat slowly back down.

And the other mama waited, as if to be sure and I listened to the voices of grief I can never quite comprehend.

Praying I don’t.