At the Lord’s command, Moses recorded the stages of their journey. These are the stages listed by their starting points.Numbers 33:2
This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.
“Do we stop the story here, or turn the page?” I asked those gathered for my son’s funeral on July 7th, 2014. I didn’t know that question would be the catalyst for Turning the Page on Suicide. All I wanted to do, was encourage Jonathan’s friends to get through the next day. I was dying inside, but I didn’t want others to lose hope. July 8th I woke up with the question as my first thought. Would those words remain a nice phrase of encouragement for others, or would I answer the question for myself?
Turning My Page
Turning the page on my son’s suicide started with a deep breath of choosing, but it wasn’t the first time I made a life-altering choice. My whole life has been filled with moments of choosing blessing or cursing. I can see specific places where I turned from God and others where I chose to walk with him. And some, where I didn’t know I was choosing him. They are now all markers of my journey.
In the 8th grade, I attended a School for the Creative and Performing Arts. Even making it into the school on several levels did not penetrate the constant fog of despair that plagued me. I had long since determined I was nothing, an abstract idea, and I could not yet see the concrete journey God had me on.
Our creative writing teacher was out for the semester due to health reasons and our sub was “unique. ” She didn’t talk like other teachers. She was real and personal. She didn’t teach curriculum like other teachers, and she didn’t treat us, students, as less than. When she assigned us writing, she also wrote for the prompt. I was confused. I had learned how to live in the formula, act like others expected me to, and do just enough to get by. In a crucial moment, she didn’t just challenge my presumptions about myself, she penetrated the barrier of my fear of being seen.
“Your writing is good, but there is nothing of you in it,” she coached. We were studying poetry and while I loved the unique writing styles of the poets I kept my own writing distant and abstract. What followed was my first attempt at writing about myself:
“Visions Through Waters”
(9th grade, May 2nd)
Visions through waters
Reflecting from my eyes
Splashing into the pool
Of life, like tears
Wrinkling the shimmering
Of the perfect life
Changing it into only hope
The leaves drop
The dew like seeds
Growing and adding to the
I am hungering for the rain
For my roots are young
The night clouds over
The hope gathers in my heart.
The storm breaks
Finally, the rain ends
And the light shimmers
Through the trees of life.
My life is renewed.
I find it interesting that I was writing about hope. I didn’t understand the depth of the meaning of the word. It was a shifting image and unstable for me then. I needed to turn and see the reflection of hope I couldn’t fully trust existed behind me and through me in the concrete, visible, nature of God. The tangible hope I now touch after losing my son to suicide.
Turning Your Page
God gives you a choice in how to respond to the circumstances, and they become markers you can look back at and see God’s hand throughout your journey. If you are struggling with despair, you can continue your current response to depression or turn in a new direction towards hope and life. This is a starting point. Breathe and choose.
- Is there a course you can take or group you can join that stretches your perspective on life? (Join a hiking group, photography, writing, etc.)
- Read Psalm 139 and meditate on the different images described.
- What is David saying about God?
- What is David saying about man?
- What is David saying about his relationship with God?
- Write a prayer or psalm with your own observations.
Lord, I start here. I take in a breath and acknowledge the hope you place before me. Life and death. Blessing and cursing. May I record life and blessing as I journey with you. Amen