Sunday, June 12, 2016

Please God, Use Me

It's been roughly eight months since Greg committed suicide, and for the most part, I've come to grips with it. I still miss him terribly, and I think about him almost daily, but I'm moving forward with my life. Unfortunately, events still happen in my life that take me back to his suicide, and the terrible grief and devastation he left behind. In the last week, I've had two friends lose loved ones to suicide.

When people die under normal circumstances, it's possible to take consolation that the death is part of God's plan. This doesn't happen with suicide, because taking a life is not part of God's plan. Committing suicide is the ultimate in selfishness, and there are no words to reduce the pain. Those who are left behind often feel a sense of anger and guilt that's unique to suicide. People who didn't know the victim (for lack of a better term) don't know what to say to friends and family.

Even worse, the friends and family have a visceral sensitivity to future suicides. As you can imagine, finding out that a friend lost someone to suicide evokes a strong reaction. In my case, I ever-so-briefly returned to the darkness and despair I experienced right after Greg died, and I've more acutely sensed his absence. In both instances, I sincerely wished that I could take the pain for my friends, because I've experienced it, and I would rather take the pain for myself than have them go through this unique type of hell on earth.

Knowing that I can't take on their burden, I am instead choosing to write this plea. This is a plea to anyone considering suicide. Please stop and think. Yes, if you successfully commit suicide, you will no longer feel pain. But your pain won't go away. In fact, you will amplify the pain. You see, when you take your own life, you leave those behind with the crushing burden of coming to grips with your death. They will wonder what they could have done to prevent your death. They will experience an anger over your choice that words cannot adequately express. And believe it or not, you will hurt people you've never even met. Going back to what I said before... my friends lost a loved one; and when I found out, I went back to my own grief.

Like I stated before, suicide is never part of God's plan, but I am now asking -- begging -- that God help me use Greg's death for good. Let me be a source of strength for my friends who are going through what is undoubtedly the darkest time in their lives. Better yet, let my words reach someone who is thinking about suicide. Let them hear and absorb what I'm saying, and help them understand that their pain might end for them, but the actual amount of pain will be amplified, because EVERYONE close to them -- and even people they've never met -- will grieve over the senseless loss. There is help available. Suicide is not the only option, and it's not the only solution. In fact, suicide is not an option at all. Please God, use me.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Soaring into the Unknown

My younger daughter started the next chapter in her life this morning by moving to Connecticut. During the last few months, a lot of friends and family have asked what I think about my baby moving half a country away, and they're pretty consistently surprised that I'm excited for her. "Arent you going to miss her," they ask? Well, yeah, of course I'm going to miss her. She's been gone less than twelve hours and I miss her already, but that's not the point. I could look at this from a narrow viewpoint and obsess over the fact that my baby is leaving, but that's not how I think. When she initially told me that she was thinking about moving, I looked back to when I left my hometown, and remembered what an exciting life that was for me. When I left home, I spent six years traveling extensively, courtesy of Uncle Sam. I made new friends, tried new food and experienced new cultures to such an extent that I could die today and still have seen more than most people twice my age. I went out, I saw the world, and I came back home to raise my family. Am I going to miss my daughter? Sure. But I look back on my experience and realize it was a blast, and it helped me grow as a person. I fully expect the same for my little girl. I may miss her, but I'm proud of her for spreading her wings and soaring into the unknown.

Sunday, June 5, 2016

Just Enough

For those of you who don't know, I am part of the worship team at my church.  I play bass, guitar, and occasionally sing.  Interestingly enough, the strongest of these three talents -- singing -- is what I do least, and lately I've been stepping well out of my comfort zone and playing guitar most, which is my weakest area.  When I say that singing is what I do best, that means that on a scale of 1 - 10, I'm a five or six.  I'm an average vocalist.  I enjoy playing bass and guitar, but I'm not particularly accomplished.  On the same 1 - 10 scale, I'm a 4 to 5 on bass and 3 to 4 on guitar.

On the way home after performing today, I thought about my best friend who died several months ago, and his skill and aspirations as a guitar player.  Greg was a much better guitar player than I've ever been, but almost nobody knew this, because he never played in public.  He had a modest goal of publicly performing in a band, and having an audience appreciate his work, but it's a dream he never achieved.  Somewhere along the line, I decided that his unpretentious intent was something I could do, and I adopted it for myself.  Eventually, I seized an opportunity to play in my church band, and the rest is history.  I've been playing for a few years, and I absolutely love it.

As I stated earlier, I am not incredibly talented, primarily because I don't practice as much as I could.  Regardless, I enjoy playing music, and performing for the congregation, and I am grateful that God has provided me just enough...

... just enough drive to seize the opportunity when it appeared.
... just enough confidence to get me in front of the congregation in the first place.
... just enough tenacity to stick with it through the nervousness and awkwardness.
... just enough talent to be able to contribute to the worship team.
... and just enough self awareness to know when I'm in over my head.