Yesterday I woke up feeling like I had been hit by a truck. Turns out it was a sinus infection, but I knew there was a lot going on mentally too.
We’ve had 2 suicides in our community this week. I cannot wrap my head around either one. I cannot imagine what their families are feeling. I’m pretty far removed, even though we have a lot of connections, and it has impacted me deeply.
I grabbed my phone as I got up out of bed, and I had three texts from people asking me to pray for other things. Tough things. Biopsies. Court dates. DNRs.
It was too much. I started asking God to show me how to handle all of this. With friends, our boys, and with myself. What do I say?? How do I respond to questions? How do I handle it in my own mind but also in conversations with others? Because there are a LOT of conversations. Especially about the suicides. Everyone is curious, shocked, and wants to fill in the blanks in their minds. I’d rather talk about than brush it under the rug.
As I started my morning routine, I heard a familiar song in my mind that we had sung in church a couple weeks before. Starlight.
“You’re not far away, you come in close….you come in close”... “even as I wait…you come in close….you come in close.” The point of the song is to celebrate and enjoy the presence of God.
The point of suicide is to escape the darkest, most desperate loneliness that anyone can experience.
I really can’t imagine.
But also, I can.
In some ways, I’ve been there. Obviously not to the same degree. But I’ve tasted that darkness. I have heard the whispers. I have been tempted.
That song kept playing in my head. “You are closer than the very oxygen I’m breathing in. You are God with us. You are here with us."
It was time for me to walk down into the basement and wake Jacob up to take him to school. He wasn’t feeling well, so I was trying to be patient, but he should have been up and dressed by then. When I got to the bottom of the stairs, I saw the condition of his room. It was bad. Really bad. Embarrassing bad. Like surely-I-won’t-write-a-blog-that-exposes-this-mess kind of bad. Trash. Dirty clothes. Clean clothes. Furniture moved around.
He slept soundly.
I walked through the mess, in the dark, and held my tongue. I wanted to say something so bad. But Jacob didn’t need a lecture. He didn’t need to be woken up with me telling him to get busy picking up trash. He didn’t feel well.
He needed me to get close, feel his forehead, and see how he was feeling. He was sick. I felt the fever. I thanked God for holding my tongue. I sat down beside him on the bed and asked what his other symptoms were. We decided he needed to stay home, obviously, and I walked back upstairs. Through the mess. Without saying a word about it.
God showed me in that moment what the hurting, broken people of this world need most. We need to be allowed to be messy…and to rest in the middle of our mess. Without a lecture. Without people pointing out all the trash around us. The dirty clothes. We need people to come in close, ask questions, listen. Encourage us to rest, not just get busy cleaning up.
Drawing near without saying a word about the mess is a vote of confidence. It says “I know you see the mess. I do too. I believe in you. I’m going to sit with you in it and when you’re ready to get to work, I’m here to help.”
It’s more than that, though.
We need to all be honest about our messes. We need to quit pretending that we don’t all have a bunch of stuff we carry around on a daily basis and never deal with. If our lives were a basement, I’m pretty sure they’d all look similar to my teenage son’s room.
Our American culture doesn’t leave much room for messes. Having to be all prettied up, perfect, pretending to be living the dream is what isolates so many people. It’s a show. And we can play the game until the lights go out. And we are left with our mess.
You’ll never hear me say that my depression and anxiety are someone else’s fault. I’m a huge believer in owning our own thoughts, searching vigilantly for tools to improve our mental health, and taking responsibility for every decision we make.
But if you don’t struggle with mental illness, and you know someone who does….step into their mess…and don’t say a word about it. Just pull up a chair, or sit on the edge of the bed, give them a safe place to talk, and encourage them to rest until they’re ready to get up again.
Jesus did that. He went first. He saw the mess. He entered into it. He spent a lot more time loving people than pointing out their sins. He got down on their level, listened, extended healing and hope, and then ultimately gave His life for our messes.
He’s the ultimate safe place. And when we have the opportunity, we can be that for others. I know, we can’t atone for their messes, but we don’t have to. He did. We can just love like He did and point them to Him.
“You’re like sunlight in the dark. Endless miles can’t conceal you. Every glimmer is a spark. Catching fire as you break through. Oh….you’re not far away. You come in close.”