It is Well, and yet Not

I held a sobbing child in my arms last night for the first time in a very long time.  I held her close and just let the tears go, with salty bitterness and nose running all down my shoulder.   There were no soothing words to comfort, no back patting to help calm.  Hold her.  That’s all I could do.  I held her until she loosed her grip and let go.  I held her hands in mine, and kissed them.  I took her face close to mine and kissed it.  I whispered “I love you” in her ear.

The beautiful, distraught child was mine.  She will be 18 exactly 13  days from now. She stands an inch-and-a-half taller than me, but in her Doc Martens it is near to 3 inches.  And last night she was my little girl who needed her Momma all over again.  I sat next to her as she, as we, her Dad and I too, attended a funeral.

This was an unexpected funeral, and a tragic one at that, as many tend to be. The service was for a 17 year-old high school Junior who died by her own hand.  Vivi was a friend of SugarBug’s from church.  Being close in age they went through many of the same church programs together starting in the nursery as infants. They have known each other their whole lives but didn’t develop a friendship until both were in high school youth group together.  It was there they bonded over similar music tastes, distaste for conventional trendy fashion and a love for Jesus.

I’ve known Vivi and her parents just as long.  I worked in the church nursery as a Supervisor in charge of one of the rooms when she was born.  Her dad was SonnyBoy’s guitar teacher for a short time.  Her mother and I connected through women’s ministry, and various other ways we had volunteered over the years.

Our girls had another connection: depression.

There are few things in this world I truly hate, and by “hate” I mean I wish it never existed anywhere, anytime in this world.   And I HATE depression.  It is a sinister quiet little devil of a thing.  People who suffer with it look like nothing is wrong with them, at least most of the time.  And those fighting it aren’t always immediately aware when it is getting worse.  Outsiders don’t always realize that something has changed with the person caught in its grip. Sometimes the depressed don’t see it right away either — and they are the ones living with it.  It moves slowly, so slowly that it can be weeks or months before it is recognized as having taken hold.

And sometimes it moves at lightning speed.

Maybe that’s what happened with Vivi, that lightning speed onslaught of darkness.  Only she knows, and she isn’t here to tell us.

I can’t blame her — at least I don’t want to blame her — for taking her own life.  The whispers of self-loathing telling me the world would be a better place, that I would be in a better place, that no one would really miss me all that much, to ‘go ahead, do it’ have been all too familiar. LIES!  Those are all lies.

I want to scream at the top of my lungs. Cursing won’t do any good, and it won’t change anything, and it won’t make me feel any better.  It never does.  Blaming her parents is the absolute wrong thing to do.  Vivi’s dad made sure to have Pastor tell the attendees of the service that no one loved his girl as much or as fiercely as her mother did.

I love my girl fiercely, too.  I am afraid that she has heard those terrible whispered lies in the quiet recesses of her mind.  I am afraid.  And I hate being afraid.  I don’t think she is in any real danger of self-harm. But …I know this age and stage in life makes her extremely vulnerable.  I am  certain she struggles to see beyond being 19 or 20 years old. Anything much past that is just.so.old.

I want her to not just grow up, but grow old.  At Vivi’s funeral our Youth Ministry director said she always thought Vivi would grow up to be one of the coolest adults: independent, artistic, poetic, unfettered by the norms that keep adults so ‘adult.’  I could see that.  And sadly we none of us will get a chance to actually see that.

The night before the funeral during the visitation time Vivi’s mom took my girl in her arms, remembered her by name, and held her tight.  They clung to each other — my daughter in grief, the grieving mother in relief that her child was remembered by a friend. She told my girl how much hers had loved her, how she looked forward to seeing her at youth group, how she loved and admired SugarBug for being SugarBug, and doing it so boldly.

So my sweet girl, continue to go boldly into adulthood.  No matter how old you get you will always have my shoulder to cry on. And make Vivi proud by being one of the coolest adults on the planet, and love Jesus the whole while.

  1. When peace, like a river, attendeth my way,
    When sorrows like sea billows roll;
    Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to say,
    It is well, it is well with my soul.

    • Refrain:
      It is well with my soul,
      It is well, it is well with my soul.
  2. Though Satan should buffet, though trials should come,
    Let this blest assurance control,
    That Christ hath regarded my helpless estate,
    And hath shed His own blood for my soul.
  3. My sin—oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!—
    My sin, not in part but the whole,
    Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
    Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!
  4. For me, be it Christ, be it Christ hence to live:
    If Jordan above me shall roll,
    No pang shall be mine, for in death as in life
    Thou wilt whisper Thy peace to my soul.
  5. But, Lord, ’tis for Thee, for Thy coming we wait,
    The sky, not the grave, is our goal;
    Oh, trump of the angel! Oh, voice of the Lord!
    Blessed hope, blessed rest of my soul!
  6. And Lord, haste the day when the faith shall be sight,
    The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
    The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
    Even so, it is well with my soul.

It is Well with My Soul, Horatio G Spafford, 1873

Advertisements

Just a Little Nudge

It’s quite late on evening of our Presidential Election and the polls in Michigan closed more than seven hours ago, and yet I find myself still seated, staring at a computer monitor and enjoying an unexpected conversation with a friend on Facebook.  This night has brought several events I wasn’t expecting.

Michigan had a state constitutional amendment proposal on the ballot concerning loosening state control over embryonic stem cell research. We spent some time discussing just what this amendment would actually mean– for science and for the sought-after-embryos. I’ll save my opinion on that issue for a later date, and I do have a strong opinion on it, by the way.

Our talk drifted into other things as well.  Artistic endeavors, Spiritual gifts, a little of this, a little of that.  It’s been delightful, and stimulating.  My friend has encouraged me to continue writing– he thinks I have a little talent for it! At least that’s the impression I got.  I don’t know how one gauges such things, but I’m a little biased about my own writings.

So I’ve gotten  a little nudge with some wonderful encouragement and an invitation to join  Creative Community, though no formal invitation was ever required.  With that little bit of sweet contentment I’ll be on my way to curl up under my covers, which we both said we needed to do about two hours ago– and save my commentary on politics, ballot proposals or any other potential hot button issue for another day.

At the Foot of the Cross

Verse 1:
At the foot of the cross
Where grace and suffering meet
You have shown me Your love
Through the judgment You received
And You’ve won my heart
And You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Chorus:
Trade these ashes in for beauty
And wear forgiveness like a crown
Coming to kiss the feet of mercy
I lay every burden down
At the foot of the cross

Verse 2:
At the foot of the cross
Where I am made complete
You have given me life
Through the death you bore for me
And You’ve won my heart
And You’ve won my heart
Now I can

Artist – Don Moen

Album – Thank You Lord

Those are lyrics to a song we’ve been singing in church over the last few weeks as we’ve been taking a closer look at the Twenty-third Psalm.  I have to confess that until we started this sermon series I hadn’t really been moved by the worship time in our church– as a congregation, a member, a believer, a sinner in need of redemption; sad to say, especially as a “church”– in a long time.  How long? close to two years, I think.

I never fully left this home, though for a time I could barely walk through the front doors, and rarely did actually.   I think for me, the feeling of “family” had gone away, and now the Spirit has brought it back and is ready to raise the roof again.

Actually, I think He’s brought me back.

Feeling Lost

Darling Husband and Sonny Boy are gone this week. They are off to Pittsburgh to work with a neighborhood restoration project and won’t be home til the weekend.  The girls and I were planning a little “stay-cation”, but it’s turning into more “stay” than “-cation”.  I had little ambition to do anything– especially the extra’s on my to-do list that need to get done. Jobs that would have gotten noticed had they been done.  I’ve had an alarm set each morning, but had no energy to get moving.  We three ladies have been quite lazy in fact.  I’m not proud, not bragging, and also not feeling any grand scale remorse.

I, just now, pinpointed the cause.  My heart misses him.  I miss him, and the smell of work he has on him when he gets home after a long day, the touch of his hand on the back of my neck, the searching look in his eyes that goes away after our first hug and kiss.

We weren’t always like this.  There was a time when we neither of us cared much if we ever saw the other again.  Our selfishness and unwillingness to contribute 100% to marriage set us on a course hell-bent for destruction.  We climbed the mountain called Rocky Marriage, and just about threw ourselves over the edge. We were on that precipace for a long time, too long. It’s a mental home video that’s still very painful, but the pictures are fading; some of the sound track lingers on.   Unlike childbirth, the pain hasn’t been erased from my memory completely.

I don’t know if I want it too, either.  Not so I can rehash the memory, but so I never forget where our marriage came from, what we went through.  What I put him through.  It needs to stay so we–no, I–  always remember to work at keeping our marriage alive.

God was good, and He rescued us from ourselves, in spite of ourselves.  He taught us how to forgive, and changed hearts to receive forgiveness.

So this week I’ve been feeling lost without him.  I love that man in ways only the heart knows, in which words can not describe.  Saturday can not come soon enough.

Love in the Fast Lane

Not long ago, a teenage MySpace friend –he was the lead in a play my kids were in (I did his make-up) so let’s not even head to the gutter–  posted something onto the Bulletin board and asked this question:

How soon is too soon to tell someone you love them?

After some careful thought, and since Sonny Boy has a girlfriend now too, this was my reply:

You should only say that when you are ready to take care of that person for the rest of their life and put all of their needs ahead of your own, and give up your right to hold a grudge when they screw up.  Before that, it’s not really TRUE love, it’s hormones on infatuation crack.

I had to choose my words very carefully.  If you’ve been reading here, you already know I can get a bit long winded.  This young man is devilishly handsome, a rebel on the outside, but not to his core, and very bright, but also 16.  My words could have been taken as very preachy, pathetic, overly protective, out-of-touch.  Love is a very delicate thing for any of us–but at 16?! It’s the be-all and end-all, over-the-moon crazy fantastic, but very rarely the real true genuine thing. How many high school sweet hearts do you know who are still together, and still in love? I know three couples.

I wanted to add to what I told him, but brevity was necessary, again the “preachy” factor.  This is what I have told my own kids about “wuv..twue wuv” (sorry I love the Bishop from Princess Bride).  Falling is easy, staying takes a lot of hard work and commitment.  Staying in love is a CHOICE, not a feeling. Telling someone you love them should wait.  If it’s really real then you may have the rest of you lives to tell them just how amazingly profoundly they turn your insides to jelly.

This is something else a young man should know about his young lady:  she is a fragile and delicate thing.  Now don’t go sending hate mail about being equal to men. This isn’t about equality in the workplace or society.  This is how we are created, emotionally.  We girls may be tough as nails on the basketball court, or court room, or the assembly line, but when the man we love best of all does something to wound our soul, it’s like putting palm trees on the north pole.  It will kill it faster than you can say POOF!  Knowing this, a young man needs to be very careful.

The other thing he needs know about the heart of the female persuasion: it was designed to be given away– once.  Females were created with a need to be loved. Males were created to be protector and provider of that love.  When a guy tells his girlfriend he loves her, she is inclined to think “he’s the one” and it will last forever.  He more often than not says this to get some quick action, and will move on when he’s tired, bored or finds someone else who catches his eye. That leaves a young lady’s heart bruised, jaded, broken; and she’s less willing to trust the next guy who says “I love you”.  Eventually she may stop altogether, but gets into relationships just so she won’t feel the lonely ache in the pit of her heart.

I LOVE YOU are three of the most powerful words on the planet.  I wish more people treated them that way.  And my mySpace friend sent a reply.  He said it was the best advice he’d gotten back, and then reposted my answer for all his world to see.