I can’t sleep. I have a lot on my mind. Today instead of just sharing a sermon, I’m going to share my heart and a sermon I listened to again to remind me that terrible things can lead to good outcomes. But we choose for them to do so.
It’s Mother’s Day. I have two beautiful daughters who are amazing human beings who have overcome great odds even at the tender ages of 24 and 11. One of them is lying next to me because she wanted to sleep with me tonight. She’s here next to me as I type what I’m about to share. I guess this is the part where I share a trigger alert for anyone whose been through abuse. I’m going to open up a bit and share my heart. For those who just want the sermon, it’s at the bottom of the post and it’s a powerful one I’ve shared in the past that deserves another share. Go ahead and just scroll down to the end.
For those who have understood abuse and suicidal thoughts, please take a moment to read my heart tonight because this message is for you.
Please forgive typos. I am going to write and post from my heart. That means no reviewing what I wrote to edit it. I want it to be as if we are sitting next to one another talking and with that comes some slips of the tongue and mispronounced words. Consider my typos mispronunciations.
I was abused growing up. In several ways. Throughout my life–up until last year–I’ve always just wanted someone ahead of me in life who has experienced the same things I have endured to say, “It’s going to be okay.” For someone who has seen the evil I’ve seen in life to look me in the eyes and say, “I endured. I survived. I am thriving. And you can too.” For them to pull me close in a non-threatening, non-seductive way, hugging me until and I finally released all the pain I’d been carrying to that point. But I never did. I still haven’t. I’ve been through so much that there probably isn’t another human who’s seen it all and can do what I wished. I realized that in late 2016 and sought help for PTSD and healing from the pain.
While compiling my poetry, much of the pain came back to mind. In the book, I share reflections on the poems I’ve write throughout my life, looking back from today’s viewpoint. It was really hard to remember so much of the pain in such a short period. Each time I’d pick up the book, I’d think of others who endured the pain and how they finally have someone they could know knew their pain. I didn’t share all of it –and maybe now in light of what I’m about to share, I will. I didn’t feel some of it deserved speaking about but tonight as I read it through a final time, I remembered how much I wanted someone to let me know it would be okay. And it made me think of someone I could have done that for in person but chose not to do so.
It’s Mother’s Day. And today I am going to a service for a young girl, 22, who committed suicide a little over two weeks ago. Her Mother is spending Mother’s Day saying goodbye to her daughter. A daughter who was a young me I was asked to help at the end of 2017.
I could tell you how busy I was at the time. I could tell you how much I had on my plate and what I was going through personally and with my daughters. You’d probably tell me I was right to say “No” and to focus on what was important. But here’s the thing: SHE was important too. To her mother who won’t spend today with her, she will be notably missed.
My younger self just wanted someone to understand me. To validate me. To tell me I was going to be okay. To remind me of my value. I didn’t get that until I was 17 and by then it was too late for much of the damage to be repaired quickly.
This young girl lived a life much like my own. She was also a writer. And she needed to hear someone tell her the inside pain could go away. That she could heal and one day wake up with a million reasons to love.
But I didn’t want to invest time in her because I was too busy. Because she reminded me too much of me when I heard prices of her story. I saw her a few times and then didn’t reach out again. I let her down and I can never say I’m sorry. It won’t mean anything since it took her death for me to feel that way.
My entire adult life has been focused upon youth and young adults and helping them overcome pain, learn their value, tell their stories, and see God through their struggles instead of as the person causing them. I’ve spoken to inner city high schoolers about sexual and domestic abuse, about dating violence and seeing the signs of an abuser before they are too deep in a relationship. I’ve spoken to Women’s groups and led workshops on overcoming domestic violence and learning to love yourself again. I’ve served as youth leader and community advocate. All while walking through my healing so I could help others realize they weren’t alone.
But I’d never met anyone like me. Until this young lady. And when I met the one person I actually could have helped, I failed to step up.
I’m not personally responsible for what happened. For her decision. But as I sit here having been wide awake all night because my mind won’t let me stop playing the “what if I’d been there and listened to her and told her it would be okay?” card over and over, I can’t help but feel that it’s the fact we all feel not personally responsible that makes us responsible for death when it’s a suicide.
I don’t know how today will go, but it can’t be a happy day when a mother has to say goodbye to her child. It can’t be a day of celebration when a life is taken soooo soon. When someone can’t see their value because they don’t understand life. This young lady had love in her life and people who poured way more into her than I ever could. I know one of them personally and know how much this woman does to ensure people know they are valued. I also know I didn’t step to the plate to do when asked by that woman to do so.
Because of all this, this week and last I made a commitment to ensure I never again overlook someone because of my schedule. Instead I will find strength in my inner child, teen, and young adult who never had anyone tell her it was going to be okay knowing that it would be if I would continue to fight because they too overcame my odds. Instead I will stand up for those in my community and neighboring cities who have been hurt and I will support healing and change.
It starts today with saying goodbye to her and it continues Thursday with standing with my community to empower it and help it heal from some local trauma and gain answers to questions we need. I don’t have the answers but I can listen and help those who are able to provide some. I can be part of the solution so there aren’t others like this young lady who feel helpless and like there’s not another solution.
It starts now with putting this out there and saying I was hurt and I survived. I am not where I want to be in life yet because I took a LONG time before addressing my pain and am just now coming to terms with healing and allowing myself to walk in freedom, but you don’t have to take so long. You don’t have to wait for help or to feel strong enough to seek assistance. You matter. You are enough. And you will be okay with the right mindset, help, and support in healing.
If you have been sexually or physically abused, or are being abused now, please call the domestic violence hotline for help. 1800799Safe
If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Hotline for help. 1800273Talk
You aren’t alone. Others care.
TD Jakes, in Crushing, stated, “Suffering must never be wasted. Spilled blood is always redeemed. Crushing is not the end.” This young lady’s memory can be honored and her fight can be noted. She’s not alone. There are many others out there who won’t make it past today because people aren’t educated enough to know how to help and not enable, how to protect but not hinder, and how to love but not live life for those who suffer. At the same time, there are people learning this hard lesson I’m learning–that we have to see within us what we have to offer others and be willing to risk discomfort to be there for others when we feel an inward pull. We can’t be there for everyone but we can all know that when someone makes a strong impression God is using our intuition to say “Go with this.” We need to be willing to get messy at times.
Will you get messy today? Will you be there for someone you may have to hurt with to help?
Lisa Harper shares her mess in the sermon on what to do when life falls apart and it spoke life to me at a time when I really needed it. May it bless you or someone you know today.