You know those posts you see about suicide prevention and how you can put it on your page so people can see it? I was one of those ones who see them, feel bad for those people and scroll on.
The thing is – that all changes drastically if it is someone you know. Or knew a long time ago. Or were somehow connected with. And then the meaning behind those posts changes dramatically – because now you see a real face. A life.
One day this last summer, I woke up and smacked my alarm a few times before finally picking my phone up. Those of you who know me know my eyes are terrible and I rarely have my glasses nearby because I mainly wear contacts. Well, as I checked my phone and – squinting one eye to try and see better – I did what most of us do in the morning and checked a few things. Then Facebook.
Sometimes I think we should have a rule – no checking out phones before we’ve had several cups of coffee, fresh contacts installed and are somewhat coherent. But, hey. Probably not going to change that anytime soon.
Anyway, that day the first post was one of those you don’t want to see – one with not good news. One of the girls from my Junior High small group (they’re now 28. 28! Gosh, I’m getting old!) had posted an “In memoriam” post with lots of pictures of one of her really good friends. And – I knew that friend. I knew that face. She was also one of the girls from that group.
The years I spent with the Junior High Ministry at Calvary Philly were some of my favorite ones. I had a blast hanging out with those kids. And I’ll always remember that first group I was with from their 6th to 8th grade years. I don’t remember everything about those girls, but I remember them.
Thanks to Facebook, we can keep in touch with people even when your lives follow different paths. And since I was connected to the one girl, I watched the other grow up. Of sorts.
Back to the post – even though I was squinting and still not awake, this jolted me. A young lady whom I remembered with one of the biggest smiles I’ve ever seen, and infectious laugh and dancing eyes. Knowing that life light was gone out cut me pretty bad.
Then I found out what happened – she had committed suicide. Even seeing those words still makes me still. This is a person who was raising a kid, moved to another state, found work and seemed to be doing well. (But I’m sure there was much more to it than the snippets I saw). She had been dealing with some rough things in her life and it must have been pretty difficult.
It made me remember that we don’t know what everyone is going through – and what they show outwardly is not often the whole story. There have been times when I’ve never wanted to show up to anything and did and was so on. Because I figured if I was overly outgoing, no one would ask any real questions. But that was just a mood – sometimes it’s a life.
That whole day I was distracted. Off. Heartbroken. For her – for her friend. For her kid and her parents. I didn’t really even know what to feel or how I felt.
All in all, it made me think of how we have the opportunity to influence others. To love others. We taught those girls over 15 years ago – heck, I’m grateful they even remember some of us. Who knows what type of influence we had? What influences came after us? What twists and turns their lives made?
The challenge here is to think about those close to you – and not so close to you. Those struggling and those you have no idea are struggling. All of them need to know they have someone around them to talk to. To call when there’s an issue. To love them and pray for them.
Here’s hoping they know they are so loved. That there are people somewhere in their lives who love and care for them. Who can show them their lives matter. And that they are so loved.