What was going on? Yes, they lost the game and I knew he was extremely disappointed, but this sophomore in high school and quarterback of the football team was not one to cry in public.
I was working the concession stand, selling snacks and laughing with other parents and the abundance of those that always came out for “friday night lights.” It was our routine that after he’d showered, he would come back down to the field and visit me for a hot dog or two before going to cheer on the varsity.
Usually we joked and talked, but I knew with one glance that he was upset about more than just the defeat. My heart beat in alarm and when I asked over and over what was wrong, he just shook his head and couldn’t or wouldn’t talk.
He left and went up to the stands and when things slowed down, I mentioned to another mom how upset Collin was. She looked at me pointedly and said she just had a similar experience with her son also and didn’t understand.
As bad news travels fast, we soon learned from a third mom that another player on the sophomore team had attempted suicide by trying to hang himself in the locker room after the game. One particularly strong teammate saw what was happening and lifted this boy up to remove the belt that he had secured around his neck and fastened to the top crossbar of a bathroom stall. That player saved the boy’s life.
Collin didn’t see as it was happening, but ran over in all the screaming and commotion. The boys finally found a coach who talked to the troubled player and ultimately asked my son and a couple other teammates to escort this young man to the field while they attempted to locate his parents. The weight and gravity of the situation tore Collin and the other boys to pieces. Their tears continued in the bleachers, even as they willed them to stop.
I choose to believe the best and am not sure how clearly he was communicated to, but I’m certain the assistant coach, who didn’t witness the scene either, would’ve made a different decision and kept the boy with him if he had, in the moment, fully understood the magnitude.
When your kids are little and under your roof and rule 24/7, these are never the kinds of situations that you ever hope or dream they’ll see or experience personally for themselves. When my three were young, I wanted to shield them from the world and it’s problems. When they became teenagers and started to understand the complexities of our society and the people in it, I knew they were going to experience tough things and that it truly was out of my control. There was one word, one single word, that became a theme to me in parenting, and continues to be a word that I go to over and over again.
I must surrender my desire to command and coordinate every situation. I must surrender my life, the outcome of my kids’ lives and the lives of those around them to the one who already knows, the one who wrote all the pages of each and every story. I must surrender to the one who understands the suffering that occurs every day on this earth and the reasons for it. The one who gave a way for us all to be saved.
Within hours, that student entered an in-patient program for depression. He was gone for a bit, but eventually came back to school. This occurred several years ago, and I pray that now, wherever he is, that he’s thriving and living a full and jubilant life, far removed from that one of despair.
According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S., taking over 47,000 lives in 2017 and even more in 2018. We live in a fallen world, a world in which each news story can be more horrific than the last, and when life gets so heavy, despondency can happen to any of us, at any age (no matter where we are in our faith journey). None of us are immune.
Where are you today and in what direction are you headed? What is your peace and joy level and where does your preservation come from? Are you accelerating toward the light or intentionally or unawarely drifting into the darkness? Do you know that there’s a hope for all of us, one that goes far beyond the borders of this universe, into a vast and ineffable eternity?
Surrendering our lives to Jesus Christ is the way to render despair and fear powerless in us. With Jesus living in our hearts, we will, at times, still experience hopelessness, and dread and darkness will most certainly come (yes, it most certainly will) but there’ll be no room for it to get a foothold or make a permanent home.
If your hope is not in God in the deepest part of your spirit, I dare say that true fulfillment is impossible. God is love, God is light, God is abundance and God is good. Until I was almost thirty years old, I lived like many, many others – not aware of the ways in which God was faithful and active in my life, every single day. Not aware that what I was missing, what I was craving from the depths of my soul – was a relationship with Him. He created us to have a yearning that ONLY HE can satisfy and fill.
Have you surrendered your life to Jesus, the one God sent to save? Did you know that Jesus is God incarnate? That Jesus was sent down to earth to be born as a human baby boy, to grow and to live a sinless life while loving, healing, helping and teaching the people he encountered? Did you know that he died a criminal’s death on a cross and rose from the dead on the third day after, just as was foretold and predicted?
Today as I type these words – it’s three days from Good Friday, the day that Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice for you and for me. He took the punishment for every single one of our sins, so that every man, woman and child would have a way to be in right standing with God the Father, maker of heaven and earth.
Surrendering our lives to Jesus means that we believe He is the son of God, that we confess our sins and ask Him to forgive us, that we acknowledge that He died on the cross for us. It means believing and rejoicing that He rose from the dead on the third day after, that from the moment of surrendering and believing in Him – His spirit inhabits our hearts forevermore, and He’ll have a place prepared for us in heaven when it’s our time to go.
Surrendering means we have a hope when the massive burdens of our lives make us feel like it’s all insurmountable. It means we’ll be given the power and strength and wisdom and desire to fight our way out of the agonizing pits we may have fallen into. It means that when our time here on earth is through, we will rise – to melt into the secure embrace of the one who loves us more than we can even imagine.
Celebrate Easter anew this year, with eyes that see and ears that hear and a heart that’s more than willing. What are you waiting for?
2 Timothy 2: 11 – 13 “This is a true saying: If we die with him, we will also live with him. If we endure hardship, we will reign with him. If we deny him, he will deny us. If we are unfaithful, he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.”