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Posts Tagged ‘suicide’

I appreciate all of the prayers offered up on behalf of our friends Christian and Carleen, who I wrote about last week (03/06/2014) in my blog titled, “Back to the Edge of the Cliff”. As I mentioned in that article, Christian actually died and was revived several minutes later by his mother Carleen (who was formerly a Registered Nurse). While she offered no explanation for why her 21 year old son’s heart stopped suddenly, and blood came streaming from his mouth, those who know them would have to assume that these things were all the byproduct of a drug overdose, as both mother and son are addicted to heroin. The only real question would be whether it was intentional or accidental.

On a more personal note, it was somewhat surprising to hear that Christian was asking to see me, as we’d never been particularly close. Over the years of our friendship, most of my attention had been devoted to his mother and his two little sisters. Though I know that he appreciated those efforts it didn’t necessarily result in a deep bond between us. His biological father has never been a part of his life, and was already serving a 50 year sentence for attempted murder when Christian was a baby. Though I never sensed that he looked to me as any sort of father figure, I was blessed to hear that he wanted to see me, even though I had no idea what I should say. At first, the hospital prohibited visitors, but I eventually got the call that I could see him.

After much prayer, I felt that I just needed to let Christian dictate the conversation for a while, and to rely on the Holy Spirit to guide me. Though the initial minutes of our time together were awkward, we finally settled into a relaxed conversation about nothing in particular. After an hour and a half of this small talk, I was wondering if this was really what God wanted, but Christian seemed to be engaged, so I just continued to roll with it. Then, after a brief interruption by one of his nurses, he suddenly turned back to me and calmly said, “You know that I was trying to end it?” While I wasn’t quite prepared for that, I tried not to give away my surprise; and without any discernible emotion, he proceeded to tell me the story of how he decided to end his life and what he did to execute that plan.

I have to admit that it was chilling to hear how little regard he had for himself, or for his family who witnessed these things. Sadly, his 13 year old sister was the one in the room when blood started issuing from his mouth and his heart stopped beating. In her young life she’s already been an eyewitness to her baby sister losing an arm to a lawn mower, and her father dying in their living room. Even worse is the fact that those events may not constitute the most horrific things she’s experienced, as she’s grown up in a house full of drug addicts. I have to admit that my heart was sick as I considered the carnage this family has known.

Within the story, there was a point where a window of opportunity seemed to crack open, as Christian admitted that he moved into the kitchen because he knew that no one would find him in the bedroom. As I asked about that, he disclosed that as the heroin quickly grabbed a hold of him, he had wondered if this wasn’t a mistake, and from there we spent the next couple of hours talking about fear, hope, suffering, eternity, God, religion, and life in general. I can’t tell you what, if anything, was accomplished in those hours, but it was as naked a conversation as I’ve ever had, and I sensed that it was exactly what both Christian, and God, wanted all along. Christian has a lot of questions, and I didn’t try to give him answers that I didn’t have. I think he appreciated that. I couldn’t help but think of the friends of Job, who cried with him for seven days, but then tried to explain what they didn’t understand. I did my best not to go there.

Looking back, I sense that he was sort of testing me. Would I even come; would I give up when things got inconvenient; would I preach at him; would I stay for more than 15 minutes; would I judge him; would I throw some tired religious platitudes at him; would I really care one way or another? When I finally had to go, he seemed to understand, but he sheepishly asked, “Can you come back tomorrow?” I guess that was his way of letting me know that it had all meant something to him too. As I went to leave I patted him on the shoulder, but despite being weak and full of IV lines / heart monitor wires, he insisted on getting up and hugging me. In that moment I could feel the utter void of love that this boy has ever experienced from a man who didn’t want something from him.

Our conversations in the days since have wavered between more small talk and the deeper issues that are going on in his life. Without us really addressing it directly, Christian decided that he wants to go to rehab at a local outreach ministry, if they’ll take him. At this point, he’s a risk even for the programs that were created to help people like him. And he’s opened up about his fears of being released from the hospital with nowhere to go, other than back to the life he’s always known. He seems to want to make a change, but he’s not sure he can do it, or exactly how to begin. From the outside it all seems pretty simple, but up close it looks nearly impossible. His mother has been the truest manifestation of love he’s known, and yet, her continued involvement in his life presents a real danger to his future. For Carleen, her kids have been her motivation to keep going, but her addiction now threatens their existence. Without the kids, will Carleen have an incentive to keep going? What if Christian needs a safe place to stay? Is it wise to bring him into my home with three teenaged kids? How will he feel if I’m not willing to do that? How far is God calling me to go with this? I’ve got all sorts of words, but talk is cheaper than ever in his world. This boy needs a miracle and only God can deliver it. Despite the encouraging events of the last few days, it’s still up in the air when it comes to tomorrow. Please lift this whole situation up in prayer, as apart from God, we can do nothing.

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In my nearly half a century on the planet I’ve found that life rarely unfolds in the way that we imagine it will.  God, in His sovereignty, has His own unique way of making things happen and I’ve learned just to yield when I sense His hand at work.  In those moments it is best to be as a little child, who simply trusts the direction of his father, regardless of whether he really understands the purpose of it all.  And so it was one evening, a few years ago.  As I walked through the living room and saw about 15 seconds of a commercial for a new reality show about children’s pageants and the people who participate in them.  Within that snippet I saw a young girl (maybe 4 or 5 years old) sobbing, and her mother angrily venting her disapproval and bellowing, “I’m doing all of this for you!”  Rightly or wrongly, my immediate sense was that this woman was deceiving herself and no doubt doing untold damage to her child.

As a father of four (two boys and two girls) I was sickened at the thought of a parent who would be willing to crush their child under the weight of their own unfulfilled expectations.  Though I’d seen fathers do this to their sons on countless ball fields/courts, it was somehow even more startling to watch a mother do it to her daughter.  As my own heart grieved I sensed the grief of heaven join in and I quickly became overwhelmed with emotion.  As I closed my eyes to pray I began to feel the broken heart of this girl.  Strangely, it was not her heart in the instant that I had witnessed, but her heart years later, as she stood at the threshold of adulthood.  As I lingered in that moment, words began to flow and the following verses emerged.

Pageant Girl

Want you to know that I don’t blame you

You just wanted “the best” for me

You sacrificed so much to make me a winner

You deserved better

If I just could’ve stood a little straighter

If my hair wasn’t so stringy

All those cute little outfits

To you, sexy just meant playful

But playful meant something different to them

Anything you serve like an hors d’oeurve is bound to be devoured

If only I had been a better singer

If I just had fuller lips

I tried to smile for the camera

It’s what happened when the camera was off that made it hard

Thank God for makeup

The bruises & scars never showed

Maybe if I had been smarter

If I wasn’t so clumsy

You always said there was a price to pay

And I’ve tried hard to “live the dream”

Guess I must not have wanted it bad enough

You deserved better

If only I had been taller

If I wasn’t so flat-chested

Always in the court, but never the Queen

At nineteen, it’s already too late for me

The “1st Alternate” to the winner is still just a loser

Who could want me now?

If only I could have lost more weight

If my eyes weren’t so close together

I’m sorry for letting you down

For leaving the stage before the show is really over

I’m sorry about all of this blood on the floor

But as it weeps from my wrists, I feel strangely free

If only I could have been a daughter you could be proud of

 

It is hard to describe the profound nature of experiencing these emotions as though they were my own and maybe even harder to explain why God would allow me (a forty something year old man) to have such an experience.  The one thing I felt sure of was that I should try to legitimately speak from the heart of this precious child, and, in as much as I knew how, that is what this piece was about for me.  But after the emotion of the moment ebbed, I was faced with the daunting question of what to do with all this.  While I hoped that people might be touched by the devastating consequences of the unrealistic expectations that are so often heaped upon our children, I couldn’t help but wonder how I might answer the practical questions of where this writing came from and what made me credible to be its author.

Like a coward, I thought about sticking it into one of my many notebooks, where no one but God and I could find it.  But a dear friend reminded me that if God had indeed facilitated this experience, it must be for someone.  So I said a little prayer and posted it on my blog www.bryancorbin.com where someone might stumble upon it.  Within minutes, I received a response from a young woman, half way around the world, who said that she felt as though it had been written specifically for her.  She shared her own heartbreaking poem with me, where she cries out to a father who’d made her feel like a disappointment.  While I tried to share some uplifting words with her, our exchange was brief.  But knowing that someone had profoundly connected with it was all I needed to validate that there had been some purpose behind the whole experience.

Until recently, it has remained tucked away in the archives of my website and frankly, I had no plans to do anything more with it.  Of course, that doesn’t mean that God doesn’t have plans of His own.  Like fresh leaves in springtime, there seems to be new life emerging from these roots and hopefully the branches will reach even further in this season.  Upon reflection, I can see that this was about more than just girls who’ve suffered through the pageant circuit.  It is really for any child who’s been made to feel like they are less than what they were created to be.  And now, instead of simply being a stark picture of the pain that comes with that, a counterpoint of hope has been set upon the horizon.  With the benefit of hindsight, I realize that all I had was a single piece of the puzzle and that it wasn’t until that was combined with other pieces that a clearer, more beautiful picture emerged.  Such is the patience of God.  I pray that all of this will be a seed of hope and healing to those who would receive it.

Please go to http://pageantgirl.org/ to watch the video put together by our dear friends Vincent Wigh and Jose Bosque, and featuring the beautiful song, “You Know Me” by Steffany Frizzell.  If this touches you, please share it with others.  God bless.

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