LETTING GO–AGAIN

Not me!

By Lisa Huddleston

This morning I took the risk of pushing my 56-year-old body up into a backbend. It took a lift from my yoga instructor and a lot of courage from within to accomplish, but there I was, upside down looking back at the wall. I had been afraid to try, afraid of the brittleness I’ve been experiencing, the stiffness of my self. But the stretch felt good as I let go of my practical doubts and pushed up.

On my drive home, I listened to NPR’s “On Point” host a discussion of the television series, “13 Reasons Why.” I will not get into the debate over whether or not the series is positive or negative in this post, but I do want to record a small epiphany that occurred as I listened to a high school student share why she was drawn to the idea of suicide. And this may be obvious to everyone but me, but she said that she had contemplated killing herself in order to gain control over her situation. It was all about control!

Aha! Control, my old familiar nemesis, rears its ugly head once again. As I said, although it may have been hiding in plain sight, I have missed it before this morning. And, big duh, suicide really is the ultimate step of mastery over one’s situation—at least for that moment.

So much (God?) has been pointing out to me my desperate desire to have self-determination in a world that feels so out of control. We humans search for purpose and meaning and happiness and beauty and wealth and power–whatever will control the fact that we are from dust and to dust we will return. Pippin’s four weeks of dying naturally were a microcosm that let me vicariously (and actually as one who could have chosen to end his life) experience letting go. And yesterday I attended the funeral services of a wonderfully warm and brave family member (Jerry Denton) who chose to forego extreme medical intervention and let nature take its course in his dying—or rather living all the way until he died. I remain so moved by his courage and example of trust. I know it must have been unbelievably hard to let go of the reins of control, feeble though they are.

And this morning this aha. Control is a mirage anyway. Fear is a faker. Letting go and pushing into the moment is the courageous choice and the only honest way to live all the way stretched up and into the space of the day. Why is it so hard to do?

 

YOU DO YOU

By Lisa Huddleston

Suicide is not the solution. Seek help!

Suicide is not the solution. Seek help!

On Monday evening I received a text message from a good friend telling me that my dentist had killed himself. His body had been found in his car parked behind a large car dealership near a line of woods. Curiously, my mother (who lives with us), Chuck, and I had been talking about this man during our dinner that very night. I had received a postcard reminder of my upcoming appointment for a cleaning, and we were extolling his virtues as a kind and caring man. And then this news.

It was shocking to us and also to the rest of our small town! Rumors began to fly almost immediately blaming such things as finances, affairs, business troubles, and so on. I still have no idea why he took his life, but I can say I have spent the week pondering the terrible affect suicide has upon those it leaves behind, and everyone I have spoken with in my hometown has brought it up everyday since. What will his employees do? Will the business close? Will his family still receive insurance money? Where will we go if we have a dental emergency? Is suicide an unforgivable sin? These are just a few of the many questions I have heard asked. Many of the gossipy questions being asked were none of our business, others were just practical (and selfish?) on our part, and still others showed genuine concern. In my defense, it took me years to find this particular dentist, and I trusted him—no small feat. I hate the idea of going anywhere else. I confess that was my second thought after I heard the news—after the shock and gasp of sorrow. Selfish, yes. I’m only human.

But I wonder what happened? How could this smiling, congenial, and very kind man we knew end up taking his own life? Mom had seen him two weeks earlier. Chuck had chatted about our children and his less than a week before. All seemed fine and ordinary and mundane. But it’s clear that was not the truth.

I have to confess I’ve thought a lot about suicide—what else would you expect from a depressive person?—so I can understand the urge. But to actually do it? It makes my soul ache. If he could have seen what a hole he would leave, you know, have a “Wonderful Life” moment, would he still have done it? If we who only knew him professionally feel so affected by his death how much more so are those who loved him as a friend or family member? It hurts my heart to imagine their pain.

But I hope we all will imagine that pain. Suicide is increasing. I know of three people who have attempted it this year alone, and I really don’t get out much. So think! You fill a hole in the world that only you fit. Only you can sing off-key in just that odd and quirky way. Only you water the porch plants or teach that ESL class or sleep on the left side of that special person or have the same blue eyes as your daughter. Only you are you. And if you don’t care about you then, please, care about those students or friends or loved ones who will never be the same without you in their lives.

It may sound odd, but I will miss my dentist, and I will never forget how he left us. I pray I will also never forget the value of every life including my own. You do you, and I’ll do me. And let’s all keep on doing or being us for as long as life allows. And, please, SEEK HELP IF YOU NEED IT! People really do care.

 

P.S. I do not believe this kind, Christian man will be eternally condemned for his lapse of judgment. Jesus died for all our sins. Thank you, Lord! 

BEFORE THE LAST STRAW

Oh, my aching back!

Oh, my aching back!

By Lisa Huddleston

Some days I feel as though I just can’t take it anymore. Just one more word of bad news, of suffering due to disease or choice or pure evil, and I’m finally going to crack.

And despite all the well-intentioned (and true) articles people have written, posted, and shared about how to effectively impact issues like genocide, starvation, disease, depression, suicide, injustice and so on, I simply and honestly feel powerless.

And that powerlessness leads me to despair.

But God reminds me that He is the power in my life–and in all the other lives that are currently inhabiting this scarred and bleeding planet. When doubt, despair, and powerlessness threaten to rip me apart, this truth holds me together like gravity for my soul:

“Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God’s Spirit is right alongside helping us along. If we don’t know how or what to pray, it doesn’t matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That’s why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good” (Romans 8:26-28, The Message).

As He died in our place, He even prays in our place! He is the power for the powerless, the prayer for the prayerless, and the hope for the hopeless.

Oh, may thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven … before even one more straw can fall. Amen.

I WANT TOMORROW

By Lisa Huddleston

I have not been able to shake the disturbing news that Rick Warren’s son took his own life over this past weekend.  Do I know the Warrens?  No—I’ve read his books (along with many of you) and have heard his sermons.  But I do not know him or his family.  Why do I feel so strongly moved by this terrible loss of life?

I guess, first, I cannot imagine having to suffer such a personal grief in such a public manner.  As a mother, I have felt maternal guilt when my children have made a choice that others may criticize.  Inappropriate, I know.  Their choices are their own.  They are adults.  Yet, there it is.  I never stop feeling responsible for them.  I should have been kinder.  I should have yelled less.  I should have played more, prayed more, stayed more present.  Should have—but no way to change that now.  So I wonder if the Warrens are feeling the same doubts as I.  And I hurt for them.  You’ll never read this, but I want to tell you—Rick and Kay and all of you moms and dads with struggling children—it’s not your fault!  (Public disclaimer:  Dad and I are terribly proud of you guys, Chad, Sarah, and Nick.  You are each awesome!)

Second, I relate too strongly with their son’s terrible pain.  Can I say that I know how he felt?  Of course not.  I did not know him, and I have not fought his fight.  Yet, again, I have felt the heavy weight of depression and have had times when I desperately wanted a way out.  When this body has felt like a shell that must be cracked to let my eggy life out.   And I hurt for him.  I wish I could have encouraged him to wait for fresh mercy.  I do hope that these words may encourage someone else to wait.  A moment’s choice cannot be reversed.  And I can’t shake the impact such a choice can make.  A meteor that crashes into the ground and shakes the world around it with waves of grief.

Yesterday, I felt the waves wash over me.  Inexplicably.  But today I have danced in the kitchen and sung songs of praise with Hillsong Music blaring from the Bose.  Go figure!

One of our family’s favorite songs says, “Who knows what tomorrow will bring?  Could be most anything.  An encouraging word.  A buffalo herd.  Who knows what tomorrow will bring?”  (Thanks, Claire Lynch!)  So … who knows?  But I do want to find out.

See you tomorrow.