Last week I was on a wonderful vacation. Northern Michigan in the summer is the absolute best place to be. My phone switched between time zones because we were staying just feet from Lake Michigan.
It had been a crazy couple of weeks prior to the trip with purchasing a home and moving in. Our progress was slow and the break was welcome.
On Wednesday we left camp to explore the area and we were able to meet up with friends we had not seen in over a year. I briefly checked social media and put my phone down.
On Friday I went berry picking with some friends. As we were driving I just casually checked social media again. This time, something caused me to pause.
My friend died on Thursday. He committed suicide.
I keep trying to say it out loud, but it still feels like a terrible dream and that I am still asleep. Every time I remember, I get sad because I can’t talk to my friend. I felt anger for a day and now I am numb.
He was my friend, and he was a fellow minister of the Gospel. As a professional church worker, it cuts even deeper. It’s a road we all know the challenge of. It’s a career we don’t go into lightly, yet one we have so much passion for Jesus to give.
I am thankful for our community and the real conversations we have been having these last few days. I want to keep having them because the reality is that Scotte isn’t the only one who suffered. I can’t even count the number of friends I have talked to these last few days and weeks, months and years that battle depression and anxiety. It’s something we live with daily and it’s more often than not an internal, painful, lonely battle.
Yet, in the midst of my sadness, life continues. I still have to go to work. I still have to figure out how to fix a leaky roof in my new house as the rain pours down in buckets. VBS is next week and I am way behind in my preparation. There were some challenges being on vacation with family last week that I am still processing, too. How will it all get done? And I know I am not the only person asking that question and feeling overwhelmed.
We spent a lot of time in the car last week driving between Maryland and Michigan. I listened to a podcast, an interview with Bill Withers. I didn’t realize I knew who that was until I heard his music. I began to listen to all these well-loved songs in the last few days.
“Lean on Me” was a song I loved as a kid. In fact, we sang it at elementary school graduation. As I listened to it yesterday, I heard it through the perspective of someone experiencing depression and anxiety. I heard it through my own struggles. I heard it through my husband’s suicide attempt last year.
Verse 2 stings hearing it with the grief of a completed suicide.
“Please swallow your pride
If I have things you need to borrow
For no one can fill those of your needs
That you won’t let show.”
You want so badly for that person to reach out for help, and they want that for themselves, too. But the lies of the mind are more powerful than we even realize.
While “Lean on Me” isn’t necessarily a Christian song, I hear this Bible verse as the chorus plays:
10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:10-12.
I did not realize the reference to life and death in this verse. How fitting to be reminded that Christ has won the victory whether we are here on earth or in heaven with Him!
What a comfort that is for those of us who remain to share the Gospel here on earth. And what a comfort that we are indeed checking in with each other and we are encouraged to keep doing that. Let’s continue to lean on each other when life is filled with joy and when it’s filled with sorrow. When you know there is always someone to listen, it eases the weight of life and its brokenness.
This post feels unfinished, but that is how I am feeling. My heart has a void. I’m not done processing this and won’t be for sometime.