Welcome Back! Well, you’ve probably been back; I am still unpacking from our Christmas trip, and trying desperately to wrap my mind around the task of putting our large tree away. It might be up til St. Patty’s. Stop by if you want to get a head start on your 2013 family Christmas photo.
I’ve missed you all and it’s good to be back in this community again. I am so pleased to open the new year with our first Shameless Man of 2013. (Anyone else think a calendar is in order?)
Sean is currently taking classes online with Moody Bible Institute, and is a ministry partner of Community Fellowship church in West Chicago. Ideally, he would like to be a pastor, husband, father, and author someday, but as long as heâ€™s following the will of the Lord he knows he will be okay. Sean blogs at http://wegogiant.blogspot.com,you can also find him on Facebook at www.facebook.com/wegogiant.
Sean shares openly about the pain of his father’s suicide in 2009. I’d ask that you take some time to comment below as Sean’s story is an especially vulnerable and powerful one.
In light of the events at Connecticut, I feel a burden to bring truth to light. If you have a story to tell, I’d love to share it. Let me know in the comments below or on our Facebook page.
There was a kind of shock in the room. A stunned silence that felt like it went on for minutes, although really it was only a few seconds before one of them spoke up.
â€œWait, when did this happen?â€
â€œI didnâ€™t quite hear, what did you just say?â€
â€œHow was this not mentioned sooner?â€
In July of 2009 I went on my first summer staff assignment for Young Life. To be brief, Young Life is an international youth ministry aimed at evangelizing to high school students. They own and operate several camps throughout the country and in the summers these camps run on volunteer work. Summer Staff is what they call the volunteer session for college students.
For four weeks, twelve young men between the ages of eighteen and twenty-two shared a single dorm. Itâ€™s amazing how the gospel connects people who are thrust into that type of situationâ€”how it becomes almost easy to live selflessly, to drop your pretenses, and forgive flaws. In particular itâ€™s amazing how quickly your walls come down and those little bits of info that just seem to change the ways people perceive you can just come outâ€¦
We were nearly a week and a half into our session, and this was the first time I told anybody why I was really here. â€œIt happened in May,â€ I said, â€œand itâ€™s not a very easy thing to talk about.â€ I could feel my fingertips tingling as I repeated the words â€œmy dad committed suicide.â€ It seemed like everybody had more questions, but we were all getting ready to go to dinner and had very little time.
Just like that, my identity changed. To these young men, I had become the survivor of my fatherâ€™s suicide, and perhaps even more drastically, the person who decided to spend a month away from family on a volunteer assignment only sixty days after it happened. I had opportunities in the remaining weeks to tell most of them the whole story. The usual response included a desire to pray, and very often people told me that they wouldnâ€™t have had the strength to undertake the endeavor of a summer staff session so close to such a traumatic event.
I found little comfort in that, although to be honest there wasnâ€™t much of anything that gave me significant comfort.
Now, I can barely go two weeks without someone from church letting me know how much my father meant to them and how proud he would have been of me. They knew a better him, but I knew him better. The last thing I want to do is tarnish his reputation, so for the most part I never really talk about him. Conversations on that subject always get weird and awkward anyway, but here goes:
I will forever be the survivor of my fatherâ€™s suicide. For the rest of my days I only have my memories of him. I have no chance to reconcile what was a very broken relationship. I have no chance to ask him why he did what he did. My Earthly father did (or rather, neglected to do) a lot of things that caused me pain, but for all the imperfections and all the expectations never fulfilled, I have a Heavenly father who shows me what a real love looks like.
My father on Earth willingly accepted death when it was not needed or desired.
My father in Heaven willingly gave his son in death, even death on a cross, because by no other means would he have been able to save me.
My heavenly father has done his work, he has adopted me as his son, and there is nothing that will take that away. There are no money troubles, no divorces, no foreclosures, no lost jobs, and no infidelities that can push him away. There is no insomnia, or medicinal dependency, or depression to take him away from me, and there is no deception or neglect to deter me from pursuing God.
As it says in The Heidelberg Catechism, â€œI trust him so much that I do not doubt he will provide whatever I need for body and soul, and he will turn to my good whatever adversity he sends me in this sad world. He is able to do this because he is the almighty God; he desires to do this because he is a faithful father.â€ (Question 26)
Even Jesus says in the beatitudes â€œBlessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.â€ (Matt 5:4) This comfort he speaks of is not merely the closeness of friends and family after a loss, but of the grand comfort of truly understanding the work of God the father (or at least as far as we can understand it).
I believe that my father is in Heaven, and I believe I will see him there someday, but even if heâ€™s not, God is still faithful, he is still sovereign, and he is still restoring everything that brings pain and death to the world.
That includes my father’s soul
and my breaking heart.
If you or a loved one are in need of any type of emotional support, The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline provides free and confidential counseling for people in suicidal crisis
or emotional distress 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.