Longing for More.
Several years ago, I was flying home from Park City with my younger son, Danny. When we touched down and changed planes, a text message flashed onto my phone. "A guy I know who graduated from our high school jumped off the freeway overpass and he is dead, Christine." And another, "I don't understand; this kid I know killed himself-I'm freaked out." And so the messages came.
Whatever I had planned, I postponed it. Because just three hours later, I would be leading SundayNight Live, (the evening component to Fellowship of Christian Athletes at San Clemente High School) and I had to address what had happened in the wee hours of the same day. Almost every single one of the students had heard about him; yes, I had to speak to it. So when the pizza boxes were empty, the opening songs sung, I grabbed a stool and sat down in front of 50-60 of the high school's finest. We talked about what had happened, how they felt about it, and then I asked them a question:
"how many of you have ever thought about taking your life?"
At least half of them raised their hands. Reality check: most of these kids believed in God, most were active in a sport, (at a big, academically-rigorous D-1 school in our middle class Southern California beach town). Geez.
What has happened, that young people think suicide is a viable option? Robbed of sleep, disturbed, I took to the internet and was shocked to find attorneys informing folks that 'their lives are their own and if they want to end them, that is their choice.' Wait, what? When did we stop valuing life? I have thought about that a lot since that fateful Sunday in 2012, and when did we stop thinking of life as a precious gift? I have opinions, but this isn't about that.
And now ...
this week in June 2018.
I liked her feminine style--loved her black and white polka-dots, stripes and hot pink bows; oh, I suppose I was the classic Kate Spade prototype, and have a number of her purses. And while I certainly did not know her, at least from the outside, she had the world by the tail, right? Firmly ensconced in the fashion world, living an uber-wealthy privileged life in New York City, with a young teen-aged daughter and handsome husband. Just like that . . . gone. Took her life at age 55.
And the chef? Well, he carved out a travel/food show all his own; took me to places, exposed me to foods and cultures I would not have otherwise experienced. 'Until he failed to show for dinner with his friend in France this week, made the same choice as Kate in the same way, and now, Anthony Bourdain is no more.
As I helped put my twin grandbabies down for naps, I kept thinking 'What is going on? Why do people who have 'made it', with life yet to live, kill themselves?' Babies down, I went upstairs to be alone with God and get my bearings. And then I thought about me. By every mark, I should know contentment and yet . . . there are times I feel the disquiet. I long for things I cannot name. My children are grown, and I long to hold them in my arms as babes again . . . long for do-overs. All of us know the inner tug of longings unmet, unfulfilled. So. What. Is. That. About.? 'Can't get no satisfaction,' Mick sang... is that perhaps true?
As I prayed, I grabbed my Bible and was drawn to Ecclesiastes, which King Solomon penned toward the end of his life it seems. He who knew wisdom, prosperity and power, seemingly from every vantage point, waxed philosophic. Find the book in your Bible, Friend. When is the last time you looked at it-wedged between Proverbs and Song of Songs, also written by Solomon?
When vexed, needing answers ~ truly, the Word of God is the place to go. The Bible is honest and real. Every emotion we experience-good, bad and ugly is represented and authentically so. Solomon wrestles with the meaning of life in this book, "Vanity of vanities," says the Preacher;
"Vanity of vanities, all is vanity." Ecclesiastes 1.2
and ultimately comes to one conclusion: Now all has been heard;
here is the conclusion of the matter; Fear God and keep his commandments,
for this is the duty of all mankind. Ecclesiastes 12.13
That is, until Christ ... then not just about laws.
As I pray for the Spade and Bourdain families, I pray peace in the never-to-be-filled chairs at the family table again. But of two things I am aware:
without God in my life, I got nothin'.
And even with God? IfI am battling mental/emotional demons that are wanting to get the best of me, I' gotta go for help.
More on our longings to come. In the meantime, let's stand on Jesus' words:
Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. Matthew 6.33
Because in our longing, Jesus.