“8-Track Tapes and Death (Suicide)”

Once again there really isn’t a “So what do you think?” for the day’s post…at least not in the sense of “Do you agree or disagree?” This seems to happen more often with “Flamethrower Mommy and Ghost Dad.”

If you’ve followed Nickel Boy Graphics for a while now, you know that there are some serious things going on in the young life of Caleb Joseph. Not only is there the almost constant criticism from Flamethrower Mommy but there is also something going on with his Not Real Daddy that makes him ashamed to shake the hand of his pastor.

This post is mostly just a recognition of all the pain young people (and grown up people) have felt for whatever reason. Sometimes we can tell that there is something troubling someone, but many times we can’t. I think it is up to all of us to do what we can to be aware and to be watchful.

My heart truly grieves today for everyone who has contemplated suicide and for everyone who has dealt with the suicide of a friend or family member. I also don’t want to overlook the “little suicides” like driving a bit too recklessly and unhealthy things like starving ourselves and cutting ourselves, and drugging ourselves.

From my perspective, I don’t believe the answer is to be “The Best and Most Perfect Christian Family Ever” or even “Being Nice To People You Wish Were Dead.” Yet there are elements in what Jesus taught and showed us that have a great deal of value in helping to make the prevention of suicide something that we work on together.

Perhaps with today being Sunday, the time where we share bread and wine and remember Jesus and how we are His Body here on earth right now today (Communion, Eucharist, the Lord’s Supper, whatever you may call it)…perhaps we can renew our commitment to support, love, care for, and attend to the other members of Christ’s body who are hurting and in pain? Particularly the youngest and at greatest risk? And everyone who is a “whosoever”?

My prayer is that suicide will be a forgotten thing of the past, just like 8-track tapes.

“You Have Some Serious Issues, Sweetie!”

I remember the first time I ever heard the word “issue” used in a work setting. It really stuck in my mind and gave me a bad “taste”…if that’s possible for a word to do.

I was accustomed to saying, “This is something that we will need to work on together.”

Then people changed from calling something an “issue” to calling it a “challenge” because that sounds sort of bold and daring…almost like “Star Trek” in a way.

Maybe “challenge” was too easily associated with the phrase “insurmountable challenge,” and so the new word became “opportunity.” That one word seemed to make everything optimistically better!

For me, I still like “something we need to work on together.” It takes more words, but it makes me think more about people. It’s not an “Amazing Flaw Concealer” way of handling things.

And just between you and me, Readers, I think Helena has a lot of “things we need to work on together”!

“It’s Not About Changing God’s Mind”

The images used in this graphic page contrast two different worlds, yet whatever the Gospel is, it must have a message for both worlds.

You may like to read posts and articles where the author says, “Here is some new knowledge for you. This is the way things are.” This is not going to be one of those. It is just going to be mostly some “What if” statements as my way of thinking through some things. (You may have already figured these things out. I’m still working on them.)
What if we don’t look at the Cross of Christ as a “keeping law and order” kind of legal transaction?

I ask this because I’m thinking that whatever the Gospel is…it just can’t tell a hurting child, “You have made God hate you, and God is going to make you pay for what you’ve done. Too bad you’re not like other children that God loves. You just wait.”

What if we stop thinking like this? “When you sin, God gets angry, the gun of execution is loaded and cocked. Somebody has got to die. It’s either going to be Jesus or you.”

I ask this because I’m thinking whatever the Gospel is…it just can’t tell a hurting child, “It’s a good thing that God had Jesus killed so that He can change His mind about you. It was either going to be Jesus or you.”

What if we start thinking like this? “God the Father never stopped loving humanity. Nor did He need to separate from, turn His back on, and kill God the Son to start loving humanity again.”

What if we stopped thinking of baptism as “an initiation ritual” and started living it out as “a spiritual reality”?

That truly seems to have been Paul’s perspective.

I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me. Galatians 2:20 (NASB)

Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:4 (NASB)

What if in God the Father’s eyes, He saw Jesus and you and me altogether on the Cross? What if in God the Father’s eyes, He saw Jesus and you and me altogether leaving the tomb? How do we live that out right here and now?

What if the good we now do is because we really have a new life in Christ rather than a guilty obligation? (It’s an obligation we feel because Jesus “took the bullets with our names on them”?)

What if after we say “Somebody has got to die,” we don’t say “It’s either going to be Jesus OR us”? What if instead we say “It’s ALREADY BEEN Jesus AND us”? How do we live that out right here and now?

“Forgiveness…Even For Myself?”

(This is a “Trigger Warning” for this post which looks at how childhood sexual abuse can make it difficult for a person to love and forgive themselves.)

There are some verses in the Bible that assume things about how people are.

There is no commandment in the Bible to love yourself. It’s just assumed that everyone does.

Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. Matthew 22:39 (KJV)

There is no commandment in the Bible to forgive yourself. It’s just assumed that everyone does.

But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses. Matthew 6:15 (KJV)

But not everyone loves themselves. Not everyone forgives themselves.

This can be true when we have made bad choices mostly perhaps on our own such as choosing addictions like drugs or alcohol, starving ourselves or cutting ourselves.

This can be true as well when we have been manipulated or forced into making bad choices without fully understanding what is going on or what the consequences will be. Childhood sexual abuse can make it very difficult for a person to love themselves and to forgive themselves.

Sometimes there is an abuser, a predator, who has very carefully manipulated the situation so that they seem to be not at fault. The abuser may be “just trying to help” or “taking the place of someone else who can’t or won’t help.” These are lies and deceptions that mask their true intentions.

The abuser may even make the child believe that it was really his or her own idea, not the adult’s idea, and that they are just as naive as the child, just playing a game that the child wanted to play. They may say something like “Just remember, this was your idea and what you wanted to do.” They will not say that they are enjoying the manipulation, the power, the control, the sexual thrill.

Looking back with adult survivor eyes, there may be pain, embarrassment, and the feeling of betraying oneself. You may doubt yourself. You may blame yourself for not being smart enough, for being gullible, for liking the attention, for allowing yourself to be used like that.

Years and adult decisions can put distance between the adult survivor and the abuser, but how does one make decisions to put distance between oneself? How do you get away from yourself? There is legal recourse that can be taken against an abuser, if you choose to take that route, but how does one take legal recourse against oneself? How do you make yourself pay?

Here is the dilemma.

If someone hurts God, treats Him like He doesn’t matter, then that person is going to pay for that betrayal. You mess with God, you are going to pay. The gun is loaded and cocked. The gun is fired at Jesus instead of you. This is sometimes the way that the Gospel is presented. Someone has to die. It’s either going to be Jesus or Me.

If someone hurts Me, treats Me like I don’t matter, then that person is going to pay for that betrayal. You mess with Me, you are going to pay. The gun is loaded and cocked. Only in this case, the gun is fired at Me.

When we hurt and betray ourselves, that’s not against God. That’s not messing with God, so maybe Jesus didn’t die for that. God gave Jesus to die for the hurts we give to God. Jesus took the penalty that rightly should be ours.

But who am I going to give to die for the hurts I gave to myself? The only person I can give to die for the hurts I gave to myself is me.

Stuff like this can make you want to kill yourself. No lie.

So think about how Christ and His Cross are presented. Is it like “when there is sin, the gun is loaded and cocked so somebody has got to die”? Jesus was crucified so God could change His mind about us? Is that right?

This next quote was part of our message on The Second Sunday Of Easter, and it came at just the right time as I was thinking through what to say in this post:

“Jesus didn’t come to change God’s mind about us, but to change our minds about God.”

This is an important message for everyone, on the last pew or not.

There is only one thing that I want to add for those on the last pew who hate themselves and are unable to forgive themselves for whatever reason, including those who believed lies, were misled, and abused as children. Even though everyone has a different story, is remains true for everyone who was abused as a child.

“Jesus also came to change our minds about ourselves.”

You did nothing wrong. You did nothing wrong. You did nothing wrong.

You were never in control of the situation, even if you were led to believe that you were. You could not have been smarter. You could not have figured it out on your own. Your abuser was not your equal. Your predator had a plan to succeed no matter what you did or didn’t do.

I believe with all of my heart that just as Jesus came to change our minds about God, He also came to change our minds about ourselves.

He can change your mind about yourself, and He can heal you.

Here is the only other part that I’m putting in bold. If you can relate to this and are struggling with this or know someone who is…seek counseling. There are resources available that can help you. I’m just drawing and writing from my limited perspective. But there are professionals that can help you. Seriously. Jesus is right there with you on the last pew. Honestly.

“Voices From The Last Pew” Update

This is a “trigger warning” concerning tomorrow’s post for “Voices From The Last Pew.”

It will be titled “Forgiveness…Even For Myself?” and is a companion posting to “Forgiveness…Even For Them?”

The post will take a look at how some people have a difficult time forgiving themselves, and the new person sitting in “The Last Pew” reflects on how she was abused sexually as a child.

This posting today is just a “heads up” in case some readers may be concerned that this may bring up painful memories from their past. You have a right to deal with things based on your own timing.

Hopefully it will be a good post, one that the Holy Spirit can use to bring help and healing.