Posted by JMF, a resident of the Pleasanton Meadows neighborhood, on Mar 2, 2010 at 8:00 am
The heartbreaking news of another high school student’s flight from life was something I tried to distance myself from. I have my own family and medical problems that are weighing heavily on me right now. But as I drove towards Amador en route to volunteer at Valley View Elementary School, I sensed a tsunami close at hand.
My three girls attended Amador High School. This familiar route is embedded into every one of my cells, tracing the time devoted to their formation. Thousands of trips back and forth to school tracked the daily progress toward their futures.
As I approached the parking lot, it looked surreal. All those cars belonging to students echoed the unheard screams of emptiness that they are now minus one—not from sickness, or transfer, or adolescent boredom or rebellion, but from a tragedy of isolation, more foreboding than any disease. In depression, I have felt physical pain as intense as being deep underwater and unable to breathe. Wanting, needing to be rescued, but instead surrounded by people who could not see my pain, who did not know how desperate I was, only increased my suffering, and “proved” I was alone, with no way out. Separating from the “normal” world and rushing to end the pain—even into the front of a train—is actually a comforting thought to a tortured mind, which seeks the quickest way to end the immense overload the body is ill-prepared to withstand. Evelyn should have been in class, surrounded by classmates.
It is when we feel separated from any conceivable hope that we give up. Embarrassment, shame, overwhelming obstacles, ruined finances and friendships, can bring self-hatred that becomes impossible to endure or escape from. Shutting down, separating, is a form of self-protection, but it quickly summons a shroud of darkness which denounces any solution and chants death, mockingly at first, then through constant, drawn-out torture. All connection to life or feelings, except the searing awareness of aloneness in never-ending agony, is gone. Anything—a spilled drink, a red light, a perceived judgment, an insignificant loss or a “stupid” mistake can become the last straw before grasping any promise of instant relief—the ultimate deception that too many are helplessly drawn to.
The truth is, despite feelings, despite appearances, we are not alone. The nursery tune’s lyrics sung while all hold hands, following each other around the community-made circle, “Ring around the rosey, pocket full of posies, ashes, ashes, we ALL fall down,” perfectly portrays the effect when one of us falls away—we ALL fall down.
By the time I reached the railroad tracks, my staccato sobbing erupted into involuntary wailing, my face contorted in anguish, my body shaking helplessly, my glasses dotted with salty, tsunami tears, my very being repulsed by this horrendous loss. I continued in this storm of uncovered emotion through driving, parking, and walking to the classroom. I barely managed to compose myself while I was with my student, breaking down again several more times afterwards. I’m in mourning. This loss affects me—this precious child I did not know—she’s part of my life; she’s my heartbreak too.
When my son was a Junior at Foothill High School, just a couple of years ago, all three of our high schools suffered from this loss; all three students were within months of my son’s age. It was devastating to me, shattering my soul, the pall stretching over a calendar that marked a change in our quiet community, like September 11 changed our country, never to be “normal” again. Yet Spring overcame Winter; as it is faithfully does, no matter how permanent the dead landscape appears….I was awakened with the thought that the students’ life is the twinkle in Jesus’ eye. I felt compelled to write, sobbing throughout….
The Twinkle of My Eye
Who am I, anyway?
What do I matter?
I don’t like myself.
I don’t fit in.
I am a speck of nothing.
Invisible Vacant Void
No one notices me.
No one will miss me.
The world will be better without me….
Instantly, Jesus knew
He rushed to the
Living Picture of Himself:
God’s Glory revealed continually
through all life interwoven in perfect unity.
The Picture affirmed his alarm:
The Twinkle in His eye was gone-----
------------Sobbing burst forth------------
Time lost all meaning.
Light was extinguished in sorrow,
spiraling into a blackened, eternal night.
Through the shroud of collected tears,
He noticed a new Twinkle in Heaven.
He rushed to place this Twinkle
In His eye of Everlasting Love…
Never to be separated again.
My faith is my solace; the Bible is the source of this poem. By delighting in and meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1), I am able to derive comfort in times of need by remembering the treasures (truths and promises from God) I’ve stored in my heart. Here are a few of the treasures stored in my heart that led to this poem:
1 Cor 12:12-27 “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts...So it is with Christ...God has arranged the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be…The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!”…If one part suffers, every part suffers with it…Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.”
Zech 2:8 ”—for whoever touches you touches the apple of His eye—“
Ps 42:3 “My tears have been my food day and night”
John 11:33,35,36 “When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come along with her also weeping, he was deeply moved….Jesus wept. Then the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
Rev 21:4 “He will wipe every tear from their eyes.”
Ps 56:8 “Put my tears in Your bottle”
Isa 25:8 “he will swallow up death forever. The Sovereign Lord will wipe away the tears from all faces; he will remove the disgrace of his people from all the earth. The Lord has spoken”
Jer 31:3,4 “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with loving-kindness. I will build you up again and you will be rebuilt.”
Ps 126:5 “Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy”
Rom 8:38,39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
All life, every single person, makes up that twinkle in Jesus’ eye. When we look into his eyes, it is our face reflected in them. We each have an individual audience with Jesus, and when you see how beautiful you look from his perfect eye, which sees only the best in you, you do twinkle! We each are that twinkle. And together, we shine brightly. When one sparkle is missing, the whole picture is dimmed.
I had a friend who attempted, then finally succeeded in taking her own life. I miss her. When I had a problem that she was well-trained to answer, I wanted to call her to ask her how to solve it. She was no longer available—to me, her son, her husband, or to all those who could benefit from her talents and abilities. She stopped not only her life, forgoing all the joys she couldn’t conceive of at the time, but she affected the lives of all who were short-changed of the good she would have done for them.
We are all here for a reason. We are not alone. When we look toward our purpose and not our present circumstances, there is hope. Many times I have sorrowed over her permanent “solution” to a temporary situation. In all honesty, I could not say that her life was worse than mine, but I have persevered due to a source of strength that helps me when I feel separated from my loved ones through my own cave-dwelling; when I want to flee the unbearable pain and seek “nothingness” instead. I know Jesus is with me—even when I hide from him and accuse him of not being there.
I have never attempted to take my life because I have an eternal hope, apart from the tangible feelings and circumstances of the present. It is rooted in knowing how loved I am by Jesus, no matter what I’ve done or failed to do. No matter how much I hate myself, I know He doesn’t blame me or condemn me. He shows me I have a good future and gives me hope. This is the truth that sets me free to live and not die.
Currently I am going through several painful issues. I have been depressed throughout many years of my life, and thoughts of death are quite familiar to me, seeming the only comfort to be had at times. These thoughts are with me now—but as alluring as they are, I know they are false, bewitching thoughts—not to be believed!!! I know, “This, too, shall pass.” I know I will laugh again. I know every experience, including the most painful, is a valuable addition to the goal of becoming a whole person. Without testing, temptations, trials and even torment, how can we have compassion on others? It is from our failures that we can help others who go through similar black holes. This is victory!
I pray that each of us knows how valuable we are to others, now and in the future. May we all see ourselves through Jesus’ loving eyes, accepting how He has given unique talents and abilities to each of us—all different, but all worthy. May we reach out to others with our own contributions through our talents and abilities and even our painful past, which is why we are here, which is why I’m writing this now. Amen
Barton Tutor (Valley View, Donlon)
Blazing Fire Church