So Hard to Understand…..

Today I went to the funeral of a young man who decided that he no longer wanted to face the problems that he had created for himself. He no longer wanted to deal with all the crap that life can throw at you. He no longer wanted to be a blessing to his parents, sister, extended family and friends. So instead he chose to scale the fence that sits along side of a highway overpass and jump to his death. Here is a link to the article about it titled, “Teen commits suicide jumping from overpass”

He was only 17 years old and had so much to look forward to. He was going to be graduating from high school in a few months and then had plans to serve his nation in the United States Marine Corps. He one day would potentially get married and have kids, and give his parents grandchildren to spoil rotten, like all grandparents do. But instead on January 13th, before he went to school that he would just end all that hope and promise.

Why do people do such selfish and stupid things? I just don’t get it. As I sat there in that church waiting for the service to begin I looked up at his picture being projected on the wall and thought to myself, “How could he get on top of that fence, look down and realize that that was going to it for his life. And then to follow through and jump. What was he thinking as he plunged down to the pavement.” I don’t think I could ever get myself to that point of just letting go like that. Have I ever thought about ending it all? Yes, I don’t think there is a person who didn’t have that thought cross their mind. But to actually follow through with it is a whole different thing.

People say that it takes a very strong person to commit suicide and that it takes some serious guts. If I were to only think about the fear of that moment before making that choice and being able to follow through with it, I would say that they are correct. But when I look at it in the bigger picture I see what a cowardice act it really is. It is also selfish, but it is a cowards acts and death. Unlike the opposite thing this young man was potentially choosing of going into the USMC and possible getting sent to Iraq and dying there, which would have been a heroes death. But when you look at the big picture you see that he would have been much stronger and so much, more brave to choose to live life. To face whatever it was that he did that he knew he was going to have to pay for. To face that and to face the rest of his life would have taken a lot more intestinal fortitude and strength, because life is hard. Life is filled with all kinds of trials and problems. It is a hard thing to do and to live.

So now his family and friends are left here to deal with all of the crap and the emotions that are left to deal with from the loss of his life. I sat there amongst a bunch of students from his high school and watched them break down and cry. I am sure that even if he had died of natural causes they would have been crying, but it is much harder to deal with when they chose to die and so there was a definite sense of that deeper grief there.

But what I saw as an even bigger tragedy than the loss of his life, with all due respect, was the way that the two pastors who spoke totally botched the opportunity they had. The first pastor got up and admitted that he did not even know the young man, but was the pastor of some of the aunts and uncles. In fact, this young man and his family didn’t even attend church and the mom even said that she wasn’t a religious person and doesn’t even go to church. Anyway, this first pastor said that he was feeling so many emotions at this time and one of them was anger. And that he was angry at Garrett for what he did and for taking his life. And he pointed out that many there probably felt the same way. But the problem was that he pretty much left it right there. Not much else was said. Very sad!

Then this girl got up and sang this song that she wrote to Garrett and towards the end she broke down and cried. The other pastor, who was the senior pastor of the church the funeral service was held at, got up there and put his arm around her and patted her back. Very nice! But then she turned to embrace him because she was obviously very emotional and this “man of God” brushed her off as if to say, “go on and sit down, we have a show to finish”. I was so disgusted!

Then it was his turn to give a message and while it was a fairly good message he made a very poor attempt to engage the extremely young audience he had. The first rule of delivering a speech or sermon is audience analysis and this guy failed it! Then when he kept referring to them as young people, and not that that is a problem, but it was the way he said it. There was an air of condescension to it. And that bothers the crap out of me. But they were totally disengaged from what he had to say. And while all that he had to say was true he failed at engaging them, speaking to them (as opposed to talking down to them), and giving them a way to apply it to their lives. I sat there wishing that I could just embrace everyone of those students and talk with them and console them.

Then at the end the most amazing thing happened! Garrett’s mom stood up to speak. She started it off by saying that she was “by no means a religious person” (I love how people say that! LOL), and that she “doesn’t go to church at all”. She then said that she “had no idea how she is going to say goodbye to her son”. WOW!!! Now that right there was a tough one to hear. It took everything for me to just sit there and not run down to the front and hug her. Then she went on to say to all of the students there that “if they hear about a friend who is going through a tough time, even if it is a rumor, to tell them to talk with someone. If they won’t talk with their parents then tell them to go to a neighbor or anyone. Just tell them to talk with someone, because I had no idea that my son was going through a tough time.” She then repeated that she “had no idea how she is going to say goodbye to her son”. This woman who is “by no means a religious person” said more than the religious people did, in my opinion. I hope those pastors were taking notes, but I doubt it.

And one last little rant. This is a pet peeve of mine because it is just so wrong Scripturally. We do not die and go to heaven and become angels! I was glad that these two pastors did not say that, but it just amazes me how many people think that. Where did that idea ever come from? I know that it makes people feel better and all that, but it is bs and bothers me. Oh well!

I pray for Garrett’s family during this time, that God would comfort them. And I especially pray for his parents and sister that they would find God in all of this and embrace him with their whole lives. I pray for his friends that they too, would find that comfort that they need and if they do not have a relationship with Him that God would reveal himself to them in this time of need.

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Kim, father to Hannah & Caleb, and the connections pastor at The River Church. The thoughts expressed here are my own and not The River Church's.

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