Last week I was surprised by all the hoopla regarding a new
app called Secret. Students are able to
post thoughts and ideas on the app anonymously.
The creators describe the positives that can happen from the anonymity,
such as being able to reveal embezzling to a boss without being deemed a
snitch. However, the opposite is also
true. Slander and cyberbullying has hit
a new high. People are name-calling and
bashing others without fear of repercussions because no one knows who posted
it. Not only are the words appalling,
but many are posting pictures and images that are equally grotesque all under
the cloak of secrecy.
What is it within us that causes us long for anonymity? I’ve pondered this since I learned about the
new site, and I’m taken back to the beginning. Way back to the beginning. In the Garden of Eden, when Adam and Eve
first ate the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, they
immediately hid behind fig leaves. They
knew their actions were wrong, and yet they hid in shame. Ever since we have lied and cheated to hide
our true selves. If others knew how we
really felt, we would all suffer lives of solitude. However, Christ died to save us from our
sinful selves and to make us new. Sadly,
many are living this new life in an old dump – a place where sin abounds with
the promise of no consequences. The
saying, “Your sins will find you out,” is true.
You may be able to deceive for a little while but one day the truth will
Insecurity, bitterness, and revenge all serve as motivating factors
for demeaning someone else online, but what is it that draws others to visit
the site not so that they can add to the slander, but so that they can read
it. Is this a modernized form of gossip? Have we stooped so low that seeing our family
and friends demoralized is now entertainment?
Parents, be wary of letting your children correspond on the
new app. I fear that the bullying on
this site will lead to great destruction – damaged reputations, broken relationships,
and perhaps even suicide.
There is freedom in the light. Don’t be deceived by the darkness.
Have you ever seen the movie, Tangled? It’s a modern-telling
of the fairytale, Rapunzel. This movie is a favorite in my house, and
recently it has helped to teach me an important lesson. In the movie, the mother hides her beautiful
daughter away in a tower in an effort to protect her from harm; in doing so,
the mother has prevented her child from life.
The young girl has never experienced grassy fields, wind in her hair, or
the bliss of picking your first flower.
Even more detrimental is that the girl has never known what it is like
to have friends. The mother’s fear
prevented the daughter from experiencing any form of love.
1 John 4:18 says,
“There is no fear in love.
But perfect love drives out fear, because
fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. “
I’d never really thought about it before, but if perfect
love casts out fear, then the reverse is also true. Fear casts out love. In an attempt to protect ourselves from
getting hurt, we wall up our hearts for fear of being disappointed, rejected, or
abandoned. While the walls may be
effective to protect us from emotional hurts, they also prevent the potential for
The counselor in me wonders what happened in young Rapunzel’s
mother’s life to cause her to fear the outside world as she did. I wonder if someone she loved rejected her,
or perhaps someone she loved abandoned her, leaving her to fend for herself.
We all have past hurts that threaten to smother our current
relationships. I have experienced
multiple losses in my lifetime, and sometimes I fear that the people I love will
also go away; when this fear creeps in, I try to appear tough and
self-sufficient -- sometimes to the point that I push others away. While I know my fears are irrational, if I
linger on them too long, they threaten to block out love.
So, what is the moral of all of this jargon? Rapunzel found love once she decided to step out from behind the walls, and take a risk. Yes, I know. Rapunzel met her prince, but some of us are hiding behind walls so thick that we block out any chance of friendship.
Scripture tells us that God is love; this
means the nearer we draw to the Father, the less power fear has over our
lives. While people will disappoint us,
God loves us with an everlasting love, and he promises to never leave or
forsake us. In times when we find it
difficult to trust others, we cling to our trust in God. As we trust in him, he helps us to love
others and begins to cast away our fears.
Today I will be teaching law enforcement about suicide prevention and postvention. The irony is that eight years ago today I was sitting in my living room waiting to hear from the police as they searched for Michael. I'll never forget seeing the priest standing in my doorway. Just seeing his collar told me that what I'd feared the most had come true. Michael was gone.
I had to go the next morning to meet with an investigator. I couldn't understand why I had to meet with her. The police knew I had been at home all day. They had been in and out of my house during the search. Hearing details regarding his death was almost more than I could bear...
One question plagued me --- why?
Every person I've ever met who lost someone to suicide asked the same question. In preparing my talk, I read about an analogy by Iris Bolton (who lost her son to suicide) that helps to put the "why" into perspective.
We all have a cup, a place deep inside us, where stress and hardships are collected. A lost job, a friend's betrayal, divorce...all add drops to our cups. Some circumstances add multiple drops. Some add just one. It is the last drop that seemingly causes a cup to overflow, but it is really a compilation of all the drops. The last one just put the contents over the edge. We all have to learn ways to empty our cups in healthy ways. We can talk to a counselor, a pastor, or even a friend about our struggles. We can pour out our hearts to the Lord. We can eat healthy and exercise. When we take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and spiritually, We have to empty our cup or disaster will strike (mental breakdowns, suicide, homicides, etc.).
I encourage you not to let your cup fill to the brim. Take time to intentionally empty it so that your cup won't flood.
I praise God for bringing me to a place where I can openly share my past hurts in an attempt to encourage others -- He does this by continually emptying my cup one drop at a time.
In the past two weeks, I've received texts about one attempted and one completed suicide. My heart aches for the families of both of these individuals. I recently found out that Michael's death began a string of suicide attempts in our community. This absolutely breaks my heart. When we lose someone to suicide, we are often so overcome by our own grief that we fail to see how others are struggling. Research shows that people who have lost a loved one to suicide are at a greater risk of suicide themselves. The term postvention is any
health intervention for the surviving friends and family of a suicide completer.
I want to encourage you to keep a close eye on your loved ones who are grieving. Don't be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Asking someone if he has considered hurting himself will not give him the idea; this is a myth that prevents loved ones from asking this most important question.
January has more suicides than any other month. People are often left with mounting debt due to the holidays as well as disappointments and regrets during the Christmas season. Ask God to give you eyes to see the hurt around you. Be intentional about showing the people in your life how much you care.
If someone you work with takes his life, there are postvention resources available to help your staff. Click here for more information.
Day 7 of the new exercise regime – sprained ankle. I wish I
had some elaborate tale to share about how this happened. You know, like I fell
from a zipline as I was careening over Tallulah Gorge or how a boulder came
crashing down on me as I pushed a crying infant to safety. The truth is that I
missed the bottom rung of the ladder. No high adventures, no glory, just pain
I was doing so good trying to get back into the habit of
exercising. As I drove home from the doctor, I thought surely there must be
some sort of lesson in this. I guess the thing I am reminded of is that no
matter how good our intentions are to do what is “right” troubles and
temptations will always try and get us to wander from the path.
I could wallow in self pity and eat a big bowl of ice cream
(and believe me, it’s tempting) or I could consider it all pure joy (James 1)
and see this as an opportunity to work on strengthening my arms. I’m learning
that attitude and perspective go a long way…
Well I am not really sure why I am sharing these ramblings
with you, but they will hold me accountable to keep my attitude in check and to
keep on working out, even if I do have to change it up a bit.