This has been a rough fall for many people in my circles of life. I can’t ignore the dark shadow that death brings. I’ve written about several of these things – suicide, sudden death, a little boy with an inoperable tumour. Just this past week a young man who was my neighbour growing up was in a terrible work accident and his family is at the hospital waiting for him to take his last breath.
My heart breaks for each person that is affected by these things. My heart aches for the journey of grief that each will embark on.
I remember when I knew that my brother was going to die. I remember sitting at the computer staring out the kitchen window while trying to write the tribute that I would deliver at his memorial. Waiting for someone to die is inexplainable. Your every word is spoken with purpose. Your prayers become desperate. You try and make sense of this. People often say that if only they knew that someone was going to die, they would have done things differently. But you never expect to get to know, to have to wait. And when the person is young, it wreaks havoc on everything you thought you knew about the world.
I called my Mom the other day. I told her I just needed to talk to her, to hear her voice, to tell her that I love her, that I’m thankful for her, that I’m scared that something will happen. The events of this fall have made me scared to walk out my front door. Fear of what will happen next? Thinking about how much we don’t know about life, how we can make plans but sometimes they are futile.
But I can’t cling to my fear. I have to fight this dark cloud that threatens to consume all joy, all hope, and all peace. I have to pray that hope for those who can’t pray it for themselves. I have to seek out every opportunity to laugh, and to sing, and to dance. I have to celebrate life every single chance I can because I can’t seem to rid myself of the thought that there are people choosing to end their lives when there are others so desperately trying to hold onto it, who are wishing for more time.
My University president spoke at the memorial of the young man from our school who took his life a few weeks ago. He spoke on two words: “choose life”. This is the message that’s been ringing in my ears ever since, choose life. But not just to choose life over death, but to choose life when the darkness overwhelms you.
Choose life when others speak words of hate.
Choose life when you’re full of anger and sadness.
Choose life when the world is spinning with confusion.
Choose life when you think you have no purpose.
Choose life when you feel like you have no reason to get out of bed in the morning.
Choose life, choose it even when you don’t feel it coursing through your veins.
Choose to participate in the moments that bring life, even when you don’t feel like it.
Jesus came to give us life, and give it abundantly. When we know him, we get the opportunity to know that life doesn’t end here on earth, there is so much more.
Yes, there’s a but. But, Jesus also came to give us life here on earth. Life in our relationships, in our homes and schools and places of work. Life in our souls, the kind of life that runs through us and seeps into the places where we find ourselves.
So please, whether you are suffering, mourning, grieving, rejoicing, dancing or just going through your days in a state of numbness, please know that there is still life, and it was made for you.
Choose life, even when it hurts and when it doesn’t make sense.
And know that Jesus can bring life to the emptiest of places. And when someone you know forgets this and when they need to hear it most, remind them. Share with them some of your life, some of the life that is running through your veins. Sometimes Jesus uses us to give others life, life that they have lost and life that some of them have never found.
So choose life, choose it so you can give it.