This week I learned of a beautiful young woman who leapt from an interstate overpass bridge onto the concrete pavement below. Her intention was suicide — but she didn’t die. At this writings she and her shattered body are lying in pieces in a Minneapolis hospital, but she’s alive. I’m dedicating this blog to her and proclaiming Ezekiel 37:5 over her:
“This is what the Sovereign LORD says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” (NIV)
I know emotional pain and I’ve dedicated my life to helping people in emotional pain. When I hear stories like this beautiful child of God committing such a horrifying act I can only cry out to God for mercy and discernment in how to pray for her. Jesus Himself experienced human suffering, “He was oppressed, and he was afflicted,” Isaiah 53:7, “He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain. Like one from whom people hide their faces he was despised, and we held him in low esteem,” Isaiah 53:3.
As a therapist and life coach I’ve seen my share of human tragedies, and I’m still shaken by each new disastrous event I hear about. I weep for Carrie (not her real name) and yet I have the most fervent hope for her. I believe and proclaim Ezekiel 37:5, not just as a mantra, but an undeniable and eternal power of truth. It’s the voice and hand of God putting back together that which the devil crushed.
In my own life and perhaps in your life, our bones need some awakening. We need the breath of God in our bones. We may not be standing on the ledge of a bridge, or God-help-us, splattered across a freeway, but our lives definitely are calling for an infusion of life and hope. What do we say to Carrie today? What breath of hope can we give her? If we tell her God loves her and has a plan for her life that would be true, yes, but are those words enough? Poet Wendell Barry, in writing about work and love, says that the shoddy work of despair, the pointless work of pride, equally betrays Creation. They’re a waste of life, he says, for in despair and pride there is no forgiveness. I ask how do we forgive ourselves when the accusing voices within tell us we’re not worth living?
If only there weren’t so much pressure on us to be something, do something, prove something with our lives. What would happen if we lived in our fullness and our personal unique wonderfulness without the pressure to fulfill expectations and moirés that are not our own? When do we get to live life simply and happily without striving and pressing on for more? The schizophrenic with impaired brain function, suffers terribly with the painful inability to attach to reality without conflicting and terrifying mental intrusions. Such is Carrie’s case, and medication for her is imperative. Now with God’s arms around her piloting the care-giving work of her physicians, surgeons and therapists, her family continues in prayer and faith in His over-riding power of healing love. Suffering with a brain dysfunction does not and cannot preclude or exclude happiness, but as near-sightedness requires glasses, the impaired brain requires anti-psychotic medication. Love demands it.
The poet Rilke wrote, that love is “the last proof, the work for which all other work is but preparation.”
I’ve just completed my new book, HOW TO BE HAPPY IN AN UNHAPPY WORLD (to be released November 2015) and as I researched and wrote, I looked for a happiness quotient in attaining success. There’s not a dot of evidence that success (however we define it) can provide and maintain lasting, meaningful happiness. People are leaping off bridges and sticking their heads in ovens even though they’ve attained all of the success points their achievement mentors have fed them while at the apex of their lives and careers.
We crave the breath of God in every area of our lives. Carrie needs His breath in her soul, the same as you and I.
Lastly, please, if you need it, take your medication. Love yourself. Love someone else today — without reservation, big time. Do it for Carrie.