I remember Freddy Church.
I wrote a song about him, “Freddy’s Dead” after I found out that he had committed suicide during his battle with aids. It broke my heart to hear that someone felt so lost, so all alone… so God-free. Yet, this was at the beginning of the epidemic and he was certainly without hope of recovery and guaranteed continual, increased suffering. It was self-euthanasia, something that is quite prevalent twenty-plus years later in the AIDS community.
And until we all walk that particular path together, it’s best we leave all judgment to God, no?
I reflect on this as I am chatting with a friend in Detroit. Tonight he posted on-line, “My girlfriend and I broke up, I have no money, it’s my birthday and I have not spoken with my family in years.” And I wonder…
I cannot speak for you but I freely admit that I’ve had some pretty sad birthdays. And sad every other days as well. I’ve lost lovers, friends, jobs, dreams, accumulated wealth and other goodies and had my days (years) of health concerns. I’ve been to the Dark Place. The place where I challenged my life’s worth, YOUR life’s worth. Hell, I’ve even challenged God’s worth.
And you know, during those times of severe despair, we all come up short. Nothing in heaven or on Earth seems worth the pain and hopelessness we feel sometimes. This is not a lack of faith on my part (or yours if you dare admit to ever feeling this way). This is just the truth of how we feel and how we perceive the value of our existence at a given moment.
Life sucks and then you die. Life sucks and then you want to speed up the process.
Pardon my dance with the profane here but isn’t despair the doorstep of self-termination? And isn’t suicide the ultimate act of profanity? When we destroy God’s plan for our lives once and for all aren’t we essentially saying that He’s useless, pointless, irrelevant? Not because we don’t believe- I think most suicides believe in SOMETHING on the other side but because we have somehow convinced ourselves (or allowed a dark sinister force to do the convincing) that no matter what kind of God there is, He’s just not enough to fix us. He may be there-just not for us.
It’s trite to wave the God-love banner in the face of seemingly endless, hopeless suffering without standing firm in example of it. “I’ll pray for you, brother” isn’t always gonna cut it. Sometimes (most times) we need to hold hands, offer shoulders, spoon people into the Kingdom at the expense of our comfort, sleep, best laid plans and, more often than not, spiritual belief systems (i.e. spiritual arrogance)
In some weird way I applaud Freddy’s choice to yank out the respirator that was prolonging his life when he had no family, friends, representatives of God in the cold, miserable, isolated quarantine of a hospice he was locked in for his final days.
On the other hand I spit on the graves of quitters. Don’t judge me compassionless. I’ve cried for years over the loss of too many friends who chose to take their lives over challenges I have overcome with the help of God and His people. I just cannot freely embrace the taking advantage of a freedom of choice that ultimately causes more pain than it solves and encourages other to follow suit.
The recent wave of teenage suicides (even the one that viciously touched my house recently) frighten me for all the media attention they receive as I’m convinced they inspire others in ways not yet imagined.
I throw out the records of rock stars that I love who have committed suicide, or overdosed or killed their wives… But I cry every time their music is played-even if it’s just tears on the inside for me and God.
One man takes his life because it’s being ripped from him anyway. Another because it appears so. Another pisses their life away because nothing is ever good enough. Hell waits outside the door, God’s hands become tied and all the people gather to give opinion.
Tis the season for the suicide rate to increase worldwide. Now’s a good time to pay attention. Listen to what people are saying, what they are asking in their confessions without realizing. Put the phone down, make yourself available, give more hugs, buy someone a hamburger. For Christ’s sake.
I’m talking now to the People Of God. You know who you are. Every single person we come in contact with is loved and needed by the Almighty. Let’s remind them of this. Let’s remind ourselves as we remind others and create a worldwide army of saints that get it, give it, and get it and give it some more.
I have a dream… three actually.
A cure for AIDS.
And a newspaper headline that reads: SUICIDE RATE AT AN ALL TIME LOW
Freddy Church RIP