Dear David & Kathryn,
Yesterday, on the suicide hotline, I spoke with a young man who is struggling greatly as he nears the end of his high school career. A number of years ago, life opened before him a horrific, hellacious valley. He fell in and was held captive for too many years. In the past year, not wanting his life defined by the choices that caused his fall, he found the courage to claw his way out of the abyss.
One of the miracles of the hotline is that callers, desperate for help, will often open completely and allow a glimpse into their heart and soul. This young man certainly did. I was witness to a heart filled with wisdom, generosity and love. And while his beauty was so very clear to me, all he could see were the mistakes that led to his trip into hell. He was nearly blind to the miraculous nature of his recovery. I was in awe of his courage on the journey.
Nearly an hour into our time together, I paused and said, “I don’t say this to many callers, but I love you young man. I am in love with who you are, and who you are becoming through the struggles you have faced, and the courage you found to overcome.” He began to cry. Through his tears he said quietly, “I’m not crying because I’m sad. I’m crying because you’re the first person who has ever told me they loved me.” In that moment, I found it impossible to hold back my own tears. How could a young man preparing for college, never have been told he was loved or lovable?
As I reflected on story of this young man, I thought of the two of you. I would be heartbroken if I thought there was even a moment in your life in which you thought you were either unloved or unlovable.
I am in awe of the two of you as well. I am inspired by the joy, creativity, wisdom, generosity and love that flow from each of you. Even if I have told you before, it cannot be said too often: my heart nearly bursts with love and admiration when I think of either of you…and the miracle you are in my life.
A sage in ancient India once observed a knife that can cut anything, cannot cut itself. As humans, we can easily see in others what we cannot witness in ourselves…just like the young man I spoke with yesterday. In moments of sadness, loneliness or challenge, even if you must take it on faith alone, remember you are truly loved, lovable and are a miracle in the lives of those around you.
1 thought on “Dear David & Kathryn”
There is an epidemic of suicide( thoughts, attempts, and conclusions) among the New Adults. The paths that were open to us at their age no longer exist: the job market isn’t what it was for us; College credentials are essential, but cost and student loan interest rates make so difficult to obtain them. Even if you are credentialed, the BA is the new GED and an MA may bring more debt than job opportunities. AT the same time, they have so many more paths open to them than we did and there’s information overload because of the Internet. Unfortunately, these paths require entrepreneurial skills: networking, synthesizing information and using it in innovative ways, connecting the dots, foreseeing possible outcomes of behavior. Neuroscience now tells us that these areas of the human brain don’t develop fully until the mid to late twenties, but I also think “good parents” are partially at fault. We wanted them to have all the advantages we didn’t and in giving them so much, we never let their butts it the floor; many of them don’t know HOW to get up.
I can easily believe that the young man had never heard he was loved. Even kids raised in so-called “traditional” homes can be love starved. We live in an hurried, overscheduled, 140 character, tweeting and texting world, where we don’t interact directly. We learn to tell everybody what we think and do minute to minute, but we don’t make time to express our feelings. This is why I believe it is so important to be a mentor. There are programs for kids and teens, but I haven’t heard of many for the 18-30 crowd. We need to love them now, encourage them now, share our stories, mistakes, histories, and resilience now. Let them know that these years are supposed to be difficult. Nobody knows exactly what they’re doing at this age and most don’t get it right the first time. It’s not fair to them, nor is it realistic to expect to start out where their parents ended up. Help them understand that these are their dues-paying years when instead of getting what you want for this minute, you lay a foundation to get what you want for the rest of your life. Show them that we may have gotten beat up along the way, but we got through and people of faith do go through, not just IN. Help them see that suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. You never know whose parents didn’t show love, but you can show it NOW.