It’s the morning after I heard the news of the death, it seems by suicide, of X-Games legend Dave Mirra. Dave wasn’t a close friend of mine. I had competed against him in rally and been around him when working in the Global RallyCross paddock but we often consider acquaintances ‘friends’, especially in the social media that allows inside access that gives us a unearned familiarity with people’s lives.
Given my circle of friends, my Facebook feed quickly filled up with tributes to Dave. Like my own they all talked about the inspiration he was, how he seemed to wear his heart on his sleeve, the great husband and committed father he was. Reading each person’s tribute you could feel their pain through each key stroke. Dave’s passing has brought a real sense of loss to so many people.
I make no secret that I believe in Jesus. My own Facebook is weighted heavily toward praise for Jesus with a smaller mix of rally related topics. I don’t believe these two worlds should be mutually exclusive but my response to Dave’s death challenged me. So I posted mostly what my heart felt but not what it wanted to scream.
I wanted to scream ‘why’?
In 2013 over 41,000 people committed suicide in the U.S. that’s roughly one every 13 minutes. One life taken. One family shattered. One group of friends with an emptiness created in their lives. I know there is an answer to every situation and it sounds somewhat glib to say that the answer is Jesus. But the simple truth is that He is the answer.
We have a society that allows us to call people friends on the basis of a meeting/association that a few decades ago would merely have allowed us to call them an acquaintance or someone I once met. I learnt a valuable lesson on friendship when I was in Jordan. I thought two guys were friends given how much they enjoyed seeing one another and sharing stories. However, they educated me that they weren’t friends because their history together was too short. They considered their friend’s people who they would tell every secret too, know all of their family and have a deep trust and confidence in the other man. I think my Facebook friend count just became a lot smaller…….
Why does this matter? In our comfortable US society we have cultural expectations that ensure we can have very few friends per the Jordanian definition. We socialize with our friends but we return to our castle and once the door closed we can remove the façade that we wear with others. Sure every now and then the façade show some cracks but society has educated us to self-medicate through alcohol, drugs, an affair or some other form of escapism. How many times have you gone for a drink to drown your sorrow. This medication is short-term – its effects quickly wear off and you are back where you started.
The cycle described above just keeps repeating itself in the family and through the generations. I don’t want to sound super-religious but this is where the Devil wants you. Maybe you feel that your life is going well but are you just self-medicating? Maybe you don’t feel your life is going well and there is a real pain that you have lived with for a while and self-medication is a necessity but you have learned that the benefits are limited.
There is a reason for that. It is because that what we are missing is Jesus. No amount of money, success, cars, luxury vacations, size of house, number of sexual conquests, number of affairs, synthetic drugs or living for today can offset the hole in your life.
So by now the only people reading this are probably those who have Jesus in their lives. If you don’t know Jesus and still are reading then God is sitting next to you just say hi, please forgive me for what I have done because you sound amazing and I want to start to live my life with you. Oh and then get some Kleenex handy because God will blow you away!
But for the Christians who are nodding in agreement what are you doing in this world? Are you being open with your friends or are you self-medicating. We live for an authentic, life-changing relationship with Jesus. He doesn’t want to be an acquaintance. He wants to be a friend, a confidant, the encourager, the lover of your soul. The first step is we need to live our lives in community with believers and in reality with how he wants to live them. Please don’t self-medicate by coming to Church on a Sunday to enable you to get through the week. If that is you then you have missed the point.
We as the Church should be beacon of light for people. We should certainly be a last resort before people like Dave Mirra decide that suicide is their only option. Do we represent Christ in a way that people would want to ask us what is making us look different, act different, scream life and hope? Or do we look like all of their other friends? We are the people that God has put on his earth to talk to his people about Jesus.
There is always Jesus. I may not have been there for Dave Mirra but I wonder how many people are close to me and self-medicating through a similar situation. I pray my eyes would be open to their need and that I would be their friend.