Recently, I returned from a week at the beach with my youngest daughter – I arrived home just in time to start seminary classes. (Seminary – what?? Yeah!)
Basking in the glow of my beautiful daughter and our outrageously fun time, I watched a Robin Williams movie on the flight home. I couldn’t help comparing the movie’s plot with his death, only imagining the horror his family must have been going through after his death, and pushing away thoughts of my husband, or one of my children, taking their lives.
(Oh no, can’t go there.)
Suicide is such a real presence these days. Doesn’t it feel that way to you? It happened when I was a young adult, but not nearly in these numbers – I’m sure of that.
Are the struggles now that much greater? Are our communities that much more fractured?
I don’t know.
Back to my daughter… When I was visiting with her, I had the privilege of being included in her community. I listened to conversations between friends, I was honored just be part of their lives.
And who knows which ones of them have considered suicide? Even just as a passing thought, if not a reality.
I don’t have answers to these questions. But it is heavy on my heart.
I do know this beyond a shadow of a doubt: we need each other.
We need to give support and encouragement to those who are hurting. And when we are hurting, we need to make sure we are not going through it alone.
We need to be present with each other. We need to be vulnerable and full of grace.
We need hope.
These are the elements of community.
We need to remind each other – as John Lennon said – “Everything will be okay in the end. If it’s not okay, it’s not the end.”
SUSAN COTTRELL is a national speaker, teacher, and counselor with years of Biblical study and discipleship experience. Her books include: Mom, I’m Gay – Loving Your LGBTQ Child Without Sacrificing Your Faith, as well as How Not to Lose Your Teen and The Marriage Renovation. Through her nonprofit organization – FreedHearts.org – Susan champions the LGBTQ community and families with her characteristic tender-heartedness, and she zealously challenges Christians who reject them with her wise insistence that “loving God and loving others” are the foundation of the rest of the scripture, just as Jesus said.
She is the Vice-President of PFLAG Austin, and her “Mom, I’m Gay” book has been endorsed by The Human Rights Campaign and others. Sharon Groves, PhD, HRC’s Religion & Faith Program Director says, “I often get asked by parents for resources that can address the struggles of raising LGBT sons and daughters without having to leave faith behind. Susan Cottrell’s book, Mom, I’m Gay, does just that. This is the kind of book that parents will love.”
She and her husband have been married more than 25 years and have five children – one of whom is in the LGBTQ community. She lives in Austin, Texas, and blogs at FreedHearts.org and here in IMPACT Magazine’s FreedHearts and Jesus Blog columns.