Tears to Joy

Tears to Joy: January 2014

Monday, January 27, 2014

How Full is Your Cup?

Today I will be teaching law enforcement about suicide prevention and postvention. The irony is that eight years ago today I was sitting in my living room waiting to hear from the police as they searched for Michael. I'll never forget seeing the priest standing in my doorway. Just seeing his collar told me that what I'd feared the most had come true. Michael was gone.

I had to go the next morning to meet with an investigator. I couldn't understand why I had to meet with her. The police knew I had been at home all day. They had been in and out of my house during the search. Hearing details regarding his death was almost more than I could bear...

One question plagued me --- why? 

Every person I've ever met who lost someone to suicide asked the same question. In preparing my talk, I read about an analogy by Iris Bolton (who lost her son to suicide) that helps to put the "why" into perspective.  

We all have a cup, a place deep inside us, where stress and hardships are collected. A lost job, a friend's betrayal, divorce...all add drops to our cups. Some circumstances add multiple drops. Some add just one. It is the last drop that seemingly causes a cup to overflow, but it is really a compilation of all the drops. The last one just put the contents over the edge. We all have to learn ways to empty our cups in healthy ways. We can talk to a counselor, a pastor, or even a friend about our struggles. We can pour out our hearts to the Lord. We can eat healthy and exercise. When we take care of ourselves, physically, mentally, and spiritually, We have to empty our cup or disaster will strike (mental breakdowns, suicide, homicides, etc.).

I encourage you not to let your cup fill to the brim. Take time to intentionally empty it so that your cup won't flood.

I praise God for bringing me to a place where I can openly share my past hurts in an attempt to encourage others -- He does this by continually emptying my cup one drop at a time.

Labels: ,

Monday, January 20, 2014

Suicide Postvention

In the past two weeks, I've received texts about one attempted and one completed suicide. My heart aches for the families of both of these individuals. I recently found out that Michael's death began a string of suicide attempts in our community. This absolutely breaks my heart. When we lose someone to suicide, we are often so overcome by our own grief that we fail to see how others are struggling. Research shows that people who have lost a loved one to suicide are at a greater risk of suicide themselves. The term postvention is any mental health intervention for the surviving friends and family of a suicide completer.

I want to encourage you to keep a close eye on your loved ones who are grieving. Don't be afraid to ask the difficult questions. Asking someone if he has considered hurting himself will not give him the idea; this is a myth that prevents loved ones from asking this most important question.

January has more suicides than any other month. People are often left with mounting debt due to the holidays as well as disappointments and regrets during the Christmas season. Ask God to give you eyes to see the hurt around you. Be intentional about showing the people in your life how much you care. 

If someone you work with takes his life, there are postvention resources available to help your staff. Click here for more information.

Labels: ,

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Workout Day 7

Day 7 of the new exercise regime – sprained ankle. I wish I had some elaborate tale to share about how this happened. You know, like I fell from a zipline as I was careening over Tallulah Gorge or how a boulder came crashing down on me as I pushed a crying infant to safety. The truth is that I missed the bottom rung of the ladder. No high adventures, no glory, just pain and frustration.

I was doing so good trying to get back into the habit of exercising. As I drove home from the doctor, I thought surely there must be some sort of lesson in this. I guess the thing I am reminded of is that no matter how good our intentions are to do what is “right” troubles and temptations will always try and get us to wander from the path.

I could wallow in self pity and eat a big bowl of ice cream (and believe me, it’s tempting) or I could consider it all pure joy (James 1) and see this as an opportunity to work on strengthening my arms. I’m learning that attitude and perspective go a long way…

Well I am not really sure why I am sharing these ramblings with you, but they will hold me accountable to keep my attitude in check and to keep on working out, even if I do have to change it up a bit.

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Get in Shape Girl...

It’s amazing how quickly physical stamina and muscle strength can turn to mush. Now that I have completed my qualifying exam for the PhD program, it is time to resume my exercise routine. I was disheartened to realize how out of shape I’ve gotten in such a short time. It takes continuous workouts to maintain physical strength, and the same is true of spiritual strength.

If we never faced spiritual challenges (trials and tribulations) we’d have faith, but it would be weak. Lots of Christians think that if they neglect their personal time with the Lord, that they will become stagnant and stay where they are spiritually. Unfortunately, that’s not true. In the same way getting lazy about physical exercise leads to flabbiness and a lack of muscle strength, spiritual laziness leads to a life of apathy and selfish living. If my Bible sits on the shelf gathering dust, it is as effective in helping me get spiritually fit as my elliptical is sitting in the corner as a clothes rack.

In order to get into better shape in 2014, we have to discipline ourselves to exercise, both physically and spiritually. Thankfully, I’ve got a couple of good friends who I hope will be personal trainers in my life – holding me accountable to step it up on both fronts.  What about you? What are you doing to get in shape this year?