This morning I was awoken to the news of Anthony Bourdain’s death. The article stated he had taken his own life. On Tuesday, it was Kate Spade who had committed suicide. Both were high profile and successful people. On Tuesday the outpouring of anguish over a woman who changed the fashion industry. And now today, more grief over a man who lived a life of adventure and food and opened up culture and dining in a way no one else had done.
People are tweeting their grief, and social media posts are being filled with the National Suicide Hotline number (1-800-273-8255.) I am not against posting that number or the hashtags that come out of the shock and grief. I am always shocked by suicide. I know there is not a one size fits all to those who are clinically depressed, bullied, those with post traumatic stress disorder, those who suffer from debilitating anxiety and a multitude of other mental illnesses.
I will not pretend I have any answers. I don’t. Each situation is unique and those who choose death can only be in such mental anguish and pain and maybe physical as well that I can not imagine what they are going through. Ms. Spade and Mr. Bourdain had many resources and still were in anguish. In today’s Wichita Eagle, the top news story was “Kansas Suicide Rate up 45% since 1999.” Add the fact that this morning it was also reported that Emily Glass, a woman who was a person of interest in the Lucas Hernandez death was found dead of a gunshot wound and it is being investigated as a suicide bears witness to this growing issue.
How do we live in a world so filled with hopelessness? The family, friends and loved ones left behind are devastated and lives are forever changed. Wracking their brains, wondering what clues were missed and emotionally broken, those left behind must figure out to continue to live and love in the pain of their unexpected loss. The emotions are so complex.
I had planned a different blog for today. This Sunday in worship we are focusing on prayer and using that amazing imagery from Paul, “But we have this treasure in clay jars, so that it may be made clear that this extraordinary power belongs to God and does not come from us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Corinthians 4: 7-9) It is obvious to me that some people are crushed, driven to despair and destroyed so much that they can not see or know the treasure that they are.
This chalice was broken years ago. I found it broken on my book shelf. It was my first communion set. I have kept it and when decorating an altar I tape it back together. I have thought about how this has a different usage, now that it is broken. I pondered how I have my own broken pieces, cracks in my life that remind me I am not perfect, in fact I filled with nicks and bruises and maybe a few pieces knocked out. When I laid it down to take a picture, without any sense of what I was doing, a light reflected off the wood and through that broken piece.
I became caught up in “we have this treasure in clay pots.” Maybe Paul used that imagery because clay can be nicked, broken, and cracked. Perhaps our best sharing or witnessing comes out of those cracks and our brokenness. As a person and a pastor, I am left wondering about all those people who don’t believe they are a treasure, only feeling the chunk that has fallen out of their lives and only know those cracks. How can I be more intentional, more loving, more grace-filled so that others can know that deep and abiding love and grace of God? What opportunities do I miss?
Sometimes I believe we as Christians miss chances to be real, to be authentic. We love to show the perfect person, all happy and joyful in the love of Jesus. That perfection and happiness can be a shield and barrier. We forget to share that we are all broken in some way, sick in body and spirit. We don’t talk enough about mental illness. Mental illness, like any physical illness is nothing to be ashamed of, in fact encouraging people in love and grace includes offering whatever help is available. I am committed to finding ways to make sure resources are available for everyone. I am committed to being more aware and intentional around the issues of mental illness and depression.
I know and believe God can do beautiful things out of the broken pieces of people’s lives. We have this treasure, this unique and unrepeatable spirit, placed in these fragile and breakable bodies. Out of the brokenness of our lives, God can and will bring beauty, hope and light.
In many churches, there are stained glass windows. Those windows are made out of broken pieces of glass. When it is dark, nothing can be seen. But when the light shines the intricate colors and designs are breathtaking. I believe it is the same with my life and yours. Out of the broken pieces and cracks and heart break, God can create something stunning and amazing. I often let the darkness settle in, so I miss the treasure that is within me. Jesus one said, “you don’t hide a light under a basket….you are the light of the world.” When the love and grace of God is reflected through my brokenness, light shines forth.
I believe in each of you. God will make something beautiful out of the broken and cracked pieces of your life. You are a treasure, filled with extraordinary power and grace. If you ever need me to listen, please reach out so I can remind you how wonderful and beautiful you are.