I, along with the rest of my school's National Honors Society, and students from other area Lutheran schools spent about 4 hours hauling box after box after box after box (. . . continue for infinity. Seriously.) out of semi-trucks and packed them not so-neatly into boxcars to benefit Lutheran World Relief.
|This is Day 5 of the 365 Days of Photographs project!|
Knowing that all of those boxes, stuffed to the brim with soaps, quilts, health kits, school supplies, and other items to benefit those in need, were being sent off to help others, made the hours fly by. It didn't hurt that we had a pretty good time while we were at it.
Upon arriving back at school, as we were entering the lobby, a girl was headed out. This was odd since there were still two hours of classes left in the day. As she got closer, I could tell that she had been crying. Hard. As one of my friends went up to ask her what was wrong, I watched my friend's shocked reaction to the answer and I knew that this wasn't your typical breakup/failed test score/emotional breakdown. Something was seriously wrong.
As my friend came back to us, she answered our questioning looks with a sentence that changed the entire mood of today.
"Jamie* committed suicide."
Instantly, I felt my heart break. Goosebumps covered my arms and I felt like throwing up. My mind raced as I searched for some possible way that this could be a sick joke, a misunderstanding.
To give some background, Jamie was a student that no longer attended my school but a lot of her close friends were made in her time spent there. I didn't know her well at all, yet I never heard a bad thing about this girl. She was sweet, funny, and seemed genuinely kind. I know that she had trouble with a mental health problem of some sort, but that isn't what this post is about.
What it is about though is how incredibly tragic this situation is. Tragic for her mom, dad, little sister and all of her family who loved her. Tragic for her best friends who found out through a phone call that she had taken her own life. Tragic for people like me who, from a distance, had no idea that anything was currently wrong. Shocking, heartbreaking, and terrible for all.
As I walked the halls of school the rest of today, I noticed tear-stained faces and an odd silence that rarely is accredited to a high school hallway.
I don't know what was racing across other students' minds today, but I do know what was on mine.
Why am I so quick to avoid "awkward" eye contact and look down at my phone instead of offering a smile? Why is it so easy to step over a pile of dropped books to avoid being late to class instead of being compassionate? How come taking the best for myself and leaving the leftovers for others is considered "getting ahead in the world" instead of what it is: selfishness?
How many people do I walk past each day that are struggling? Struggling with realizing that they are incredibly important and valuable no matter what the world may tell them? Struggling with addictions, self-harm, and suicidal thoughts? Yet how often do I take the time to take the focus off of myself and show love towards them?
Guys, this is heavy stuff. But it's real. So tragically real.
I had spent all morning helping those that are worlds away, yet somehow I frequently miss doing the same for those that I encounter face-to-face on a day to day basis.
As Facebook posts, pictures, and heartfelt goodbyes honoring Jamie are flooding my newsfeed tonight, I can only think of how she would react to knowing how many people there were that cared for her and loved her.
This is proof of how urgently important it is that we share the overflowing, abundant love of Christ with everyone that we come across. You and I do not know the personal battles that the people around us are fighting every day. Maybe we won't ever know. But what we can do is make sure that everyone realizes that they are valuable and that they are worth it - no matter what the world may tell them. The smallest bit of compassion and love on our part may mean the world to someone who needs it. You never know.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
- Romans 5:8
God, the Creator of the universe, the Almighty, holds each and every person so dear that he sent his son to die for you, and you, and you, and me and everyone else on this planet. If each person is worth the death of God's only and perfect son, then shouldn't we treat them as such?
The fact that not everyone knows and is treated like they're that valuable is the real heartbreaker in my mind. Take the time to share a smile. Ask how someone is doing and genuinely care about their answer. Practice compassion in all that you do. Who knows? You could be saving a life.