Monthly Archives: August 2012

Suicide Is Selfishness

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The news of famed hip-hop manager Chris Lighty’s suicide has prompted me to come clean. I honestly and truly hate suicide. But who doesn’t, right? Understanding that everyone likely feels the same way, I have a different angle on the subject. Most people disagree with my position, but I don’t mind being in the minority here.

I believe suicide to be the one of the most selfish things a person can do to their loved ones. In some cases, I also believe it to be a weapon used to hurt others. People will be appalled at me saying this, but it makes me so angry and I believe it to be wildly unfair to others.

While I’m expressing one of my most unpopular opinions on a very sensitive subject, let me be completely transparent in saying that I’ve considered suicide before. I’ve even sort of attempted it once. I say “sort of”, because even though I took a bottle of sleeping pills when I was 18 years old and said that I wanted to die, what I really wanted was a break from my problems and I wanted certain people around me to pay attention to the pain that I was invested in blaming them for causing. Even though this was nearly 30 years ago, my point in disclosing all of this is to let you know that I didn’t arrive at this conclusion lightly, nor solely through the process of judging others. Been there and tried that.

But this is also why I believe that it is a selfish act. First of all, to even get to the point of suicide, you have to be so inwardly focused on your own pain that nothing else matters besides stopping it. I don’t say this to disparage other people, especially those who are already feeling wounded and depressed. As much as this truth may prick, however, it’s the truth. I don’t believe that anyone can take such a drastic step without going through the process of placing the stoppage of their own hurt and pain above the hurt and pain that they will undoubtedly cause others by their actions.

In my youthful suicide attempt, I managed to call 911, was rushed to the hospital and even taken to the psychiatric ward of another hospital by two well-intentioned police officers who were kind enough to show me some tough love by informing me that I’d end up a resident in that institution if I ever tried suicide again. I thought about it a few more times after that, but being that I was scared straight, I never made another attempt.

Like I said, though, I thought about it a lot. Even after having my son, I used to fantasize about suicide and the point that I could drive home to people who I was angry with or hurt by by killing myself. What stopped me? My son. I had more love for him than I had for myself and, despite my own hurt and anger, he didn’t deserve the pain and loneliness that my death would cause. I also didn’t want him to have to live with the stigma of a mother who had committed suicide in case such a thing exists.

Several years ago, someone that I know had a girlfriend who was in a very tumultuous relationship.  She and her boyfriend had broken up for the umpteenth time and he wasn’t taking things well at all. So, he kidnapped her, kept her away from her family for a while and then finally let her go. According to the person who told me about this, they were both sort of addicted to each other and to a lot of hurtful tit for tat drama. Not long after the kidnapping incident, he hung himself. From the way the whole story unfolded, I’d always had the feeling that this was his final way of hurting her. He won.

I also know a couple of therapists employed by a local school district. One of them told me the story of an elementary school student whose father yelled at him one morning for not being ready for school when the father, who was responsible for dropping him off before work, was ready to leave. As this was not the kid’s first time running behind schedule, the father decided to teach the son a lesson and left him instead of waiting as he usually did. When the young man’s mother arrived home from work later that day, she had to cut her son down from a light fixture. Angry with his dad, this young person had hanged himself. Might there have been other reasons for his actions? Sure. But the therapist who told me the story only relayed what the young man’s suicide note revealed. This was his way of winning the argument with his dad.

Stories like these, coupled with my own attempt and former suicidal fantasies (I no longer entertain these, btw) are why I don’t react to suicide threats in the same manner that some people do. Threats like these anger me to the point of turning my back on a person. Yes, I know that’s a ruthless approach, but I don’t like being emotionally manipulated. I won’t stand for it. If you’re going to do it…do it…don’t call me to torture me. If you truly want my help, I’ll give it by taking you to a psychiatric hospital where professionals equipped to deal with your threats can offer you care, but don’t call me with a weapon in your hand while lamenting about your issues…especially if you believe I’m a player in your issues. It won’t work in pulling me into your drama and I won’t let you take me down with your grand emotional potshots.

Maybe this is why I never completed my psychology degree. It probably wouldn’t have worked out well for me or my patients in the end.

One of my many flaws is that I’m easily and stubbornly turned off by those types of behaviors and, as a result, I do my best to sever emotionally draining relationships. I guess I’m hardcore in that respect. And, speaking of respect, I’ll also add that I lose a lot of it…most of it…for people who approach me in such a way. Even though I’ve done it to others, I’ve grown up from that person and have gotten over that weak emotional stage in my life and, as callous as it sounds, I don’t make room for that kind of weakness in others.

Oh, and I’ve made it clear to my loved ones that, as jacked up as they may believe my position to be, I won’t attend a funeral of a loved one who has committed suicide. Really, we can’t say what we’ll never do, but with me it’s highly unlikely, since I’d be too angry to pay my respects for something so unnecessary and something that I have zero respect or tolerance for.

My only exception to my stance against suicide is assisted suicide in cases of chronic, debilitating illness. I believe people should have the right to die if they are truly suffering and there is zero chance for recovery. We put beloved pets down for this reason and call it love, but we make other loved ones suffer long drawn out deaths when we continue to oppose humanely assisted medical suicides.

I also make a slight exception for people who commit suicide because they’ve been terribly bullied and can’t see another way out. While I’ve been in my own share of “no way out” situations and have persevered, I understand the feeling of being trapped and feeling abused while in that trap with absolutely no escape. Ditto for the scores of people who kill themselves as the result of being financially overwhelmed (actually, the whole money and materialism attachment is another post for another day). Fortunately, I have a strong faith in the Almighty who has always…and I do mean always…brought me through. But I get that not everyone realizes that power and that relationship, and I get how they might be compelled to give up too soon (read an example of one of my experiences with the Almighty HERE). Of course, I’m not completely unfeeling and while I still think it takes a certain level of self-centeredness to go that far, I do get how suicide can be played out in these instances. These people aren’t using suicide for revenge or to otherwise impact others, they’re using it as an escape mechanism. I don’t like it, but I get it and, in these cases, I do actually feel compassion. In fact, I’d bend over backwards to help someone in this situation.

So, while I’ve listened to all of the arguments against my position…the arguments about my misunderstanding of or lack of compassion for the depressed mind…the feelings of hopelessness people experience and the absolute despair that often results in suicide, my feelings are still my feelings. I think I’m entitled to them. And I own them outright.

My condolences to anyone who has lost a loved one to suicide. It was not your fault. You were not even a consideration.

Anyone thinking about suicide? Please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 and reach out to a professional. Talk to a loved one, but do so with the intention of letting them help you.

Don’t be that person who uses threats or even the very act of suicide as a way to teach someone a lesson or to drive a point home to them. If you are that angry with someone or feel that hurt by them, it’s a whole lot easier to let the relationship go. End the relationship, not your life. That’s the better choice, trust me. To commit suicide as a means of expressing anger or revenge toward someone is to place your own feelings and the feelings that you want that person to experience over the feelings of the people who actually do love you.

As I write this, news of Chris Lighty’s suicide is still developing. Checked it just before hitting the publish button and reports are now unfolding that he shot himself during an argument with his ex-wife. See what I mean? Selfish, angry and uncontrolled emotions. Seems he got the last word in their argument and I’m sure his ex will hurt forever because of this. But what about his young son? Did he deserve to be fatherless? Does he deserve to be left with this final memory of a dad he’ll never really get to know?

Selfish.

Yeah, I know I’m being judgmental, but that really pisses me off. You can pray for me if you want to.

~L.

P.S. My deepest condolences to Chris Lighty’s family. While his suicide prompted this post, it didn’t birth my feelings on the subject. Still, I feel terrible for anyone who has lost a loved one especially when such a premature loss was preventable. I don’t know all of the facts that lead to his actions and I don’t mean any personal offense. Suicide angers me, yes, but what hurts even more is to know the real-life pain that others have to deal with when a loved one is gone…regardless of how they left. I’m so very sorry that your family has to endure this sort of pain. My prayers are certainly with you.

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Am I a Christian?

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This isn’t an easy question for me to answer. At separate times in my life, I would have given a firm, “no” and a firm, “yes”. See, I was raised Catholic, but was extracted from that faith in my early teens. I free floated for about a decade while picking up a lot of so-called New Age philosophies, as well as Islamic teachings. During this time, however, I never donned an official title of any sort.

My Early Christian Roots

For about a decade, starting in my mid-twenties, I found myself immersed in and surrounded by Christianity. I joined a few churches and actively participated in the whole Christian culture. Eventually, though, I found it hard to ignore some things like the Sabbath being on a Saturday, Jesus’ name not really being Jesus, etc. I also found it hard to ignore the humanness I saw in Christian leaders. This isn’t to say that anyone ever asked me to ignore their humanness– usually, it was quite the opposite. But if I wasn’t going to ignore it, I also couldn’t ignore the fact that the whole churchianity scene wasn’t for me.

Churchianity

I’ll likely expand on that in future posts, but for now I’ll just say that I don’t intend for that title to be offensive, even though I know that it will be for some. When I use the word churchianity, I’m referring to what I believe is a man-made religion. One that says, among other things, that we don’t have to observe Sabbath, that all good Christians go to church on Sunday, and that every word written in the Bible is inspired by God and never to be questioned.

Questions

I question some of what is in the Bible. Not the red letter parts, which I accept as truth regardless of who wrote it and when, or even if they ever came face-to-face with the Messiah whom, by the way, most people call Jesus, but I refer to as Yahushua. While I don’t know for certain if His real name is Yahushua, I do know for certain that it isn’t Jesus since the letter J didn’t exist when He was born, but I digress.

As I was saying, I choose not to question anything ascribed to Yahushua, but I do wonder about some of the other stuff written in the text. For instance, did Lot’s daughters really come onto him or was it the other way around? If we’re to believe that the Bible’s authors were all inspired by God in their leadership, how do we account for Yahushua correcting what Moses allowed in terms of divorce (Matthew 19:8)? While questions like these aren’t faith-destroying, they do present a problem in subscribing to a religion that believes the text is the end-all-be-all of their faith; That to even question its contents grants immediate grounds for dismissal.

In My Book…

I also wrote a book comparing what the bible teaches about marriage to what most people, particularly Christians, believe about marriage in modern times. To say that I’ve discovered glaring contradictions would be describing that comparison lightly. Without going into a long dissertation about it, I’ll just say that it’s hard to go along with the status quo when you begin to see things in such a different light. (My book, Marriage Without a License, can be found here.)

I Adore the Messiah!

On the flip side, I not only believe in God and in His Son, Yahushua, but I seriously, seriously reverence Him. I also love Yahushua not just for His sacrifice, but I truly love His wisdom, His way of being…basically, His swag. He totally fascinates me. I even find myself feeling disappointed that more isn’t written about Him in terms of His daily life and social interactions in his teen and young adult years. Other Christians have admonished me for doing so, but I seriously wonder about where He was and what He was doing between the time He was 12 until His early-thirties which is the age theologians peg Him as being when He began selecting His disciples and teaching the masses. I also seriously wonder why He didn’t write a few books Himself. I mean, if all of these other people were inspired to write about God and even about His Son in order that we might have a sacred text to guide future generations, how come Yahushua didn’t pen a few verses?

Or did He?

What We Don’t Know

This brings me to another point that I often wonder about. Old Testament aside, the New Testament was assembled by a group of men who took it upon themselves to decide what should be passed down and what should be silenced. That’s a major red flag for me. Also, I have many questions about the men who assembled the book: Were they men of strong character? Did they have ulterior motives? I have similar questions for the book’s many authors: Were they sane? Truthful? Did they ever misinterpret messages from God? Was all of their inspiration even from God? How much of a role did ego play in their thoughts, beliefs and customs? How much of that spilled over into their teachings, prophecies or “revelations”? Bearing in mind that Yahushua corrected what Moses allowed…and what people mistakenly believed to be “OK’d by God” in terms of divorce, I find myself wondering what else were people misled about? What else was misinterpreted? What else was man saying under the deliberate or unintentional guise of God saying it?

Then there’s also that whole thing about the Bible being a translation of a translation of what man said God said. How much was lost in these translations? In my opinion, these facts leave tons of room for misunderstanding.

All of this, in my mind, has relevance in today’s world. For instance, is homosexuality really an abomination? Imagine if Eddie Long or Ted Haggard were the Bible authors of that little nugget. Once accusations (and evidence) about their same-sex preferences were made, wouldn’t it be natural to wonder how much of their own cultural and sexual struggles were reflected in their writings? We don’t know much of anything about the personal lives of the Bible’s authors and can’t really say for sure how much of what they wrote was personal and how much was really inspired by God.

Love Is My Religion

My faith in the Almighty is very strong and I choose love above everything.

It’s what Yahushua did.

I strive to shed my judgments and, regardless of what the Bible says and the Church interprets, leave that role up to God, instead.

It’s what Yahushua did.

I also rest on the Sabbath and occasionally hang out with the unchurched like Yahushua did.  Am even thinking about volunteering with a local LGBT organization in my area, cuz I believe Yahushua wants us to love everyone everywhere.

Digressing Again

And speaking of the LGBT community, I firmly believe they should have the right to civil marriage. You can read my book for an in-depth exploration of how I came to my conclusions, but I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that the marriage that the government has created and recognizes is a completely separate thing from what is defined throughout the Bible. Tabling the question of whether homosexuality is right or wrong, the marriage that so many attempt to frame in a Biblical perspective is not the same as a civil marriage. It is, therefore, wrong to bar taxpaying American citizens from partaking of it.

Back To the Question at Hand

These thoughts are just the tip of my iceberg when it comes to answering the question of whether or not I’m a Christian. Ignoring the fact that the very word Christian originally had a negative connotation, which was adopted by early followers of Yahushua (or Paul, depending upon how deep you really wanna go with this convo) and turned around to mean something good (much like how some Blacks now embrace the word nigga)…ignoring all of this, can I– with a straight face– call myself a Christian? And am I misleading people if I do?

I believe in the birth, teachings, death, burial, resurrection, divinity and second-coming of Yahushua…I believe Him to be the only begotten Son of the Most High, but I’ve more than a few questions about other stuff in the Bible, about the Church and its culture, and what other Christians typically believe. In fact, I often find myself out of step with most Christians. This isn’t to say that I think everything is wrong, just that I can’t blindly believe in much of what is written and taught. Oh, and I’m completely the opposite of your average evangelical in terms of my politics.

And in a lot of people’s minds, my overall mindset disqualifies me from being a Christian.

And in my mind, I’m totally cool with that.

I’m also cool with those who think that, because of my core beliefs, I do still qualify.

Me personally? I don’t care what other people call me or how they choose to classify me (or declassify me). I shed the need to struggle with a label a long time ago and I don’t regret it.

Truth be told, I follow Christ’s teachings and am also attracted to a lot of Buddha’s philosophies, but I’m not a fan of any one organized religion…be it Christian or otherwise.

I believe…I love…I live. Period.

 

 

Resurrection Day

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Okay, so I’ve neglected this blog for about a year and a half. Why? Well, I’ve been busy, I’ve been lazy, I forgot it existed, I was distracted by too much other stuff, yada-yada-yada. All of these (and then some) are true, but the real point of this post is to announce my comeback. Granted, I’m announcing it to the wind since no one reads this space, but hey.

I’m also moving in a slightly different direction here. When I first started this blog, I used it as a place of quiet introspection. Of course, that will remain, but since I’m so opinionated, I’ve also been thinking about starting another blog dedicated to that side of my personality. Really, that’s how I was led back to this space. I figured instead of starting something new, why not just unload here? I’ve a bad habit of starting and stopping stuff in order to start new stuff, so this is my way of interrupting that habit. So, instead of simply sharing my personal realizations, I’m also going to rant a little on current events, pop culture, relationships and whatever else I’m giving headspace to when I log in.

In real life, I blog and write for other people. As a writer, churning out content for others (on some pretty dry topics) can slowly wear on your soul until it screams for mercy. This is what this blog is, then– mercy. A way of giving back to myself by allowing my writing-soul a little free time.

Ok, so with that semi-formal explanation and pointless announcement out of the way, it’s time for me to get back down to business. New blog post coming in 5, 4, 3, 2…