In recent news, we have all been notified that designer Kate Spade took her own life on June 5 by an apparent suicide. Just three short days later, on June 8 celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain hung himself in his hotel in France.
Without going into much detail of their personal lives, I read that both struggled deeply with depression and had sought help. My heart was broken when I read of their suicides. Throughout this past week, I have seen more and more people post about their struggles with suicidal thoughts and depression.
I just want to start off by saying you are not alone, many people -even the strongest people you know- have struggled with the very same demons. I think suicide can be considered one of the most heartbreaking ways to die because it leaves the ones left behind wondering if they could’ve done something to prevent it. I didn’t know Kate Spade or Anthony Bourdain on a personal level, but I even felt helpless. I think to myself, what if I would’ve known them? Brought a smile to their face? Or even just told them how precious their lives were…
On a completely different note, I was surrounded by a lot of life this past month. On June 16th my baby nephew was born. My sister’s labor was intense, 30 hours plus, and I watched her cry and beg God to take the pain of childbirth away. Without going into too much detail of what the delivery room chaos looked like, baby Jude showed his face at 8:07 AM and instant tears streamed down my family’s face. It was like the pain, anguish, and fear of childbirth completely dissipated when that baby boy breathed his first breath.
After the initial excitement and emotion of Jude’s birth, my mind went crazy. I thought oh my goodness, to think people like Robin Williams, Kate Spade, and Anthony Bourdain all started out as a baby, full of life, innocence… breath… it made me wonder. What happens in between the start of life and death? My heart hurts every time I hear baby Jude cry so loud because he is hungry, or tired, or has a tummy ache. That’s when his mommy nurses him or rocks him and he is immediately soothed.
I think what happens between life and death (depression or suicide) is:
We mute our cries.
We shovel our insecurities deep down.
We mask our pain.
We lie to ourselves.
We hide in our shame.
We bask in our heartache.
We defend ourselves.
We go silent.
I realize a lot of people seek help for their anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts. I also know people take medicine to aid in their depression, but I know people lose the art of living in the middle of it all. They look to cure their habits of distraught and release themselves from their demons. But, they forget that to combat death, they must embrace life.
The opposite of death is life. The opposite of darkness is light. The opposite of silence is sound.
The enemy, your demons, will convince you to seek death to release you from pain, seek darkness to hide from your past, and to seek silence to avoid rejection. My friends that is not how we all started out in this world. We all started off as babies and as children. Babies that cried when something was wrong, ate when we were hungry, slept when we were tired, and snuggled when we were held. Not every baby or child was raised with parents who cared for them deeply, I understand that. I understand that upbringing, alcoholism, drugs, and single parenthood may have affected our upbringing, but we have to be aware that somewhere between our first breath and our first depressing thought…we have lost something: life.
In the delivery room where I first held my baby nephew, Jude, I was reminded that Jesus was also born into this world as a little baby. A baby that cried, snuggled, nursed, bled, got sick, and grew up with a purpose. Just like you and me. Somewhere in between his first breath and his final breath he gained life for all of us. Something we consistently try to reject. As a Christian, I believe we have abundant life in Christ. Why? Because He conquered death. Death can’t hold you if you have life in the eternal Christ.
I know heads spin when someone we love commits suicide. I know there are no words for the pain we feel and the confusion we have when someone has the will to kill themselves. But I just wanted to encourage you that your Heavenly Father had the will to sacrifice his one and only son on your behalf, so that you too could have life abundantly. So that, somewhere between your first and final breath you wouldn’t battle these demons alone and submerge yourself in silence, but rather you would look to Him to snuggle you, soothe you, and give you true life.
So, as I sit here, staring at my Kate Spade laptop case and glance up at my baby nephew on the couch with my family, I am reminded that somewhere between life and death is the Savior of the world willing to grant us peace and everlasting life in Him.
“Therefore, Jesus said again, ‘Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full. I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep’”
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
I love a good horror movie, which is funny because I am the world’s biggest scaredy-cat. I was the kid growing up who went to their parent’s room every night because I was afraid that Jim Carey playing The Mask was in my room. My parents decided to lock their door at night, so next up was my sister’s room. I had no shame. I was not about to sleep in a room with the boogie man in it.
There are a few rules I have with a horror movie:
- NEVER watch one alone
- Watch 70% of the movie with your hands over your face
- Stay close to another person while watching
- Have your phone near you, so you can scroll through Instagram when you’re getting too scared
- Run a few laps around your dining room table when the suspense is too much to handle (I do this every time, I dart off the couch and sprint. My adrenaline is too high to be sitting there watching a bad guy prevail.)
Why do I watch them you ask? The only answer I have come up with is it’s the closest I will get to riding a motorcycle on the highway. It gives me a rush. Let me also set the record straight: I do NOT like horror movies with pointless gore and blood. I like a thickening plot thriller of a movie. M. Night Shyamalan is my fave (The Sixth Sense, Split, Signs). He always has a redeeming ending, and most of the time you can go to bed without keeping all of the lights on! Anyways, I’ll keep my nerd talk to myself.
Recently, I watched the movie “The Boy”. This movie is about a young girl who is fleeing her ex-boyfriend and moves to the UK to be a nanny. Upon arriving to the UK, she finds out she is babysitting a porcelain doll named after an older couple’s dead son, Brahms. Seems creepy, and I sure as heck know that I did not just sell you on watching it either. Stay with me here… I watched the movie, and I loved it. I was scared senseless, but the best part is this movie had, in my opinion, a great ending. It was one of those “ahhhh the person I loved most didn’t die, and the bad guy isn’t in my house right now”. Comforting, I know. Naturally, I became a huge advocate for this film. I told all my friends to watch it, and I convinced my best friend and her mom to watch it, too! Except… I had to watch it again with them, but it wasn’t a big deal at all. Besides, I liked the movie, I knew when the scary parts would happen, and I knew the ending. I was the perfect person to watch that movie with because the whole time I was able to say, “Trust me, keep watching, it’s so so so good!” or “You won’t be disappointed!” or “Pay attention here, this matters later in the movie”. It is ALWAYS better to watch a suspenseful movie with someone who has already seen it. There is something very comforting about having someone next to you who has experienced the unknown before you have. Much like Jesus in our lives, right?
Did I really just go there? Oh yes, I did boo boo.
You see, I am at the tail end of a chapter right now. I graduate in just 4 short months, I have no freaking clue where I am moving to, I have no idea who will hire me, and I’m nervous. Before any moms or old folks try to throw this line at me “It’s okay honey, God has a plan”, it doesn’t work. I wish it did. I wish simple one liners tricked my brain into believing life is going to be okay. While it encourages me, and I appreciate everyone who invests in my life, it’s just not enough. My heart needs more. Perhaps you feel the same way. Perhaps there is something in your life that scares the crap out of you, and words like “I am praying for you” don’t suffice. Personally, the only words that satisfy my heart’s cry is “I died for you” and “It’s finished”.
Back in the day, Moses (the kid who floated in a basket) wrote to Joshua (the kid who actually led the Israelites into the Promise Land) “Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.” (Deuteronomy 31:8). You see, this is the same God who goes before YOU. He came and lived a life here on earth, so that He can walk along side of you and say “Hey, I know this seems scary and unsettling, but I know the ending! I’ve seen it all. You will not be disappointed”. I absolutely love that after Jesus ascended into Heaven after the resurrection, He sent the Holy Spirit down to walk through life with us and to comfort us (John 14). The One to battle the scary parts and the unknown with us.
Encouragement: As one of God’s children, He will not allow you to be alone. The unknowns in your life are NOT a surprise to your Heavenly Father.
One of my favorite passages in Hebrews talks about this very idea I am trying to convey:
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:15-16). Take heart in this.
I plea with you not to give up. Remember, a lot of times comfort is most felt when someone has been through what you have been through and conquered it. Jesus conquered it all, and He is with you whispering, “Just wait, I promise you, I know what happens next. I go before you”.
One last verse to encourage you with. My mom put this verse on my bedroom door after one of my scaredy-cat episodes, and I’ve been dwelling on it ever since.
“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power, love and discipline”.(2 Timothy 1:7)
Don’t be afraid, He is with you!
I am in a season of life where I am learning to walk welcomed. The Lord has been gracing me with a reoccurring lesson, and I can hear His voice saying: You have a seat at the table, my dear. Like literally no joke, the softness of His voice and presence is instilling in me the fact that He has a feast prepared for me. Now before I lose you, I want to tell you up front the point I am getting at here. You have a purpose and God has a plan for you.
We ALL go through life searching for our purpose or for “God’s plan”. We preach Jeremiah 29:11, “’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’” If you’re like me, you read that and think “Oh thank God! He cares about my future and I’ll be prosperous and hopeful and have happiness drape my entire life”. Then the unexpected hits, am I right? You lose a job, you switch your major (talking to myself here, by the grace of God I’ll finally graduate in the Spring), your boyfriend or girlfriend breaks up with you, your parents decide to move to a different state, your spouse cheats on you, your kids go wayward, you get the point. Then you’re like okay, what’s the freaking deal here? I thought His plan for me was to prosper me, not harm me?? Or maybe it isn’t disastrous at all. For me personally it’s about taking the next step after I graduate. Will I get a job in TV? Will I get married? Will I write a book? Will I be a bartender forever (God bless…)? Will I be a missionary?
So, before I try a sloppy attempt at telling you what God’s personal plan for your life is, I am going to tell you a silly story that your homegirl Brooke Maratta was the main character of. It starts off with my inability to know the difference between two restaurants…
One night, my friends invited me to dinner at Olive Garden. I don’t really know how or why or what the heck is wrong with me, but I showed up at Red Lobster…. To give myself some credit here, they are across the street from each other in my hometown, so I am not that dumb. I must’ve been so busy that day that I wasn’t really paying attention to the dinner plans. I am sure that has happened to more people than just me… right??? You know when you are so busy and someone is trying to make plans with you in advance, so you politely agree but at the forefront of your mind is a complete different task or agenda? That’s what happened to me that night. I got to the restaurant and told the hostess that I was meeting a party of 4 and that they should already be here by now. I told her the name and she says “Ma’am, I’m sorry we don’t have that name on the list”. Okay… I work in a restaurant, so I instantly think “this chick doesn’t know what she’s doing… I know my friends are here!” So, I took matters into my own hands and searched each section of the restaurant. Un- freakin-believable. My friends must’ve ditched me because I could NOT find them anywhere in the restaurant. Maybe the time changed? Maybe they already ate? Maybe they cancelled and didn’t have the courtesy to tell me? So, I texted my friends and asked them “What the heck is going on?? I am at Red Lobster and you aren’t here!”. “Lol” they replied, “Brookie… we are at Olive Garden, not Red Lobster. No one ever said Red Lobster.” It’s funny now, but in the moment, I am like how the heck did I miss that? Did I make it up? I must’ve been half checked in the conversation when we made plans and jumped to conclusions. I never actually verified or checked in with my friends about the plans.
When I got to Olive Garden, I told the hostess my name, she escorted me to my friend’s table, and my friends had a seat saved and ready for me! We laughed about my silly mishap, we talked about how awkward I was walking into Red Lobster like a complete noob, and we had a wonderful Italian meal full of laughter and fun!
Some of you may already know where I am going with this… hang tight… this applies to you.
The Wrong Restaurant Syndrome: (I completely made this phrase up. When it reaches Wikipedia, make sure you define it as “coined by Brooke Maratta”)
When it comes to God’s plan in your life, perhaps you are in the “wrong restaurant”. In the wrong restaurant, you search everywhere for your people, your reservation, your seat, your date, your table… then you get frustrated. You say to yourself “un-freakin-believable” some friends they are… or some God He is… I thought He was going to prosper me. But the moment you realize you were in the wrong restaurant and you enter the right one, you cue a sigh of relief. You are almost treated like royalty am I right? You walk in, the hostess greets you (they actually know what they are doing), and they escort you right to your table, but not only to your table but to your seat. For me personally, I just got out of a season of life where I was like, “okay God, this is what I want. I think this would be great, and I know You love me, so You want my plans to succeed!” To put it plainly… I was in the wrong flipping restaurant. I didn’t check in with Him, I just assumed. I assumed that this is what He had planned for my life, and when I found out it wasn’t I was left feeling unloved and upset. Surely this can’t be the God that loves me, I am depressed and left feeling empty. Did plans change and He didn’t have the courtesy to tell me? Did He forget about me? Did I miss God’s plan??
I’ve come to realize that God doesn’t switch up plans last minute, He doesn’t trick you, or disinvite you because you aren’t qualified, He isn’t out to harm you or frustrate you. He isn’t out to get you. Perhaps, it is us. We aren’t checking in with Him, listening to His voice, asking Him what the plans are. If he is taking you out to dinner wouldn’t you trust that He is going to take care of the reservation, the seating arrangements, and not to mention the bill? I am learning that when you are where you need to be, like truly where you need to be, because you asked Him and asked what He has for you… Jeremiah 29:11 swings into full effect. I am in a season of life where I am timidly approaching my seat at the table. I am embarrassed that I was at the “wrong restaurant”, I am nervous to sit down next to Him, I am worried I am overdressed or underdressed, I am worried if I’ll have enough money to pay for my food, and I am worried that He is upset with me for not listening. Are there enough seats? Should I have just gone home and hid?
No, no, no my love. I have set apart this feast for you. I see your heart, and I know your appetite. I know your likes and your dislikes. Order what you want, I have everything you could ever need or want. And don’t worry about the bill, I already paid that in full. You have a seat at the table. It’s not anyone else’s, I didn’t merely squeeze you in. It’s your seat. Now sit back, relax, and enjoy every delight set before you.
I want to leave you with this, your Holy and Heavenly Father does not want you lost in the wrong story, He doesn’t want you searching around for your seat at the table, and He doesn’t want you to feel abandoned. He loves you, and He waits patiently for you at the table He has set before you! Don’t get lost in the wrong restaurant, check in with Him and see where He is at! He’s a gentleman; He won’t cancel on you.
Jeremiah wrote to the people of Judah about his struggle (same guy who told us about God’s great plans for us in Jeremiah 29:11):
“The thought of my suffering and homelessness
is bitter beyond words.
I will never forget this awful time,
as I grieve over my loss.
Yet I still dare to hope
when I remember this:
The faithful love of the Lord never ends!
His mercies never cease.
Great is his faithfulness;
his mercies begin afresh each morning.
I say to myself, “The Lord is my inheritance;
therefore, I will hope in him!”
The Lord is good to those who depend on him,
to those who search for him.
So, it is good to wait quietly
for salvation from the Lord.”