I see that another young vibrant beautiful teenager has committed suicide. As I read about her story I see that it is so similar to so many other stories I have seen of late. A young person active in their school and community is bullied to the point that they can’t handle the torment and so they commit suicide. It is a sad commentary on our society when we allow the feelings and actions of others to overwhelm us and tear us down. And yet it is nothing new. I remember my eldest child being bullied and the school system doing little about it until another child’s family intervened because of the bullying they were enduring. The culprits were kicked off the school bus and eventually kicked out of school but the scars of that bullying is still visible in my eldest today. I can’t exactly say that I was bullied when I was in school but I certainly knew that I was not important to my classmates or teachers. I always felt like I was the least appreciated and to this day the story of my life is dealing with deep feelings of knowing that I am different and that I am not well liked or appreciated. In fact having gone through a divorce has made those feelings even stronger. I was told that I wasn’t good enough and so I felt like that too, and if I am honest I still feel that way sometimes. Having lost my cheering section, my parents and siblings, I really feel alone and feel like my life is always going to be a lonely path to trod. So I can certainly understand why so many young people who have not gotten a strong foundation to lean upon take the wrong way out of this world when they feel unloved and unappreciated. That pain is so hard to bear.
How did I survive those feelings? How do I survive those feelings of emotional pain from the baggage of life, from being abandoned and rejected, from being disliked and unloved, from being unappreciated, from being so passed by in this world? How indeed! I believe that the only reason I am alive today is because of my relationship with Jesus Christ. Had I not had such a strong love for Jesus from a young age I would have felt that there was no way I could face a future as bleak as mine. As a teen I was ill and overweight! I remember so-called friends who would tell me that I had such a pretty face but too bad I was so fat. I never went on dates or was asked to dances because I was not good enough, not pretty enough, or something. Then I went to college and the world seemed to open up to me and I married and thought my husband would love me forever! I helped him achieve everything he ever wanted and I was rewarded with a divorce and being told I was not good enough for him anymore. Yes, I understand the feelings of depression that can overcome a person. I feel the pain and I can relate to the misery even to the point of suicide. After all what is the point of living in a world that has no appreciation for me! But something always held me back from the edge and I believe that it was Jesus Christ and my relationship with Him that helped me endure the incomprehensible. Jesus always helped me to see that I was His and that I had value even in a world that did not appreciate me or my kindness. I became an encourager of others because I could read the pain in them that I was experiencing in my own life. How I survived and still survive today is the knowledge that my relationship with Jesus Christ has given me. I am not alone. I am worth a great price. I was worth His dying on a cross to save me. I will have everything I need to sustain my life in the future just as I have always had everything to sustain life in the past because Jesus takes care of me. I know that this life will always be filled with tough and rough and painful moments, but they will not comprise every moment in my life and there will be many more moments worth living. I know that I am of value to my God and that is the only opinion that really matters.
How do we get our youth to see that they have value and stop the suicides? As a parent of adult children I see them struggle and I pray for them. I never know all that is going on in their lives but I know the path of life is treacherous and so I pray for them. As the parent of a middle school boy I also see the struggles he faces and the struggles he sees some of his peers go through. I pray for him and for those he tells me about. I pray that they see their value and worth in this life through the eyes of Jesus. I pray that God will change hearts and attitudes. I pray that my son will be kind and compassionate to his peers especially the ones who are so difficult to be around. We need to teach our children that everyone is facing problems that we don’t see so be kind no matter who you are around.
I also think that we as a society need to stop telling our children they are so special. The prince and princess mentality is not doing our kids any favors. Hard work is what brings about achievements and not everyone is going to get a prize. This idea that our children have such fragile egos that they can’t handle not getting the medal for participation in some sport or dance or whatever is not correct. We need to help build honest and authentic egos in our children. If we don’t then they will not be prepared for the cruelty of real life. I tell my son that he is the most special person in the world to me but he is not the most special person in the world to another Mom or adult or teacher or peers. He can’t be special to them because they have hearts filled with their own children who are super special to them. Keep it real because life is hard and we need to make warrior hearts rather than prince and princesses. A warrior will be capable to do battle when a prince or princess will not know what to do! What else can a princess do but crumble when bullies attack, but a warrior will not take the words seriously and will have tools to handle the criticism.
Parents need to back off and let their children decide what they want to do for fun. Far too many parents schedule everything for their children and parents act more like a manager than a parent. Children need time to grow and make their own mistakes and feel the pain and learn from that experience and then learn to get back up and keep going. Parents who do everything to remove every obstacle in life for their children really do them no favors. I see a lot of parents doing that today and I often wonder why? It looks like the parents are reliving their own high school adventures through their children’s lives. Let your children live their high school years as their own adventure!
Most of all I think we need to teach our children to love and respect God. If our children have a strong relationship with Jesus then they will know where to go for help in times of trouble. I certainly didn’t go to my parents and tell them how unhappy my classmates were making me. I went to the Bible and read Proverbs and Psalms and the epistle’s of Paul and learned that my life wasn’t nearly as bad as the Apostle Paul’s or the first century Christians. That helped me to put my life into the proper perspective. I still go to the Bible and read it for strength and instruction as well as perspective today. I am teaching my son to go to God for comfort too. Without an anchor to hold on to in life our children are going to continue to make bad choices and we don’t need any more suicides!
Bullies have been around forever and no amount of legislation is going to change that fact! We need to teach our children to not be a bully. We need to teach our children to ignore bullies too. And we need to teach our children that you can handle the taunts and the threats and the meanness if you know your worth in Jesus. And if or when the bullying gets to the point of violence then we need to step in and be parents, making sure that out child is protected by whatever authority is in charge whether school system or coach. Hire an attorney if necessary, I did and it was amazing how quickly the taunts directed toward my child stopped! Proverbs teaches much wisdom in rearing children and is my favorite go to verses.
A good reputation is more desirable than great wealth, and favorable acceptance more than silver and gold. The rich and the poor have this in common—the LORD created both of them. The prudent person sees trouble ahead and hides, but the naive continue on and suffer the consequences. The reward of humility is the fear of the LORD, along with wealth, honor, and life. Thorns and snares lie in the path of the perverse person, but whoever is cautious stays far away from them. Train a child in the way appropriate for him, and when he becomes older, he will not turn from it. Proverbs 22:1-6, (New American Standard Bible).
Until next time…Katherine