Saying Goodbye to Bryant, Joy for the Journey

Some thoughts on the road of healing after the loss of my 14 year old son by suicide

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Wife... Mother... Lover of Jesus... Freedom Writer!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Just One Boast

( NOTE: This is a long one. I haven't written in two weeks so there's catching up to do.)

I consider myself a bona fide graduate of the School of Humility. I don't know exactly when it happened. I don't know that I even made a conscious decision to enroll. I was born to two college graduated parents ( both born in the South in the late 20's), raised " middle class" and to aspire to the "finer things of life". My father ,who just had his 79th birthday, is somewhat well-known in these parts. (He was a teacher, turned news announcer and jazz singer, inducted into our State Jazz Hall of Fame in the late 90's.)

From childhood I was groomed for a career in medicine. I planned to become a pediatrician and discover a cure for cancer. My intentions then were pure. I really wanted to help people. By the time I made it to the prestigious all women's college I attended, my goals were a bit different. I was still going to help people but that medical career was also going to help me. I never really identified the new goals but I assure you they were there. I was going to be successful and famous and rich! Fame, prestige, power and money! This is the stuff of life, is it not? And I was gonna get some for myself.

So yeah, I don't know how I ended up with this here degree in Humility. First off I completed 4 and 1/2 years at that prestigious college but left at the end of 1985 still a few classes short of earning my degree in Chemistry. (Over the years I tried to take those classes, but for whatever reason I couldn't.) Then there was the whole family thing that I got into kinda backwards ( baby in '89, married in '9o, baby in '91). I married a sweet man who was also (unconciously) enrolled in Humility U. And we have had an interesting time. In the early days we both had OK jobs but we also had a constant struggle in the finance department. We bought a little townhouse in our second year of marriage and we had decent cars but things were always tight. Thank God my mother had retired from teaching and was able to help us with the boys.

But in the mid 90's Mom's health started to decline. Not only was she unable to help me with the boys, she needed me to help take care of her. So in '97 (or '98?) we made the decision that I would quit my job, come home full-time, take care of the boys and be there for my mother. We eventually sold our townhouse and moved our little family back to the house where I was born and raised. Ugh! Talk about a dream-buster.

While my sister, my childhood and college friends were all off being beautiful and conquering the world I found myself back home, living my meager life (by society's standards anyway). No educational accomplishments. No professional accomplishments, no material possessions, no fine frocks with which to adorn myself, no fame, no fortune. Yep, I was a card carrying enrollee [and not in the school of Hard Knocks, either :) ].

I remember one summer during those years when I had just one dress (that fit) and I wore it to church every Sunday for several months. It did not occur to me until about the 6th week that maybe I could use another dress. I mean when I say it was a non-issue, I mean it really was a non-issue. I wasn't going to church to attend a fashion show right?

I don't know when my paradigm shifted, as it were. At some point I just decided that stuff is just that, stuff. I know that God doesn't have a problem with us having "stuff". He created stuff for us to enjoy. I think He does have a problem tho, when the stuff has us. When the stuff gives us our identity. When the stuff is what we live for. When who we are becomes our job title, or our neighborhood or the car we drive, the names we wear, our club memberships, our bank balance. When we get our self worth from what we do or what we have. Even our accomplishments, as good and as necessary as they are, are just one accident or illness away from being useless to us. None of the stuff of life can truly give a secure leg on which to stand.

I've known this for a while. And yet I have had to take a bit of continuing education since Bryant's death. I guess I thought I had "arrived" in this humility thing but God has shown me in this tragedy that there was another frontier to excavate, one more area, a source of pride that had to be done away with.

I was (am) a good mother. From the get go, I loved my boys hard and I loved them well. I studied all the experts, Dobson, Rainey, McDowell and others. I was (am) an intentional parent. I even wrote out ( and redefined) my mission statement as a mother. At first it was this...

" My goal is to teach my children how to live without me."

Then a few years later the Lord fine tuned it for me and it became this...

" My goal is to teach my children how to transfer their dependence upon me to an utter and complete dependence upon God."

No, no I wasn't having any of this teaching your child independence stuff at my house. [That's the trouble with the culture today, all this independence nonsense we have bought into. Every man for himself. Even God Himself is Three. But that's another subject; I won't preach that sermon today. :) ] Yes, I was (am) a good mother. My number one objective is to point my children to Jesus, not as an expert who's " already attained" but as a follower herself who sometimes misses the mark but who loves Him with a sold out heart.

I haven't written here since Bryant's birthday. Well I have written. I started several blog entrys over the last few weeks but they never made it to publishing. We had a lovely day on the 17th. We met with the youth at the church, had the balloon ceremony. The kids wrote sweet tributes to Bryant and gave them to me.

But by the next week I found myself feeling blue. I was battling all these angry thoughts. Angry thoughts towards my dead son. How could he do this to me? I was such a good mother, skillfully covering every step in the "Perfect Mother's Handbook" ( or was I writing the thing myself?). I won't even try to make my case and begin to give testimony to how I have been there, loving and nurturing my children. When he was just a little boy even his young classmates commended me for being a good mom. It was such a slap in the face, THE WORST AND MOST PAINFUL SLAP* in the face, for him to do such a thing, to reject me this way and leave me here to deal with it. To say "thanks, but no thanks." How could he do it?

When I began to inquire of the Lord what was going on with me it soon became clear. And now it's confession time. I realized that until April 3rd, I prided myself in being a good mother. No, I didn't go around tooting my own horn about the great job I was doing. In fact I knew I wasn't necessarily doing the greatest job anymore since adding two more nurslings to the flock. But I was proud. It was hidden back in an odd corner of my heart but it was there indeed. Over the years people often complimented us on our lovely family. And so I secretly and proudly wore the self-appointed "Badge of Honor" for my children and my mothering skills. My family was the the one thing I could boast about.

And then came April 3rd. My Bryant made a horrible choice. Can I say something (else) here? There are NO GUARANTEES in this life. There is nothing we can bank on except the promises of God. The only things that will last, the only eternal things on this earth are the souls of men and the Word of God. Indeed for many years now I have not lived for the stuff of life. Neither have I lived for the "approval of men." I say with great humility that I've tried to live as Paul when he said,

"But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that comes through faith in Christ- the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith." Philippians 3:7-9

In the last week or so the Lord has seen fit to not only correct me on this pride thing but to give me information about my son's death. I'll write about all that ( teen suicide, anger, reckless behavior) soon. I don't know how people live through the trials of this life without Jesus. Yeah I do. They drink and take drugs and turn to all manner of addictions and perversions to medicate the pain of living. I don't say this in judgement or in disdain. It is just a fact of life. I am, as the saying goes, "just one beggar telling another beggar where to find bread." The Bread of Life and Living Water that fully satisfies.

So today is day 154. Twenty-two weeks since Bryant made his exit into eternity. I don't know if this is even proper to say but I feel good today, really good. Most of the circumstances of my life remain unchanged. I still face the same challenges. Bryant is and will remain ...gone. BUT how many times can I say it? God is so faithful!

And for the rest of my life, come hell or high water, I have just one boast... that I know the Lord Jesus Christ and Him crucified and risen from the dead (in full payment of my sin debt) to give me life, abundant life, here and in eternity. Them is shouting words right there! And shouting for joy I am!

"My soul will boast in the LORD; let the afficted hear and rejoice!
Glorify the LORD with me, let us exalt His Name together." Psalm 34: 2-3

"In God we make our boast all day long, and we will praise Your Name forever." Psalm 44:8

"Let him who boasts, boast about this: that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD, Who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight, declares the LORD. " Jeremiah 9:24

"Therefore as it is written: " Let him who boasts, boast in the LORD." 1 Corinthians 1:31

"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the world has been crucified to me and I to the world." Galatians 6:14

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and not from yourselves, it is a gift from God- not by works , so that no man can boast. " Ephesians 2:9


(*edited to add... Byrant's death is actually more of a stab in the heart, but I kept thinking "slap in the face." I see now that "slapped" is the more appropriate description of the frustration and sadness I was feeling because it was the result of my inability to "save face" in light of what's happened.)

I want to thank God for the people who read this little blog of mine. I'm thankful for the cyber friends He has given me through this medium. Rena, we have never spoken other than through our blog comments. But I have a heart connection for you. You are my sister. I know you have been praying for me. I thank God for you!


Blogger MugwumpMom said...

I'm am crying right now..can hardly see the screen.
I hope you never "save face", and in that I mean, I hope you continue with your raw honesty in all that you are sharing.
This morning I was having a pity party and reading your post reminded me of our Daddy's call to humility, love and grace...and to boast in the fact that He enables it. Thanks for the reminder.

Have a blessed evening.

04 September, 2006 17:38  

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